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Image: Dubai Tourism

“Arabian nights… like Arabian days… more often than not hotter than hot… in a lot of good ways.” Ah Aladdin’s genie knew what he was talking about. The UAE is hot, yes, but boy does it have some serious honeymoon hotspots.

Okay, so the bright lights and big city of Dubai are definitely a magic carpet ride from Aladdin’s Arabia, but stick with us, there’s another side to Dubai, beyond the skyscrapers, where you can make your honeymoon dreams come true – flying carpet ride or not.

Image: Dubai Tourism

An Arabian night
Where you stay makes a big difference in Dubai. Go Downtown and you’ll have your pick of five star skyrise hotels within walking distance of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and one of the world’s biggest shopping centres, Dubai Mall. Head down to The Palm and park yourself in the Atlantis The Palm’s sprawling pink palace.

But for something truly unique, make a beeline to Al Seef. Located along the riverbanks of Dubai Creek, this is the city’s ‘cultural district’ – it resembles a traditional old town, with low lying buildings housing market stalls, hurricane lamps, fabric awnings propped up on sticks, food vendors pushing carts, fishing boats bobbing on the Creek – it’s straight out of Aladdin. In actual fact, these streets were built from the ground up back in 2017 to resemble the Dubai of yesteryear. You’ll do a double take it’s so authentic, but a careful eye will catch the keyrings among the rugs and cushion covers for sale. The architecture harks back to Dubai’s days as a pearl diving port and make this the perfect spot to escape the big city hustle.

Really step back in time with a stay at the Al Seef Heritage Hotel, which has rooms dotted amongst the shop fronts. Now part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, the boutique hotel is a little like stepping into the set of an Indiana Jones movie and a little like a glamorous safari lodge. There are open air lounge rooms with cushions on the floor, copper tin sinks, more hurricane lamps and beautiful wood carved beds.

Images: Dubai Tourism & Stuart Flisher of White Cube Studios

A waterfront retreat
People often seem to forget how much prime waterfront there is in Dubai – and you’ll find some of the best spots in Jumeirah. There’s less construction in this well-established expat enclave, and plenty of spots to soak up the uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf’s calm pale blue seas. T

he Mandarin Oriental Jumeira laps up the views with a luxe beach club vibe straight out of a beach club resort in the Maldives or Europe. Doormen in top hats and jackets will lead you inside the palatial lobby, skirt the towering macarons and delicate French gateaux of their gorgeous cake shop and carry on towards the pool, and the ocean beyond. From here on in, it’s all about beach chic. There are pod-like day beds, deck chairs and cabanas sprawled out on the sand and the meticulously manicured grass. Grab an outdoor table at The Bay, the hotel’s chic indoor/outdoor eatery and tuck into elegant burrata avocado tartine, traditional Greek moussaka, or lobster tagliatelle. It’s straight out of the Med and we never want to leave.

Images: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Dubai

Bliss out
Dubai has a reputation for whirlwind stopovers – speedy sightseeing, serious shopping, maybe even a waterslide or two to get the blood pumping. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Relaxation is big business in a busy city. After lunch, spend a few hours sequestered away in the Spa at Mandarin Oriental. A few hours here, and you’ll both be lapping up the wedded bliss. The his and hers mineral baths, sauna, steam room and heated loungers are a treat before the treatment even begins. The Spa uses traditional Asian therapies, with local UAE influences – think light Emirati drumming in the Nomadic Sensory Journey and 24 carat gold and saffron in the Royal Saffron ritual. There’s also an influence closer to home, with the Blissful Marma Massage using Aussie natural skincare brand Subtle Energies to help loosen tight muscles and stimulate energy points. Tuck yourselves into the post-massage wellness pods with a cup of tea before heading back out into the sunshine.

Images: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Dubai

Curled up in cocoon pods, sprawled out on day beds, strolling through ancient fishing villages – it’s a whole new world, Dubai-style.

Ms Floral Says: Dubai is definitely one to add to the bucket list, and makes for a different but still super luxurious and relaxing honeymoon! Also, the food would be sensational.

About Lisa Perkovic: Lisa has spent the past decade travelling the world writing for Australia’s leading newspapers, magazines and blogs about all things travel. Her own honeymoon was her pièce de résistance – an epic journey to the Maldives and South Africa. Now she loves nothing more than sharing destinations and tips to help other newlyweds work out how to have the honeymoon of their dreams.

