Planning a romantic getaway, destination wedding or honeymoon can be easy with proper planning. Yes, being swept away in the moment is the ultimate goal and that will happen, but the best hearts and flowers experiences are those that come with just a tiny bit of finesse and preparation. These six tips will have you on your way to a blissful escape without worry.
1) Have Your Honeymoon A Few Days Post-Wedding: It seems right--leave your wedding in a fancy car with its trail of cans and head straight to the airport to begin your honeymoon. Yes, this happens in the movies. But chances are, you'll be pretty drained after your Big Day. Most likely the excitement of the night before didn't garner enough sleep, and then there was the slew of prep before the ceremony. Now you want to hop on a plane? Let's not. Instead, how about checking into a nice hotel for a day or two to decompress, let the newness of your nuptials sink in, and then, don your best "just married" t-shirt (hey, maybe you'll score an upgrade?) and fly to your destination well rested.
2) Underplan The Vacation: I'm constantly asked what activities are a "must do" at the location a couple is traveling to. Naturally people want to see what that place is famous for. My advice is nearly always the same. I give out four bucket-list excursions, but also suggest keeping a "variations authorized" mentality. That means, sure, you've gotta get jerk chicken at that Jamaican restaurant, but you don't necessarily need to plan or prepay three months in advance the exact day you'll go there or anywhere else. Leave space to change your mind, go another day, and get other suggestions from locals. In other words, be flexible. If you're in a super remote area or it's a special event, advanced planning may be necessary, otherwise figure it out upon arrival. More often than not, you'll be glad you waited.
3) Choose Your Right Resort: Not every hotel fits every traveler. And that's OK. Know what kind of guest you'll be--or, if this is your first vacation, consider what you like to do. Are you a foodie? Prefer small hotels to large resort complexes? Interested in an adults-only atmosphere (or one with a dedicated section)? If one-price-pays-for-most appeals to you, an all-inclusive property might be a good fit. There are plenty of five-star options with gourmet restaurants and luxury rooms, too. If you'd rather spend time and money off-site dining and exploring the lay of the land, a moderately priced hotel may be a better choice.
4) Factor In Flight Times: Be realistic about your dream destination and how much time you have to spend away. If you live in small town Midwest, want to go to Tahiti, and only have six vacation days, rethink that plan. Bermuda could work instead--find the resort with similar overwater bungalows that you can reach in considerably less time. Traveling in winter? Consider the first and last traveling day a wash due to airport weather snafus. If you end up delay-free, consider yourself golden and relish the extra time.
5) Design A Destination Wedding Website: The best way to avoid fielding daily phone calls and emails about your upcoming nuptials away is to provide a URL in your Save the Dates that includes every ounce of info your guests want to know. This includes hotel, available flights, rental car, currency exchange, childcare details and a few local fun facts. Don't forget to update it frequently and include lots of photos and a countdown to get your guests excited! Just make the website clean and easy to navigate for the less tech savvy members of your group.
6) Realize Vacations Registries Are Awesome: If you're a couple who've been cohabiting for a while, chances are a coffee maker isn't high on your wedding gift list. But funds for your honeymoon? An opportunity for a barefoot dinner on the beach? Perfection. There are many legit vacation registries you can sign up with that work just like the traditional bridal equivalent. This gives guests the chance to really be a part of your special time together!
Chanize Thorpe is a New York-based editor for Conde Nast's HotelChatter.com. She also frequently contributes to Jetsetter, Jaunted and Bon Voyage magazine. A Caribbean island connoisseur, she was a professional honeymooner at Brides Magazine for a decade and has visited nearly every country in the region. Her articles have also appeared in Caribbean Travel & Life, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Budget Travel, Fodors.com, various newspapers and in-flight publications.