Destination Bride and holiday expert Jemma is writing a series of posts to inspire your ultimate honeymoon destination, she starts today with The Maldives.
When it comes to choosing the perfect honeymoon, there are usually a few factors that determine the destination. However when speaking to clients one of the most important things is that it has to be special and memorable, somewhere they have never been to or somewhere they are unlikely to return. Nothing quite says “Special Occasion” like The Maldives. So here I will give an overview of this incredible destination and some highlights of these amazing the islands.
The Maldives is a group of 1192 islands situated in the Indian Ocean, over 100 of these islands are home to resorts ranging from simple and rustic establishments to super luxury resorts.
My view from a seaplane
Best time to go
The best time to visit is during the dry season (Dec – March) however the temperatures consistently remain around 30 degrees, my own experience of visiting in September was good with only one incident of rain lasting just a few hours. Also going out of the dry season a lots of hotels offer free nights, complimentary upgrades and lower rates.
How to get there
British Airways offers a direct service from Gatwick three times a week, during the winter season. The rest of the year a whole host of other airlines fly to Male the capital via other destinations. This makes The Maldives a perfect twin centre destination.
Here are some popular combinations
Dubai + The Maldives
Abu Dhabi + The Maldives
Singapore +The Maldives
Sri Lanka +The Maldives
Oman + The Maldives
This then gives couples the perfect combination of a different culture and an amazing beach destination.
The resorts of The Maldives vary drastically in size, some islands like Maafushivaru take just a few minutes to walk around. Whilst the island of Kuramathi is much greater in size and has golf buggies to shuttle guests around the wide range of facilities.
Sunset on Maafushivaru
Infinity pool at Velassaru
Along with a range of resorts to choose from there is also a wide range of room types that you can choose. For many the ultimate luxury is spending their honeymoon in a Water Villa which is unique to only a few places in the world.
However if these are over your budget there are lots of amazing Garden & Beach villas to choose from.
Even though there is an island for every budget The Maldives can still work out quite expensive for some honeymoon couples, some islands do offer All Inclusive, and this can make budgeting much easier knowing everything is paid for in advance. Also with the option of having a multi centre holiday some couples choose to visit for just a few nights so they still get to experience it without blowing the budget completely.
Jemma will be back on the blog soon with some more fabulous destination inspiration!
Today, Welsh couple Charlotte & Wayne share their beautiful Tuscany Castle wedding with us. All images by our very own Maria Farrelly Photography.
What was your budget?
We were very lucky and grateful to be given money towards our wedding by my parents and had a budget in mind of around £10k. We knew the average UK wedding cost around £23k so didn’t want to spend anywhere near this and was one of the reasons we opted for a wedding abroad. We kept a spreadsheet that proved very useful when calculating estimated costs and actual costs. It’s worth setting one up so that you can note down everything you think you are going to need for the wedding. There will be more than you think!!
How would you describe your wedding theme?
I would say our theme centred around the venue which was a beautiful castle set in the Tuscan countryside. I love lace and pearls so wanted to incorporate these into the theme also. My dress had an old vintage feel and we used hessian and lace to decorate the table and table plan. The tables were named after places we had been on our travels. I knew with the wedding being in Italy we couldn’t have too much detail but in fact the setting and venue made a perfect backdrop for the wedding. Wayne drove over with a few bits that added our personal touch to the day. We bought our guests funky sunglasses as favours and made fans for the ceremony which went down well as it was boiling!
What was your favourite part of your wedding?
It is really hard to choose one part of the day as the whole experience was amazing from getting ready with friends to walking down the isle and feeling all emotional at the thought of what was about to happen. I loved having all our family and friends in the same place for 3 days so I think that was my favorite thing. The day before the wedding we spent sunbathing and drinking by the pool and the following day we arranged a pizza and lazagne party for our guests over where we were staying.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
As soon as we were engaged I was itching to go dress shopping but opted for a wedding fayre in the CIA to start things off. I ended up trying a dress on there and then and loved it but decided to go to a few shops and try on a few different styles. I knew I wanted lace in the dress and for it to be long. I found my dress in High Society in Cowbridge. It is a stunning shop full of beautiful dresses and the lady who was looking after me really knew her stuff when choosing a selection of dresses to try. Once it was on I just knew it was the one. People always said to me your will just know when you find THE ONE but I didn’t really believe them. Its true I felt like a princess and knew it was the dress for me.
I met Ashley from ‘With love from Bobbin’ at another wedding fayre and fell in love with her head pieces. After a few meetings we decided on colours and materials and she handmade me the most precious headpiece that formed a special part of my look for the day. I am going to pass it down through the generations as it is versatile and can be added to or changed to suit different looks.
How did you choose your photographer?
