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PLANNING OUR  HONEYMOON

Planning a honeymoon is very similar to planning a wedding! There are tons of options, various price points, and you craft your experience around your interests and what you value the most. I love planning vacations (no surprise there) and had so much fun diving into this task. My dad also shares this same interest and was very helpful throughout the planning process. Danny and I started loosely brainstorming what our honeymoon would look like shortly after we decided to get married in Santorini. Once you're across the pond, traveling in Europe is relatively cheap compared to travel within the US. We knew this would be a great opportunity to knock a few places off our bucket list - and we hope our guests utilize the chance to as well! After all, our love and desire to travel is one of the main reasons why we chose a destination wedding. 

When beginning to plan your honeymoon, I recommend that you start by discussing 1) how long you are willing and able to travel, 2) the type of setting you are most interested in, and 3) how you would like to spend your time. I'm going to walk you through our thought process, the places we considered, and ultimately share the plan we landed on! 

 

Our wedding will take place in Santorini on October 15, 2022. Santorini has been near the top of my bucket list for a while, and I'm so excited to finally visit! Based on my research, I believe 2-3 days will be enough to explore the island. Since the wedding and wedding-related activities will take up a good portion of our trip, we decided to arrive the Wednesday before to settle in at our hotel, Rocabella, meet with our venue coordinator, and take in some of the sights. We plan to leave the following Monday so that we can relax and properly send off the guests that traveled so far to celebrate with us. In Santorini, Danny and I are most looking forward to the gyros, killer sunsets, and maybe a catamaran ride. Oh, and getting married of course. :)

We decided our honeymoon would be a few days before and a few days after Santorini, with Danny and I each choosing one location. Knowing that we had the middle leg of our trip planned, it was a bit of a puzzle fitting the rest together. Similar to the process of finding a wedding venue, we researched numerous locations across Europe that were interesting to Danny and I. The settings that stood out to us the most were either coastal or near a body of water. We also wanted to chooses locations neither of us had been. The destinations that made our not-so-short list were: 

Geneva, Switzerland 

Nice, France

Venice, Italy

Lake Como, Italy

Portofino, Italy

Positano, Italy

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Split, Croatia

Crete, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

To narrow down these options, we first compared the ease of travel. It was important that our trip be more relaxing than stressful. Things we sought to avoid were: 1) flights super early in the morning *Danny and I are NOT morning people* 2) more than 1 layover, or none at all, if possible, and 3) destinations where you felt like you needed to travel a bunch once you were there.

I picked the first leg of the trip, and the locations that were most intriguing were: Nice, France, Dubrovnik, Croatia, Lake Como, Italy, or Positano, Italy. These were all reachable via one layover in either Amsterdam or Paris. Since Danny and I knew we wanted to arrive in Santorini the Wednesday prior to our wedding, I then used Skyscanner to check what options were available that day from the four cities. Of those, one location that had a direct flight into Santorini on Wednesday, October 12th.... Naples, the nearest international airport to Positano! This major convenience factor brought it to the top of the list.

 

I asked one of my recent wedding clients, who visited Positano for their honeymoon, about their experience and the hotel they stayed at. Their glowing review made me so excited about this destination! Positano is most known for their colorful cliffside buildings, and we wanted to stay at a hotel with this view. We landed on Hotel L'Ancora - a sister property of the one my client stayed at. After some research, we decided that 3-4 days would be best in Positano. Danny and I are most excited for the neapolitan pizza, beach, and balcony views!

Shortly after getting engaged, Danny and I both acquired a Marriott Bonvoy Visa credit cards. Many cards like this have introductory offers that gift you reward points or other benefits if you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months. Knowing that we would be making deposit payments on our venue, photographer, videographer, and florist in the near future, we had confidence we could each hit this goal fairly easily...and that we did! This meant that Danny and I earned two free room nights at Marriott hotels (valued up to 50,000 points each) + 250,000 points. The free room nights are valid for 1 year, and so we wanted to find at least one Marriott property to utilize that credit.

Marriott has various hotel brands, ranging from low end (like Courtyard) to high end (like Ritz-Carlton). They each have a different vibe and expectation of amenities, and those are pretty consistent across all hotels within the same brand, regardless of the country you are in. Recently, I visited the JW Marriott hotel in Cabo with my mom, and LOVED it. I would describe it as modern, simple, and luxurious - but not over the top. Searching by this line, we found the JW Marriott in Venice, Italy, and that quickly jumped to the top of our list for a few reasons: 1) It is very close to the VCE International airport and the areas we would want to explore, 2) It has a good selection of onsite activities and dining, and 3) It is located on it's own mini island.. how cool! Throughout all my research, Venice was Danny's top choice, and we decided this would be the 3rd leg of our trip after the wedding, spending 3 nights at this location. We used our 2 free night credits + points for our entire stay, and felt really good about that after understanding the value we were getting. I recommend reading The Points Guy's favorite European point hotels for some other options with great points value! Danny and I are most looking forward to the wine, a gondola ride, and maybe a cooking class in Venice!

Sooo now we have our itinerary! Right? Well...I wish. Just a few weeks after booking our trip (and releasing this blog), I woke up to a notification that our flight from Naples to Santorini was CANCELLED. The European airline kindly rebooked Danny and I on the next direct flight...3 days later. :') This had us arriving to Santorini on the day of our wedding. I was like, well shit that's not going to work. Back to the drawing board!

 

We went back to a few of my other tops choices, Nice, France, and Dubrovnik, Croatia, to see if they would fit in to our current plan to replace Positano. As much as I wanted to make it work, logistically, it was not as convenient - and neither destination excited me the way Positano did. After weighing a lot of options, we decided to flip-flop the entire itinerary to make our original destinations work. It sounds like an easy fix, but this actually meant cancelling and rebooking every flight + our hotel stays in Positano and Venice. As much work as this was...with the amount of hours I spent on hold with airlines and hotels...I am actually so glad it happened. I feel that Positano is a better post-wedding destination for relaxation, and I was able to cut out a layover! 

Below is our original itinerary - followed by our updated (*hopefully* FINAL) plan. And just like that, this whole wedding trip became so much more real! If you are ever in a rut or feeling unmotivated with your wedding plans, I highly recommend pivoting to the honeymoon, and the excitement will all come back. Danny and I feel so fortunate that we are able to travel to to three awesome destinations, and are counting down the days until we leave. If you have any must do recommendations at these locations, let me know! I have yet to plan any excursions, but I will do a full overview of our experience after it all. :)

original itinerary

Destination 1: Positano

Flight Plan: MSP - CDG - NAP

Destination 2: Santorini

Flight Plan: NAP - JTR

Destination 3: Venice

Flight Plan: JTR - ATH - VCE

Trip Home:

Flight Plan: VCE - AMS - MSP

updated itinerary

Destination 1: Venice 

Flight Plan: MSP - AMS - VCE

Destination 2: Santorini

Flight Plan: VCE - JTR

Destination 3: Positano

Flight Plan: JTR - NAP

Trip Home:

Flight Plan: NAP - AMS - MSP