MAGICAL PLACES TO VISIT IN PRAGUE.

 

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Prague is one of the most beautiful, enchanting, and romantic cities in Central Europe.  This capital city of Czech Republic seems straight out of a children’s storybook, like the setting of a fairy tale.  Legend has it that the turrets and spires of  Tyn Church Towers in Old Town gave Walt Disney the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle. It is one of the wonderful magical places in the Europe.

This is the perfect place to simply stroll and explore. You may stumble across a hidden alley, courtyard, or a lovely garden tucked away behind an apartment block.  Even locals get lost wandering the cobblestone streets discovering this architectural jewel.

You should begin your enchanted walking adventure at the Powder Tower, the first point of the Coronation or Royal Route, and follow in the steps of Czech kings.  This will lead you on a historical path which medieval Bohemian monarchs paraded on their way to being crowned in St. Vitus Cathedral.

This will put you at Prague Castle, which takes center stage in Czech history. It sits majestically on a hill high above Prague. Rising above the castle is the 600-year-old St. Vitus Cathedral.

Arch your back and you will see the beautiful spires on top of the cathedral. It is the largest and most important church in the Czech Republic. The cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture where saints, kings, and emperors of Bohemia are buried.  The coronations of kings were held here until 1836.

Duck your head to visit the nearby houses of Golden Lane, originally the laneway of goldsmiths that served Prague Castle, dating back to the 15th century. It is one of the finest collections of traditional medieval buildings.

Climb the 287 steps of the South Tower for breathtaking views.

Here, you will also see Zikmund, the largest bell in the country, weighing in at approximately 15 tons.  Six bell ringers are required to swing the bell into motion, 4 to swing and 2 to manipulate the clapper.

Presidential guards secure the main entrances to the castle.  They are members of a special army division and services directly to the president.  The exchanging of the guards occurs every hour, with a ceremonious changing at noon that features a parade and music.  They also walk the grounds of the Castle looking over the security of visitors and reluctantly giving directions to lost travelers.

The iconic Charles Bridge, that crosses the Vltava River, is a destination in its own right. Construction started in 1357 under King Charles IV and finished in 1402.  This land connection made Prague significant as the trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. Crossing this bridge with 16th arches and 30 baroque statues, you will be treated to very talented street musicians, souvenir shopping, custom portraits drawn by local artists and Instagram-worthy photo opportunities.

Prague’s Old Town, dating back to 1328, is a plaza surrounded by former palaces.  Here you can wander in any direction and discover picturesque buildings, winding alleyways as well as galleries showcasing Prague’s Modern Artists.

The Medieval Astronomical Clock, dating to 1410, is the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world.  Sometime in 1490, a calendar dial was added and the entire structure was decorated with Gothic sculptures. The figures at the top and bottom had significant meaning in medieval times, while the skeleton pulling the bell cord is Death and the fourth represents lust and earthly possessions.

Join the crowds from around the world lining up on the hour to watch the procession of the Twelve Apostles appear from a small trap door.

After experiencing first hand, it’s easy to see why travelers say Prague is one of the most magical and beautiful historical cities in the world.

For more information contact Nancy @ Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways 

Header image courtesy Nancy Barkley.  All other images courtesy The Official Tourist Website for Prague.

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YOUR DREAM DESTINATION WEDDING STARTS HERE.

Your tropical fairy-tale wedding awaits at Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa

MAR-WED-09A luxurious seaside hideaway located along the Riviera Maya. Belmond believes there is nothing more important than location when it comes to planning the best day of your life, and Maroma delivers.  The magic begins as you enter this romantic hideaway, winding your way through the jungle and being greeted with genuine warm Mexican hospitably.    Understated elegance is the style at this enchanted estate, hidden by lush foliage and coconut trees.  The resort is located on a white sandy beach, recognized as the “World’s Best” by the Travel Channel.  While discretion and privacy are dominant, this intimate 63-room resort makes it perfect for buyouts, affording exclusivity for your entire stay.