I always knew I wanted Maria Farrelly to photograph my wedding so the fact that I was getting married abroad didn’t change this! I love her style of shooting and her creativity and having our wedding in a castle in the middle of Tuscany meant we would have beautiful images to look back on in years to come. If you love a photographer don’t look at the price tag, look at what you will get at the end of it. You can always cut back on other things as I believe your images are one of the most important elements of a wedding as they are the lasting memories you will look at forever.
Maria is friendly and assertive so will defiantly get the images you want on the day. She will also capture those funky dance floor moments when you don’t think anyone is looking!!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
My bridesmaids were my three best friends, Catrin, Rhian and Beth, and my sister Liz and sister in law Lisa. I also had 4 flower girls my nieces Kelsie, Hollie and Amiee and my friends little girl Dela. They did an amazing job on the day and leading up to the wedding. I had complete faith in them and always knew I wanted them there as my bridesmaids on our big day. All our friends own Pandora bracelets so I decided to get personalized charms for the girls and little bracelets for the flower girls.
Wayne couldn’t choose which of his friends to be the best man so had his two closest friends Tim and Richard. They did a fab job of organizing wayne on the day and gave him a fun filled stag doo. The speeches are always a favorite of mine at weddings and they didn’t disappoint. Ushers were my brother-in-law Chris and nephew Kyle.
Why did you choose your venue?
We knew we wanted to get married abroad as we wanted the warm weather and choose Italy as it’s not too far away from home and the food is delicious. We didnt have a particular area in mind but knew we wanted an old building were we would have exclusive use for the day. We also wanted a place big enough so that all our family and friends could stay in the same place.
It was quite challenging and we spent hours on the internet trying to find the perfect venue. We stumbled across Castello di Modanella and knew it was the perfect venue to hold our wedding. It was a castle set in the Tuscan hills around 1 hour from Florence and had acres of land with accommodation to host all our guests. A year before the wedding we took a trip to Italy to visit the venue and knew we had made the right decision after meeting the staff and experiencing it in person.
How did the proposal happen?
Wayne proposed to me whilst we were on holiday in Turkey. We were singing our song on karaoke and he just got down on one knee half way through the song. I was so shocked I just kept telling him to get up and didn’t really realise what was happening!! I was in shock for ages after but so happy. We had been together for a while and he never really wanted to get married but knew I always did so was very sweet that he wanted to make me happy. I think he secretly enjoyed it all and has changed his perception of marriage.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
We created most of our decor including table plan, jars as favours, flags for table names and one of my favourite items we made were the fans for the ceremony.
I had seen the design online and wanted to personalise something for our wedding that included lyrics from songs we both liked. My friend created the design using text I provided and I sent to print on thick card. The finish wasn’t right so I bought a corner cutter which made a huge difference and would defiantly recommend using one for similar items. I then used spray mount and giant lollipop sticks to finish.
I also decorated jars for the female guests with hessian material, string and coloured fabric and used the same material to create table numbers and table plan that tied everything together.
What was your first dance & why?
Our first dance was to the song Soul Sister by Train as this is the song Wayne proposed to me and we both love it.
Our first dance was amazing!! We had bought sparklers for our guests as the reception and dance floor was outside and wanted them all to be lit once the song started and everyone standing around the dance floor. It was so nice to be able to see everyone’s faces and they looked like they were having so much fun with the sparklers they went down really well. I would defiantly advise getting them for a wedding abroad.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
We took a glass bottle and paper for people to write messages down and put in the bottle and the plan was to smash it on our 1st wedding anniversary and read all the messages. We didn’t announce this so people didn’t know to do this so only received one or two messages.
Do you have any advice for future couples?
Remember to enjoy your day and take time to spend with your husband/wife on the day as it goes so fast.
There is a lot to do before and during your wedding so ask people around you to help don’t try and take it all on yourself. When you’re putting your guest list together, don’t feel obliged to invite people just because they are related to you or you’re worried about hurting their feelings. If you haven’t seen or spoken to them in 6 months then ask yourself if you really want them there.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
I think every girl has always dreamed of planning their wedding day and I loved every minute. I organise visits and events for my day job but its so different when your arranging something you feel passionate about.There were so many elements to think about and plan but when it all comes together on the day it is so worth all the hard work. It was very important for us to show our guests a good time and ensure everyone was smiling on the day. I think it fair to say we achieved that and people still talk about it now when we meet up.
Earlier this year we introduced Destination Bride Jemma. Jemma loves to travel and working for Kuoni she really is an expert on all things destination. Her beautiful wedding in Italy proves that! Jemma is here today to offer some valuable advice on planning your honeymoon.
