With the summer wedding season quickly approaching, soon-to-be brides and grooms are finalizing plans for their honeymoon. The term honeymoon as we know it today refers, of course, to a trip the newlyweds take at some point following the wedding; however, very little of the trip actually relates honey or moons. Etymologically, moon shares a root with month, so, when combined with honey, honeymoon refers to the sweetness of the month immediately following the wedding. If you were looking for an excuse to plan a month-long vacation to celebrate your recent nuptials, take this as your sign 😉.
While my husband and I did not honeymoon for an entire month, we did escape the chilly midwestern spring for a beautiful week in southern California immediately following our wedding last year. A traveler at heart, Bertie has a talent for planning thoughtful trips, with just the right mix of activity and relaxation. Here are some of recommendations based on small things that made our trip so special. You can keep these tips in your back pocket for your own honeymoon—whether it’s just around the corner this summer or in the future.
Book Stays in Multiple Locales
Bertie’s “trademark” when it comes to planning travels is to stay in multiple locations throughout the trip, even if that simply means different hotels in the same city. His philosophy is to see the most that an area has to offer, so we kicked off our honeymoon with a stay at a fun hotel in Long Beach, California. Our room overlooked the bay and was a short drive to the bustling restaurant district where we had a seafood dinner following a walk on the beach. We then traded in our ocean view for a mountain view and drove three hours inland to stay in La Quinta, California just outside of Palm Springs. We stayed in a casita at La Quinta Resort and Club, a white-washed, terracotta-roofed, historic hotel that enjoyed its heyday in the 1930s with frequent Hollywood stars as guests (I joked that Cary Grant must have stayed in our room!). While the beach was still chilly in August, the desert air in near Palm Springs was warm and perfect. We got our fill of poolside sunbathing before packing up and finishing out the trip in the surfing capital of the world, Huntington Beach. La Quinta resort was classy and had an old-time feel, whereas Huntington offered that classic, southern California surf city vibe. My recommendation to anyone planning a vacation is to research your destination and the surrounding areas and choose multiple sites to visit and explore.
Give Each Other a Small Gift Everyday
The first morning of our trip, Bertie surprised me with a small package of L’Occitane hand cream. The next morning, he surprised me again with another wrapped package containing lavender-scented bubble bath in honor of our wedding flowers. He had planned a small gift to give to me on each day of the honeymoon, an idea that he had heard from his college swim coach who had done the same for his wife many moons before. I will always remember this sweet gesture! Some of the other gifts included a copy of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and a journal that we then used to chronicle our first year of marriage together. The gifts need not be elaborate or expensive—just a small something that you know your spouse will love and cherish.
Balance Fancy Meals with Casual and Local Cuisine
Experiencing the cuisine options in a new locale is perhaps one of the most fun parts of a vacation. One of the best decisions Bertie and I made during our California honeymoon was to keep our dining choices balanced. In La Quinta, we got dolled up and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at one of the resort’s premiere restaurants, Morgan’s in the Desert, where we ordered the full kit and kaboodle, from starters to dessert. The next night in Huntington Beach, we hunted down a famed restaurant this midwestern girl had been dying to try: In-N-Out Burger. We ordered the full kit and kaboodle there, too, from animal fries (on their secret menu) to milkshakes. When a waiter came to clear our table, she noticed Bertie and I holding hands across the table and said, “Excuse me, lovebirds,” to which we smiled and replied that we were on our honeymoon. “Oh!” she said, surprised. “Well… thank you for coming to In-N-Out.” I doubt the fast food chain gets many honeymooners. We love to recall that story!
End the Trip With a Fun, Bucket List Item
Our final destination in Huntington Beach was only about a twenty minute drive away from Anaheim, so you can bet that we spent the last day of the honeymoon at Disneyland. Following our relaxing beach and poolside, desert stays with a go-go day with Mickey was one of our favorite decisions. We got up early to make the most of our time, pinned “Happily Ever After” buttons to our shirts, and even received an unexpected walk-on to a ride of our choice, escorted by a kind Disney employee who saw our buttons and wanted to give us a little “wedding gift.”
Our honeymoon travels to California was the perfect way to celebrate our new marriage; the sweet trip together is a week we will always remember fondly. We hope you take some pages from our book and keep your honeymoon fun and balanced. Most of all, enjoy the time together!
Jordan is a writer, educator, artist, and all-around lover of words. An English teacher by day, she is also a classically trained singer and pursues creativity in many forms—from singing and writing, to creating artwork and designing spaces to host family and friends.