My husband and I had what should have been the perfect honeymoon: two days after our wedding in August 2008, we flew up to British Columbia and spent five nights at a secluded inn. By day we luxuriated in treatments at the resort’s award-winning spa, and by night we stuffed ourselves silly at the uber-gourmet restaurant, indulging in all the butter and fine wine that we’d avoided pre-wedding.

I know that my honeymoon may sound like it was the perfect respite after the stress and chaos of planning a major event, but the truth is, I kind of wish we’d put it off. While it was certainly relaxing, it didn’t exactly feel romantic or “honeymoonish” until the last day. Exhausted in every physical and mental sense of the word, I think both my husband and I would have been content to simply stay at home and sleep for three days straight (even in separate rooms!) and then take a honeymoon a few months later when we could really enjoy each other.

So I started asking around to see how other women I know felt about the subject.

As it turns out, many of them took their honeymoon right away and were glad that they did. My brother and sister-in-law, who married in 2005, took a two week trip to Vietnam a couple days after their nuptials. “Going right after was the right call for us,” says my sister-in-law. “We wanted to make a break from all the wedding planning stuff and celebrate being married.” Her only regret, in retrospect, was that she wished they’d picked a destination geared more toward relaxing than travel.

An immediate honeymoon dedicated to relaxing is exactly what a work acquaintance of mine calls the “carrot” dangling in front of her nose as she planned her wedding. She and her husband left for Kauai the day after their wedding in June 2008. “Keeping in mind that I would soon be reading my book on a beach in paradise with my new husband is what helped keep me focused and grounded during the fanatical process of planning a wedding,” she said. Like me, she was surprised to find that it took her longer to loosen up than she’d expected, but instead of putting off her honeymoon, she simply would have extended it by a week.

I should have thought of that myself. Honeymoons of a week or more will allow you ample time to rest, refresh and celebrate as you cycle through all the emotions and stress-release that follow such a major, life-altering event. My friend who married in June 2007, was able to have an amazing two-week honeymoon with four very different components. First, they spent three nights in Paris in a family apartment where they mostly slept and sat around doing as little as possible. Second, they had what she calls the “real” or romantic part of the honeymoon – five days in Italy where they relaxed in the sun, ate good food and drank champagne. Third, they then spent five days in southern France with her husband’s parents which was another great way to reminisce about the wedding and celebrate their new status as one family. And, finally, they returned to the U.S. and spent three days at a bed and breakfast for a little more recuperation. “We spent a lot of time reflecting and discussing our wedding and how much fun we had, It was a special time and I don’t think we would have had as many emotional discussions had the honeymoon taken place a while after the wedding.”

Now, not everyone can afford such a lovely, lavish honeymoon, but the principles remain the same no matter the number of stars allotted to your hotel – know that you will need some time to decompress before you can really indulge. If time and money aren’t on your side, another good option is to have two honeymoons like another friend of mine, who, right after her wedding in July 2004 took an easy road trip around the northeast and Canada, and then, about two years later, after they’d saved up, went on a second honeymoon to Thailand. “I would not have been up for Thailand right after even if we had the money so I think it worked out just right,” she says.

My close friend, who got married in June 1998, actually had three honeymoons. The first was a quick road trip through California to see family and go to Disneyland right after the wedding, and the second was a trip to Hawaii with her husband’s parents a few months later. Their official honeymoon – a month in Europe – came a year later.

Seeing as how I can’t go back in time and extend my honeymoon, I’ve decided to follow all leads. My husband and I have 10 weddings to attend this year and we’ve agreed that each one will be another honeymoon for us, kind of like it will never be over.

That is, until we have kids …

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