I was never one of those girls who had their entire weddings planned out by the age of 10. I was more concerned with studying, working, traveling, volunteering – you know, all the important things – until it happened. I fell in love. (Warning: You may meet your prince charming at a fall festival chili cook-off under a circus tent in the backyard of a church. At least that’s where I met mine.)
Suddenly I had to figure out the whole wedding/honeymoon thing, and it was even crazier than I had imagined! Through it, I’ve learned a few tips that might be helpful to you and your engaged relatives who love to travel.
- Your Honeymoon Can Start with Your Wedding
I loved the idea of a destination wedding like one of my friends had in Lombardia, Italy. However, realistically speaking, that was out of my budget. Instead I thought local. You see, I live in Sarasota, Florida, which is already a popular vacation destination. Why question destiny?
While white sandy beaches would lure my guests to the Gulf Coast, the thought of sand in my dress and a summer ceremony during hurricane season dissuaded me from a beach wedding. The next best thing? An aquarium wedding! Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota was the first venue that got my fiancée and I excited. One of our first dates had been finding shark teeth at a local beach, so saying our vows with shark tanks lurking nearby was actually romantic!
Photo Credit: Kirstin Shontere Photography
The fish tanks kept our guests entertained as the dreaded photography break ensued, and our reception overlooked picturesque Sarasota Bay. We ate our dinner as the setting sun streamed through the heavily windowed hall. It felt like a fairytale and the beginning of a vacation, despite the stress and wedding cake my husband smeared all over my face! (Don’t feel bad; I got him worse.)
What’s the takeaway here? Find a beautiful, quirky or popular destination that’s within driving distance of where you live to set the vacation mood. Props if there’s a nearby airport and decent hotels.
- Plan a Honeymoon that’s Not Stressful
At first I approached my honeymoon as an excuse to travel. California redwood forests and Alaska were at the top of our list, but the more I researched the trips, the higher my blood pressure became. The flights and car rentals and hotels and activities translated into a blown budget and stressful details. We decided to table our West Coast trips for a time when I wasn’t planning my own wedding.
The second, better approach was to find a relaxing honeymoon that encouraged quality time with my husband-to-be. His idea was a Caribbean cruise. Honestly, all those islands start to look the same after a while so I wasn’t too thrilled at first. Then we found a 7-day Carnival cruise stopping in Cozumel, Belize, Honduras and Grand Cayman. This sounded exotic and departed from Tampa, which is less than 90 minutes away. I was sold.
Photo Credit: Ruth Baucom
Cruises are perfect for honeymoons because you don’t have to worry about transportation, food and most entertainment. Departing from the Gulf Coast states, New England and the West Coast, there are plenty of options. Even if you don’t cruise, make sure you aren’t stressed out by the thought of your honeymoon. Make certain it’s wife AND husband approved, and don’t forget to give a Travel Counselor at Coast to Coast Grand Getaways a call. Our cruise department helped us find a sweet deal!
- Go With the Flow
Initially I wanted to have all of our excursions planned out beforehand, but table decorations, dress fittings and out-of-town guests took priority. In the end it was all okay. The best time we had was when we spontaneously rented an ATV and sped down the one ascending, winding and descending road Isla Roatán had to offer. We followed the jungle road to the charming village of West End, rented snorkel gear for $10 and swam around the coral reefs lining Half Moon Bay. The rest of our fellow cruisers must have been afraid to venture into the island because we felt like we were on a private beach!
Photo Credit: Ruth Baucom
The only day we had planned out was our stop in Cozumel as cousins had recommended we try Nachi Cocom. An all-inclusive beach break fit perfectly into our stress-free vacation plans. We had a hiccup with our foreign credit card not taking, but we went with the flow and were soaking up with Caribbean sunshine in no time. Tropical heaven is sitting under a grass-covered palapa sipping frozen drinks and tasting authentic Mexican dishes!
Photo Credit: Ruth Baucom
Wherever your honeymoon takes you, remember that the point is to enjoy your new spouse and make the first memories of your new life together. The details are only icing on the cake.
- Let everyone know that you’re on your honeymoon. You might score free goodies, or in our case, your waiter might serenade you.
- Honeymoons are great excuses to splurge. Upgrade to the balcony and order dessert. However, make sure you still budget wisely or you’ll be paying for it during the critical first months of your marriage.
- Include activities in your getaway that you can both enjoy together. You want to start your marriage with what you both consider a wonderful experience.
Featured wedding image courtesy of Kirstin Shontere Photography