By CHRISTINA VALHOULI
Unlike many brides, the last thing Kersten Deck wanted to do after her wedding last May was go on a big, fancy honeymoon.
“The whole idea was just so overwhelming,” said Mrs. Deck, 32, of San Diego. “I just had way too much going on with the wedding to be able to plan a honeymoon at the same time. My house was a disaster, and my work was piling up.”
After their wedding, Mrs. Deck, a fund-raiser at Planned Parenthood, and her husband, Christian, 33, a scientist at General Atomics, the aeronautical and nuclear technology company, chose something that has come to be known as a mini-moon. The couple spent two nights at a cottage in Big Sur that they found online for about $500. Mrs. Deck described the place as being “straight out of ‘The Hobbit.’ ” They plan to go to Croatia and Slovenia in November for their honeymoon.
“We’re big, big planners,” Mrs. Deck said.
“We’re not Sandals or Beaches people,” she said, referring to the popular couples resorts, “so I needed more time to plan. Big Sur still felt like a honeymoon, even though we just traveled a few miles down Highway 1. We just hung out, went hiking and ate leftover wedding food.”
So what, exactly, is a mini-moon? Technically, it’s a short wedding trip for those couples who put off a longer excursion because of work, lack of money or because they married in the wrong season. For example, a couple marrying in August may choose to postpone a Caribbean honeymoon to avoid hurricanes. Others may dream of a ski honeymoon to, say, Whistler, British Columbia, but a June wedding means that has to be put off.
While the popularity of the short wedding trip is difficult to gauge, it does seem to reflect, for some, the mood of the times.
“Mini-moons are consistent with the spirit of economic sobriety that has come over many young adults today,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “Given high levels of unemployment and underemployment, and greater fears about their economic future, many young adults may well be cautious about dropping a lot of money on a big honeymoon.”
David Huether, the senior vice president for research at the U.S. Travel Association in Washington, noted that marrying couples tend to be older than those of a generation ago and often have more demands in their lives.
Chris Pulito, the general manager of the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, N.Y., said he had seen a big increase in couples planning shorter trips after their weddings. “Fifteen years ago, I worked at a hotel in Stowe, and when we had a wedding, we automatically booked a limo for Sunday morning to take the couple to the airport for their honeymoon,” he said. “That doesn’t happen anymore.”
He added that of the 38 destination weddings held at the lodge in the last 12 months, about half the couples opted for a mini-moon, either there or somewhere fairly close like Montreal. When both the brides and grooms work, “it’s just not realistic for them to take two weeks off right after the wedding and fly to Bora Bora,” he said.
Tara Pollak, 29, an online marketer in New York, and her husband, Jonathan, 31, who works in marketing for a retailer that sells outdoors goods, were married around last Thanksgiving, but his job prevented them from taking time off around the holidays. They also wanted to save up for a big trip. But as word spread that they wouldn’t be going on a honeymoon, their friends and family were unpleasantly surprised.
“My mom was like, ‘You can’t not go on honeymoon!’ ” Mrs. Pollak said. The compromise? Three nights in a bed-and-breakfast on the East End of Long Island.
A few months later, the couple went to London for a week.
“Because we delayed the big honeymoon, we could save up for it and it was also cheaper to go in January,” Mrs. Pollak said.
Emily and Matt Abrahamson were married in September 2012 in Geneva, Ill. They took a three night mini-moon in Montreal, as Mr. Abrahamson was in graduate school at the time and could not take more time off.
“A short trip allowed us to indulge and go all out,” said Mrs. Abrahamson, 25, who works at a Lutheran seminary in Chicago. “We were eating bison carpaccio and oysters, and spending time in Scandinavian spas. We couldn’t have kept up that pace for more than a few days.”
Four months later, the Abrahamsons had a two-week honeymoon in Costa Rica.
“It was fun because it felt like the wedding was being extended,” Mrs. Abrahamson said.
But does a delayed honeymoon still count as a honeymoon, or is it another vacation? All the couples interviewed were adamant that the second trip was the real thing. Most couples choose a far-flung place they might never have a chance to visit again.
For some couples, budget is not as much of an issue as planning fatigue and pressure to make it all perfect. After all, a wedding is only one day while a honeymoon lasts longer.
Ruchi Dungarani, 33, of New York, is a marketing manager for American Express who was married in May 2012. She always knew she would take a mini-moon followed by a second, more-elaborate trip because of the sheer effort involved in planning her 500-guest wedding.
“You really want your honeymoon to be perfect, and have the time to pick the right jewelry and go shopping for the right clothes,” Mrs. Dungarani said. “But I didn’t have time to do this, because I was worrying about seating charts and flowers. Wedding planning is just so stressful.”
After the wedding, Mrs. Dungarani and her husband, Dr. Trushar Dungarani, 33, an internist, took a quick trip to the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. They thought they would go to Bora Bora for their honeymoon, but the long flight put them off. They settled on the Turks and Caicos a few months later.
“Some girls dream of their wedding, but I was always dreaming about my honeymoon,” she said. “I think it’s even more romantic than the wedding because it’s just about the two of you.” And no seating charts in sight.