Wedding Traditions Around the Globe, Part 2

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Japan

weddingKimonoPhoto Credit: Wedding Resource

The traditional wedding ceremony is usually very private and formal, taking place at a shrine with only close family present. Of course, a lot of couples opt for the more non traditional ceremony with a lot more people; some still have a ceremony in front of a shrine, but inside the hotel where the reception and festivities are. A Shinto priest performs the ceremony, the couple is purified and drinks sake before reading words of commitment. The ‘san-san-kudo’ sake ceremony is part of the wedding vows and symbolizes the union of two people and two families. The wedding ceremony ends with symbolic offerings to kami (Shinto gods), typically small tree twigs called ‘sakaki.’ Guests are expected to give money at the reception in small, beautifully decorated packets to help pay for the cost. Throughout the reception, the bride and even sometimes the groom will change clothes several times to symbolize their preparedness to return to everyday life.

Russia

zags2Photo Credit: Russian World Forums

A couple will apply at the wedding registry office, ZAGS, several months in advance. They will then think about their decision and go back for their official marriage certificate on their wedding day. Traditionally, the wedding rings are provided by the groom and are worn on the right hand. Engagement rings are a recent addition to Russian weddings that were introduced with Western customs. On the wedding day, the bride’s parents pretend to steal her away and ask the groom for a ransom. He will pay some symbolic monetary value or jewelry, get back his bride, and then they head to ZAGS for their official registration ceremony. After that, they go to a beautiful location for pictures followed by greeting their guests and celebrating together. And of course, there must be plenty of liquor and food, because a traditional Russian wedding lasts at least two days!

Ireland

wedding dresses 2016 nz online shopPhoto Credit: Irish Central

“Marry in May and rue the day,” or “Marry in April if you can, joy for maiden and for man!” Wedding dresses for the traditional Irish bride were not white, but blue (still symbolizing purity); although nowadays the blue dress is more rare to see. Brides used to carry horseshoes to bring good luck to the ceremony and the rest of the marriage. Since those are heavy and a little inconvenient, they now place items to represent a horseshoe in their hair, bouquet, embellished on their dress, etc. During the ceremony, the bride and groom literally tie the knot! Rope, cord or ribbon is tied around the couple’s clasped hands in bright colors (or those matching the wedding theme). Another superstitious Irish tradition is to give guests small bells at the ceremony to help ward off evil spirits. If you don’t want to risk all of your guests ringing bells at the same time and annoying you more than warding off spirits, you can wear a bracelet, anklet or small personal charm with bells.

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Wedding Traditions Around the Globe, Part 1

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There are a lot of old and new wedding customs in America and even within each family. But how many of our traditions came from other countries? Whether you want to get in touch with your roots, or just embrace part of another culture, you’re sure to have fun with these customs from around the globe!

Italy

italian weddingPhoto Credit: brideorama.com

The night before the wedding, an Italian bride stays at her parent’s house and wears green for good luck. She will not wear any gold on her wedding day aside from her ring as that is bad luck. In addition to something borrowed, something new and something blue, the bride will also wear something she received as a gift. In some regions of Italy, the bride and groom cut a log together with a double-handed saw as a show of how they will work together in their marriage. During the reception, guests will often bang their glasses with spoons to encourage the bride and groom to kiss. At the end, the bride and groom say thank you to their guests with ‘bomboniere,’ which is a present with confetti (sugared almonds) and printed ribbons. This is a symbol of family life; the number of confetti should be an odd number, 5 or 7 for good luck. A lot of times, the wedding party and closest guests will parade down the street from the church after the wedding.

Mexico

MexicoPhoto Credit: Snippet & Ink

Before leaving for the ceremony, the bride’s mother traditionally will offer a prayer with the bride; sometimes both parents participate. Mariachis are responsible for most of the music at the wedding and reception, but sometimes an organ is still used for the bride’s walk down the aisle. The bridegroom presents 13 gold coins to the bride as a symbol of his unquestionable trust and confidence (placing all of his goods in her care). To symbolize unity during the ceremony, a designated person will place a figure-eight loop of rosary beads around the bride and groom to be worn throughout the service. For the first dance, guests surround the bride and groom in a heart shaped crowd.

