Here's How The Honeymoon Tradition Got Started, & It's Actually Pretty Messed Up

If you're getting married anytime soon, then chances are you've probably also been brainstorming some bomb honeymoon destinations for you and bae. After all, who wouldn't be pumped about taking a decadent vacay with their forever person? Even though this post-wedding tradition has been around for quite a long time, its origins are definitely surprising. So, why do people go on honeymoons, anyway? Well, while the full etymology of the word "honeymoon" is a bit murky, the term dates back further than you might've thought.

According to Mental Floss, before there were "honeymoons," there was the Old English phrase “hony moone.” However, the first recorded description of the phrase dates back to 1542, and it didn't actually mean a trip taken by newlyweds. Instead, it referred to the passing honeymoon phase of a relationship.

“The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure; originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full that it begins to wane,” wrote 18th century English writer, Samuel Johnson.

Unfortunately, the origins of actually "honeymooning" aren't all sunshine and daisies, according to wedding historian Susan Waggoner. Apparently, back when “marriage by capture" was still a thing, some grooms who couldn't afford to pay a dowry would kidnap the woman they wanted to marry and hide her until the family stopped looking for her, which, needless to say, is sketchy AF.

"[The honeymoon] dates from the days of marriage by capture when, after snatching his bride, the groom swept her away to a secret location, safe from discovery by her angry kin," Waggoner told Brides magazine. Eventually, "the family would either give up the search or the bride would become pregnant, making all questions of her return moot."

It wasn't until the early 19th century that the word "honeymoon" actually began to encompass a (consensual) trip taken by newlyweds after their wedding. However, when many of us think of a honeymoon, the last thing that comes to mind is probably a family trip, but at the time, that's exactly what it was. Also referred to as "bridal tours," instead of taking a sexy beach vacay or a sleek city getaway, young couples would typically visit family members who weren't able to make it to the wedding, Country Living reports.

Soon after, couples with higher incomes (mostly British aristocracy) began taking these travel opportunities to visit more exotic locales. By the end of the 19th century, Americans had also caught wind of the trend. According to Marriage Customs of the World by George P. Monger, between the 1940s and 1950s, celebrating a new marriage with a travel stint became a common practice, regardless of class. Now, more and more couples are choosing to pass on traditional honeymoons, and have started reshaping what these trips can look like. Some couples choose to take a group trip with friends, while others decide to forgo traveling entirely.

Ultimately, there's no right or wrong way to celebrate tying the knot. It all depends on what works best for each individual pair. If you're not sure whether a traditional honeymoon is right for you, then why not mix it up? In the end, as long as you're both spending quality time together and soaking in the warm and fuzzy feels, you can't go wrong.