I just realized that I never blogged about our honeymoon, which at this point was now 1 year ago! Better late than never, right? It was truly the best vacation I have ever had...even with an injury.
Let's start at the beginning. The 'I Do, Me Too' were spoken and the reception was underway. Our wedding was a success. We were married, blissfully happy and enjoying the night dancing with our friends. I remember literally letting out a sigh of relief. We made it without any disasters...or so I thought.
At the end of our reception, around midnight, something terrible happened. I was preparing to walk out of our reception and into our adjoining honeymoon suite, when my dress got caught and as I took a step, my knee twisted and dislocated. I had dislocated my left knee the first time in high school and it's one of those injuries that once it happens, you are much more susceptible to it happening again. Luckily, one of my husband's best friends is a doctor (he actually works for Harvard), so I was in very good hands. He used what we had on hand ( a plastic bag, ice and duct tape) to secure a knee brace to get me through the night. I was not about to go to the emergency room in a wedding dress.
Justin's groomsmen carried me into our suite and my bridesmaids helped undo the buttons on the back of my gown, take off my shoes etc. I remember Justin and I looking at each other as we sat on our bed in our honeymoon suite covered in rose petals, with about 10 of our closest friends in the room helping us, and just laughing. There was nothing else we could do at that point. So much for the romantic evening we had anticipated. I have never been so thankful for our best friends, especially Sarah and her husband Brian, as I was at that point. Our friends made sure that our gifts were delivered to our room safely and that everything was removed from our reception hall. They looked over every last detail for us, as I laid down with my knee elevated and Justin next to me holding my hand.
The say marriage is for better or worse, and there was no truer testament than starting our first night as a married couple in such a chaotic way. I really wouldn't have changed a thing though.
Our wedding was on a Friday night and our honeymoon was booked for early Sunday morning. So, that Saturday I headed to Urgent Care and got the ok from the doctor. She gave me an actual brace for my knee and told me to be very careful, continue to ice it and wear the brace for 8 weeks. I rested up and prepared for our honeymoon. My sweet father-in-law picked us up at 5am to take us to the airport. The upside of traveling with a knee brace is that airlines will typically take pity on you. Traveling with a knee brace on your honeymoon? Everyone feels bad for you. We scored upgraded seats, the flight attendant kept passing me mini bottles of vodka and orange juice and we were the first ones on the plane and the first off. I joked to Justin that I may never travel without a knee brace again haha. Once we arrived, I was greeted by a man with a wheelchair and a sign with my name on it. He insisted that I take the wheel chair. He wheeled us through the airport as quick as possible. We were literally off the plane and into a cab within 10 minutes of landing. It was glorious.
Justin just had to take a pic.
How To Plan A Fabulous Honeymoon Without Busting Your Budget
We approached our honeymoon like we do every thing we purchase or plan, armed with as much knowledge as possible. We were flexible on the location. All we cared about was that there was a beach and plenty of frozen cocktails readily available. After much research, looking everywhere from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, to Puerto Rico to Jamaica, we found the best deal we could in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. Neither of us had ever been there, so we were especially excited to visit somewhere new.
1. Research, Research, Research.
For additional savings, we went through Ebates.com first, which gave us 5% cash back as well, which ended up being about $100. Every bit helps, right?
We read through dozens and dozens of reviews on every travel site imaginable. It took time and we had to create a spreadsheet that clearly identified the major points of every resort we were considering, but we ended up at a fabulous place and remained under budget. Our spreadsheet included how many rooms and restaurants were on site, proximity to the nearest town/city for nightlife, main demographic (did it appeal to families, couples, young singles, etc) and what was included in the price (all-inclusive or not).
2. Give yourself a break. Literally.
The week before our wedding, we had out-of-town family and friends in, which was great. We got to spend time with those we love. However, we also had all of those millions of little errands to run and last minute projects to complete that seem to be inevitable before any wedding. It was a fun week but a busy one. Plus, the actual wedding day is such an emotional high that we were absolutely exhausted at the end of it. Not to mention the whole dislocating the knee at midnight and not being able to sleep a wink that night.
