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Who invented honeymoon?

The honeymoon is a vacation taken by newlyweds shortly after their wedding. It gives the couple time alone to celebrate their marriage and enjoy their first days as a married couple. But where did this tradition come from? Who invented the idea of the honeymoon?

Origins of the Honeymoon

The exact origins of the honeymoon are unclear, but the tradition can be traced back centuries and to multiple cultures around the world. Some key facts about the early history of the honeymoon include:

  • The word “honeymoon” was used as early as the 16th century to refer to the first month of a marriage.
  • In ancient Babylon, newly married couples would drink honey wine (mead) for a full lunar month after their wedding in hopes of conceiving a child.
  • Among Germanic tribes in Northern Europe, the father of a bride would supply enough honey wine for the new couple to last them one full moon cycle.
  • In English common law, it was once required that a newly married man stay with his bride for one month to ensure any heir was legimitate.

From these early origins, the idea of a celebratory period right after the wedding evolved into what we now know as a honeymoon.

Honeymoons in 19th Century Europe

By the 19th century, honeymoons had become a standard upper class practice in Britain and much of Europe. Wealthy young couples would take a “bridal tour” with friends and family shortly after the wedding. This tradition served several purposes:

  • It gave the newly married aristocrats time to get to know each other privately before setting up their new household.
  • It allowed them to display their affluence by touring in lavish carriages and throwing parties.
  • It gave the bride a chance to display her new trousseau of bridal clothes.

Popular honeymoon destinations at this time included the French Riviera and the spas and lakes of Italy. The average honeymoon lasted between 3-6 months, often with a chaperone in attendance.

Honeymoons for the Middle Class

As tourism opportunities increased in the late 1800s, honeymoons started to become accessible to the middle class as well. Rail travel made it easy for couples to reach scenic destinations to honeymoon.

Niagara Falls was among the first honeymoon hotspots for middle class American couples in the mid 19th century. Its popularity was due to good rail access and its reputation as a romantic, fashionable destination.

Seaside resorts, mountain lodges and tour cruises also became popular honeymoon choices thanks to their accessibility by train.

Honeymoons in the 20th Century

Several key developments in the early 20th century helped shape the honeymoon into the form we know today:

  • Better transportation – Cars, passenger airplanes and cruise ships opened up many more honeymoon destinations.
  • Changing work patterns – Vacation time allotted for the middle class made short 1-2 week honeymoons feasible.
  • Rising consumerism – Couples were targeted by marketers to consume travel, fashion and wedding-related products.
  • Increasing informality – Chaperones and rigidly formal honeymoon styles fell away in favor of intimacy and freedom.

By the 1950s, honeymoons had become much more casual, private, and focused on romance. Hot spots included Hawaii, the Caribbean, Miami Beach, and dude ranches in the American West.

Modern Honeymoons

Today the honeymoon industry is estimated to be worth over $12 billion annually. Some key traits of the modern honeymoon include:

  • Most couples take a honeymoon of 1-2 weeks shortly after their wedding.
  • Beach vacations in tropical destinations like Hawaii, Jamaica and Mexico are still hugely popular.
  • An increasing number of couples opt for “adventure honeymoons” with activities like hiking, scuba diving or skiing.
  • “Babymoon” vacations are also trending for couples expecting a new addition.
  • The average cost of a honeymoon in 2021 was around $7,000.

While honeymoons today are shorter and more casual than in past centuries, they continue the age-old tradition of giving newlyweds time to celebrate their marriage privately in a relaxed vacation setting.

