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'Life is too short': Meet the couples taking a honeymoon even though the wedding has been cancelled

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 29/05/2020 Emma Beaumont
an umbrella sitting on top of a sandy beach: Maldives - Getty © Getty Maldives - Getty

It’s been a season of lost weddings; marquees never decorated, speeches not delivered and champagne left uncorked.

But for couples due to get married this year, many will also miss out on the real crowning moment of any nuptials - the honeymoon. Is it a surprise, then, that a number of those who had to cancel their weddings due to the coronavirus have decided to go ahead with honeymoons booked for later this year, anyway?

Clare from London took the decision early to postpone her September wedding in West Sussex due to fears of a smaller guest list, social distancing measures and potentially being unable to hug family members. However, if travel restrictions allow, she and her fiance are planning on going ahead with their honeymoon to Malaysia booked for shortly after.

“We have been looking forward to our honeymoon just as much as our wedding so if we can go ahead with it we will, there was never any question really,” she says. “We are also very aware that the past few months have brought the travel industry to its knees and want to support it as much as we can”.

Gallery: 10 holiday destinations to have on your radar for your first post-lockdown escape (Harper's Bazaar UK)


This may be doing things in reverse but for disappointed couples who have been cooped up at home for months, why would they miss out on the opportunity to get away, or indeed waste the significant amount of money they have likely already spent on the trip?

Clare is also unconcerned about experiencing the classic honeymoon trappings without having had the wedding. “I wouldn't say we are typical honeymooners, as part of our trip is to trek South East Asia's highest peak, Mount Kinabalu," she says, "which involves a night on camp beds - not the most romantic.”

However, she is also looking forward to a few days of unfettered luxury at YTL Hotels' Gaya Island Resort in Borneo. “I am sure we will be spoiled and we certainly won't refuse the honeymoon treatment”.

view of the Mount Kinabalu mountain range © Getty view of the Mount Kinabalu mountain range

It’s a similar story for Laura, also from London. Even though her summer wedding has been postponed, she is determined to find a way to make her honeymoon work. “Life’s too short," she says, "and we’re keen to make the most of our ability to travel flexibly before we have any dependents.”

She and her fiance were due to jet off to the Maldives straight after the wedding but when it became clear this could also be cancelled, the company she booked with, Original Travel, suggested that the couple modify the trip, and transferred their deposit. They are now heading to South Africa in November for a few days on safari before driving along the country's coastal Garden Route. 

Laura still wants the South Africa trip to feel like their honeymoon.

“This is our blow-out trip: it’s the most we’ve ever spent on a holiday and perhaps ever will. Our travel consultant, Matt, is making sure that we’re going to boutique hotels and guest houses so that we retain a romantic element and will share our unusual situation with the owners," she says.

“After the nightmare of rescheduling my wedding, I had such anxiety even asking questions about the honeymoon, but I’m so glad I did. Now I have something happy and exciting to work on once again.”

Cape Town, South Africa. Panorama of the city against backdrop of Table Mountain © Getty Cape Town, South Africa. Panorama of the city against backdrop of Table Mountain Luxury tour operator, Scott Dunn, has seen a rise in enquiries from would-be honeymooners, even if they are unsure if their weddings will go ahead. The company has noted a move towards “private hideaways and luxury adventure honeymoons”, in destinations such as Madagascar and Rwanda, with people looking to go “totally off-grid”, perhaps due to social distancing concerns or a post-pandemic mentality where taking the trip of a lifetime suddenly seems more urgent. 

In this way, the honeymoon, which is often built around privacy and seclusion, is the most suitable holiday in the current climate.

Luxury hotels around the world have moved fast to try to accommodate couples still keen to experience their honeymoons. The impossibly romantic Grand Hotel Tremezzo, on the banks of Italy’s Lake Como, points to an example of a wedding they are to host later this summer.

Although the hotel is reopening in late June, as the couple’s guests were due to jet in from around the world, it became increasingly unlikely that their big day would materialise. Instead, they have opted for a pared-down private ceremony at the hotel, which only they will attend, and added on a 10-day honeymoon there straight after, which will surely take the sting out of the altered plans. They have organised a vow renewal and "symbolic celebration" at the hotel on the same day next year to celebrate with their families. 

Some couples are not simply going ahead with trips, but proactively booking premature minimoons to cope with the disappointment of missing out on their weddings. Tim and Lara were due to get married in mid-June in North Yorkshire with a honeymoon in northern Spain “to drink rivers of Rioja” booked for immediately afterwards. With both now off the cards and the wedding pushed back to next summer, they are planning a special trip in the UK in late summer so that they “have something to celebrate this year”.

Picture of the avenue of the baobabs around sunset, Madagascar. © Getty Picture of the avenue of the baobabs around sunset, Madagascar. Tim explains: “When we realised we would have to cancel everything it was a crushing blow. We know it might be a risk to book trips at the moment, but we are determined to take some sort of honeymoon this year.”

“As we have been together for more than a decade, we saw the wedding as more of a party than anything else and we hope our UK honeymoon will capture that sense of celebration – even if we haven’t got the official slip of paper yet”.

But will couples who take their honeymoons this year still have holidays after they eventually do get married? It seems likely, as even pre-pandemic many were already enjoying minimoons and subsequent further afield trips.

Clare says she’s looking at options for renting a villa on a post-wedding ‘buddymoon’ – the relatively recent idea that your friends join you on your trip. While previously this approach may have raised a few eyebrows, after months of only seeing friends on patchy video calls, a communal post-wedding celebration has never been more appealing. 


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