Germany

ndidigunnar_290Photo Credit: Kathryn Croskey

Listen up, ladies! In Germany, BOTH the men and the women wear engagement rings on their left hand (why didn’t that tradition cross over here??) After the wedding they wear the wedding ring on their right hand. The night before the wedding, the bride and groom smash china plates at a party to scare off evil spirits. They then clean everything up together to show how well they work together. Oftentimes the women will replace a veil with a flowery headband and ribbons, instead. They may wear a tiara and if they do choose to wear a veil, it never covers their face. The bride and groom are married first in the registry office and then enter the church and walk down the aisle together. It isn’t typical for there to be bridesmaids, groomsmen or a flower girl. Usually the bride and groom only need a witness at the registry office, and then their family and friends at the wedding ceremony.

-Nikki

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Tips For a Healthy Bride

Spring is in the air, the sun is shining, nature is beautiful and……full of pollen and cedar. There’s nothing like being sick on your wedding day to bring down your mood! That’s why it’s important to start allergy prevention and take care of yourself well before your wedding day gets here. Of course, you can always take a prescription or over the counter allergy medication once you start feeling under the weather, but I think healthy and organic prevention is the best way to go! After all, you want to build a strong immune system, not weaken it with chemicals. The Texas hill country is full of allergens; we’ve got cedar, oak, ragweed, junipers, ash, elm,  and many more.

3lbJarHoney_pinkPhoto Credit: Fains Honey

Go to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and pick up some locally made honey — meaning within 50 miles of your location. If you take a spoonful each day, it will help acclimate your body to the pollen in the area and will hopefully lessen its effect on you. It’s very important that it be local honey, the closer the better, or it won’t help much at all.

noni_fruitPhoto Credit: Noni.org

I recently discovered the amazing properties of a Hawaiian fruit, Noni. It’s a tropical fruit that’s been used for years to help the body resist infections and enviro-toxins. Noni can be taken as a juice, pill capsule or in its natural form, eaten as a fruit. Warning! Noni has an unpleasant smell that some people find unbearable. I’ve found that the pill capsules don’t have the weird flavor that you’ll get when drinking the juice or eating the fruit.

neti_pot_sinucleansePhoto Credit: SinuCleanse

Neti pots are not my favorite items to combat allergies with (I hate the feeling of having liquid in my nose — like a really big wave at the beach!), but everyone I know who uses one says it works wonders for them. It looks like a tea kettle or magic lamp, and works like nasal spray by using salt water to flush your sinuses and keep them clear. Recommended use is two times a day, especially after spending a lot of time outdoors (like floating the river).

omega-3-fatty-acidPhoto Credit: Psych Central

Omega-3 fatty acids are your best friend for a lot of reasons, one of which is allergy symptom relief. Omega-3s can be found in cold-water fish, walnuts, flaxseed oil, and grass-fed meat and eggs. Some added benefits are lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, therapeutic for children with ADHD and autism, prevents and reverses insulin resistance, and is absolutely wonderful for your skin. You can find them in capsules at the grocery store and health food stores if you don’t eat enough of it in its natural form.

crib_mattressPhoto Credit: Greenopedia

Believe it or not, your mattress could have something to do with your bad allergies! The best thing to do is find a high-quality, allergy-free cover or mattress. Wash all of your bedding with hot water at least once a week during allergy season to keep it fresh and irritant free. Check the tags of your mattresses; unless stated otherwise, most mattresses and sheets are sprayed with pesticides.

product_oil_of_oreganoPhoto Credit: Home Remedies Web

Oil of Oregano can be found in capsule form and is good for respiratory issues such as cough, asthma or allergies. It comes from the leaf of a plant called Oregano; the oil is also good for menstrual cramps, UTIs, headaches, and heart conditions. You can relieve stuffiness by putting a few drops of oregano oil to a diffuser or vapourizer. To relieve a sore throat, drink a few drops of the oil with some water or juice.

