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Behind the latest wedding craze: the ‘buddymoon’

Romantic? Maybe not. An adventure to remember for a lifetime? Definitely.

Over the past decade, “buddymoons”—yes, you read that right—started bubbling up on Instagram and TikTok and have only become more popular. Luxury wedding planner Marcy Blum told the Washington Post that out of the 10 weddings she usually plans yearly, at least two couples want a more communal post-nuptial celebration.

Social media influencers Hannah Godwin and Dylan Barbour of “Bachelor in Paradise” took 13 of their friends to Mykonos after their nuptials in Condécourt, France, in 2023. Meanwhile, singer Meghan Trainor and “Spy Kids” star Daryl Sabara jetted off to Bora Bora with friends and family to celebrate their union in 2018.

Like at weddings, where friends and family are witnesses to a traditional ceremony, inviting friends to a honeymoon functions much the same way, Francez Curbelo told The New York Times after visiting Europe and taking a cruise with her buddies following her nuptials: “You want them to be witnesses to how great of a trip you had.” Of course, this is just one of the many reasons couples opt for a buddymoon.

Curious to know what else nudges couples to take the leap with a big group of friends, Contikitalked to wedding and travel experts, combed the experiences of Redditors, and pulled in interviews of past buddymooners to understand the allure of honeymooning with friends and how the rationale for the trend has changed over time.

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When did ‘buddymoons’ begin?

One of the earliest reports of a buddymoon came from an Australian newspaper in 2010, arguing that perhaps the “buddymoon” was “taking the ‘honey’ out of honeymoon“; the story was picked up by American media when The New York Timescovered it two years later. Back then, Brandon Warner, founder of Traveler’s Joy, a website registry that creates a wish list for couples’ honeymoons, told the Times that the tough economy meant fewer people were taking vacations. Wedding guests were more inclined to tag a vacation onto special events like a wedding to maximize their time investments.

Actors Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston were early adopters in 2015, when they invited Courteney Cox, Chelsea Handler, and Jason Bateman to their honeymoon in Bora Bora. Both were in their mid-40s at the time, deciding to “keep the party going, relax, and have fun” rather than opt for a “normal honeymoon,” Theroux told Extra.

Honeymooning differently

Relationship scientist Rachel Vanderbilt told The Washington Post the buddymoon phenomenon is due to marriage traditions changing over time. “The initial conception of a honeymoon was a discovery process,” she said, whereas now “the honeymoon is no longer that really foundational part of starting your marriage.”

Americans are saying “I do” at an older age. Additionally, the Pew Research Center found in 2021 that a quarter of 40-year-olds in the United States had never been married. While couples delay tying the knot, they still move in together. In 2022, almost 1 in 4 never-married adults ages 40 to 44 chose to live under one roof instead. Buddymoons, then, become an exciting departure from a couple’s normal patterns, seeing their partners at home day in and day out.

As Michael Torbiak of M.domo Travel explained to The Zoe Report, people celebrating a second marriage may also want to honeymoon differently than was once the norm. “People want to keep the wedding going sometimes instead of going on a quiet honeymoon with just their spouse,” Torbiak said.

Sarah Schreiber, associate editorial director of the wedding publication Brides, told Travel Weekly the rise of buddymoons is tied to larger wedding trends like longer, more elaborate destination weddings that can stretch a week and include multiple events. On average, U.S. couples spend seven days on their honeymoon, spending around $4,800 if they travel by plane. Luxury destination trips can cost up to $35,000, Laura Frazier, destination wedding and honeymoon expert, told Brides. Splurging during a big honeymoon on things like renting villas or yachts can be more manageable financially when shared among additional people.

Schreiber also said that in this age of honeymoon luxury, she’s noticed a trend for couples to take traditional honeymoons—and buddymoons. The website Weddingbee also proposes buddymoons as a co-ed, pre-wedding ritual that replaces bachelor and bachelorette parties.

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Friends forever

The COVID-19 pandemic may have also boosted the popularity of buddymoons. Brandon McConnell of the wedding venue Lake Lawn Resort in Wisconsin told Stacker that, especially after the pandemic, clients repeatedly saw “the value of being able to have guests stay and spend time together under one roof.”

Zoe Burke, editor of the wedding planning site Hitched, agrees. She told the U.K. publication The Times: “Let’s face it, you have the rest of your life to be just the two of you, so why not max out the rare time where you have all your loved ones around you?” It can also be a way to show appreciation for friends and family by carving out more time with them rather than just a hurried hello on a busy wedding day.

Jesse Reing, owner of Events by Jesse, which offers customized wedding and travel planning, told Stacker that her clients who have gone on buddymoons have had positive experiences. Couples tell her it feels nostalgic to go on a group trip with people from different phases of their lives and spend quality time with them. In fact, Reing has seen more bachelorette parties focus on wellness rather than partying, so buddymoons offer a chance to continue the celebration differently.

For better, for worse

The unique honeymoon format does have its pros and cons. Lifehacker suggests buddymoons are great for tight-knit friends who hardly can see each other. Extended vacations like these provide valuable time to catch up on each other’s lives.

Redditor raininfordays also adds that it can work if the buddymoon group is fairly independent or helps suggest fun activities. And while raininfordays said they “did [a lot] of things suggested [by others] that we wouldn’t have done otherwise and got some great memories,” they caution couples to “choose wisely,” as inviting self-centered friend groups can make for a bad buddymoon.

However, there may be times when buddymoons aren’t such a good idea.

According to Lifehacker, there are three potential reasons why these honeymoons with friends may not work out: when one or both of the newlyweds are introverted, if the couple values more traditional honeymoons, or when romance is the main objective. As Redditor linerva put it: “I love my partner’s friends, it’s a fun mixed group and we do holiday together sometimes. But if he insisted they all came on our honeymoon it’d be such a red flag.”

So, will buddymoons take over how we traditionally celebrate marriage? Schreiber is skeptical. “I wouldn’t say the just-for-two honeymoon is taking a back seat to buddymoons by any means,” she said, “but they’re becoming more common.”

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