Your guests will stay in luxurious authentic Mexican style handcrafted rooms, feeling more like a home than resort, all within close proximity to the exclusive beach, truly a little piece of paradise.

 

Activities to choose from are onsite jungle bike tours, tennis, cooking and tequila classes and yoga.  The world’s second largest barrier reef just offshore, provides world-class snorkeling and diving.   Private tours of the rich Mayan culture as well as golfing at nearby premier golf courses. Golf classes can be arranged by the concierge.

Spend an entire day at KINAN Spa, voted # 1 best spa in Mexico and Latin America by Conde Nast Traveler.   Pronounced keynan, is Mayan for “the source of life”, this spa offers a full range of spa services in unique environment combining Zen and Maya concepts.  In addition to steam bath and saunas, the traditional Temazcal (spiritual Maya sweat lodge) is offered.  Beautiful caftans are worn in spa.

Savor sensational genuine Mexican cuisines at El Restaurante or El Sol where Mexican taste sensations await.

This resort exudes romance, and with the Caribbean Sea as your backdrop, make for the perfect destination wedding.  The hardest decision you will make is which magnificent location to choose from. Beach, main pool, courtyard, garden, terrace?

Rest assured from the moment we are involved, we will start working tirelessly and behind the scenes sprinkling metaphorical stardust to ensure your day is pure magic!   “And they lived Happily Ever After”

Please contact Nancy Barkley at Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways for your Happily Ever After at Belmond Maramo.

All pictures are courtesy of Belmond.

I INVITE YOU TO INDULGE IN THE DOLCE VITA LIFESTYLE.

After spending 3 days in Lake Como, located in the foothills of the Italian Alps, I quickly learned why JFK said “It is the most beautiful lake of the world” Forming an upside-down Y, Lake Como is an hour’s drive … Continue reading

How to set your own trend for your Destination Wedding!

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Tell your own story:

Customize everything you can. You’ll be able to set your own trend for your destination wedding and reflect your unique personality. Continue reading

Love, Italian Style!

  1. Learn from the celebrities. Many engaged couples want to emulate the lavish celebrity weddings held overseas in some of the world’s most romantic locales. These types of celebrations are not necessarily out-of-reach of the average couple—ask local tourism boards or suppliers to recommend wedding and reception venues. You might be surprised what’s available.

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  1. Italy reigns. No surprise, Italy continues to be at the top of the list of wedding locales, with its culture, stunning landscapes and rich history—not to mention the excellent cuisine and wines. Venues range from luxury villas to medieval castles, renaissance palaces to ancient monasteries. One of the most desired locations is Chianti, in the Tuscany region, known for its stunning rolling countryside, vineyards, medieval villages and Renaissance churches.
  2. Take over an entire property. More couples are choosing to buy out an intimate venue for a weekend for the exclusive use of the wedding party and guests. During a buyout, all hotel amenities (including restaurants, lounges, spa, etc.) are open only to the wedding party and guests, assuring an exceptional, unique, unforgettable and private celebration.

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  1. Eloping is still an option. Perhaps surprisingly, more brides and grooms are choosing to run away secretly to get married. But make no mistake, this is no hurried affair, it is a sophisticated event — just one without invitations and guest lists. Today’s elegant elopements often include elaborate photo shoots in gorgeous locations and stunning wedding gowns.
  2. Fuse cultures and religions. The trend toward interfaith or multi-cultural weddings shows no signs of slowing down. You can help your clients combine and personalize the ceremony with different traditions, foods, dance, music and attire. They can recite vows in multiple languages, before officiants of differing religions. Such joint ceremonies can honor both religious and ethnic traditions.

