After the last rice has been thrown and the limousine has left the wedding party behind, many newlyweds beat a hasty retreat to a deserted island, a luxury resort or another once-in-a-lifetime vacation destination. Traditionally, the honeymoon was a time for the newly minted bride and groom to ''get to know each other.'' These days, honeymoons are also a reward for months-if not years-of planning, budgeting and squabbling with future in-laws.
Some historians credit the Babylonians with creating the original honeymoon-their newlyweds drank mead, a honey-based alcohol, for one full month after marrying. Others believe the honeymoon comes to us from the Norse hjunottsmanathr, wherein a young man kidnapped his bride-to-be and held her captive for one month. No coincidence, that's the amount of time needed for her to conceive-leaving her family no choice but to approve the marriage.
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No matter the regional differences, modern honeymoons are now a global phenomenon and a multibillion-dollar industry. But where do most Americans go for their first days of wedded bliss?
Owing to different data-gathering techniques, compiling concrete honeymoon statistics is nigh on impossible. France's tourism board, for example, can't tell us exactly how many tourists from the U.S. are there to enjoy their honeymoons-but we know that France is one of the most popular destinations for American newlyweds. To create this list, then, we relied on a combination of statistics provided by tourism boards; data gathered by other credible surveys; and sales numbers and anecdotes from several of the industry's largest players. Our experts include: Miles Stiverson, senior editor at TheKnot.com; Brides magazine's American Wedding Study; Scott Ellingboe of Delta Vacations; the Virtuoso network of luxury travel agents; Tammy Levent, honeymoon expert and CEO of Elite Travel; and Jim Augerinos, aka Mr. Honeymoon, a partner in Perfect Honeymoons Travel.
While daydreams of deserted South Pacific islands, Balinese jungle lodges and Bhutanese mountaintop retreats fill the minds of many brides- and grooms-to-be, not enough newlyweds actually make the trip for these exotic locales to crack the top ten. By TheKnot.com's estimates, for example, just three percent of honeymooners head to the South Pacific. Yet, according to Brides magazine, 19 percent of newlyweds-to-be at least consider the idea. (According to their survey, five percent actually make the journey.) Likewise, TheKnot.com says that Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand account for just one percent of American honeymoons.
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