Sure, weddings are about love, romance, and a commitment to the person you cherish most in the world, but they’re also an industry subsisting the same thing that every business is built on: Making people believe that they need something. As I’ve learned recently, though, this doesn’t just apply to the wedding itself—it also applies to the honeymoon and the honeymoon length. And, now, the mini-moon.
When you begin to plan a wedding, the thing that hits you smack dab in the middle of the face–almost instantly–is the business of it all. Simply put, weddings are a money-making machine. If you’ve been on Instagram or Pinterest lately, it’s easy to tell why. There is never a shortage of the newest, coolest thing that you “have” to have at your wedding. One month it’s a neon sign above the sweetheart’s table, the next month it’s a flower wall. Then it’s a Kardashian-level photobooth for guests. Then it’s all of the above.
It’s hard to say when exactly mini-moons became a common occurrence, but they started to pop up more and more on my Instagram feed shortly after the baby-moon trend began in 2015 or so. But while baby moons are a last hurrah for moms and dads-to-be before the baby is born, mini-moons are vacations that a newly married couple go on just after the wedding, but before their actual honeymoon. They’re essentially an additional, slightly abbreviated pre-honeymoon honeymoon. Sometimes they consist of a few days in a secluded cabin or a quick trip to the beach. Other times they consist of a few relaxing days at a resort or spa. They’re usually three to five days and are eventually followed up by a bigger, more extravagant trip (the real honeymoon) that lasts much longer.
When my fiance and I started planning our May 2020 wedding in late 2018, the honeymoon was truthfully one of the last things on our minds (let alone a mini-moon). We’ve been together nearly six years and have been lucky enough to travel extensively together in that time. Sure, we wanted to go on a romantic trip together after the wedding to celebrate our marriage, but we weren’t about to spend six months’ salary on a single trip, let alone two of them. Eventually, we spontaneously landed on an itinerary that seemed like the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation in a place that neither of us had ever been to before— a five night stay at a ranch in Montana, near Yellowstone National Park. In an effort to choose our stay during the best weather possible, we ultimately chose to go on the trip a little more than a month after our actual wedding. In reality, the timing was a practical choice, but we also figured it would give us some time to decompress at home post-wedding as well.
Once we booked the trip, I was excited to tell all the people who had asked about our honeymoon where we were going. For the most part, people were happy for us and naturally curious about why we chose Montana, which was fair. I love the outdoors, but I’m not exactly traditionally outdoorsy. I’ve also realized now that most people, like us, have never been to Montana so, naturally, people had some questions. I was more than happy to talk about the trip, though, because I was excited. That is, until a few people asked me if this was our mini-moon after learning it was only for five days. Then, I was just annoyed.
Of course, the pressure to have the perfect honeymoon is nothing new. It’s existed for decades and, like most things, as only been exasperated through the popularity of social media. While I certainly haven’t escaped the societal expectation to have a picture-perfect wedding altogether, for the most part I’ve been able to keep my head above water — to focus on the actual purpose of the wedding rather than the spectacle of it all. But this tiny question about our 5-day honeymoon made me angry.
It’s not because I don’t think that it’s wonderful that many people can afford to have a post-wedding mini celebration before their ultimate, once-in-a-lifetime getaway. The concept, in and of itself, is nice enough. The thing that gets under my skin is the idea that we are all now expected to have a mini-moon and, therefore, also expected to have a honeymoon that outdoes the mini-moon. The people who innocently inquired if my honeymoon is a mini-moon weren’t asking just to be rude; they were asking because we’re all getting accustomed to believing that anything less than a two week, 5-star, globe-trotting trip isn’t a real honeymoon. We’re all being conditioned to believe that anything less than that is something smaller, something less significant. Something like a mini-moon.
It’s easy to see a dozen posts about mini-moons and over-the-top honeymoons and think that unless you have that and exactly that, your wedding experience will be less than. It’s much, much harder to remember that the pressure we all feel to meet some unattainable standard is manufactured to serve one very specific purpose: To make the wedding industry more money. Granted, I’m sure that no one has ever gone on a mini-moon and regretted it afterward. It is an extra vacation, after all. But if you don’t have one? If I don’t have one? We’ll be just fine.
So, no, my five-day honeymoon isn’t a mini-moon. It’s not a globe-trekking, six-figure investment. But it’s exactly what my fiance and I sat down and decided on, at this exact point in our lives. When I look back on it one day, I’ll think about how the whole trip was booked in one lazy Saturday afternoon after when I looked at my fiance and said, “Hey, how about Montana?” and then made reservations a few hours later on a whim. I won’t be thinking about mini-moons or how cool a safari would have looked on Instagram or what people thought of where we went, or how long we went there for. I’ll just be thinking about this time of our lives, and us — and that? That’s really all that matters.