This is what honeymoons look like in 2021

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Kaye Holland meets the couples making memories in the midst of a global pandemic 

Prior to the pandemic, honeymoons had become grand affairs with newlyweds jetting off to idyllic, far-flung locales like the Maldives, Tahiti and Thailand.

Then Covid-19 hit and the resulting travel restrictions, combined with safety concerns, forced brides and grooms up and down the country to pull the plug on their original honeymoon plans.

Yet despite the fact that the pandemic derailed their honeymoon in the Caribbean sun in a luxurious adult-only resort, Sofia Petkar and fiancee William Phillpotts, are staying positive.

Petkar told JAT: “The initial disappointment of two missed weddings and a luxury honeymoon on a white sand beach was painful but we’ve come to terms with it now and the truth is a big wedding and blowout honeymoon isn’t what matters. Our extravagant plans may have been binned but our love hasn’t been cancelled.”

She continued: “Being cooped up together throughout the pandemic has just reinforced that I have made the right choice of life partner. As long as Billy and I are together, I am okay with scaled-down celebrations. A honeymoon shouldn’t be about bragging rights anyway.”

William and Sofia are have come to terms with their wedding being scuppered

The Brentford-based couple are now planning to elope in Las Vegas as soon as America opens its borders to UK travellers  – which could be sooner than you think given both nations are enjoying smooth and speedy vaccine roll-outs.

They intend to use the money saved from scrapped stag and hen dos, a big wedding and a fortnight’s far-flung honeymoon on a downpayment on their first house. “In some ways, it [their ruined original wedding plans and honeymoon] has been a blessing in disguise,” shared Petkar.

Petkar and Phillpotts aren’t the only couple to have learnt that less is more. Kathi Kamleitner tied the knot with her husband, Thomas Sutherland, in a small Scottish ceremony last October. 

Only five people – including the couple, witnesses and the officiant –  were able to attend as coronavirus continued to tear at the fabric of British life. The low-key wedding was “lovely” but a far cry from the lavish wedding the pair had originally planned for hundreds of guests in Kamleitner’s hometown of Vienna.

The newlyweds had been due to spend their honeymoon in Japan -– “our ultimate bucket list destination” – but the coronavirus had other ideas. Prohibited from hopping on a plane, the Glasgow spouses have gone back to basics and booked a pandemic honeymoon in a dark sky park in Scotland.

 “Scotland enjoys some of the darkest skies in Europe thanks to large areas of low light pollution,” revealed Kamleitner – who moved to the Celtic nation for university, fell in love with the land and never left.  “It was definitely love at first sight with the country, not the man,” joked Kamleitner who hosts acclaimed podcast Wild for Scotland.

Kathi Kamleitner and Thomas Sutherland on their not so big day. Credit:_Ksenia Zizina

Kamleitner said: “While we feel a little sad that we can’t experience something completely foreign and new to us both, it’s no one’s fault and there’s nothing we can do about it. Ultimately it’s about us being away together and celebrating the massive step we have taken in getting married. 

“We’re now looking forward to our Scottish astronomical adventure and, by having a domestic honeymoon, we are supporting our own hospitality community in their hour of need.” 

Another silver lining? “With the money we saved on the Vienna wedding and Japan honeymoon, we were in a position to put in an offer on a house – something we hadn’t envisaged being able to do for at least a few years – and now have a lovely house,” beamed Kamleitner.

American rock band, Dave Matthews Band (DMB), once famously sang “Turns out it’s not where but who you’re with that really matters” and the pandemic has reminded us that a honeymoon should never be about earning air miles. Rather it’s about connecting as a couple and savouring being in love – even if that means staying put in Britain.

“Love can be local,” stressed Eleanor Keymer, a bespoke honeymoon and travel planner, who believes “it’s still important to mark your momentous occasion in some way.  At the end of the day, how often do you get married?” 

Keymer continued:  “If you’re unable to travel on safari to Africa, why not visit the Port Lympne reserve in Kent that’s home to over 700 animals? Had a Caribbean beach break booked? Sure the weather can be iffy but both the Pembrokeshire Coast and Cornwall boast beautiful, white-sand beaches.”

She added: “You can always revert to your original Honeymoon plans after the pandemic is over but in the meantime enjoy the upside of staying local: no jet-lag!”

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