Nancy Barkley/Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways/215-793-4808

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Asoni Haus & Honeymoons and Get-a-Ways Partnership

Philadelphia, PA — (SBWIRE) — 11/18/2013 — Leading luxury Lifestyle Management, Event production and PR agency Asoni Haus have strategically partnered with Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways; a comprehensive travel firm with over 10 years experience, focusing on the luxury travel, honeymoon and destination wedding markets. With the aim of working together to provide curated travel experiences to the elite lifestyle members managed by the Asoni Haus team. This service partnership will see a more targeted luxury focus for Asoni Haus members who are demanding more than ever, romantic getaways, bespoke honeymoon experiences and opportunities to access the inaccessible, especially when it comes to creating that special moment with, or for their loved one. Asoni Haus spend their days working with the world’s elite, providing Lifestyle support to their members, comprising of Celebrities, Sporting personalities, UHNWI, Leading Business men and women, Diplomats and Dignitaries. Asoni Haus are the curators of Luxury, utilizing their global contacts and partners to provide their members access to the inaccessible. Call them the “Fixers” as they truly understand what it is to provide Luxury, effortlessly.

Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways founder Nancy Barkley says “Our mission is to plan your most memorable travel experience ever, anywhere the client heart desires. We are able to achieve this goal by years of traveling the world and finding the perfect locations for clients. We are able to offer our customers exclusive VIP treatment due to our strategic associations worldwide”. While Asoni Haus Founder & CEO Ingrid Asoni feels that “this partnership is long overdue, bringing together two companies that truly understand the needs of the elite, are driven by service quality, have vast experience within the luxury market and have the need to exceed client expectations, especially when it comes to requests of the heart”. Bringing these two forces together, will only ensure that romantic moments become even more unimaginably unforgettable.

http://www.asonihaus.com
@asonihaus
http://www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com

Turkey in Style

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Constantinople,” marveled Alphonse de Lamartine, the 19th-century French writer and politician.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention in school while learning about the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman Empires, but my extraordinary tour guides on my recent visit to Turkey had my undivided attention.   Istanbul was known as Byzantium around 660BC than as Constantinople after Constantine moved the capital of the Roman there in A.D. 330 and then Istanbul by 1453 when Turkish Conqueror made it the seat of the Ottoman Empire.  I would like to share my extraordinary journey with you and hope you will  have the opportunity to travel to this beautiful country full of beauty, culture and legend.

Galati Tower – “The treasures of Galati are dangerously charming.” This is an old Turkish saying, probably devised by desperate house wives of old Istanbul, because Galati has been the most seductive of Istanbul’s treasures over the centuries.  Once this place was a Genovese trade colony, and it kept its autonomy even after the conquest of the city by the Turks. The Genovese had a huge tower, called the Tower of Galati, of which the keys were handled to Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror as a sign acceptance of his authority.

Today, the Galati Tower still stands, and it has become a major attraction, with a great spectacle and great food; keeping the tradition alive

Karrie (Chore) Museum – Famous with its incredible mosaics and frescoes, dating from the later period of Byzantine Pictorial art. Between the years of 1948 and 1958, they were fully restored through the efforts of the American Byzantine Institute.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque – It was the dying wish of Sultan Ahmet, who perished at a young age at the 17th century, due to a disease, to finish the mosque so that his name would live forever. It is called Blue Mosque by visitors who fell in the awe of the delicate designs of Ottoman tiles that decorate the walls of the shrine. The floral patterns of the tiles, as well as well-lighted, capacious internal spaces are a testimonial of the eternity of the soul.

Basilica Cistern – The Underground Cistern was constructed at the time of Byzantine Empire in order to meet the water needs of the city. Its illuminated columns and mystical atmosphere will undoubtedly enchant you.

Hamam(Turkish Bath)  Hürrem Sultan Hamamı. This historical Turkish bath was the present of Magnificent Suleyman to his beloved wife Hurrem. Experience Turkish bath like sultan’s had in the past, with scrubbing, foam massage and tea.

Topkapi Palace –The Topkapi Palace has been the Imperial residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th century. Its design, initially devised by Sultan Mehmed himself and then enhanced by Sinan, hides clues of the rituals of the structure of Ottoman hierarchy and the running of state affairs.

Home to the imperial treasury and the cabinet, as well as being the site of the barracks for the Janissaries, the elite of the army, every corner of the palace tells about the splendor of the Ottomans. Apart from the priceless treasury, a distinguished collection of Chinese porcelains, holy relics, sultan’s costumes and imperial weaponry are exhibited in different sections of the palace.

