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Tasmania – Image via In a Faraway Land

There’s a lot to consider when planning a honeymoon: where to go, how long for and how far in advance should you book? Unfortunately, Google and all the wedding apps in the world couldn’t give us real world advice or answer any of our questions. So, we’ve done this for you! Meet our recent newlyweds, Jess, Nikaela and Mim who have shared some tips with us on all things honeymoon. Jess and her partner Dom adventured around Tasmania for their honeymoon, Nikaela and Todd relaxed in Airlie Beach whilst Mim and Justin picked sunny Hamilton Island for their honeymoon. All completely different experiences but their advice applies to any type of honeymoon.

Nikaela and Todd – image via Mel Hill Photography 

Where was your honeymoon?

Jess: Adventure around Tasmania – road trip to Pumphouse Point, which is a beautiful old pumphouse in the middle of Australia’s deepest lake which has been converted into beautiful suites. We spent time out on the lake and in the shore house. We particularly loved the shared dinners every night with delicious local food and wine. After a few days we headed back to Hobart where we rented a beautiful Air BnB townhouse in the middle of the city.

Nikaela: Airlie Beach!

Mim: I’m a teacher, so to take a big trip during term time it is unpaid leave. We decided to go on a small trip straight after our wedding (which was a week off school) and we are leaving for a 3 week trip to Europe on the 23rd of December this year. We went to Hamilton Island and stayed at the Beach Club for 4 days. We booked a deal through the website which included a Reef tour. Justin and I enjoyed ourselves SO much. We couldn’t have been happier relaxing in island life and rave about it to anyone and everyone. We went the first week of May so it was reasonably quiet too.

Mim and Justin – Hamilton Island 

Why did you pick this destination?

Jess: We knew we didn’t have much time to dedicate to our honeymoon so we wanted to go somewhere with beautiful scenery within Australia, where we could do as much relaxing or adventuring as we felt like.

Jess and Dom image via Keepsake Photography

Nikaela: We live in Canberra and wanted a hot destination within Australia. Airlie Beach was hit by a cyclone a few years ago and we wanted to spend some time up there and help the locals.

Mim: It was on my bucket list to see the Reef.

How far in advance would you recommend booking a honeymoon?

Jess: We booked ours approximately 4 months before the honeymoon.

Nikaela: We booked it 8 months in advance. We saw some flights on sale and thought it was a great destination – it was a very spontaneous decision. We recommend signing up to receive flight specials and book in advance as you can save some extra money

Mim: We booked quite close to the date but the more organised you are the more money you’ll save (particularly with flights). We booked our Europe adventure in September and have paid a fortune for flights because we’re going over Christmas.

What activities would you recommend doing on a honeymoon? Was there one that stood out to you?

Jess: We loved just spending time together. Because of where we chose, we loved going on walks and drives, visiting iconic locations and indulging in fresh produce such as cheeses, meats and breads. I particularly enjoyed visiting the local markets and exploring the local area.

Nikaela: We enjoyed swimming in the lagoon and relaxing by the beach. We had a very relaxing honeymoon. We didn’t book any activities until we were there, such as snorkeling or day trips.

Mim: Relaxing. We were absolutely frantic leading up to the wedding, it was pure bliss to do NOTHING for the first day. After that we chose activities that we felt were in our budget, but we were mostly guided by ‘would we regret it if we don’t do it?’ We did a helicopter ride, but rather than a really long one we chose a shorter one to gauge whether we enjoyed it.

Mim and Justin – Hamilton Island 
How long after the wedding would you recommend leaving for your honeymoon?

Jess: We left immediately after our wedding (2 days after) which worked for us because we weren’t travelling far. It also kept up our excitement levels up and continued our celebration following our wedding.

Nikaela: We left 10 days after our wedding, it gave us a chance to say goodbye to interstate family and friends and return anything we hired.

Mim: Having a spare day in between really suited us. We did a lot of wedding prep ourselves so if we left the next day, I would have been panicking about stuff.

Nikaela and Todd – Image via Mel Hill Photography

Knowing what you know now is there anything you would have done differently?

Jess: No way! Our day was perfect and our honeymoon complemented it so nicely!

Jess and Dom image via Keepsake Photography

Nikaela: We really enjoyed our honeymoon, and wouldn’t change anything, we spent a week at Airlie Beach, it was a time where we could fully relax and enjoy being each others Husband and Wife.

Mim: I would have stayed at Hamilton island longer!

Is there any advice or recommendations that you wish to pass on?

Jess: Choose a honeymoon that suits you and your partner’s personality. Do you want to relax? Do you want to adventure? What is the best way you’d like to spend time with your new husband/wife? Do that!

Nikaela: We turned our phones off for most of our honeymoon, we took the occasional snap and posted it on social media, however it was lovely just being with each other and disconnecting from technology.

Mim: So many family and friends have advice which we took on board. At the end of the day you’ve got to do your own research to find what suits you.

