Second only to the wedding itself, a couple's honeymoon is one of the biggest and most memorable events of their lives. Like the wedding, it is the result of months of careful planning. While some couples are choosing the Caribbean, Mexico or tropical islands, many of today's couples are looking to Europe for their trip of a lifetime. A European honeymoon can be comparable, but more likely, more expensive than a Caribbean trip. However many couples today are marrying older and therefore established financially, making Europe a honeymoon within their means.
The most popular countries chosen are Greece, Italy, France and England. "We both really wanted to go to London but I also wanted to go to Italy. My husband not being keen on Italy, we finally chose Paris because it's supposed to be such a romantic city and because we both already spoke a bit of French," says Andrea Phillips of her honeymoon.
Even in today's shaky economy couples are choosing a trip based on factors other than money. Europe has become a popular choice since many couples have already traveled the island before with their fiance. "I worked for American Airlines for 10 years. I had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling. The Caribbean is beautiful but basically all the same. After you get married it would be much easier to run to the Caribbean for a quick getaway than it will be run to Europe," says Valierie Donofrio of her European honeymoon of May 2001.
"Many couples have seen all the islands already," says Carol of Majestic Travel in Lindenhurst. Couples want their honeymoon to be a once in a lifetime, memorable event and the keyword today is different. "Some couples are looking for something other than the beach," says Anita of Mike Levine Travel Center in Deer Park. Though a trip to Europe can be a little more costly due to expanded flying, costs too depend on the time of the year. Still, many couples are able to spend more money affording them a luxurious European honeymoon. For Andrea and Matt Phillips, the Caribbean never even crossed their minds. "We're museum people, not beach people. We both have awful fair skin and freckles so going to the islands wasn't desirable."
Besides money, couples often have more time to actually travel. Though a European trip can be planned for a week's time, most travel agents recommend having anywhere from 10-14 days to work with. "You can do it in a week but keep in mind that you lose 2 days just in travel," says Beverly Caine of Tivol Travel in Massapequa. A week often limits a couple to one city destination, possibly two at most. "We had a luxurious two whole weeks so we spent one in London and one in Paris. It was enough time that we were satisfied and by the end of it we were looking forward to getting home. On the other hand if we were to go back, there were a million things we could still do," says Phillips.
Couples planning a European honeymoon are educated consumers. They've done their homework. Most go in to an agency with a specific destination in mind. Most have researched the countries they're interested in via the Internet or at the least through travel guides. "With the help of Pat Buto and Liberty Travel in Deer Park I was able to choose an itinerary that was very appealing at every port. Pat recommended Celebrity Cruise lines and the ship Millennium had 13 ports of call," says Donofrio.
"First times are encouraged to look at Fodor's guides to get familiar with their destination," says Carol of Majestic Travel. Many travel agencies provide travelers with material pertinent to their specific trip. "Our office has a 10 Commandments for World Travel that we give our clients. In addition, we give them a customized itinerary that includes details of all the locations they are going to, currency exchange information and restaurant and cultural information," says Beverly Caine of Tivoli Travel. The biggest concern is having the proper documentation when leaving the States.