-Nikki

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Going “Green”

It is becoming more and more important for us to remember our impact on the environment when going about our daily business. It should be equally as important on your big day, but it may take a little extra work! For an outdoor wedding, choose a location that will show the natural beauty of its environment. For an indoor wedding, ask around museums and art galleries; they will sometimes donate your deposit to a good cause. When choosing your wedding bands, make sure to ask the jeweler if they use conflict-free gems and recycled metals. Lastly, try to use as many local vendors as possible to support the community! As for the rest, here are a few ideas to get you started…

Stationery

invitationPhoto Credit: TwistedLimbPaperworks

So much paper is wasted every year and many more trees are cut down to make even more paper! Cut back on your invitations by using only one envelope instead of the traditional outer/inner envelope design. As for the paper itself, there are many ways you can go: recycled paper, bamboo, cotton, linen, or even a plantable (yes, plant it and it will grow) invitations! Check out Twisted Limb Paper, they design 100% recycled and handmade invitations based on a consultation with you. Also, I recommend providing most of your wedding information on a custom website. That way, you won’t need to send as many invitations.

Catering

cateringPhoto Credit: Eco Caters

Ideally, you’ll want to find a catering service that offers organic, pesticide and preservative-free meal options. This may be harder to do if you don’t want to go all vegan, but it can be done (remember, it will most likely cost more to go organic). Discuss with the caterer how they will be cooking and/or serving guests. After all, what’s the point of having an organic, eco-friendly meal if you’re wasting electricity and using paper napkins and utensils? As for the cake, there are many bakeries to choose from who use only local ingredients. Just keep in mind any allergies your guests may have (i.e. nuts, gluten, dairy).

Favors

favorPhoto Credit: Wedding Photography Design

Send your guests home with their very own seedlings! This display could also double as your seating arrangement; just tag each bag with a guest’s name and corresponding table number. Make sure the seeds are all organic, and locally bought if possible. Even if you don’t use pesticides, the seeds could still be affected if they came from a plant that had pesticides used on it. Or, you could give your guests some yummy organic treats as gifts, instead! If you’d prefer not to give favors, then consider donating to a charity and letting your guests know (or even choose).

Photos

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Talk to your photographer/videographer and make sure everything is digital; also find out if they use any extra lighting or equipment that would use electricity. If you are in an outdoor location, I’m sure they can help you take full advantage of the natural environment. If you are indoors, then I love the idea of having a living wall for a backdrop or central decoration. It provides so much color and life, and should make the perfect setup for taking pictures indoors!

-Nikki

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Spring Is All About Daisies

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Daisies have always been a well-known staple of springtime, but now they are also a popular and growing trend! You can incorporate this simple flower into tons of different spring theme weddings and in multiple colors, too. Daisies will go well with natural, rustic, hippie, and classic-themed weddings. Keep in mind how many of each color you order, especially the white daisies. You may want to use different colored flowers for accents to break it up if there is too much white.

daisyaisleCredits: Wedding Chicks, Martha Stewart, SMP

Accent the aisles with daisies galore! You can play around with different colors, and use ties with burlap and ribbons. Hang them from the chairs, plant hangers or make your own decorations like the yellow and white daisy poms pictured above. My favorite idea is to have the flower girl scatter daisies as she walks down the aisle. If you use fresh flowers, they’ll not only look fantastic but there won’t be any cleanup necessary after the ceremony.

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I absolutely love this idea as a backdrop for photos, or even behind where the ceremony takes place! Order daisies in the color you want and string them together using twine, ribbon or fishing wire. This depends on your overall theme: twine for rustic, ribbon for classic, and fishing wire for anything else because it won’t be as visible (especially in photos). Try playing around with the different daisy strands and hang them at alternating heights or in patterns.

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Wreaths not only make great decorations, but they are also ideal for pictures. Find different size and shape wreaths, either plain or with some green foliage, and then just fill it with as many daisies as you want! Some other flowers that go well as accents are baby’s breath, billy balls and lavender. Remember, you can also order Gerbera Daisies in shades of pink, red, yellow, orange and white. Hang the wreaths against wooden fences or in between trees for the perfect photo opportunity (make sure you tell your photographer what props you will have so they can show up with ideas and props of their own, too).

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For table centerpieces, you can try floating one or more daisies (depending on their size) or simply arranging them in a vase. You can purchase tons of those decorative little pebbles at your local dollar store or online fairly cheap. For a more classic theme, you may want to try the sleek look in the bottom left picture with colored accents of ribbon to fit your wedding colors. Again, if you think there is too much white, consider different colored daisies or accenting with lavender or billy balls.

lanterns

Lanterns double as colorful accents during the day and cute lights at night; you can buy them very cheap and in bulk online. If you have extra daisies or just want to add more, try stringing them to the lanterns or on alternating tree branches.

