COVID-19 may have forced many engaged couples to rethink their original wedding plans (Zoom ceremony, anyone?), but realities of pandemic living certainly hasn’t stopped all “I dos.” While some are putting a pin in their nuptial timeline, others prefer to not put their lives on hold and are instead opting to elope or host smaller, scaled down celebrations. But, following that decidedly more minimalist pandemic-era reception, what about the pandemic honeymoon? How are happy newlyweds kicking off their new relationship status when traveling right now is iffy at best in the safety department?
According to research, just like many weddings, pandemic honeymoons look quite different than pre-pandemic honeymoon plans. In July, honeymoon registry service Honeyfund polled 819 soon-to-be-wed couples and found that only 7 percent of respondents were sticking to their original plans. Here, 10 COVID-19-era newlyweds share how they celebrated in the days following “I do.”
10 newlyweds share details on their pandemic honeymoon plans.
1. “We were happy to simply stay home and relax.”
Originally, Idaho-based Laura Reed-Newbold and her partner [whom she married at a small ceremony in June] were planning on taking a mini-moon to Nevada. But after deciding to put that trip on hold, they spent their first few married days spending time with family they couldn’t see at the wedding (as a result of needing to cut down the guest list dramatically).
Besides that, they enjoyed a quiet week at home. “We were happy to simply stay home and relax after working so hard for our wedding and dealing with all the stressful things that went wrong leading up to it.”
2. “We ate pizza, got drunk, and had a dance party, just the two of us. All in all, it was a pretty lovely night.”
Before the pandemic, Jami Baker and her now-husband Bryson Cook were planning on having an epic weeklong wedding celebration in San Francisco, which didn’t happen. When their original May 30 wedding date rolled around, they still got married—even if only a few people could attend—and then relaxed at home instead of honeymooning in Italy.
“I got a fresh haircut and blowout—for the first time in months—and felt like a new woman,” Baker says. They got married in her parents’ kitchen, and a family friend notarized the marriage certificate. “We ate pizza, got drunk, and had a dance party, just the two of us,” Baker says. “All in all, it was a pretty lovely night, and we are happy we stuck to our original date.”
The next day, Baker says “we made some Moscow mules and relaxed at our pool,” Baker says. “We texted with all our friends and family that it was official.” Now, they’re planning a road-trip getaway to a friend’s cabin in Georgia. “It will just be us, and I suppose we can consider that our honeymoon,” Baker says.
3. “We enjoyed each other’s company with champagne, delicious food, and laughter.”
Rachel Johnson Burns and her fiancé got married at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse on August 5 after canceling her June 25 wedding.
They spent their first few days as newlyweds at the Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, which didn’t require any traveling. “We celebrated with my mother, sister, and husband’s father, who drove in from Arizona,” she says. “It was stress-free, and we truly enjoyed each other’s company with champagne, delicious food, and laughter.” She says having this time to celebrate with her new husband and family reminded her what the purpose of the wedding was truly about. “He is my forever, and that is what counts,” she says.
4. “We rented a house on Airbnb, and it was better than we could have imagined.”
“We were originally going to get married on a cliff in Malibu with our families, then throw a huge party a few days later,” says Robyn Moore Patterson. Because she and her partner live in Arizona and didn’t want to travel, they eloped locally. “We picked a random Tuesday, May 12, to avoid crowds since we did not really have a venue, per se, just the beautiful outdoors,” Patterson says. Her brother officiated the wedding, and their parents and siblings were the only guests.
“We rented a house on Airbnb, and it was even better than we could have imagined. It felt like we had our own private resort.” —Robyn Moore Patterson
Patterson and her partner shifted their three-week European honeymoon plan to a safer pandemic honeymoon. “We rented a house on Airbnb, and it was even better than we could have imagined,” Patterson says. “It felt like we had our own private resort.” She says keeping it simple allowed them to focus on what was truly important: each other.
5. “We spent a few days watching movies, playing board games, and going on walks.”
Hannah Braly and her partner had spent months looking forward to a honeymoon in Belize. “Our original plans were to spend the first few days of married life snuggling in a water bungalow, snorkeling, drinking margaritas, and relaxing,” she says. That didn’t happen, but their pandemic honeymoon still involved celebrating—plenty of snuggling included.
After their wedding, the couple rented a small cabin in the woods. “Due to the rainy weather, we spent the few days we had watching movies, playing board games, and going on walks when the weather permitted,” she says. “Though it didn’t feel as fun and adventurous as Belize would have, we were so happy to be finally married that nothing could have taken that away from us.”
6. “My husband surprised me with a mini-moon.”
