These creative honeymoon travel stories will inspire you | Things To Do

The latest trends in honeymoons spell doom for the generic all-inclusive. Out: spending the most romantic trip of your life parked on a beach with umbrella-adorned drinks. In: getting creative with your post-nuptial holidaying.

“Traditionally, honeymoons were very much a ‘fly and flop,’ where you go somewhere for seven nights and that’s it,” says Charlotte Piazza, founder and lead planner at the Amsterdam-based travel agency Handpicked Honeymoons, who dreams up bespoke honeymoons for couples around the world, including many Canadians. “Now, people are looking for more meaning in the trip, and actually creating something together.”

Piazza has seen this desire for unique trips manifest in several ways. She’s planned a few “surprise” honeymoons, for example, where she works with one spouse to plan the itinerary — leaving their other half in the dark on some or all of the trip’s elements. Another trend that Piazza has noticed: couples packing multiple countries into a single trip, and even maximizing stopovers.

Popular honeymooning destinations are also diversifying beyond the Caribbean classics, says Piazza, who’s noted couples travelling to witness natural phenomena, for example. “I’ve got two couples going to the Arctic TreeHouse in Finland this month to see the northern lights,” she explains.

And while the itineraries may be as unique as the love stories, what marries all these trends is a shared sense of self-indulgence — the good kind where you embrace the “once in a lifetime” of it all, and plan a trip you’ll still be talking about at your Golden Anniversary. Read on for how three Canadian couples put their own creative spin on the modern honeymoon.

The partymoon

When they were planning their wedding in Athens, Niside Aloi and her husband, Theo Makriyannis, had a hunch they wouldn’t want the fun to end. So, as part of their invite, they extended the option to their wedding guests to keep the party going with them — into the honeymoon.

“It was an extension of our destination wedding,” says the Toronto-based marketing executive. “We wanted to make sure our guests had the most amazing time, and Greece is a party destination.” Twelve people — including two of her aunts — took them up on the invite, joining them for four days on the magical island of Santorini, which was where the couple had fallen in love years before.

Niside Aloi and Theo Makriyannis, Santorini CREDIT Niside Aloi.J

Niside Aloi and Theo Makriyannis in Santorini, where they had their partymoon. 

“We stayed in Perissa because they have one of the most beautiful beaches,” she says. “It’s not super touristy. It’s a charming coastal village.”

Whizzing around on scooters and ATVs, they had a packed itinerary: One afternoon they spent relaxing in cabanas at JoJo beach bar, followed by a dinner of fresh, local seafood at a family-owned taverna. Another day they explored the capital city of Fira, then dined at a restaurant perched on the caldera rim, before keeping the festivities going at an outdoor club. (The aunts skipped that.)

Their final day, they rented a catamaran, jumping into the water to swim, exploring the red and white beaches, watching the sunset. “We were in the middle of the sea, all together. The weather was perfect,” says Aloi. “I remember feeling very thankful, and really loved, that everyone was there for us but also creating their own memories.”

The nomadic moon

It would almost be easier to name somewhere that Holly Wilks and her husband, Jake Jarvis, didn’t go on their honeymoon than it would be to list the entire destination list.

Last year, the couple spent three months zigzagging across the globe: a few days in Tokyo, two weeks in Thailand, three more in Vietnam, a curveball detour to Denmark when they somehow scored a reservation at the legendary restaurant Noma — the near-impossible-to-book, three-Michelin-starred gastro-destination, set to shutter later this year. There was a pit stop in Morocco, with a stunning day of hiking in the Atlas Mountains, and a European leg that included the U.K. and France.

Holly Wilks and Jake Jarvis, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam CREDIT Holly W

Holly Wilks and Jake Jarvis in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, during their epic, nomadic honeymoon. 

The idea was sparked over a few glasses of wine a year or so before their wedding. “We were talking about how, because of the pandemic, people were living abroad and working remotely,” says Wilks, a Toronto-based account manager, of the inspiration for their extra-long trip, which entailed a full sabbatical (for her) and some work from the road (for him). “It was very much, ‘Let’s go on a crazy honeymoon and just lean into it as hard as we can.’”

A few moments stick out in her mind when she reflects on the trip, which she fully credits to her husband for planning almost down to the minute. One moment, after a period of fast-paced travel, they finally caught their breath on Ko Lanta in Thailand. “It was the most perfect … beautiful water, white sand,” she says. “It was everything I wanted from the trip.”

Then, on the island of Ko Yao Noi, he surprised her with a stay at Purana Resort (“the most outrageous space I’ve been in my life”), complete with their own pool overlooking the sea. Perhaps even more memorable than the experiences was the degree of effort put into all the planning: “He went above and beyond to curate special moments along the way,” Wilks says. “This trip only brought us closer.”

The buddymoon

You could say that Lauren Cozzi’s friends invited themselves on her honeymoon, a road trip that wound through California and into Nevada.

“When our friends caught wind that we were planning to end our honeymoon in Las Vegas, they asked if they could join — and of course, we said yes,” explains Cozzi, who in an alternate universe would likely have chosen Italy and Switzerland, were it not for the pandemic. “But we’re definitely glad that it ended this way, with a buddymoon.”

Lauren and Dave Cozzi, California CREDIT Lauren Cozzi.JPG

Lauren and Dave Cozzi on the California road-tripping leg of their honeymoon. 

After the just-for-two part of their honeymoon proper — seeing San Francisco and then driving the Pacific Coast Highway — she and her husband, Dave Cozzi, tacked on four days in Vegas with six best friends. “We still joke that it was all of our honeymoon,” says the Ontario-based communications pro. “It was like continuing the party and excitement of the wedding into our trip. It was awesome.”

It didn’t hurt that everyone was stir-crazy after not being able to travel during the pandemic, and ready to let their hair down — the mood was very much “you only live once.” One evening, they went out to a casino restaurant and ordered pretty much everything on the menu, including every dessert. “It was a fun, kind of silly thing that maybe we wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the pandemic,” she says.

Cozzi and her husband hadn’t really travelled with a group of friends before, so this buddymoon was a chance to spend the kind of uninterrupted quality time with pals that you rarely get as grown-ups. The pursuit of pure fun made every simple activity together — playing minigolf, hitting a club — all the more enjoyable. “It was really cool having other people there to share the memories but also make them more special.”

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