Planning a honeymoon can be just as important as planning a wedding, traditionally it was a couple’s first holiday together, today there are so many different styles of honeymoon and a whole host of places you can visit.
This would be a typical beach break flying just after the wedding; some couples are looking for time to relax and quality time together giving them time to reflect recent events. Typical elements couples are looking for are, luxury, white sand beaches, spa treatments and an exotic destination.
Places that would offer this experience would be The Maldives, Caribbean Islands, Mauritius and The South Pacific.
Some couples take the opportunity of a honeymoon and take an extended trip somewhere; this is usually somewhere completely different to where they have been before and somewhere to really have an adventure
Examples of this would be Driving Route 66, Travelling Australia/New Zealand, walking Machu Picchu
This is sometimes an option for a couple who are only able to take a short amount of time off, due to financial or work commitments. This is also an option for people who are having another belated honeymoon. There are lots of wonderful places that you can visit in a short time. I chose the beautiful city of Monte Carlo, other examples are The Italian Lakes, Paris, Venice, Rome, Morocco, New York the list goes on…
Me in Monte Carlo
With lots of couples choosing to have a family before they get married, taking children on a honeymoon is becoming more and more popular. It’s an opportunity to take a luxury holiday but spend quality time as a family. Lots of 5 star resorts offer children’s activities whilst Mum & Dad can have some time by themselves.
Which ever option you decide to go for, a honeymoon will be special regardless of budget or destination. Here are my top tips to consider when booking a honeymoon
1 – Be realistic, as much as travelling first class to the other end of the world sounds amazing, try and set a budget there is nothing worse than setting yourself a large financial commitment when you are in the middle of planning a wedding. Lots of people now have belated honeymoons giving themselves more time to save.
2 – Be mindful of the weather, if you are having a summer wedding and want a honeymoon straight after, lots of places around the world have a rainy season. Be prepared to be flexible on your destination or even postponing the trip if you want the best weather.
3 – Choose itinerary that encompasses all your interests and passions, and at a pace that suits you. There is no point in choosing a New York City break if you want something quiet and relaxing, there is a destination for everyone and every interest.
We’d love to know where you are going on honeymoon! Leave a comment in the box below and let us know where you have planned. Also if you have any questions about honeymoons then Jemma is the perfect person to ask…
Our Cwtch of the Week belongs to this lovely couple!
We LOVED sharing Jemma & Stuarts gorgeous Italian wedding last friday. If you missed it, you can see it here. We’re also thrilled to have Jemma join our team as ‘The Destination Bride’ With her professional knowledge of the travel industry she’ll be offering advice and inspiration for anyone planning a wedding, hen/stag or honeymoon abroad. How lucky are we?!
We have a lovely treat for you all today. We have a new member of the team joining us. The Destination Bride! Yes, Jemma loves to travel, in fact, its part her job. She loves it so much she even got married abroad…and we’re featuring her wedding tomorrow! So without further a do, let me hand you over to the lovely Lady herself…
Hi there Cwtchers, my name is Jemma and I am a Destination Bride, I recently got married in Italy and I’m obsessed with all things Travel.
Originally from West Wales, I live in Cardiff with my now husband and our 9 year old daughter Grace. After graduating with a degree in Travel & Tourism I have been in the Travel industry for almost 12 years now. I currently work as a Personal Travel Expert for Kuoni in John Lewis Cardiff and have the awesome job of helping plan people’s travel adventures.
Venice Beach, Los Angeles
I have been very fortunate to travel to some amazing places and when I am not selling travel I am teaching it to degree students, so you can pretty much say travel is my life!
Sydney Opera House
I truly believe that the more you travel the more you want to see. My “Bucket List” keeps on growing and if I’m not on a plane I’m planning my next adventure.
When we decided to get married, it was inevitable that it was going to be abroad. So in June 2013 along with 40 of our closest friends and family, we said I do in the beautiful town of Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.
Many people asked me why fly to another country when you can do it at home and my answer was “Why not?”.
Me in the Maldives
For me the reasons behind a destination wedding were; Firstly, we are not very traditional and already had a house and a daughter and we wanted a very relaxed wedding that represented us as a couple. Secondly I HAD to have the weather. I love the sun and wanted to guarantee having the sun shining on my big day. Finally I just wanted to be different, I have helped so many couples with planning a dream wedding abroad that I wanted something completely different from anything else I’ve ever been to.
My love of travel didn’t just apply to my wedding, I also had my hen in LA & Las Vegas, a Mini moon in Monte Carlo and my (Family) Honeymoon in Australia and I’m currently planning somewhere for my 1st year anniversary,
My hen do in Vegas
So hopefully I will be able to give you some inspiration whether it’s somewhere to get engaged, an unusual honeymoon or a really cool hen doo!