WEDDING- You went where? Newlyweds pick unusual honeymoons

Picture a honeymoon, and you probably imagine the traditional Caribbean landscape of crystal blue ocean, mai tai bars under pool waterfalls, and warm breezes. Sure, plenty of couples still go that route and return relaxed and tanned, if a few pounds heavier. Others have something else in mind and choose places a little more off the beaten track. If these pictures are any proof, there's more to fun than just sand and sun. 


Jason and Chrissy Beverage

Wedding: April 19, 2008 at King Family Vineyards  

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take three weeks off for our honeymoon. We love to travel and wanted to take advantage of this time to go somewhere adventurous and far away. 

We wanted a bit of time to decompress after the wedding, so we started the trip with four days on Lizard Island, a resort on the Great Barrier Reef. It was such a surreal experience scuba diving– at one point we were 30 feet down, petting Giant Potato Cod. 

Getting there meant flying about 34 hours from NYC to LA to Sydney to Cairns to Lizard Island, but it was definitely worth it! We were exhausted from the wedding and slept a good bit of the trip. 

After Lizard Island, we went out to Uluru (Ayers Rock) to experience a little bit of the Australian Outback and Aboriginal culture. We stayed in a luxury tent with amazing views of the sacred rock and enjoyed dinner under a star-filled sky.  

We finished our time in Australia with four days in Sydney, where we climbed the Harbor Bridge and took surfing lessons at Bondi Beach. Then we headed over to Queenstown, New Zealand, which was breathtaking. Here we took advantage of the extreme sports scene by Bungee jumping, sky diving, jet boating, and heli-fishing.  

The scenic highlight of our time in New Zealand was a helicopter ride from Blanket Bay to Milford Sound. The landscape was incredibly magical and diverse– we landed on a beach and a glacier in the span of 30 minutes. It sounds exhausting, but it felt like the perfect way to experience this paradise– and there's something romantic about jumping off a bridge together! 

Honestly, the biggest challenge was packing for three weeks in environments that varied from the beach to the desert to the city to a glacier. Overall, it was the trip of a lifetime and an exciting way to celebrate the beginning of our marriage.



Senem Kudat  and Ben Ward

Wedding: March 8, 2008 at UVA Chapel; reception at Keswick Hall

Our family situation is rather less traditional in that we have shared custody of three wonderful children, and family responsibilities contributed to our decision to have a mini-honeymoon. That said, NYC was the perfect location especially because my godparents live in Manhattan and we both wanted to have a chance to spend time with them. 

We flew out of Richmond on Friday after work, and despite leaving Charlottesville only two hours ahead of the flight, we had plenty of time to kick off the weekend with beers at the airport bar before departure! 

Ben and I arrived in NYC and had a late dinner at lively Irish pub near our hotel. Saturday morning we met with my godparents (native New Yorkers!) and spent the day being wined (this includes margaritas!) and dined and toured the beautiful Big Apple; after a delicious dinner we went to see a Broadway show (Mamma Mia). We had brunch at a hipster restaurant in the Village, and after walking around and more sight-seeing we caught an early evening flight back to Virginia.  

Viva the Big Apple! We're also planning to go to Istanbul in July to introduce the groom to the bride's family and Turkish culture!



Christine and Jeff Roemer

Wedding: January 19, 2008 at UVA Chapel; reception at Alumni Hall

My husband Jeff and I decided to honeymoon in Costa Rica for several reasons. I wanted to go somewhere Spanish-speaking. He's fluent in Spanish, and I thought it would be fun to mix in a little bit more naturally with the locals rather than simply visit as tourists. 

We also wanted to go someplace tropical. Both of us love animals, so it seemed a natural fit. Finally, after traveling back home to Virginia for our "destination" wedding, we didn't want to spend a whole day traveling for our honeymoon.

From where we live in Florida, the trip was not bad at all. We stayed in Manuel Antonio (Quepos), Costa Rica for seven days at the Si Como No resort, a three- or four-star green resort which we highly recommend. 

One unusual thing we did was come home for three weeks after our wedding. We relaxed, unpacked, and went back to work for a bit first. Both of us were rested and ready to go on our trip. I would highly recommend waiting at least a day or two after the wedding before taking off again. 

 While in Costa Rica, we relaxed poolside reading out loud to each other and eating and drinking from the swim-up bar; enjoyed a tour of the butterfly garden on the grounds of our hotel; made friends with the staff (and several guests) at our resort, and learned about some cool local hangouts. 

We zipped through the rainforest canopy like monkeys, rode (my husband drove) an ATV high up into the rainforest on Valentine's Day to swim in a river, discover rare trees and coffee and pineapple plantations and incredible views.

We played king and queen for the day at the hotel spa, watched a movie at the small movie theater at our resort (Love Actually), sampled typical Costa Rican "Tico" cuisine (as well as many other delicious treats), and hiked down to the local beach and Manuel Antonio National Park to sunbathe and spy dozens of rainforest flora and fauna! 

What an adventure; we loved every minute of our romantic, relaxing, and action-packed vacation.  Some mornings I wake up and wish I could walk down to breakfast with Jeff and enjoy my Costa Rican coffee with our new friends, both the humans and the monkeys. 




Emily Dowling and Jeffrey Rudnicki

Wedding: September 15, 2007 at Veritas Vineyards

We went to Kenya and Zanzibar for two weeks. We chose the destination because we wanted something unique and knew this was a good opportunity to take an extended vacation (no one really questions the length of a honeymoon, unlike a plain old vacation). We also needed to balance what I wanted– relaxation on the beach– with what Emily wanted– an active vacation.

The honeymoon was the best vacation either of us had been on (a quick plug: we booked it through, and everything was taken care of beforehand).

We spent three days at a place called Finch Hattons in Tsavo West game reserve It was secluded and romantic, but maybe a little too formal (bone china during meals). There aren't a ton of exotic animals in Tsavo West, but we didn't really know that until we saw the number of animals in the Masai Mara, where we spent five days in a tent perched above a hippo watering hole. This was incredible, definitely our best spot.  

The amount of wildlife was unreal. We went in mid-September, which is toward the end of the great wildebeest migration, so we literally saw thousands of wildebeest swimming across the river in search of more food as they dodged crocodiles in the water and lions waiting for them on the other side of the river.  Animal Planet live.

Our typical day was coffee at 6am on the porch of our tent. This was surreal because elephants would be walking down the hill, maybe 30 feet from us. And when I say tent, it was more like a hotel room. Then we'd go on a morning game drive for a couple of hours (just the two of us and a guide) and then back for breakfast. Relax and nap. Have lunch. Hit the pool. Then go on an afternoon drive for three hours or so. Then have dinner, and then repeat it the next day.

The last four days of our trip we were in Zanzibar. The ride from the airport in Stone Town to the resort was probably the only "scary" part of our trip. We landed at 9:30 at night, and it was during Ramadan. Zanzibar is something like 92 percent Islamic, so the streets were lined with people who had been inside all day. The shuttle that took us to the resort was weaving in and out of people at a high speed, nearly hitting many a person as we rode through tight city streets in a slum area of the island. It was honestly pretty frightening.

The resort itself was amazing, though. Incredible beaches, pleasant weather, good food. One of the best things we did was renew our (two week old) vows on the beach. You see, as the wedding process wore on, we realized it would've been nice for just the two of us to get married on a beach. While that wasn't feasible, we decided to have our own unofficial ceremony anyway.  

It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. There was supposed to be a minister, but he didn't show up, so we just said our own vows, which worked out fine because we had written them.