Ms Zebra Says: We can’t thank our newlywed bride’s enough for sharing their insider knowledge and destinations! With all the wedding planning, a holiday may seem like the LAST thing to think about. Here’s to choosing a fab location to holiday as newlyweds!

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

Stephanie & Kent

“Our wedding was elegant and timeless, laid back (as it was outside), but nothing short of romantic.” It was in beautiful Bali that Stephanie and Kent said “I do”. The pair met in the bride’s home country of Canada at high school and became high school sweethearts, leading the bride to follow her future groom back to his hometown of Adelaide.

With Kleio Photography behind the camera, they celebrated among the most stunning Balinese tropical gardens. This wedding will give you all the tropical feels.

It was on their ten-year anniversary that Kent popped the question. Stephanie fills us in; “Kent and I took quite a long time to get engaged. After dating through high school and beating the odds by doing long-distance for about five years, Kent eventually proposed on our 10 year anniversary. He surprised me in the morning with breakfast in bed, then a series of notes/hints that led me to various destinations throughout the day! He took me to wineries and a beautiful lunch, then we ended at Mount Lofty House here in Adelaide where he had organised dinner and a night’s stay. After dinner, we walked in the beautiful gardens where he got down on one knee and proposed – FINALLY!”

Stephanie worked with a friend to create her dream gown, “I take fashion quite seriously and also am very particular! One of my closest friends actually made my wedding dress for me as she is a talented designer. To begin the process, we went and tried on wedding dresses together. From there, we took each of the elements that we loved about the ones I tried on and merged it into one beautiful gown. We met up every month or so and tried the dress on, changed around some elements, added elements until I had the dress of my dreams! It was such a wonderful process.”

The beautiful Royal Pita Maha set the scene for the big day. Stephanie shares, “because I am Canadian, we always knew that we wanted a destination wedding where all of our family could meet. The Royal Pita Maha in Ubud, Bali was absolutely breathtaking, and we just couldn’t look past it after finding it online through Botanica Weddings. It was secluded, very lush and green, and still amazingly romantic. Our ceremony took place alongside a flowing river, with a perfect warm breeze rolling through the white fabrics we had at the ceremony. Our reception took place under a temple, with lanterns and fairy lights everywhere. Just amazing.”

The bride’s father walked her down the aisle to Beyonce’s cover of “Ava Maria”.

“The ceremony was in an open-air pavilion with white fabrics and flowers everywhere. The pavilion was situated next to a beautiful flowing river which on the opposite side had sky-high cliffs adding an element of seclusion. There was a beautiful warm breeze, perfect weather,” tells the bride.

The bride made decisions to honour her family throughout the day, telling “We got married on August 8th, which was my late grandmother’s birthday. She was a very special person in my life and we really felt it important to include her in some aspect or another on our wedding day. My mom also surprised me while we were getting ready with one of my grandmother’s rings, which I ended up tying to my bouquet.”

The bride carried a bouquet of white blossoms, telling “We went all white with the flowers to keep everything crisp and elegant. My bouquet was filled with an Indonesian white carnation which mimicked a peony-style that I couldn’t get in Bali.”

 

Of their photographer, the bride remarks, “Our photographer was Kleio Photography. We were suggested them by our wedding planners and they didn’t let us down! Beautiful natural shots with amazing colours.”

Bali’s beauty came to life, the couple surprising their guests with plenty of Balinese flavour. Stephanie explains, “My favourite detail was the surprise fire dancers we had! There was quite a long walk from the ceremony to the reception, so to keep our guests entertained they had fire dancers walk them up to the reception. It was such a great addition!”

Stephanie and Kent worked with Botanica Weddings to plan their day, sharing, “All suppliers were through our wedding planner, Botanica Wedding. Who, in general, were just amazing with every detail!”

Of their first dance, Stephanie remembers, “We kept it simple for our first dance. No lessons, we just wanted our love to shine through. We danced to ‘At Last’ by Etta James.”

 

A big congratulations to the newlyweds! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us. Thank you also to Kleio Photography and Botanica Weddings for sharing today’s celebration.

Photographer: Kleio Photography / Wedding Planner: Botanica Weddings / Bride's Dress: A friend / Bride's Shoes: Chloe / Getting Ready Robes: Amanda Barden Bridal / Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Asos / Bridesmaid Dresses: Fame and Partners / Invitations & Stationery: Minted / Venue: Botanica Weddings - Royal Pita Maha / Guestbook: Bo & Luca / Wedding Ring: Bell & Brunt / Engagement Ring: Mazzucchellis / Hair & Makeup Artist: Jerosony for Yeanne Makeup Art
Kyoto is a beautiful city you need to experience immediately. Image via Sorasak.

Kyoto is a beautiful city you need to experience immediately. Image via Sorasak.

