Local couples share how they chose their honeymoon destinations
Though this decade’s B&Gs might consider an adventure honeymoon, like hiking in New Zealand, biking across old Europe or wrangling on a working ranch, it’s heading to the beach that often wins the day. Maybe it’s our landlocked location or abundance of cooler fall weddings that incite beachy thoughts, but St. Louis loves heading to the warm.
Wondering how B&Gs choose their destination and juggle their schedules? Here’s the scoop from local couples who took their vows, kissed, feasted and headed out to honeymoon… or plan to do so in the near future. (And just for fun, we threw in where the bride’s parents honeymooned, thus posing the question: are there trends, over generations, in honeymoon locales?)
EVERYTHING WE WANTED…
B&G: Jessica and Andrew Greaves, St. Louis, MO
Married: June 23, 2012
Honeymooned: Bahamas for a week
Where bride’s parents honeymooned: The Smoky Mountains
“We always knew we’d go on a honeymoon right after the wedding. We knew we wanted a tropical all-inclusive and we decided on the Bahamas since neither of us had been there. And, I’m not a huge fan of flying so the least amount of time spent traveling over water, the better,” Jessica said. First she and Andrew secured their wedding plans, and then began shopping honeymoon possibilities.
“The honeymoon is the fun thing to think about. You can get wrapped up doing the wedding planning!” she said. They asked a lot of recently married friends about destinations. “Yes, maybe a lot [of your choice] has to do with comparing to what others have done. You want to feel confident about your decision.” After balancing internet research and friends’ comments, they chose Sandals® Royal Bahamian which turned out to be everything they wanted. Yes, they’d go there again (but maybe more food choices, please). Packing was a snap. “We both waited ‘til the last minute, until we were about to leave! Andrew usually takes a backpack but this time, he carried a suitcase and a backpack.” Why the beach? “I guess that’s the most relaxing setting you can think of. Lying on the beach, after planning a wedding for 15 months and after finally being able to say you’re married, sounds like paradise,” Jessica said. And found it to be true.
MOUNTAIN CABIN OR CARIBBEAN BEACH
B&G: Leanora and Derrick Wendling, St. Louis, MO
Married: October 6, 2012
Destination: Riviera Maya, Mexico for 7 days
Where bride’s parents honeymooned: The Hamptons, NY
“If we had married in a different month, like in the heat of July or August, we might have considered honeymooning at Big Cedar Lodge (in Branson) or a cabin somewhere,” Leanora said. But the day after their October wedding, the couple hopped on a plane to Mexico, a country neither of them had originally considered. And every day since their return, Derrick says, “Let’s go back there.”
“It’s true that everyone asks where you’re honeymooning and a lot were surprised that we booked at a smaller resort. The El Dorado Maroma appeared quieter with less night life and that’s what we were looking for…we knew we wanted to relax. Our journey was not only to get to the wedding but to have a week of quiet following the festivities,” Leanora said.
The all-inclusive idea was a given, and they’d never been to a beach together. So working with the Travel Haus of St. Louis, they studied the Dominican Republic. Then, because of all its five-star resorts, options and excursions, they looked at Mexico and very quickly chose a honeymoon package at the Maroma. Ironically, although originally intrigued by excursions, the couple chose to minimize time spent with a crowd and though they enjoyed the snorkeling and ATV activities, they fell in love with their breakfast-beach-lounge-beach-dinner-drinks-on-beach routine. And, they befriended several other couples also from the Midwest. Leanora noted that there’s a whole lot going on at the resorts, like beach team sports, themed dinners, and music and entertainment that no one mentions and you discover it much to your delight. Everything is so convenient. Her faves included a moonlit candlelight dinner and a Sky massage over the water, and, Derrick added, “the 100% us time.”
“If we do an international trip again, we’ll definitely use a travel agent again because it’s about convenience: the agent handles all details, all issues and any snafus that might occur,” she said. Where would they go for the next vacation or, maybe for renewing their vows someday? Leanora paused, then said, “I’d do another all-inclusive…in Puerto Rico or Costa Rica, or maybe the Dominican. And Derrick wants to get to the French Riviera. Oh, and Italy, we’ve talked about Italy, too.” As with many travelers, they will likely keep adding to the list.
BEACH FIRST; ADVENTURE, LATER
B&G: Melissa and Corey Rentfrow, St. Louis, MO
Wedding: Sept 27, 2008
Destination: Riviera Maya, Mexico for 6 days
Where bride’s parents honeymooned: A driving trip through the South
Though Melissa and Corey first considered some kind of adventure, or a trip to Europe, they quickly changed their minds, preferring a beach and a hangout to being tourists traipsing the continents. Convenience also played a major part. “A 6-hour flight to Paris really would not have been appealing after all the wedding activity. We flew to Mexico the morning after our wedding and we were at our resort by noon!” Melissa said.
