Jenolan Caves

Jenolan Caves House – the Honeymoon Hotel

May 18, 2020

The custom of the ‘honeymoon’ is over a thousand years old. The word ‘honeymoon’ came from the tradition of giving couples a moon's worth of mead (honey wine) at their weddings. A moon (month) of drinking lead to sexual intimacy, and hopefully a first child.  Over the centuries, because of the sexual connotations, couples were often embarrassed if hotel clerks or other strangers realised they were on their honeymoon. So it was customary to go somewhere secluded, such as a seaside or mountain resort.  On that private escape, such as Jenolan, amid nature’s beauty, a couple could strengthen their bond.

As a result of searching newspaper wedding notices from the late Victorian era, it is clear that even before the current Caves House hotel was built in 1897, Jenolan Caves was a popular honeymoon destination.  Research of Jenolan’s honeymoon history has highlighted some wedding traditions that were considered important a century ago, but are not as important today.

Throwing Shoes

Wedding notice includes that guests threw slippers at the bride and groom.As bridal couples were leaving their wedding for their honeymoon, guests threw things at them. Nowadays we toss confetti or petals.  Earlier traditions saw the couple showered with oats, grains, dried corn and rice, to symbolise prosperity and fertility.  But people also threw old shoes, and if you managed to hit the bridal couple, their carriage or car with your old shoes, it was said to bring them good luck.

The Going-Away Outfit

example of a going away outfitThe ‘going-away’ outfit is an age-old tradition. After the wedding reception, the couple would change from their formal bridal attire to another outfit in which to leave for their honeymoon. This carefully chosen outfit represented the moment of embarking on a new life together.

Less grand than the bride's wedding dress, her going away outfit was intended to be something that would travel well. It was an attractive yet highly practical ensemble that the bride could wear for many years, as her best outfit.

You only have to read a few newspaper descriptions of weddings in the late 1800s and early 1900s, to see that the ‘going away’ outfit was just as important as the bridal gown. 

Wedding Gifts to Match Status

In the late Victorian and Early Edwardian era, society wedding gifts were not just gifts – they were status symbols.  A gift represented the status of the guest, the bridal couple and both their families. Newspaper accounts of society weddings often listed every gift, so to avoid embarrassment, guests needed to consider their choice of gift carefully.

Today, young bridal couples still appreciate wedding gifts, although the trend is now for money, or gift vouchers. 

Romance at Jenolan Today

Frequently, we see comments on our Facebook page, from readers telling us that they feel connected with Jenolan Caves, because it’s where their parents, grand-parents or great-grandparents spent their honeymoon.

We love these heart-warming stories, so please feel free to email your family’s Jenolan stories to us (with old photos).

After the pandemic, when our cave tours, hotel, Chisolm’s Restaurant and café have reopened, enjoy a short break and book a romantic overnight stay in historic Caves House.  Caves House is scheduled to undergo a multi-million dollar renovation, starting in late 2021.  But before the renovation starts, you should take the opportunity to experience the authentic historic ambiance of Jenolan’s heritage-listed hotel.  You never know – you could be staying in the same room that your great-grandparents stayed in on their honeymoon 100 years ago.

Although we are currently closed, you can still purchase gift vouchers, which are valid for three years.  To purchase a voucher for accommodation or dinner in magnificent Chisolm’s Restaurant, phone 1300 76 33 11 and purchase cave tour vouchers onlineSubscribe now to stay in touch with us, and find out our reopening date.  Follow us on Facebook.

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4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains NSW. Ph: 1300 76 33 11 or +61 2 6359 3911

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