Museum of Islamic Arts – Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts – Originally, this palace, which dates from the sixteenth century, was offered as a gift to the Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha by the Sultan Süleyman the Lawgiver. The building was converted in to a museum in 1983, housing handwritten Qurans, epigraphs, hand-woven carpets, wooden and stone artifacts dating back to the ages between 9th to 17th centuries.

Suleymaniye Mosque – It is said that the master architect Sinan has built his mosques that decorate Istanbul for over 450 years, in the image of their donators. Sinan’s masterpiece in Istanbul, the city’s largest mosque, clearly verifies that, as one can feel the dignity and the power of the greatest of Ottoman sultans: Suleiman the Magnificent.

Apart from the mosque, you may also see the resting places of the two heroes of a love story that has changed the fate of an empire: Sultan Suleiman, the man called the Magnificent in Europe and “The Lawmaker” by his subjects; and his beloved wife, Roxelana.

Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar– Oriental shopping area located in the heart of old city , where you may experience the vibrant pulse of Istanbul at its best, rare spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits, live animals, flowers are sold.

Bosphorus Cruise – A poet once described the Bosporus as “God’s beautiful calligraphy written by an ink made of sapphires”. This straight, separating (and connecting) to two continents that form the two faces of a city, take its name from a mythological legend. Ever since those ancient times, it had marveled people with its beauty.

While cruising along the Asian and European shores(app. 21 miles long), you will be surprised to see the harmony of Ottoman and modern architecture; as well as having an opportunity to see the major highlights of the city’s fairy tale-like skyline from the sea.

The İstanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turkey’s first private museum to organize modern and contemporary art exhibitions, was founded in 2004 and occupies an 8,000 square meter site on the shores of the Bosphorus.

İstanbul Modern embraces a global vision to collect, preserve, exhibit and document works of modern and contemporary art and make them accessible to art lovers.

As part of its commitment to sharing Turkey’s artistic creativity with wide audiences and promoting its cultural identity in the international art world, İstanbul Modern hosts a broad array of interdisciplinary activities.

Hippodrome – The Hippodrome had been a center for sports and entertainment in the old Constantinople, the Eastern Roman Capital; as well as very important center for politics, as sports and politics were closely knitted up at these times. No wonder that Hippodrome had been a starting point for revolts and political movements throughout the history.

Echoes of cries by slaves riding chariots in ferocious races; and the passionate words of intellectuals and poets that lit the flame of public movements have still been reminiscent, to those with a powerful imagination.

Hagia Sophia The “Shrine of Holy Wisdom”, the marvelous Byzantine basilica built in the 6th century marks the true beginning of the golden age of Justinianus, the conqueror of Africa and Italy, who achieved lasting fame through the complete revision of all Roman law, resulting in what is known today as the Corpus Juris Civilis.

The domed construction of the sanctuary is an architectural innovation; and was so richly and artistically decorated that Justinian proclaimed, “Solomon, I have outdone thee!  Mankind would have to wait for over millennia before being able to build a cathedral that would surpass the gigantic size of Hagia Sophia. Converted to a Mosque following the Ottoman conquest of the city, by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453; as the young Sultan fulfilled a divine premonition by the Holy Prophet Mohammad himself. In 1935 the building was converted to a museum, by the executive order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Culinary Lecture at Nar Restaurant ( Learn and experience how to make a rock candy  from one of the famous chefs of Turkey)  Rock Candy (Akide) – Rock candy (also called rock sugar) is a type of confectionery mineral composed of relatively large sugar crystals. This candy is formed by allowing a supersaturated solution of sugar and water to crystallize onto a surface suitable for crystal nucleation, such as a string or stick.

Grand Bazaar – The largest and the most attractive covered bazaar in the world; where people have been trading diamonds, carpets, food, perfumes, and, even gossip for centuries!

Fun Facts : Turks introduce Tulips to the World and the first shipment from Turkey arrived in Belgium in 1562 and is the only city in the world that sits on two continents, Asia and Europe.

