Why Are These People Inviting Family on Their Honeymoons?

The more the merrier.

When honeymooners Rachel and Shane visit a resort in season one of The White Lotus, the last thing Rachel expects is for her overbearing mother-in-law to interrupt their celebrations. The couple’s intimate, idyllic getaway soon morphs into an invasion of privacy. “Who would agree to their parents intruding on their honeymoon? I ask my husband as I watch the cringey scenario unfold.

A lot of people, as it turns out.

Historically, honeymoons were a time for couples to engage in matrimonial privacy, especially if the marriage was arranged or hastened. And while most honeymoons are still traditionally one-on-one time for the newlyweds, some things about how couples operate have changed over the years. Contemporary couples often live together or date extensively before tying the knot, so the post-wedding intimacy is not as vital. As a result, an increasing number of couples are voluntarily choosing to go on “family honeymoons.”

For 32-year old James Cunningham, a health and nutrition coach from London, a family honeymoon—though unconventional—was a trip he and his partner strongly advocated for. “Family has always been a big part of my life, and my wife feels the same way,” he explains. “For us, the idea of starting this new chapter surrounded by our loved ones just felt right.” After the wedding, both families went on a five-day trip to Maui, Hawaii where they stayed at a spacious beachfront cottage.

“We were still on cloud nine at that time, and going straight into our honeymoon with our families just kept that joyous momentum going,” Cunningham says.

Family under arch
Sportstock/E+/Getty Images

Turning a honeymoon into a family vacation can be motivated by a number of factors. Some of these factors include economic or financial considerations, since a larger group often means sharing expenses. It may also be more cost effective—and pleasant—to rent out a house or a bigger property. Cunningham and his family opted for a cottage over hotel rooms because they wanted to feel at home and have space for family members to co-exist comfortably.

Starting marriage off with an emphasis on family also bodes well for the long-term success and happiness of couples as they navigate changing family relationships. “Going on a trip together may help people get to know their in-laws better, or it may help everyone figure out their roles now that the dynamics have changed,” explains psychotherapist and mental health podcast host Amy Morin, LCSW.

Such was the case for Venus Wong, 31, a senior travel writer who traveled with her husband, parents, and grandmother on a 10-day trip to Portugal and Scotland following her wedding. Despite the language barrier between her spouse and her family from Macau, the trip improved their interpersonal family relationships.

“A family honeymoon is different from a family vacation because the emotions post-wedding are so high and full of joy. It’s a fun way to usher in the early stages of marriage,” says Wong. “I found that my parents’ relationship with my husband improved as they bonded over how to best take care of me.”

Of course, family honeymoons also have their challenges. According to Morin, privacy issues can be a big concern if couples are not able to spend time alone away from family, or if they feel pressured or obligated to spend all time together. Cunningham reveals that there were moments when he and his wife wanted to “steal away for romantic time,” but didn’t want their families to feel neglected.

Venus Wong and family
Photo by Venus Wong

Nevertheless, it’s possible to maintain privacy in such a scenario. According to Dr. Louise Stanger LCSW, CDWF CIP, CSAT-1., clear communication and boundary-setting are essential. Couples should take care to express their needs for private time and space, and to schedule activities that only involve the two of them. “The key is to strike a balance between family time and couple time,” she says.

That’s exactly what Wong did. “My husband and I had many private moments together when our families were busy,” she explains. “On our last night in Portugal, we went to the romantic riverside Yeatman Hotel in Porto where we had a private stroll, toasted to our marriage, and made personalized sketches for each other.” Wong also plans to have another honeymoon—sans family—later next year.

Another challenge of family honeymoons could be finding destinations that appeal to family members across multiple generations. Not all family dynamics may lend themselves to harmonious multi-day trips, especially if some family members are elderly.

That’s why destinations that do not require extensive planning are good options. One example is Kilkea Castle, a luxury resort and golf club in Ireland that is a popular destination venue for weddings that increasingly sees a trend with honeymooners who travel with family or friends.

“Couples don’t have the time or budget to plan a honeymoon and vacation, but staying at a location post wedding with a range of activities where they can play golf and tennis, go horseback riding, practice archery, relax at the spa and wellness center, or visit the art gallery, provides options for the couple’s privacy as well as group activities as they desire,” explains General Manager Aidan O'Sullivan.

Whether at an all-inclusive resort or in a vacation cottage, newlyweds can reap tremendous rewards from celebrating under one roof with the families who helped raise them. Though traditional romantic getaways will always have their appeal, there’s no reason why family can’t get in on the fun, too.

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Pooja Shah is a London-based freelance journalist from New York City. She covers travel, lifestyle, fashion, beauty, wellness, and cultural trends. Pooja's work has appeared in a variety of publications including CNET, HuffPost, Elle, Vogue and more. Pooja has a Juris Doctorate and practices law alongside her journalism career. Follow her on Instagram, or at her website.