Are you planning a buddymoon or attending one? Then, you may wonder what this concept of a group honeymoon is all about.
The first thought that may come to mind is the quirky 2016 comedy of the same name. The movie was about a poor guy who gets dumped by his fiancee only days before the wedding. His best friend decides to take him on a trip, a buddymoon, to help him get over the loss.
But the origin of the term goes back further. In 2012, a trend piece in The New York Times reported that the idea of sharing a honeymoon with friends was popularized when celebrity couples like Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, and Blake Shelter and Miranda Lambert (the wife before Gwen Stefani) had lavish buddymoons with an entourage of friends.
More recently, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin took their friends to the Maldives after their wedding, and Serena Williams and Alexic Ohanian took their friends to the Bahamas.
But buddymoons aren’t just for the rich and famous. More than a decade later, another reporter from The New York Times spoke to ordinary couples who had “buddy-mooned” and asked me to weigh in (wearing my psychologist hat) on the trend.
It got me thinking about the phenomenon and speaking to a few experts to find out what it is, how to plan one, and what the possible pitfalls might be.
Hopefully, my research can be helpful to those planning a still non-traditional honeymoon, their family who want to understand this shared experience, and anyone who is invited to such a celebration.
What is a buddymoon?
We typically associate honeymoons with couples but the excuse for a lavish vacation has expanded to other “moons,” including babymoons and buddymoons.
THE DEFINITION: A buddymoon is a honeymoon taken with a group of friends and sometimes even family.
Why do some newlyweds choose buddymoons over honeymoons?
Times are different now from when couples looked forward to honeymoons, perhaps as the first time they could truly spend intimate time together.
Couples tend to marry older and are more likely to live together before marriage. Thus, honeymoons often are more opportunities for exotic getaways to relax and share the discovery of a destination as opposed to discovering one another.
It’s also a chance for a couple to offer other important people in their lives an opportunity to participate and bear witness to this special event.
The buddymoon may be especially appealing to couples for whom the wedding has been a strain because of fractured nuclear families (e.g. parents with an acrimonious divorce or estranged family members). After the wedding, it’s a chance to be with the “family” they choose (the people with whom they would spend Friendsgiving:-).
Does pop culture play any role in the motivation for buddymoons?
Of course! With the popularity of celebrity buddymoons (with the hosts being able to pick up the entire cost), some couples may feel like it’s a way to make their wedding more special and over the top.
What are the benefits of a group post-wedding vacation?
Although the planning phase can be long and tortuous, weddings are over in the blink of an eye. If a couple has a large traditional wedding with a mix of family and friends, they may not have as much time to devote to their close friends.
By sharing a relaxed post-wedding vacation with them, they are signaling the importance of these friendships, making their friends a surrogate family of sorts. They are telling them that friends are an important part of their marriage.
If a couple has friends from different stages and circumstances (e.g. work friends and personal friends) of their lives, it is a chance for them to introduce their friends to each other and to build a cohesive friend group for the future.
How do you balance the mix of different friend groups with family?
The decision depends on the couple, their friends and their family. Will they feel like they have to juggle two groups or will the two groups be an homogenous blend? It may be easier to involve siblings than parents.
Not involving family members may make them feel excluded; on the other hand, friends (and the couple) may feel uncomfortable with an older generation in the mix.
Tips for planning a successful buddymoon
Choose an ideal destination
Depending upon the ages and activity levels, I would recommend anywhere that easily provides different options for exploration,” says travel expert Vanessa Gordon, publisher of East End Taste, a Hamptons-focused magazine.
She offers the example of a destination or resort that offers a wide variety of activities and experiences..”Unless, of course, everyone in the group is say a ski enthusiast or avid golfer. If everyone has the same interest, a specified or focused travel experience can be a great option with less planning involved,” she says.
Handle money issues upfront, invariably sticky!
Money can become a sticky issue unless a couple has the wherewithal to pay the entire cost of the buddymoon for themselves and their guests. And it is unlikely that everyone in the group will have deep pockets.
Couples can cover certain expenses, such as accommodations and family or friends may pitch in to cover other costs. Alternatively, the costs may be split evenly among the group.
But it’s vitally important that everyone has some idea of what costs will be entailed and if any of those costs will be covered by the couple.
“Make sure that expense responsibilities are made clear,” says Gordon. “Oftentimes, this presents as an issue during or after the trip, that someone paid more for something or ended up footing the bill, etc. which can cause tension later on.
Do what you can to make the cost of the trip doable
Kourtney Shepard, a vacation rental host at Lone Star Casitas in Surfside, Texas, has hosted four buddymoons this year.
To keep costs down, she suggests that couples choose a location convenient to a major airport, and schedule the trip during shoulder seasons when costs are lower and crowds are fewer.
Some resorts, like Grand Velas, which has four properties in Mexico, offer special packages for groups with reduced rates.
A buddymoon at an all-inclusive resort or on a mostly-inclusive cruise ship means that people won’t have to continually reach into their pockets every time they want a drink or a snack. They’ll be able to gauge whether the investment is one they can afford before they commit.
Allow for time together and time apart
Consider accommodations that offer both common spaces for group gatherings and also private spaces,” says Ritesh Raj, COO of CuddlyNest, an accommodations booking platform. Even the wedding couple may decide they need some intimate time and space. “It’s about creating a balance that caters to the needs of the group while respecting individual preferences,” he says.
Spacious rental villas, luxury hotels or resorts, and cruise ships are great options for members of a buddymoon to spend time together and time apart.
It’s often helpful to designate one close friend to involve the larger group in deciding what to do as a group. It’s also helpful to give people options and some down time on their own.
What could go wrong?
Potentially, a lot. Here are some possibilities:
- Even at the get-go, choices may have to be made and friends who are left out of the group can feel excluded, one-down and irreparably hurt.
- One partner may be more eager to have a buddymoon than the other. For example, the bride may be an extrovert who loves being with people while her introverted partner may find the very thought of such closeness draining. One may go along with the idea to make the other happy and wind up feeling like it was a mistake.
- After they have attended a destination wedding and shelled out the cost of doing so, some friends may not have the time or money to participate in a buddymoon. They may find it hard to say no and the couple may feel rejected or insulted by those who chose not to participate.
- Celebratory contexts often entail drinking and things can get out of hand.
- There may be discomfort among single friends if most people in the group are coupled.
- Finally, there may be conflicts between friends and/or family who are brought together for the first time, have no ties to each other apart from their connection to the bride and groom, and rub each other the wrong way.
- The couple and their invitees can be saddled with debt when they return home.
Remember: No honeymoon, vacation or BUDDYMOON is ever perfect
Couples and invitees need to be flexible and expect the unexpected.
“Things can arise during the trip that may not necessarily happen at home or at your and your friend’s regular comfort zones,” says Gordon. “Things that may seem trivial in hindsight can make or break a relationship.”
“If issues arise in advance,” she warns, “it’s more than likely these issues will escalate during the trip,” she says.
In the end, adding a communal aspect to the honeymoon can create lasting memories for the couple and everyone else along on the trip.
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