Destination Weddings & Dream Honeymoons

When we were planning our wedding I seriously considered holding it abroad. I knew I didn’t want the conventional form of CeremonySitdownmealDJ and wanting an outdoor ceremony I was drawn to the idea of marrying in France or Italy instead of beloved England. It would of course have meant sharing our day with fewer family and friends, but this too would have made sense for us – we had to either invite everyone, including children and spouses (I have 13 cousins) which meant a minimum 100 person guest list; or draw a line around immediate family and close friends which would enable a much more intimate feeling day. In the end, we achieved the intimate feel despite our 100+ guests because of all the style, venue, format choices we made. Because we were on a budget we then held an evening meal for just 15 of our closest family.

If you did choose to marry abroad, with a small number of witnesses, you could hold a reception for everyone else on your return. I love this idea of two weddings. By using a Humanist Celebrant you could even have two wedding ceremonies! If you love the idea of marrying abroad but are bewildered or just a bit nervous about navigating the legalities and cultural rules of marriage abroad, why not legally register your marriage in an English Register Office and have your Celebrant perform both symbolic ceremonies abroad and then again at home? You could also split the ceremony and save parts like the Blessing for your home ceremony so that your guests can be truly involved.

A Room with a View

Had money been no object, I would have flown our guests out to Tuscany for our wedding long weekend, and then have had a split destination honeymoon. I have always wanted to go to Florence, not Venice or Rome, but Florence. I have made my husband promise that the one thing we will do before we die is to be able to say ‘We have a view’ in Florence. So that would be one half of my dream honeymoon, a city adventure taking in the sights and sounds and smells. I’d like to go sufficiently out of season to feel we had it relatively to ourselves. You cant beat that. For the other part of the honeymoon, a luxurious, private villa in the Tuscan countryside. We would do nothing but swim, lounge, cook, and make lurve. Perfect I think!

I adore Europe, so while I admit to hankering after a tropical paradise with unlimited cocktails, warm sea water and amazing exotic animal spotting, I can live without it. Give me the South of France, give me Catalonia, give me the Greek Islands any time. I’m a believer in exploring hidden gems close to home, and hope I’m fortunate enough in my lifetime to visit Jersey, return to Belgium, and Germany, and see more of Scandinavia. I love that we will be able to take our children on holiday to the Isle of Wight, where we had a most romantic and nostalgic English honeymoon in June 2011. I have a theory that the less overtly dramatic a place is and the less expectation of grandeur there is, the more you will appreciate the subtle magic in the details of a place.

Of course we choose holidays which suit our needs, or what we think are our needs. I don’t have a stressful job or a stressful life so I dont hanker after two weeks of doing nothing but reading books and sunbathing because I need a break. I want to do the opposite to escaping life when I holiday. I want to explore and engage. I want to see as much as possible. But I dont seek out high adrenalin holidays either. You know how they say a change is as good as a rest? I see holidays as opportunities to break out of whatever is normal for you. If you usually cope by zoning out in front of the TV, why not try a different approach to relaxation, and find a non-stressful way to actively engage your surroundings. Your honeymoon should be as memorable as your wedding and although it WILL be memorable because you’ll be on your newlywedded high throughout, we should make sure we take every opportunity to make memories.

On honeymoon we were both floating on a cloud of bliss left over from the fact that we had married each other and had shared a most emotionally beautiful day with our family and friends. Sure we had a few deep and a few awkward discussions, all part of adjusting to the newness of our lives together. It was a unique chance for us to engage with each other, with our usual routines out of the way of getting down to what we needed to say to each other. Our honeymoon was the start of so many things in our lives. It provided my husband with inspiration for a new novel, and prompted us to decide to look for a new place to live as soon as we got back to Oxford. You’ll inevitably buy souvenirs on honeymoon. If you can, bring home something that will be in your lives every day, whether it’s a wall hanging or a pair of mugs. His and hers items are the cutest. Here’s to you, honeymooners, you lovebirds, you newlyweds at heart everywhere.

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