One hour flight to Bodrum, pearl of Aegean coast the Turkish have dubbed ‘St. Tropez’ of Turkey and justly so.   The Greek-style whitewashed houses that dot the hillside and overlook the bays are poster card perfect.

A quick stop at the crumbled yet lasting remains of the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders and then on to

St. Peter (Crusaders’) Castle- The Crusader castle was built by the Knights of St. John between 1402 and 1409. The fortifications of the castle consisted of walls to which ramparts and central towers were added. Today the castle’s rooms are used as a museum where findings from the Bronze Age, Mycenaean, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods are exhibited. The castle also houses the largest underwater archaeological museum in Turkey. It is one of the few of its kind in the world. Reconstruction of shipwreck is in display in the museum.

The following day was spent sailing the beautiful bays of Bodrum aboard the the Luxury Private Yacht “DIVA” , sailing by Orak Island, Kisebuku Bay ,Mazı Bay,Cokertme Bay while enjoying a gourmet meal prepared by our personal chef.

The next day we made a journey to visit The House of Virgin Mary.  This Christian and Muslim shrine is located in the vicinity of Ephesus; and it is believed by many that Mother Mary was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived her last days there.

The day continued with adventure as we then explored Ephesus- The Ancient City of Ephesus is one of the crown jewels of mankind’s greatest cultural and historical heritage   We visited the ancient city of Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia Minor including  the Odeon, the Marble Street, the Hadrian Temple, the Celcius Library and the Great Theatre.

We also discovered Artemission (Diana) Temple -Ephesus is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BCE and destroyed in 401 CE by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom). You  still see the remnants of the huge temple.

Seljuk Castle/ Basilica of St. John-The Basilica of St. John was a basilica in Ephesus that was constructed by Justinian I in the 6th century , standing over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. The basilica is on the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill just below the fortress near the center of Seljuk, It is believed that the Apostle John traveled from Jerusalem to the city of Ephesus where he remained for the rest of his life. It was during his time there that Emperor Domitian exiled him to the Isle of Patmos, when Nerva became emperor John was pardoned and returned to Ephesus, where he lived the remainder of his days and completed  Gospel of St. John.

Our afternoon was made unspoiled by stopping and having lunch at an old Greek village in the top of Selcuk mountains well known for typical cherry wine.

As all good things must come to an end our conclusion was a walk through Dario Moreno Street ( Jewish Singer who lived and died in Izmir) to Asansor for watching  the colorful nightlife  of  Izmir.

Asansor-Turkish for “elevator”, derived from the French word ascenseur is a historical building in İzmir, Konak. It was built in 1907 as a work of public service by a wealthy Jewish banker and trader of that period in order to ease passage from the narrow coastline of Karataş to the hillside, the elevator within the building serving to carry people and goods through the steep cliff between the two parts of the quarter.

In time, the small street that led to the building also came to be known under the same name, Asansör Street (Asansör Sokağı). In the 1940s, one of the residents of the street was the singer Dario Moreno, who was to attain fame later.

It was recently restored and since then, became one of the landmarks of İzmir. The street was renamed Dario Moreno Street in memory of the singer.

My only wish is I had more time there to explore the beauty, culture, and legend of Turkey.  All the more reason to go back!.   All of our exceptional accommodations, tours, guides, transportation, and services were provided by Premium Destinations, a leading provider of travel services.  Together with Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways, we will customize a truly one of a kind trip for you or you can enjoy one of their suggested itineraries which you may find at  http://www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com/getaways/turkey

Nancy Barkley- Owner, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways-877-793-4808

www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com

https://www.facebook.com/honeymoonsandgetaways

 

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Planning your Destination Wedding

So, you want to have a Destination Wedding? Something different, unique, nontraditional, that is great. However, do your guests want to be part of a Destination Wedding? This is the first dilemma when you decide on having your wedding in a different country or state.  Aunt Sue, who does not have a passport or has never been on a plane, does not want to fly anywhere, yet alone to a country where she does not speak the language.    Brides and Grooms, my first piece of advice is to make a list of absolutely “must be there” guests and make sure they can attend. The last thing you want to do is get six months into the planning and then have somebody back out.   Of course, I have planned Destination Weddings, with the above being the very reason for the couple chose to have a Destination Wedding, knowing Aunt Sue will not go- if that is the case, then carry on and have your Destination Wedding, you know your family and friends best.