Daisies can be incorporated into any theme you want for your spring wedding! They’re very versatile in use and color, and are in abundance during this time of year. So call your local florist or wedding coordinator and ask about all the ways you can use this beautiful flower.

-Nikki

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Destination Wedding: Hawaii

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I know what you’re thinking, Hawaii as a destination wedding is nothing new; but I’m not talking about your average beach ceremony! On a recent vacation, I attended a luau at Smith’s Tropical Paradise and their venue is absolutely gorgeous! They have 30 acres of botanical and cultural gardens located near the Wailua River on Kuaui, where they also provide river boat tours. In the garden, you’ll find an Easter Island head, Japanese garden island, tropical orchard, peacocks, and a small lagoon with a floating platform in the center.

smith-s-tropical-paradisePhoto credit: Trip Advisor

Or! You could choose to have your ceremony at the Fern Grotto, which is just a short boat ride up the Wailua River and a short walk through lush trees and ferns. Many tourists visit this spot, but you can have a private wedding complete with romantic Hawaiian music along the way, and the Hawaiian wedding song performed at the Fern Grotto by local musicians.

ferngrottoPhoto credit: Smith’s Tropical Paradise

After the ceremony, you can return (or stay if you choose the lagoon) to the Smith family property for a wonderful luau! They have several imu ovens (underground) where they roast the Kalua pig. You will also be served a variety of side dishes, teriyaki beef, chicken, fish, and traditional Hawaiian poi! The luau is followed by songs and dances from Polynesian culture and other cultures that influenced Hawaiian traditions.

luau_1Photo credit: Smith’s Tropical Paradise

The Smith family offers several different wedding packages for each location, Fern Grotto and the garden’s lagoon. Fern Grotto packages range from $850 – $2,250 and all include a variety of wedding boat departure times, boat ride for 18 passengers, souvenir wedding certificate, wedding license, and different photo and video packages. Each package increases in benefits starting with the simple ceremony, leis, minister and solo musician for the Basic Package, then the Superior and Deluxe packages, and finally the Evening Candle and Torchlight Package includes musician and hula dancer, wedding cake, non-alcoholic champagne and glasses, and edited photos and DVD of the ceremony. The Tropical Paradise location provides the Plumeria or Hibiscus Wedding Package. The Plumeria includes a minister and two leis while the Hibiscus adds a bouquet and professional photographs. Both packages include up to 10 guests, wedding certificate, wedding license, and additional photos or DVD for an extra cost.

Smith’s Tropical Paradise is a wonderful place for not only a destination wedding, but a unique and cultural ceremony with traditional Hawaiian entertainment!

-Nikki

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Wonderful Wedding Vendors

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It’s okay if you’re still missing a few vendors on your list for the big day. Here are a few photographers, videographers, wedding cake decorators and flowers shops, as well as what they can offer you and your fiance on or before your wedding day.

Photo credit: Airstream PhotoBooth

This creative and mobile photo booth uses Daisy, a 1967 vintage airstream, to travel to your wedding, fraternity/sorority party, or corporate event location and provide fun and entertaining photos for your memory book! Airstream PhotoBooth was created by Chris and Yvonne Johnson, who are also the owners of Austin Imagery Photography. Daisy is a fully-functioning photography studio on wheels including professional cameras, lighting and on-the-spot printers. You can rent Daisy and their services for a variety of prices, the Modern Package for $950 or the Vintage Package for $1,150. Both packages offer photo props, unlimited photos, digital images, online viewing, set up and take down, and up to 3 hours of service. They travel all over Austin and the Texas Hill Country areas as well as outside those areas, but extra travel fees may be applied to any outlying locations.

photoPhoto credit: New Road Productions

New Road Wedding Photography and Videography that serves the greater Austin area, including the Texas Hill Country. Most of the photography and videography is done by Wes Sheperd with the help of additional photographers depending on the package ordered. Wes offers a variety of photography packages: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond, that can be requested for 6 or 8 hours ranging from $1700-$2750. His videography packages include Silver, Gold and Platinum that can be booked for 6 or 8 hours ranging from $900-$1800. Wes uses all professional equipment and has a resume that boasts work with HGTV, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, DIY Network, as well as having won WeddingWire’s Bride’s Choice Award in 2012 and in 2013. We love working with Wes and his production company here at Lotus Ranch and hope you will too!

