My Fiancé and I Took an Earlymoon, and It Set the Best Tone For Our Wedding
From the minute you get engaged to the time you fall into bed, entirely exhausted, the night after your wedding, you’re on a race course. At times, you feel like you’re surrounded by people on the sidelines who very clearly have your back. At others, you’re pressured, pulled in a million directions, stretched way too thin, and often ready to give up, because whether you’re dealing with overbearing family members’ opinions, rejecting toxic wedding diet culture, or simply struggling to juggle your everyday life with all the to-dos that come with planning your “I do”s, it can all get to be just too damn much.
The fact is that, as joyful as it’s going to be, it takes a lot of work to plan a wedding, and any job needs to come with time off.
Wedding site Zola recently surveyed 4,000 couples getting married in 2023 and found that 33 percent say they feel like they’re planning “all the time.” Previously, the site found that 72 percent of couples used the terms “very” and “extremely” to describe how stressed they were while wedding planning. To me, that perpetual stress was a case for going on an earlymoon — a romantic vacation booked smack dab in the middle of the pre-wedding hoopla.
When you’re interviewing vendors, figuring out which relatives’ food preferences you need to accommodate, or stalking down rogue RSVPs, it’s not hard to find yourself fantasizing about jetting off to St. Barths ahead of your wedding a là Pippa Middleton and James Matthews or even taking a road trip to a nearby Airbnb with a fireplace and a hot tub. The fact is that, as joyful as it’s going to be, it takes a lot of work to plan a wedding, and any job needs to come with time off.
Not to mention, taking time off from prepping for your big day can also benefit your relationship. “Throughout the wedding planning process — and even life in general — it’s sometimes easy to get stuck in a routine or lose sight of the main purpose of the wedding itself,” acknowledges Samantha Kin, wedding planner and owner of To Be Loved Events. “Taking an ‘earlymoon’ trip, staycation, or even planning romantic date nights away from wedding planning time can be so refreshing and centering for your relationship. It reminds us of the little things, to reflect on what you love about each other, and why your marriage is so special and important to you. Not only will it help you reconnect with yourselves, but it will also help you manage any stress that may be creeping in as the big day approaches.” In fact, Kin says she’s seen a romantic, pre-wedding trip benefit her clients, helping them feel re-energized and refocus on their event priorities in the final months.
The “Why” Behind Our Earlymoon
For many of us, getting engaged generally happens when you’ve got a lot of other things going on, too — be that striving for a promotion, trying to keep up with your health and your platonic relationships, maybe parenting or caregiving for an older loved one, etc. My honey popped the question in April 2022, not long after I did an egg-freezing cycle and at the same time that I was wrapping up edits on my first book. As a journalist and an author and an astrologer, wearing a lot of hats is my MO, so adding “wedding planner” to the mix felt like no big deal. But after we took the next step in our fertility journey by going through an embryo freezing cycle in August — an emotionally draining and physically taxing process, to say the least — we knew we needed a break.
I had already committed to taking intentional time-outs from the grind to get recentered and focus on nurturing my relationship with myself and my then-fiancé. I started doing yoga more often. We’d meet with our officiant and talk about our emotional strengths and challenges as individuals and as a couple. But enjoying a romantic, wellness-focused trip together felt like it was the ultimate way to take a step back from everyday life.
Our Pre-Wedding Honeymoon Was the Ultimate Time-Out
In October, we had the opportunity to stay at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea in Hawaii. (Yep, the very same where White Lotus was shot, and Jennifer Coolidge spent a lot of time at the spa!) The property’s focus on romance and commitment to offering “a highly evolved, curated wellness program” made it the perfect destination for a pre-wedding honeymoon, a real opportunity to hit pause on wedding planning and the rest of our hectic lives to be more present with one another.
We learned just how healing it could be to prioritize bonding time in a deeply relaxing, gorgeous place, to focus intently on decompressing, and to learn and explore together.
When you’re heading to Hawaii from the mainland, traveling equals jet lag, but from the moment we arrived, the experience was tailored to bolster our wellness and our connection. I was treated to an IV therapy drip, which provides a combo of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants geared to support immunity, boost energy, and alleviate stress as well vitamin shots at Next|Health at Four Season Maui. Reclining in the tranquil space with a view of the ocean while the soft, warm breeze came through the space, I felt like I could finally breathe and let go for the first time in weeks.
My honey and I were later treated to a Lomi Mohala Massage in an oceanside “hale” (which translates to home or house) and also spent a day in a luxe, Gray Malin-designed cabana at the adults-only Serenity Pool, which also has a pretty amazing swim-up bar. (I highly recommend the bartender’s Lime in the Coconut concoction.) It wasn’t long before we were dozing off at the pool — in the shade and slathered in SPF, of course.
We were also intent on making sure our visit to the island was respectful and mindful, which went hand-in-hand with Four Seasons’ educational programming. For instance, one evening, we soaked up the view of a sky full of stars while learning about the history of Polynesian wayfinders from famed navigator Kala Babayan Tanaka. Another day, we met local artisans, buying wonderful, crispy breadfruit chips from Hana and handmade gifts to bring home to loved ones.
Over the course of our three-night stay, the simplest moments proved restful and reenergizing. Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean waves, trying local seafood and creative dishes, and going for night swims and hot tub dips, we quickly felt more present with one another.
Turns out, we’d both been going so hard, juggling all the moving parts of our beautiful but chaotically busy life, we didn’t even realize just how fried our nervous systems had gotten. Instead of pushing even harder, as hustle culture (which absolutely extends to wedding planning!) urges us to do, we learned just how healing it could be to prioritize bonding time in a deeply relaxing, gorgeous place, to focus intently on decompressing, and to learn and explore together.
Toward the end of our visit, we met up with talented local makeup artist MeiLi Autumn of MeiLi Autumn Beauty and photographers Love + Water for an engagement shoot on Ulua Beach. While we had originally planned on doing a shoot back home with our wedding photographer, there was something about being on Maui together for the first time, at this special moment in our lives and in our relationship, that just felt like it had to be captured. When the finished shots came in, what was more evident than anything else was the pure joy radiating from us both. We also felt truly connected, at peace, and refreshed — and it showed.
Having to head home after such a dreamy, luxurious, restful experience wasn’t exactly easy. And we definitely had to play a bit of catchup afterward. Still, having the chance to recharge made it possible for us to dive back into the rest of our wedding planning with newfound verve. What’s more, I’m convinced that by taking a conscious, blissed-out time-out from an innately stressful moment in our lives, we managed to set a really lovely precedent for how we can handle stressors that are sure to come down the road in our marriage: by intentionally focusing on our well-being and bond.
Accommodations and some of the activities were provided for the author and her partner by Four Seasons for the purpose of writing this story.