In case you missed it, there’s been a quiet tourism revolution going on and Japan is at the centre of it! These days it seems like everyone you know has either just been to Japan, is on their way to Japan or is planning a holiday there.

In fact, in 2017 Japan was in the top 10 countries visited by Australians according to official stats. When considering honeymoon destinations, the land of the rising sun should definitely be on your list of options. You’ll find it’s full of intricate cities and the one that has to be on the top of your ‘must-visit’ list, is Kyoto. It’s the kind of city you hope to find that still balances a wonderful combination of old and new, temples and tea-houses, gardens and geishas. If you’re in the midst of honeymoon planning, here are a few handy tips to help sway you towards Kyoto.

Where to stay

Heads up, Japan has been cracking down on AirBnB stays, but there are a heap of hotels in the Kyoto area. If you’re looking to be in the middle of the action, the Hotel Gracery is the way to go. This hotel is located in the Teramachi Shopping Arcade area – one of Kyoto’s many shopping districts. If you’re looking for a combination of culture and comfort, I suggest booking the Kabuki Room – inspired by the traditional local form of theatre. The room is filled with all kinds of Japanese kitsch and a gorgeous cherry blossom mural throughout. It’s small (most rooms in Japan are) but the decorative interior takes your stay to the next level.

How to be romantic

Mt Inari-San is a tourist magnet and it’s easy to see why. The mountain is home to the Fushima-Inari Taisha Shrine; people visit these shrines to pay respect to the Kami (gods) and many people still make the pilgrimage to Fushimi-Inari Taisha, despite the waves of tourists.

Most tourists come to see the incredible ‘torii’ gates – thousands of them mark the trek to the summit. My suggestion? Head there in the late afternoon – about 4pm (depending on the light at time of year). At this time, you’ll start the hike with a few people around but by the time you reach the top, there will be barely anyone there. Pack some nibbles and drinks and take a seat in the lookout area. Sitting together with your special someone, in absolute peace and quiet at the top of a mountain, which was earlier packed with hundreds of people has an eerie romance to it. Sit back and relax as you gaze out over the lights of Kyoto. Fair warning, it’s 233m up steps to the summit, so it takes a couple of hours with breaks, but it’s well worth it.

Torri gates at Fushima-Inari Taisha Shrine. Image via FancyCrave.com

Torri gates at Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine. Image via FancyCrave.com

What to eat

The food in Japan is crazy good, so really, any food recommendations should be: eat as much as you can! Kyoto is no exception. I could have listed a bunch of restaurants here, but I’ve chosen something which has a bit more of a newlywed vibe to it: e.g. it’s something you’ll absolutely love doing with your partner and as a bonus, the food is brilliant too.

Mrs Houndstooth and I, hit up the Ramen Factory, for a ramen cooking class. Learn how to make noodles from scratch, tie and fry your own meat and of course, make the all-important broth. It’s all done under the supervision of the Ramen Factory team. Fun, romantic and it includes a delicious meal and a souvenir certificate so cheesy it will have you in stitches. Perfect!

 

What to drink

When people think of Japanese drinks, they think of tea and saké. Both those answers are on the money, but there’s another drink you can’t go past in Kyoto – Japanese whisky! Japan’s whisky, much like the country is uber popular.

The best part about staying in Kyoto is that the distillery that started it all is just a short train ride away. The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery is a must do for whisky lovers. I recommend skipping the tour and heading straight to the bar where you’ll find tasting paddles featuring whiskies that are so rare they’re pretty much impossible to find in Australia – and if you do happen to find them here, they’ll cost the earth. Definitely get behind the ‘long matured whisky set’, featuring half shots of the Yamazaki 18, the Hakushu 18 and Hibiki 21 for the price of 1800 yen (approximately $21 AUD). For the record, a bottle of Hibiki 21 goes for about $800 AUD, so it’s fair to say this is a bargain! Important: They don’t have any food at the distillery, and they don’t like outside food to be brought in, so make sure you’ve got a full stomach when you arrive!

Just for fun

If you’re looking to do things ‘just for fun’ or that are a bit random, Japan is the country for you. Kyoto’s Ninja restaurant definitely falls under this category. Yes, it’s a themed restaurant, which immediately conjures up concerns about tackiness, but the Ninja restaurant walks the line just right.

Unlike many other themed restaurants, the food was actually amazing! Prepare to go on an Indiana Jones-esque adventure when you arrive and depart the restaurant and in terms of food, I recommend the sashimi platter and the ninja star crackers. Did I mention a ninja performs magic tricks at your table while you dine? Yup, that happened.

Ms Zebra Says: I agree that SO many friends are heading over to Japan – and raving about it. Thanks Mr Houndstooth for sharing insider tips to get you around Kyoto in style!

About the author Mr Houndstooth: I am a happily married man. I enjoy a fine whisky, a new suit and swashbuckling around town with my beautiful bride. Looking back on my wedding day always makes me smile, even though it began to rain just as I said ‘I do’.