“We both love to travel, but Corey especially. So planning the honeymoon was one part of the wedding he was especially interested in. He didn’t care as much about wedding invitations but he wanted to do the travel part. And I was happy about that. So he went through books and did research and met with a travel agent,” Melissa said. As soon as they decided on the beach category, they knew they wanted an all-inclusive resort. They booked a week-long stay at the El Dorado Royale.
Packing was only problematic because the couple spent the week prior to their wedding in nine different places (because of work, travel, his house, her house, etc.), so Melissa had to combine wedding and the honeymoon items. “It was complicated, but I didn’t forget anything,” she said. Once in Mexico, the couple chose to do three excursions; it was the day trip to Chichen Itza they loved best, both being history buffs. “But we could have done just that one excursion and then had more time on the beach. There’s something about lying on a beach…you are relaxed, you’re tan, you feel good, and… it’s romantic.” So now that they’ve enjoyed an easy beachy honeymoon, Melissa and Corey are headed for an adventure-based vacation. First stop? Australia.
GLOBETROTTERS AND CAREERISTS SEEK DRIVABLE “COOL”
B&G: Mollie and Jonathan Webb, St. Louis, MO
Married: May 19, 2012
Honeymoon: will be New Orleans, LA for long weekend
Where bride’s parents honeymooned: daytrip, including a major, Major League ballgame
Mollie and John started talking about the honeymoon around the time they got engaged, about a year before the wedding itself. “I was probably the one who brought it up,” Mollie said. “We started throwing out ideas…we’ve both traveled, we’ve been a lot of places and wanted to go somewhere that neither of us had been before.” New Zealand sounded good and that was their plan for about a week until John pointed out the amount of time eaten up by just getting there and back. What about the Caribbean? he said. No. They’d already done an all-inclusive in Negril, and Mollie didn’t want to repeat that. How about Brazil? It wouldn’t take much longer in airtime than the Caribbean, and it would be exotic.
But they started looking at actual vacation time, which they’d need during the Holidays as well as a trip to NYC for a friend’s wedding. “So when we did the math, I knew I could only take a few days off to get ready for our own wedding,” Molly said. Careers can throw roadblocks into vacation schedules.
Thus evolved the idea of the long weekend: maybe a trip to San Francisco, maybe the Northwest. Or maybe a short quick trip over a long weekend, somewhere closer to St. Louis. Mollie hasn’t been to New Orleans yet. Bingo. New Orleans looms, possibly by the New Year, as their special celebration. “The most we’re likely to plan is where we’ll stay, someplace special, a grand hotel or a unique B&B.”
Otherwise, the plan is to have no plan. Mollie was quiet a moment, then smiled and said, “I will, however, take the Mediterranean anytime.”
LOVE THE SAND AND SUN…
B&G: Amanda and David Adkins, St. Charles, MO
Married: September 7, 2008
Honeymoon: Greater Orlando, Florida for 10 days (included back-to-back weekends)
Where bride’s parents honeymooned: Memphis, at the Peabody hotel
Amanda and David love tropical weather, though they wouldn’t choose to live in the land of palm trees 24/7. But when it came to planning their destination wedding and honeymoon, they both thought Florida at the same time. They would forsake their beloved Caribbean for the wedding guests’ convenience, and also to maximize their time-off. They had done all their homework on the internet. Following a sunny rooftop wedding ceremony at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Orlando’s art district, the two went off on foot and via rental car to explore the city and its environs.
“We were big kids. We were completely spontaneous,” said Amanda. “I did have a list. I’m a big planner, a type A,” Amanda confessed. “But David is a Type B. He said every day could be an adventure. Wherever the car took us could work. I said fine and threw my planner out the window. We had no plans, day by day. It was careless and fancy free.” They stumbled into Johnny’s Hideaway, a ‘50s Rat Pack/Stork Club theme and major eatery. They golfed their way through five different, themed golf courses, did the Disney parks in their entirety, and hopped over to Universal on a VIP ticket. They drove east to Daytona, then dawdled down the beach highway through New Smyrna (where Amanda’s aunt runs a restaurant) and on to Cocoa Beach. David advised they each pack light; they would buy anything they needed.
Though it was hurricane season, Ike only brushed past them on its way to Galveston. “And because it was after Labor Day, we avoided tourists and throngs, for the most part,” Amanda said. “There was never an issue about where the honeymoon would be. We did throw around the idea of going to Paris but … it would then take a day and half travel time and would use up my time off at work,” she said. Europe, however, is the next frontier….maybe St. Tropez? David is thinking there are good deals in Greece. However, noted Amanda, “We will likely renew our vows in Hawaii.”