Even without a physical injury occurring on your wedding day, you will still need at least a day to recover from the wedding. You will want to sleep in a bit, see your family, open gifts and to recap the momentous day before. Don't book your honeymoon for the day after the wedding. Trust me. Your honeymoon will be the much better when you have had a day (or more!) to recover from the wedding.
3. Make the most of it.
Once you have arrived at your honeymoon destination, let everything go. Stop worrying about whether or not your wedding pictures will turn out ok (they will) or that the caterers forgot to serve the groom's cake. Let all of that stuff go. You and your partner will never have another honeymoon. Sure, they will be other vacations but it won't be the same as a honeymoon. Enjoy every moment of your new wedded bliss.
We joined in the many activities that our resort offered. I was obviously more limited due to my knee, but I still sat on the beach and enjoyed a margarita with the other ladies during a guacamole cooking lesson. We played trivia at the pool. I chatted with some ladies and made bracelets on the beach. We befriended a great couple from Chicago. One partner wanted to lay at the pool and relax (my bestie, Chuck) and his partner wanted to participate in all the water activities. So, Chuck and I became fast friends and frozen cocktail consumers, while Justin and Gerson kayaked, played beach volleyball and para-sailed. A win/win for everyone. Although some of the activities may border on cheesy (water aerobics, for example), we ended up meeting some awesome people this way and it broke up the monotony of laying in the sun all day.
As tempting as it is to sit and be waited on at the resort all day, it is still a good idea to get out and enjoy the culture of the city. We explored downtown Puerta Vallarta, bought a few souvenirs and enjoyed a cerveza or two among the locals. One of our favorite spots was a church built in the 1851. We also took full advantage of the $25/hour massages offered outside the gates of our resort. #heaven
One of our favorite experiences was taking a boat ride to a private, candle-lit island, where we dined on the beach. Our new fellow honeymooner friends were also aboard. It was truly a magical evening.
4. Make friends
My husband is one of those people that naturally and easily makes friends, wherever he goes. It is a trait I am most envious of. One of the parts that made our honeymoon so amazing were the fabulous friends we made, most of whom were also honeymooners. Our last night there, we had dinner with 6 other couples. It felt like we were among old friends at that point and was a perfect end to a great week. We have all stayed in contact and hope to have a reunion anniversary trip one of these days.
Although your honeymoon is all about you and your spouse, it was nice to chat with other new brides and swap wedding stories. The boys talked about sports and played beach volleyball together. It made for such a fun week with a nice balance of romantic time together and also fun times with new friends.
5. Go for All-Inclusive but Pay Attention to the Fine Print
This may be a controversial statement, as some folks are opposed to all-inclusive and think they are all the same. They are not. I am all for adventure and for trying new local restaurants while traveling, but it was such a relief to eat and drink to our hearts' desire without having to worry about the tab. Your honeymoon is all about you and your partner. This is your time to be spoiled, to be pampered, to be waited on.
That's Justin way up in the air, parasailing
We brought some cash to tip (always remember to tip!) but left our wallets in the safe in our hotel room. The cost associated with staying at our all-inclusive resort compared to similar resorts that were not all-inclusive was hardly noticeable. We believe firmly that we saved so much money this way. I shudder to think what our bar tab alone would've been, after all those frozen cocktails we consumed on the beach.
We also made sure that our resort offered plenty of dining options. Ours included a few breakfast options, several lunch and dinner options, 24hr room service, a stocked mini-bar and plenty of snacks and drinks pool-side. Had our resort had more limited dining options, we probably would've gotten bored with it.
The table-side dessert coffee presentation was fantastic!
Overall, we had an amazing experience while staying on budget and with a busted knee. A special thank you to our dear friends that we met on this trip, who made it all the more special and memorable. May we meet again soon!