For couples planning weddings this spring, the big day may get the majority of their focus, but the honeymoon will command a large share of their spend. Among couples that opt for a traditional wedding (defined in this case as any non-elopement), nearly all will go on a honeymoon of some kind, adding up to about 1.4 million couples per year in the U.S.
On average, those newlyweds will dedicate 14 percent of their wedding budget, or around $4,466, on their honeymoon – about three times the amount the average American adult spends on a regular vacation. Those looking for luxury honeymoons – about 15 percent of all couples – are liable to spend closer to $10,000 on average. Most honeymoons are planned about four months in advance.
All in, the honeymoon industry in the U.S. is worth about $12 billion per year.
And while one might assume that large expenditures and extensive planning would lead to a high level of customer satisfaction, statistically speaking that is not the case. Only one out of four couples report having been on their “dream honeymoon.” The likely explanation is that unlike other portions of a wedding – which tradition dictates might be paid for by someone other than the happy couple – the honeymoon is usually their expense to bear. Almost two-thirds of couples, 62 percent, pay for the trip on their own.
But for nearly 15 years, the team at Honeyfund has been trying to change that, by making it easier for couples to skip the oceans of unwanted wedding gifts in favor of crowdfunding for the honeymoon of their dreams.
Founded in 2006 by a couple named Sara and Josh Margulis, Honeyfund – like most digital introductions to the retail market – came about as a solution to their own problem. In their case, they were getting married and didn’t want a bread machine. Or a stand mixer. Or really any of the other litany of standard-issue items that appear on the average wedding registry – either because they already owned them or didn’t want them.
“You see, we already had a home full of housewares. We just wanted one fantastic honeymoon,” Sara said.
Specifically, they wanted to go to Fiji – though it seemed a bit gauche to simply ask their guests for cash donations in lieu of gifts. They tried to find a digital service to suit their needs, but only came across a lot of fees and expensive books. So instead, they built a simple web page where guests could select a gift, print a certificate and bring it to the wedding along with cash or checks.
It was low-tech, but it worked – they raised over $5,000 for the honeymoon and donated 10 percent to charity. The couple also realized they had an idea for a business.
More than a decade down the road, with a Shark Tank appearance (and investment) behind them, the company has expanded into other verticals outside of weddings (via its sister site, Plumfund). Honeyfund boasts a slick digital interface that lets consumers customize their registry around either travel or home goods, and enables them to accept digital donations directly. The current offering is quite different than the paper certificates Honeyfund started with.
Perhaps more interestingly, however, is how Honeyfund has benefited from – and pushed, to some extent – the changes in etiquette around gifting for weddings. As luxury destination wedding planner Suzanne Reinhard told Vogue, as recently as a decade ago, it might have been considered tacky to request cash gifts on a registry – but those “rules” are now a bit out of date with today’s consumption patterns.
“I don’t feel Honeyfund sends the old-school negative message that a couple is asking their guests to pay for an ‘over-the-top’ honeymoon like the solicitation of cash in the past,” Reinhard said, noting that the guests’ perception is that they are contributing to an experience for the couple as a gift, instead of merely handing over cash.