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The rise of the ‘earlymoon’

For couples who want to bask in the engagement period before their weddings, going on a prenuptial trip— or an earlymoon, is becoming increasingly popular. It’s different from both a mini-moon, a quick getaway after the wedding to decompress, and a honeymoon, in which a couple takes a longer, more elaborate post-wedding vacation.
Last Updated : 07 July 2024, 07:54 IST

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One month before their July 2023 wedding, Shrestha Maharaj, 28, an analytics and insights manager based in South Africa, and Sumeeth Suthurgam, 31, a senior digital design lead, took an earlymoon.

The couple spent a long weekend in Umdloti, a small resort village along the northern coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, just a 45-minute drive from their home. Maharaj described their earlymoon as a “break from the chaos,” where they enjoyed electric scooter riding, table tennis playing, beach walking and even practicing their first dance.

“A change of scenery was necessary for that,” Maharaj said, laughing. “It’s amazing what that’ll do even when you’re still in the same city.”

For couples who want to bask in the engagement period before their weddings, going on a prenuptial trip— or an earlymoon, is becoming increasingly popular. It’s different from both a mini-moon, a quick getaway after the wedding to decompress, and a honeymoon, in which a couple takes a longer, more elaborate post-wedding vacation.

“We really just needed a break and wanted to de-stress before our wedding,” Maharaj said of their earlymoon. “Indian weddings can be intense. We had four wedding events over three days and DIY-ed a lot of it.”

Many hotels and resorts now tailor certain packages to earlymooners. Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall Boston, for example, began offering an earlymoon package, “Get Away Before the Big Day,” last summer. The three-night stay, starting at $800, includes a day spa pass for two; a picnic at Boston Public Garden; dinner at the hotel’s in-house restaurant, Jules on Devonshire; and a welcome bottle of Champagne.

“Earlymooners just want quality time with each other, so couples have loved the stress-free aspect of it,” said Kevin Matheson, the general manager of Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall Boston. “Some even joke they’ll be back for their babymoons.”

Stanly Ranch, a Napa Valley resort in California, has seen a 15 per cent increase yearly since opening in 2022 in couples spending their earlymoons there, many from within driving distance in the San Francisco Bay Area, said Laura McIver, the resort’s general manager.

At The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, California, a roughly two-hour drive from Los Angeles, there has been a 25 per cent spike in couples booking stays before their weddings since it opened in February 2023, said Joern Schwaiger, the inn’s general manager.

And at Ashford Castle in Mayo, Ireland, the earlymoon package— starting at $8,500— includes two nights at the hotel’s private boathouse; a boat excursion and a picnic on Chief’s Island; a rose quartz couples massage; and a private wine tasting in the property’s wine cellar. The hotel has also arranged private consultations with Irish jewelry designer Nigel O’Reilly for earlymooners who want to commission custom pieces of jewelry to commemorate their upcoming nuptials.

“Before this year, we would have simply called an earlymoon a vacation or getaway,” said Nicole Janoff, a senior manager of leisure travel at Magma Global, a travel agency in New York, who credits social media posts from couples for the 10 per cent increase in travel inquiries from earlymooners that Magma Global has received so far this year.

“The earlymoon trend represents a shift in how couples approach their wedding prep and prioritize their time together before the big day.”

Janoff also mentioned that typically couples take their earlymoons six to eight weeks before their weddings, following the bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette parties. She has sent couples to places like Montauk, New York, Bermuda and Aspen, Colorado, for spring and summer nuptials, while couples marrying in the fall or winter often travel to Mexico and the Caribbean.

“No matter which destination they choose, there is always a massage appointment made,” she said, jokingly.

Those with longer engagements who want to go on earlymoons tend to travel several months before their wedding. Jillian Moya, 36, a corporate accounting software trainer, and Reggie Blackburn, 40, who works for the Department of Justice, are marrying on New Year’s Eve in their home state of Florida. Last month, they embarked on an earlymoon that started in London, made a stop in Croatia and ended with a Mediterranean cruise through Italy and Greece.

“We initially wanted a destination wedding but fell in love with a local venue so decided to marry in Florida,” Moya said. “Our Europe trip was the perfect romantic getaway. We enjoyed peaceful times together before diving into full-on wedding planning.”

Tom Marchant, a founder and CEO of the luxury travel company Black Tomato, said earlymoons unlock more destination options as couples aren’t traditionally bound to a specific post-wedding time frame.

He organized an earlymoon to Bhutan and India for a client couple six months before their August 2023 wedding. Then, after the couple’s summer nuptials in Newport, Rhode Island, they took a New England road trip through Rhode Island, Maine and Connecticut.

“Even those who have wedding planners feel the heat as the date approaches, so we find people are more at ease with some distance between the big day and the earlymoon,” said Marchant, who has noticed a 13 per cent uptick in earlymoon inquiries through his company this year.

“Traveling right after a wedding can be frantic. An earlymoon strips away the noise from that and allows more focus on spending meaningful time with each other.”

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Published 07 July 2024, 07:54 IST

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