The More Things Change…

Weddings and honeymoon

The weddings and honeymoon market has evolved drastically over the last 80 years, yet there are many aspects that remain the same.

A wedding, which is really the “formality” of the union of a couple, was practiced by all, including the ancient Romans. In the early years (and I am sure it is still practiced in some cultures), this was more about establishing contracts between families either for economic or political gain, rather than about love.

And where there is an event/gathering that brings families together, you will always find an entrepreneur ready to create revenue streams! Hence, the introduction of the wedding ring as a symbol of betrothal. Later, the American jewelry industry started promoting the double-ring ceremony as a way to increase sales. 

Wedding Planning

It stands to reason that where the opportunity exists to create a niche market and increase revenue to one’s bottom line, entrepreneurs will flourish. A wedding, an extension of everyday life, and bringing together families as it does, is no exception. Hence, the introduction of bridal publications!

Brides magazine, founded in 1934, was the first on the scene, followed by Modern Bride in 1949 and Bridal Guide much later. Jacqueline Johnson


There is much debate on the origins of the honeymoon, but one thing everyone agrees on is that it was a time set aside for the couple to get to know each other. The length of honeymoons ranged from a week to a month but today the norm is an eight- to 10-day getaway.

The honeymoon became a  post-wedding fixture in the 1930s, and Niagara Falls, with its cascading waterfalls and activities, was popular among married couples. The destination retained the reputation of being the Honeymoon Capital of the World for years.

The title was taken over by the Poconos in the beginning of the 20th century. It was the hangout of major celebrities, and just as any other celebrity hangout, the crowd soon followed them there. Soldiers returning from or going to World War II, too, made it their romantic stop.

Marketing was the key to getting the “romance” of the Poconos into the minds of engaged couples—hence the introduction of the first heart-shaped tub, round bed, mirrored ceilings, champagne-glass Jacuzzi. The Poconos had it all, including a comprehensive package with sports, dining, massages and everything else to enhance the romantic experience.

The Poconos’ dominance in the honeymoon market was such that all the magazines devoted a special feature in every issue they published.



Honeymoons Go On

Honeymoons have always been about the exotic. Of course, what defines exotic has been contingent on the scope of the current world. In the 1930s, with limited means of transportation and a world whose borders and development looked completely different, exotic meant hopping on a train to Niagara Falls or the Poconos for a quaint lovers’ getaway.

The same was true for destination weddings. Sandra Smith, owner of Directional Strategies Travel, says, “My parents ‘destination wedding’ took place in Angola, IN, just south of the Michigan border. They stayed nearby for a night for their honeymoon.” This was the way it was all over the U.S.

Well, times have certainly changed and today’s honeymooners long for the distant, the unknown and the overly luxurious. “Couples now want the most exotic destinations and resorts, and something that no one else has done for a honeymoon. And, they want their dreams fulfilled in far off places,” says Smith.

So where are these modern-day honeymooners going? For thirteen years, Modern Bride Magazine has polled thousands of travel agents to determine each year’s top honeymoon destinations. Here’s the Top 10 for 2009, the result of polling more than 6,000 travel agents in the Virtuoso network:
1. Italy 2. Hawaii 3. Tahiti 4. France 5. Greece
6. Bali 7. Mexico 8. Fiji 9. Maldives 10. St. Lucia

And whatever happened to Niagara Falls? According to the Niagara Falls Tourism Office, honeymoons to the Falls date to the early 19th century. It is reported that the tradition either began in 1801 with Aaron Burr’s daughter’s honeymoon, or 1804 with Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Jerome’s.

While not as popular as it once was, the destination still welcomes thousands of honeymooners each year. Niagara Falls is home to over 50 hotels with an array of honeymoon suites. Once settled in, newlyweds will find a host of activities, such as the Maid of the Mist boat tour and Journey Behind the Falls, to eight golf courses, 25 vineyards, the Fallsview Casino Resort and more. It may not be as exotic as it used to be, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. —Meagan Drillinger


Market Changes

It would only be a matter of time before the rest of the world started perfecting the “Poconos experience” and throwing in the lure of distant travel to exotic and faraway lands—the crystal- clear blue water, warm weather, hospitable locals and competitive pricing.

Sandals Resorts quickly became the leader in the promotion of honeymoons and weddings outside of the country, with firm hold on the Caribbean.

Destination Weddings

Destination weddings became a trend in the late 1990s as more and more couples sought unique ways to get married. They got bored with the traditional, elaborate extravaganzas, and what better way to trim down the guest list (thereby getting rid of family members who are prone to cause you embarrassment on this important day)?


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