Photo: Courtesy of Fiona Mackay
Picture your perfect honeymoon: Are you sipping Mai Thais on a secluded beach in the Caribbean? Maybe you're basking in the Tahitian sun on the deck of your private overwater bungalow? Or perhaps you're at a vineyard in Napa, overlooking the vines, glass of Merlot in hand?
Now picture yourself surrounded by a group of friends. Who are with you... on your honeymoon. Does that sound crazy?
For more and more couples, the idea of a "buddymooon"— where friends are invited to join in the postnuptial adventure— is becoming the norm. (Well, maybe not the norm, but certainly more normal.)
Case in point: Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, who followed up their private backyard ceremony in Los Angeles last August with a buddymoon at the luxe Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, with celeb friends in tow that included Courteney Cox, Chelsea Handler, Jason Bateman, and Jimmy Kimmel. Same for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, who reportedly took a group of guests on a postnuptial cruise aboard Depp's yacht after their February 2015 wedding on his private island in the Bahamas.
And while honeymoons should still be romantic getaways, it goes without saying that in today's fast-paced environment, it's becoming harder for friends to put their busy lives on hold and organize a group getaway.
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For David and Raena Oswald of East Palestine, Ohio, convenient timing was the key to their buddymoon. "Two of our friends were married just one week after us, so we decided that we might as well go to the same place and share a couple of days together," says Raena. Mutually deciding on Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, the couples spent alone time at their respective resorts (the Oswalds at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana), but also arranged a full-day group excursion by catamaran to nearby Saona Island. "Looking back, we would absolutely plan our honeymoon the same way," says David. "It was reassuring to be in a foreign country knowing that we had close friends nearby, and we met so many other newlyweds on our trip who we still keep in touch with."
For other couples, destination weddings are the motivating factor for a buddymoon. What was once an expensive event for a handful of guests has morphed into a "why not?" option that's easily planned and executed (especially as resorts develop packages and promotions specifically for destination weddings). In fact, AskMeWeddings.com recently reported a 27 percent increase in destination wedding hotel bookings, and anticipates continued growth in 2016.
Fiona Mackay and Tomas Gonsorcik are one such New York City-based couple who decided to host their wedding abroad, at the bride's family home in Cape Town, last January— followed by a buddymoon. "We had a lot of friends flying in from New York and London, and we wanted to be able to spend as much time together as possible," says Fiona. "We knew the wedding day itself would be a blur, so we decided to host a buddymoon in Hermanus, a small coastal town 90 minutes from Cape Town."
The couple invited 30 friends and planned three days of activities like wine tasting at a nearby vineyard, nature hikes, and day trips to the beach. "We knew that we'd want some alone time after all that socializing, so we also planned our own honeymoon that included four days on safari at Singita Lebombo Lodge, in Kruger National Park, followed by a week at Azura Quilalea, a private-island resort off the coast of Mozambique."
Destination weddings have likewise become an excuse for guests themselves to get away ("if we're already traveling for the wedding, we might as well make a trip of it"). Such was the case for newlyweds Robert Martinez and Jorge Vazquez. "We were invited to our friends' July wedding, in Fréjus, a small town outside Cannes, France," says Robert. "Our wedding was in February, but we thought, why not kill two birds with one stone and piggyback our honeymoon with their wedding! So we planned a two-week trip to Florence and Paris that overlapped with the destination wedding."
So while it may seem counterintuitive to invite others on what is historically a private trip for two, if you're in the midst of planning your honeymoon, think twice before booking just one room. It may be worth your while to ask close friends to tag along: "Having new energy in the mix really enhanced the honeymoon experience, and made me appreciate my friends— and especially my new husband— that much more," says Robert.