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Rebekah & Ciaran

Say “Bula!” to Fiji as we head to there to soak up the relaxed, tropical vibes of Rebekah and Ciaran’s destination wedding. The couple invited their nearest and dearest on a wedding week in paradise, which included a welcome dinner and a hens and bucks party. And even though it was a destination wedding, the couple were able to add DIY touches to their big day, including some gorgeous tributes to their beloved pets. Rebekah, the bride, details how their Fiji wedding came to be and how it unfolded.

Ciaran and I met in 2009, when living on the same floor at a university dormitory in Hobart. We bonded over social nights out, and Ciaran introduced me to a lot of unfamiliar electronic dance music! We are very different in personalities but it just clicked.

After surviving various overseas trips together and me completing my medical degree (Ciaran was essential in keeping me sane during this time!) we decided to move to Adelaide to pursue my post-graduate training. In South Australia, we fell in love with mountain bike riding and the competitive dog sport, bikejor, involving our four much loved Pointers. Ciaran proposed in 2018 when we were out mountain bike riding in Kuitpo Forest, making me ride to the top of a steep hill to get the prized ring!

We both tend not to enjoy too much time in the spotlight, so Ciaran had suggested a simple elopement overseas. I, however, came across an amazing wedding package deal for the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, which was just too good to ignore!

It took a bit for our families to come around to the idea, but eventually everyone was on board for a ‘wedding week’ in Fiji. Thirty of our nearest and dearest travelled from Australia to share our amazing destination wedding, along with pre-wedding celebrations. We tacked on our honeymoon afterwards at the gorgeous Nukubati Island Resort.

My stunning lace dress was ‘Rakel’ by Madi Lane. I always knew I wanted a slim fitting, detailed dress with straps to keep it up on the dance floor. My mother Wendy and I found the dress at the first bridal boutique we visited (Luv Bridal & Formal in Adelaide). It was a very smooth and easy process! Dress alterations, clutch and veil were by the superb Megan from She Sews.

My mother is very talented and made the gorgeous satin blue and lace garter for the wedding as a beautiful keepsake and my “something blue” for the day. Shoes were ‘Jewel’ by Badgley Mischka and so comfortable to wear!

My best friend from medical school (also a Rebekah) was my maid of honour. My two close high school friends Laura and Jess were the wonderful bridesmaids.

When we were planning the wedding, we were living in South Australia and the bridal party were scattered around Australia and the UK! For ease of planning, the girls each chose their own full length navy blue dress, which worked out perfectly and looked amazing, suiting each of their figures and personalities beautifully.

Mitchel, Ciaran’s brother, was the best man, and Jackson was the groomsman.

Ciaran was a lot more low maintenance about his clothing for the day, his main priority was to avoid overheating in the tropical weather! He and the groomsmen wore matching cream chinos and white shirts from YD and Ciaran had a blazer from Peter Jackson.

He is very active so instead of a classic wedding band, he chose an Oura smart ring ordered from America! It suits him well and allows him to track his sleep and activity.

The Outrigger offers three venues for the ceremony: beach, garden or chapel. Given the humidity, heat and my frizzy hair, we decided on the Bure Ni Loloma (house of love) chapel. This proudly sits at the top of the resort overlooking the beach, a stunning view. To get up the hill the guests and wedding party are transported up and down in golf carts. So much fun!

The prelude and the cake cutting song were provided by the Fijian serenaders! I chose to walk down the aisle to ‘Canon in D’ by Pachelbel. This classic was special to my father and I, as it was one of the first pieces I learnt to play on the piano when younger.

The Outrigger package included a choice of flowers for the day. I fell in love with the pink gingers and frangipanis and they were so beautiful on the day. It’s a pity I couldn’t bring them back through customs!

The ceremony was short and sweet! The Outrigger provided a celebrant and pre-written vows, which we altered to suit our personalities. Neither of us particularly enjoy public speaking so this worked very well for us. My mother read the Apache Wedding Blessing and my father gave me away. There were certainly a few tears during the ceremony.

In unique Fiji fashion, we chose to cut the cake straight after the ceremony and it was served at the cocktail hour. Some was even sent back to the married couples’ rooms for a midnight feast!

We had a cocktail hour at the Sunset Bar and the reception was held in the Vahavu Restaurant, overlooking the adults-only pool.

During cocktail hour, Ciaran and I snuck away for a private photo session with our brilliant photographer. This was such a special time to just focus on the two of us and to explore some more local sites along the coast of Fiji.

Our photographer was Reenal via Videoticz Fiji, and our videographer was Nitin through Rolling Moments Fiji. We weren’t so certain about having a videographer to begin with, but are so happy we organised this in the end. It was very special to have footage of the day to show family who couldn’t make it to Fiji.