Location, Location, Location- where to have your Destination Wedding?   A lot of this depends on where you and your guests are physically located and how far you would like your guests to travel.   If you are traveling to another county, researching air lift helps prevent many troubles before they begin.  Also, looking at a map helps the geographically challenged, trust me, one cannot drive to Hawaii.

When to have your Destination Wedding?  Mother Nature is an important part of the wedding party.  The Caribbean is a popular choice for many couples, with summer being popular because children are out of school and summer usually provides more vacation time for guests.  However, summer starts Hurricane Season in the Caribbean, so it is advisable to plan on a different time.   In this situation, advance planning is key to allow guests enough time to request off. You can perhaps take advantage of long holiday weekends that will not be during hurricane season, or typhoon season or  weather events at your destination.  While on the topic of children, if you would like an adult only event, the same rules apply to a Destination Wedding as a local wedding.  Save the Dates and invitations should be address only to those who are invited, meaning if the children names are left off, they are not invited.

So you have the date, you have the location, what type of wedding are you going to have?  Legal, religious? Symbolic.    For legal weddings, many countries require you to be in their country a certain amount of time before wedding and have blood tests taken locally as well as papers translated.  For religious, it is not always easy to find say a priest or rabbi in certain areas.  For many the religious ceremonies, it is less complicated to fly, your rabbi with you to perform ceremony.  All of this can be done when planned ahead of time.  Also, just because you have chosen an exotic destination, you can still walk down a literal church aisle.  Many venues provide a traditional chapel at their location.   If choosing a legal ceremony, I find more and more brides getting married legally ahead of time and doing symbolic ceremony at location (which can look exactly like a legal ceremony) if you do not wish your guests to know, they will be none to the wiser.

Regardless of when you have to arrive at your destination for residency requirements, please allow yourself an extra day, especially if you are flying.  Weather and flight cancellations can delay travel and giving yourself extra time can avoid a problem before it happens.  Also, I do not suggest shipping your wedding dress, EVER, I cannot tell you the horror stories of dresses being caught up in customs.  Same goes for gifts you bring on the flight for guests.  Ideally, purchase locally or bring with you unwrapped.

Being a bit of control freak myself and having planned my own Destination Wedding, I quickly learned you need to let go of some of the control.  So, if you are a hand-on bride, be forewarned, to avoid a lot of unnecessary stress, give up of some of the power.  If at all possible, I always suggest visiting the destination you have chosen and meeting all the players that will be involved in your wedding.  If this is not possible, make sure you work with reputable travel and wedding professionals who provide references and then call the references that are most recent.  Once you are comfortable that your Destination Wedding Team is prepared to handle everything, introduce them to your Decision Making Team.  Establish an initial conference call. Discuss the entire wedding process and establish a realistic time line for everything involved for your wedding and who will be doing what.    From there, you can send pictures and detailed description of exactly what you are envisioning for flowers, table settings etc.  Just like communication is vital for your marriage, it is very important with your wedding planner.

Have your Destination Team recommend a local photographer at your destination that has knowledge of the local area, for some great unique photos you will always cherish.    Always have a Plan B for wedding location.  You do not want to think of inclement weather for your wedding day but it happens, and having an alternative location selected ahead of time will help you avoid undue stress.

This is your day, decide on exactly how both of you envision it, communicate it with your Destination Wedding Team and let them take it from there.  When planning a Destination Wedding, try not to get caught up in making everything perfect, role with whatever comes your way and it is your wedding day and it will amazing!

Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways,  Destination Wedding Specialits have been planning unique, one of a kind weddings for over 20 years.  Visit their website at www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com  Facebook at www.facebook.com/honeymoonsandgetaways  or call them today at 877 – 793 – 4808.