Famous Honeymoons Through History

The honeymoons of royal couples and celebrities have often attracted public attention and interest. Here are some of the most famous honeymoons in modern history:

Couple Honeymoon
Queen Victoria & Prince Albert Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, 1840
Napoleon & Josephine Chateau de Malmaison, France, 1796
King Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson Austria, 1937
Queen Elizabeth II & Philip Mountbatten Broadlands House, England, 1947
John & Jackie Kennedy Acapulco, Mexico, 1953
Paul & Linda McCartney Trinidad, 1967
David & Victoria Beckham Dublin, Ireland, 1999
Kanye West & Kim Kardashian Ireland, Florence & Prague, 2014
Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Unknown location, 2018

As we can see, exotic beach locales, secluded estates and international tours have been popular with the rich and famous for honeymoon getaways through the decades.

Honeymoon Tradition Around the World

While honeymoons are commonly practiced around the world, some places add their own cultural traditions and customs:

  • In Indonesia, honeymooners plant a tree symbolizing their new life together.
  • Moroccan brides have a milk bath ritual to purify themselves before the wedding night.
  • South Indian newlyweds exchange honeymoon prayers and gifts with elders.
  • Korean grooms traditionally give their bride honey cakes after the ceremony.
  • Japanese couples often choose Kyoto for its romantic associations.

So while the Western-style honeymoon has been widely adopted, many places integrate it with unique local marriage customs.

Notable Honeymoon Destinations

Over the decades, certain destinations have become perennial honeymoon favorites thanks to their romantic atmosphere and amenities. Here are some of the world’s most popular honeymoon spots:

Destination Notable Attractions
Hawaii Beaches, surfing, luaus, volcano hikes
Maldives Overwater bungalows, scuba diving, luxury resorts
Italy Tuscan countryside, Venice canals, Mediterranean beaches
France Parisian cafes, Provence fields, French cuisine
Greece Island-hopping, ancient ruins, Mediterranean views
Costa Rica Beach relaxation, volcano hot springs, jungle zip lining

New destinations come in and out of fashion, but certain longtime favorites like these retain their honeymoon appeal.

Famous Honeymoon Mishaps

Despite careful planning, some celebrity and royal honeymoons have memorably gone awry:

  • When bad weather prevented Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson from sailing to France for their honeymoon in 1937, they partied with friends for two weeks in Austria instead.
  • A wildfire in 1969 cut Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s Palm Springs honeymoon short.
  • Beyoncé reportedly got stung by a jellyfish swimming off a yacht during her and Jay-Z’s honeymoon in the Mediterranean.
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 10-day Seychelles honeymoon was interrupted by paparazzi who followed them.
  • Kanye West planned his and Kim Kardashian’s honeymoon for Ireland, Florence and Prague, but was hospitalized and had to cut it short.

Natural disasters, injuries, and privacy invasions show that even celebrity couples aren’t immune to honeymoon mishaps!

Honeymoon Planning Tips

For couples planning their dream honeymoon, here are some top tips to keep in mind:

Set Your Budget

Determine early what you can realistically spend on your honeymoon. Get quotes on flights, hotels, activities and food in your desired destination. Don’t drain your savings.

Discuss Your Must-Haves

Talk through your wish list with your partner. Compromise if you have different visions. Coordinate on priorities like relaxation vs. adventure.

Book Early

Reserve your travel and lodging at least 6 months in advance for the best deals and availability. Popular destinations book up fast!

Get Your Passports

If traveling internationally, make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months post-travel. Some destinations require visas too.

Consider Travel Insurance

In case of any mishaps, travel insurance can help recoup costs. Read the fine print about what circumstances it covers.

Choose Destination Timing

Research the weather, peak crowds and prices by month. Avoid rainy season pitfalls or excessive tourists.

Splurge on Some Treats

Within reason, spring for fun indulgences like couples massages, top-notch dining, and luxe hotel amenities.


The honeymoon tradition can be traced back throughout history and across human cultures. While its characteristics have evolved over time, it has long represented a celebratory vacation for newly married couples to relax and romantically connect. Honeymoons today come in an enormous variety, but tropical beach getaways remain ever-popular for lovebirds tying the knot. With careful planning and communication, couples can craft an unforgettable honeymoon to kick off their new life together in style.