In keeping with the Fiji wedding, the reception and decorations were of a tropical flavour. Think lots of local flowers and fairy lights. Planning an overseas wedding did have its stressful moments at times, particularly with some slow email communication. After all, they are on Fiji Time. But hey, no hurry, no worry, right?!

The Outrigger took care of most details, so we didn’t have to fill up our luggage with too many decorations! As it was a destination wedding, we prepared personalised welcome bags for guests full of goodies and information about the wedding week. The wedding favours were personalised Tic Tacs, and we had a Polaroid guest book.

Our pet dogs mean the world to us, but obviously they couldn’t be in Fiji for the special occasion. The cake topper was a silhouette of a Pointer and a married couple, and the table numbers were photos of each of the dogs! Furthermore, the dogs featured in the best man’s speech, a hilarious moment.

My father and I danced to ‘Unforgettable’ by Nat King Cole feat. Natalie Cole.

It took a long time to agree on a song for the first dance, as we have very different music tastes! Ciaran has experience as a DJ and made a mix of ‘Feel So Close’ by Nelly Furtado, which dropped midway into the Calvis Harris version…Cue a spontaneous flash-mob of guests on the dance floor, such a great moment!

Overall, I enjoyed the 12 month+ process of planning the wedding. The Facebook page for Outrigger brides was a godsend! I really enjoyed reading the wedding reviews on this page and getting tips from other brides about vendors to use.

With the Outrigger wedding package, we had the amazing wedding coordinator Va who was always available to chat to and support the planning, both in Australia and once we arrived in Fiji. Va certainly came to our aid on the wedding day too, keeping my veil in place and everything running on time!

A destination wedding really isn’t that scary or stressful to plan. It certainly helps if you have a wedding coordinator involved, and lots of resort based weddings offer this! Also, do your homework beforehand around the additional paperwork and legal requirements required for marrying overseas.

In terms of travelling with a wedding dress, I had no drama at all, but it pays to ring the airline in advance and have a chat. Most airlines are happy to hang your dress in the business class area for example… if you ask nicely!

 

Ms Floral Says: Congratulations Rebekah and Ciaran on your gorgeous, tropical wedding in week in fantastic Fiji! It’s obvious you and your loved ones had an amazing time in paradise.

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Nothing sounds dreamier than jetting off to the beautiful Lake Como in Italy for an exotic honeymoon filled with delicious food. And if it’s not the food that’s calling you there, it’s the picturesque backdrop bringing wanderers from all over the globe. Come with us as we explore one of the finest accommodation offerings in town.

About the location

Just an hour’s drive from Milan, nestled in the backdrop of the Grigne Mountains where the two branches of Lake Como meets is where you’ll be spending your honeymoon abroad at Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

About the accommodation

Lap up the luxury with three pools, a lakeside private sandy beach, a private park and of course the finest finishes taking you back to a past time but with contemporary luxuries.

The rooms pay homage to the creative, artistic travellers who would traditionally visit this part of Europe. Each has a view of either Palace Park or the glistening blue lake.

Each room is designed with its own standout features. Suite Greta located on the first floor has an incredible terrace meant for relaxing and enjoying the view on a warm afternoon. Finish off the day soaking in the jacuzzi at a place that you’ll never want to leave. And then there’s the Rooftop Corner Suite with a private terrace and whirlpool tub to take in the view. The hardest thing about your stay will be deciding which room you want to call home.

About the photo

We could not go on any longer without mentioning where you’ll likely be spending most of your time – the three gorgeous pools.

Flowers Pool – Enjoy the privacy, tucked away in in Palace Park where you’ll still be able to admire the mountains in the distance and enjoy the fragrant flowers surrounding the pool.

WOW! Or in its full term water-on-the-water, floating on the lakes waters you’ll be swimming in the backdrop you admired from your room above.

And last but not least the Infinity Pool, connected to the T-Spa where no doubt you’ll be spending some time, is the indoor pool perfect for finding your inner zen.

Also loving…

I know we have mentioned it above but it really deserves a second call out, the location and picturesque surrounds of this beautiful hotel are perfection. There are so many activities to do within the area, from lake excursions facilitated by the hotel to arts, and culture classes like painting and photography that they will happily arrange. Even if you just want to stay within the hotel grounds you can enjoy a spa day, feast at one of the hotels five bar and restaurants or wander the park glancing up at the mountain views.

All images via Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Ms Floral Says: Delicious Italian food, views, luxury accommodation, incredible pools to relax in and activities galore… The perfect honeymoon does exist! Excuse me while I go check in…

About Bec Lawrence: I’m an animal lover, sustainability advocate and natural landscape enthusiast. On a good weekend, you’ll find me hiking with my two adorable beagles and my equally adorable husband.