So, you've booked the reception venue, settled on flowers, chosen the menu and invited the guests - now the fun starts. All that's left to do (besides pitching up for the Big Day and saying 'I do') is plan the most romantic holiday of your lifetime.
The ideal honeymoon means different things to different people. For some, it's a deck chair on the beach with strong cocktails and weak sun block. For others, it's a log cabin in the Alps with a cup of cocoa and some ski-able slopes in the background. It's all subjective. So this month we've decided to create our own list of exquisite honeymoon destinations which offers a few key suggestions for everyone. Sit back, put the daily planner down and allow us to show you a few irresistible suggestions.
Belize is an oft-overlooked South American gem that caters well to couples who want hot weather and action. From a 'natural beauty' perspective, this little country is a visual feast that makes for a very romantic post-wedding getaway. You've got the picture-perfect Caribbean, sky-blue water right outside the front door of your resorts, and a renowned Barrier Reef that caters to all diving levels - even people who want to potter around the reef with water wings will still see plenty of tropical fish and sea turtles.
In the other direction, there are dense, tropical forest trails that lead you above and below the pitch of several spectacular waterfalls - Hidden Valley Falls is over 1,000 feet high and looks like something created by CGI technicians. It's also home to magical wildlife, from crocodiles to monkeys, pumas and rare birds (the Scarlet Macaw is a prize specimen among bird watching circles). In a nutshell, it's Tarzan meets Pirates of the Caribbean at a beach cabana near Mexico.
Recommended Love Shack:
Francis Ford Coppola, the director behind The Godfather trilogy, proves his creative talent goes beyond movies with the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize. The resort's jungle and Privassion riverside was apparently inspired by the lush Philippines landscape of his film Apocalypse Now. Feel like you're on a film set in a luxury villa or cabana and fill your days with cocktails at the jungle bar or explore by bike, foot or on horseback. www.coppolaresorts.com
Norway's Northern Lights - For Winter Weddings
The Norwegian Artic may be cold, but it offers a magical landscape and some unique activities. Fly from Gatwick to Tromso and let your love keep you warm at Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel near Alta - a novelty hot spot, which offers a honeymoon experience that lends itself to all types of couples. For those who want to enjoy the scenery (Alta has some breath taking fjords, glaciers and hiking trails that will blow your mind), there are ample opportunities to go on some unique adventures. www.sorrisniva.no offer a range of snow mobile safaris, fishing and dig sledding tours.
But the crown jewel of any Norwegian honeymoon is the Northern Lights - or Aurora Borealis - which have been dropping jaws for centuries. The celestial light show looks like a bold, splattered rainbow that has been dragged across the night sky. It really is too beautiful to justly portray in photographs - and it's very romantic.
Both Sides Of The Coin In Sardinia
Whether you are on a rock-star or a student's budget, the dazzling island of Sardinia is a great place for newlyweds to celebrate their marriage. With world-class snorkelling, great night-life and plenty of A-List celebs hobnobbing around the resorts, you've got all the classic ingredients that make for stellar couple's holidays. As with all famous and beautiful tourist destinations, luxury accommodation on the island does come with quite a hefty price tag, but that doesn't mean you can't go there and have a cracking honeymoon on a reasonable budget.
A Budget Stay In Paradise
If camping or staying in a smaller holiday chalet is your idea of a romantic getaway, you will be more than pleased with the grounds in Sardinia. All in all, you get more bang for your buck when it comes to location versus price - the camp grounds are right on the beach and very affordable, as opposed to the cheaper guest houses you'll find slightly inland. You might not be in the lap of luxury, but the beaches are a slice of heaven on earth, and you can look towards the horizon and pretend that the super yachts cruising by are yours.
Travel Tip: As a honeymoon destination, you may do better to rent a chalet or bungalow which offers air-conditioning - a Godsend in the Sardinia summer heat. www.eurocampings.co.uk
Nothing But The Best
The flip side of the coin is an assortment of luxury accommodation that measures up to everything you've every dreamed about - gourmet restaurants, ten star service and beautiful rooms, fit for kings and queens. In the evenings, you can expect the resorts to come alive with dance parties and colourful cocktails to get people enthusiastic.