Hannah Brady says the stress of having to scaling down her wedding meant nothing about it looked how she had planned: The venue changed; many of her loved ones couldn’t be there; and even her wedding dress was different because she was planning to wearing the same gown her grandmother and mother wore for their weddings, but since they could no longer travel, she had to quickly find something else.
Ultimately, Brady and her husband got married at a local Colorado courthouse and then had a small ceremony with a few close loved ones at a local Airbnb. “Immediately after we finished our photos, I took off my makeup and wedding dress. Then, I put on overalls and hung out with the family,” she says. “My husband and I made tacos that night for dinner, as an ode to us meeting in Texas.” The wedding was the first time the two families were meeting each other, so they used that time to get to know each other.
After their respected families went home, the couple celebrated just the two of them. They hadn’t planned on having a honeymoon, but Brady’s husband ended up surprising her with a mini-moon in Boulder, driving distance from where they live. Now, they’re planning on taking a bigger, belated honeymoon in Europe next year.
7. “My husband made slideshow of photos of us over the years.”
Jameca Woody Cooper, PhD, and her husband got married in April with 60 of their family and friends tuning in over Zoom. “Because this was the second marriage for both of us, we probably felt less anxiety than we would have had this been a first time for us,” Dr. Cooper says. She says they were more anxious about experiencing technical difficulties than they were about getting married. “We did have conversations with each other about feeling disappointed that we were not able to do it in person and actually see and spend time with our family and friends,” she adds.
Dr. Cooper and her husband had planned on honeymooning in Europe, but after their virtual wedding, they ended up spending the night at a local hotel, so that way it felt just a bit different than just sleeping at home. “My husband made a slideshow of photos of us over the years,” Dr. Cooper says. They’re now planning on taking a pandemic honeymoon to New Mexico and hope to make it to Europe next year.
8. “It was amazing to get out of the house and to have our first long road trip in awhile.”
Rachel Painter and her partner, whom she married in June, planned two destination honeymoons before deciding plane travel just wasn’t in the cards. “Initially we had a honeymoon scheduled in Portugal, then we rebooked to Hawaii instead because we thought it might be safer. Nope!” Painter says. “We decided to not even entertain the idea of honeymoon plans for the rest of this year.”
“I’m so grateful for our mini-moon because it gave me and my partner a tremendous source of newlywed joy we didn’t think we could have during this time.” —Rachel Painter
After a small backyard ceremony, her partner’s grandparents surprised them with a local condo rental a few hours drive away. “It was amazing to get out of the house and to have our first long road trip in awhile,” Painter says. “I’m so grateful for our mini-moon because it gave me and my partner a tremendous source of newlywed joy we didn’t think we could have during this time. It was the first time we could truly relax and have fun being a couple without all the fears and frustrations we’d had with wedding planning up to that point. Since then, we’ve made it much more of a priority to have date nights and treat each other to good times. Life is too short to let a pandemic steal simple, achievable joys, like movie-rental night.”
9. “We just want some peace and quiet, a view of the ocean, and a cold cocktail.”
Black Bourbon Society founder Samara Rivers (now Davis) and her fiancé Armond Davis were planning on keeping their wedding celebration small, even before the pandemic hit. They celebrated with a small ceremony, with relatives who didn’t live nearby tuning in via Zoom.
Originally, the couple planned to take a mini-moon in Miami, but after cases of COVID-19 started spiking in Florida, they decided to cancel. Instead, they kicked off married life with an intimate rooftop luncheon with a few loved ones. “We had the entire restaurant to ourselves so our guests could safely spread out and enjoy a nice meal with us,” she says. But the very next day, they were back to business as usual. “We immediately went back to working, taking conference calls and all,” Davis says. The couple is now planning a belated pandemic honeymoon to Tulum, Mexico, for when it feels safer to travel. “We just want some peace and quiet, a view of the ocean, and a cold cocktail.”
10. “We ordered in from our favorite Italian restaurant and watched the video of our vows.”
Between a big reception with a killer band, a doughnut wall, and late-night pizza bagels served as snacks, Brooke Temner and her fiancé wanted a blowout wedding bash. While they knew those plans had to change, they were still determined to get married and ended up getting married in Central Park with their parents and siblings making up the scaled-down crowd.
Temner and her partner had originally planned on traveling to Portugal after their wedding, but their pandemic honeymoon plan was to spend quality time at home. “We ordered in from our favorite Italian restaurant and watched the video of our vows in Central Park,” she says. While it may not have been the adventurous start to marriage they were hoping for, she says celebrating this way still felt truly special and helped mark a whole new chapter in their lives together.
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