Oh the lovers come a thousand miles, They leave their home and mother; Yet when they reach Niagara Falls, They only see each other.
See Niagara’s waters rolling, See the misty spray; See the happy lovers strolling, It’s everybody’s wedding day.
To see the Falls they took a ride, On the steamship “Maid O’ the Mist”; She forgot the Falls she was so busy, Being hugged and kissed.
See the mighty river rushing ’Tween its rocky walls; See the happy lovers strolling, By our Niagara Falls.
He said, “Is oo my darling?” He said, “Whose darling is oo?” He said, “Is oo my baby?” And she always answered, “Goo-goo-goo.”
-Niagara Falls Song of the Year 1841, Author Unknown
Honeymoons are the traditional holidays taken by newlyweds to celebrate their recent nuptials, and they first became popular in 19th Century Britain. At that time, only the upper class could really afford to travel, and new couples would often take extended “bridal tours” during which they would visit family and friends that were not able to make it to the wedding. The tradition eventually spread throughout Europe, and soon evolved into a more wide spread thing, as the gap between classes closed. The idea of couples going on honeymoons was one of the first instances of mass tourism.
Why exactly it is called a “honeymoon” is unknown, as no real explanation exists, though there are a couple of theories. The most popular, and seemingly most likely, says that “honeymoon” is used because it is meant to infer that the first month of marriage is generally the happiest and sweetest. When there were no such things as “months” time was measured by the phases of the moon. In some countries, it is even translated to “honeymonth.”
Another theory said that the term derived from the idea that it used to be popular practice for people to give free mead (honeyed wine) to married couples during the first month of the marriage.
Whatever the true origin, the honeymoon has evolved into often grand tours that can last anywhere from a week to over a month.
Niagara Falls first earned its reputation as the “Honeymoon Capital of the World”, after several famous faces decided to honeymoon there. Aaron Burr, the 3rd Vice President of the United States, had a daughter, Theodosia, who spent her honeymoon in Niagara Falls in 1801. In 1804, Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother is said to have travelled by stagecoach from New Orleans in order to honeymoon in Niagara Falls. And because people like to do what the rich and famous are doing, many others soon followed the lead of these two couples.
The actual phrase “Honeymoon Capital of the World” didn’t start appearing until the early 1900s, and it was often put on promotional posters and brochures. With the opening of the Erie Canal and the building of railways, Niagara Falls suddenly became a lot more accessible to people. With the invention of the automobile in the 20th century, the option of travelling to Niagara Falls was open to even more people. Couples were drawn to Niagara Falls not only because of the mesmerizing waterfall, but also the many lovely and secluded parks and paths that provided for many romantic moments.
Nowadays, the city of Niagara Falls plays host to about 50,000 honeymooning couples a year; and Niagara Falls Tourism even gives out honeymoon certificates signed by the mayor. The city has given out almost one million of these certificates to date.
Almost every hotel, including the Marriott, offer some sort of Honeymoon package that will cater specifically to a couple’s interests, and many have certified wedding planners on staff if couples wish to get married in Niagara Falls as well.
So while many couples nowadays are choosing to go to far-flung places around the world on their honeymoons, there’s still something enduring that keeps drawing many of them to visit the world’s first honeymoon capital, Niagara Falls.