The Costa Smeralda (north-east of Italy) offers a mix of dazzling turquoise sea and white beaches, contrasted by rugged landscapes in the background. Mingle with the rich and famous and wile away your days playing golf, yachting and lounging in luxury spots such as Hotel Pitrizza. This beachside hotel offers a salt water swimming pool carved from Sardinian granite and exclusive villas - a dream setting for newlyweds. www.starwoodhotels.com
Retreat To India
A honeymoon at India's Ananda Spa offers a luxury trifecta, combining the beauty of the mountains with the best in body treatment and internationally renowned service, making it a romantic destination with a unique edge. From its dramatic position at the foothills of the Himalayas, your stay at Ananda offers a striking view of Sal forests and the Ganga, a boundary river the separates India from Banglandesh. But the spa's spectacular location is only half of its appeal - although snuggling up with your partner and watching the days pass from this spectacular vantage point is not a bad idea. But Ananda's Ace in the hole is it's range of body treatments; the hotel offers a personalised programme of Ayurveda, yoga and vedanta, as well as contemporary beauty and healing therapies, giving you roughly eighty body treatments to choose from while you are there. www.anandaspa.com
Mexico isn't all about beachside resorts and tequila slammers. The inland State of Chihuahua will show you a whole new side to this old country, leading you through some of the most beautiful ravines, canyons, waterfalls and mountain passes you never expected. The al Pacifico Railway is a surreal way to experience the Copper Canyon - arguably the most beautiful attraction in the state. As a honeymoon destination, the solace and sleepy climate of the state of Chihuahua is a far tamer option than, say, Cabo San Lucas or Acapulco, where you're likely to share your holiday with masses of party-goers.
Active and adventurous types will enjoy staying at Uno Lodge in Chihuahua. Perched on the rim of the Copper Canyon, Uno Lodge is the perfect base for hikers who want to combine their honeymoon with some rewarding trail blazing. The stone chalet consists of a handful of fully catered rooms with the most breathtaking views you're ever likely to see. www.canyontravel.com
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the epitome of new African chic, blending luxury accommodation and modern facilities with old traditional favourites - wine tours, games drives and incredible local cuisine. From cable car rides up Table Mountain, where you can watch the sun set over the Indian and Atlantic Ocean at the same time, to shark diving with Great Whites, you are spoiled for choice. With its otherworldly scenery and great weather, it's going to be a busy honeymoon. Renting a luxury flat in Camps Bay comes at a very affordable rate, putting you within striking distance of the lively city and some of the most pristine beaches anywhere in the world. The famous strip that runs along the bay is dotted with fine dining restaurants and lovely pubs, giving you a fun place to watch the sun set.
For a great variety of accommodation options, check out www.capestay.co.za
Venice is a city that needs no introduction. Romance has been embedded into its foundations for hundreds of years, and the result is a place that makes you fall in love with the world. To really enjoy Venice, you need to put down the guide book and accept the fact that you're never going to find your way anywhere - especially not the first time around - which is quite fitting and symbolic for newlyweds. The upside is that wondering through the city's intricate network of side streets and cul-de-sacs is a legitimate (and free) activity in itself. You don't need to hand over a penny to see some of the most gorgeous architecture in Europe and while getting lost you'll often find a quaint restaurant while bypassing cathedrals and monuments along the way.
There is more to the city than gondola rides along the canals - it's one of those iconic 'romance' activities that puts the city on the tourist map, which has become quite costly over the years. Take it for what it is: an expensive tourist trap that will make a great photo opportunity. Back it up with a trip to Verona, where Shakespeare set his tragic romance, Romeo and Juliet, and a trip to one of the surrounding islands.
Travel Tip: If you're heading over there on your honeymoon, we'd suggest going slightly out of season to avoid the summer crowds and to get the most out of the city.
Rain Forest Getaway In Borneo
Borneo's tropical rain forest has been around for more than 150 million years, making it the oldest of of its kind on the planet. The setting is like a surreal dream, with brightly coloured plant and wildlife decorating the ancient trees. Horn bills and orangutans go about their business right outside your accommodation, giving you insight into their world. It's very fitting for a honeymooning couple who want to escape into a private cocoon for a holiday, before starting their new lives.
For the best of both, stay in the Sepilok Nature Reserve (where wooden chalets are nestled in the jungle canopies) before moving onto the Lankayan Island Resaort, where the beaches of Borneo will dazzle you once again with the perfect combination of white sand, blue water and perfect weather that South East Asia is becoming known for. Visit www.sepilok.com and www.lankayan-island.com/
Isolation In Mongolia
For adventurous couples who've seen it all and want something different for their honeymoon, the Mars-like terrain of the Gobi Desert will make you feel like you're on another planet, far, far away from the stresses of life. There is a stark contrast between the long stretches of dry, ruined desert plains, grassy hillsides and frozen mountain peaks, where bears, snow leopards and wild yaks roam.
Isolate yourself with your love in this strange wilderness with www.blacktomato.com, who organise an eight day trip which includes travelling overland by jeep (led by local guides), accommodation in ger camps (yurt) and the chance to explore the ancient capital of Karakorum, which was a military base to none other than one Genghis Khan.
Hula In Hawaii
Hawaii is one of those romantic destinations that won't let you down. You just can't go wrong with a luxury resort on one of the major islands: perfect beaches, warm water, sea turtles, volcanoes, avocado and banana plantations... what more do you really need from life? For honeymooners we'd recommend Kauai, the Big Island, and Maui. Oahu, though beautiful, is one of the most revered surfing destinations in the world, so be careful if you have a partner who surfs, otherwise you may find yourself going solo on this romantic trip.
Make sure you squeeze in a visit to Hawaii's Volcano National Park where you can explore the active volcanoes - it's amazing and scary at the same time; try hula lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Center.