Simon Lee Bakery

SimonLee12-406x600Photo credit: Simon Lee Bakery

This is an excellent place to order your wedding treats from! Located just outside Austin in Pflugerville and with over 35 years in combined experience, their motto is “Simon Lee…when it has to be perfect.” They have an extensive menu to choose from including, but not limited to, white french vanilla, italian cream carrot cake, red velvet, marble cake, cheesecakes, fruit toppings, chocolate truffle and more! Simon Lee decorates their cakes beautifully and can make a cake for the bride and groom, as well! They have won the Austin Wedding Day Style Elegant Style Award, The Knot’s Best of Wedding Picks from 2007-2012, and the 2010 Bride’s Choice Award.

Whim Floral Design

prom dresses online shop 2016Photo credit: Whim Floral Design

Whim precisely caters your flowers to you: your personality, likes, dislikes, style, budget and the season (remember, not all flowers are available at all times of the year). They offer a “Signature Collection” which includes consultation, bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, cocktail arrangements, aisle petals or chair flowers, and a custom proposal with one revision. The “Custom Floral Package” includes your favorite flowers (in season), custom proposal with two revisions, complimentary farmer’s market visit, and the option to rent or own vessels (candelabras, elegant vases, backdrops, unique antiques, etc.). You can also opt for their “DIY Floral Package” which includes seasonal fresh flowers for up to 150 guests, along with a link to a video tutorial on how to put bouquets and floral arrangements together. You have the option of picking up flowers that are fresh from the market two days before the wedding, or already prepped and cleaned flowers 1-2 days prior.

No matter which vendor you choose for your wedding, make sure you are comfortable with the arrangements you have made and that you have clearly stated to your vendor what you want from them. If you have a question, ask them, because it is much easier to negotiate in the beginning rather than a few days or weeks away from your wedding date.

-Nikki

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Rain, Rain Go Away?

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So the weather decided to rain on your parade, I mean, wedding. This shouldn’t mean you need to change your date or location if you’re having an outdoor wedding. Below are some ways that can help you prepare yourself, the wedding party and your guests for any potential rain!

umbrellasPhoto found at Wedding Wonderland

Umbrellas, galore! Have several vases, buckets or your choice of container full of umbrellas near the entrances to the aisles for the ceremony for your guests. You can choose specific colors to go with your color scheme but it could be fun to see how different colors turn out in pictures later. Consider getting matching or complementing colors for your wedding party, keeping in mind the wedding party pictures and how the colors will come together later, too. You can find umbrellas for various prices, colors, and sizes on websites like Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.

heart

Here’s a cute umbrella for the bride and groom to share! You can purchase this heart-shaped umbrella at www.unique-vintage.com for $37 plus tax/shipping.

rainbootsPhoto found at Brides of North Texas

Rainboots are another important item but could be more difficult to provide for all of your guests because of their price. If you don’t have room in your budget for all of your guests, then provide rainboots for the wedding party and make sure to inform your guests to bring their own if they’d like. If it is in your budget, you can find a variety of rainboots for different prices at websites like Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.

photoPhoto found at LN Photography
photo3Photo found at Bridal Guide

No need to worry about the rain ruining your pictures! Talk to your photographer about any ideas he/she or you might have for using the rain in your photos. You can take traditional photos inside but why not use what Mother Nature has given you? There are tons of ways to use your umbrellas, rain boots and the natural landscape of your wedding location. Look for large puddles, have some fun and don’t be afraid to get your hair a little wet (well, depending on your hairstyle and how well it holds)!

quotePhoto found on Pinterest

You should also have a few necessities like large beach towels and clear plastic tarps to keep seats and the dance floor relatively dry. The plastic tarps can be used to cover floral arrangements, food or if your venue has a breezeway (we do here at Lotus Ranch) then you can use it to cover one open side to block wind and rain from entering the breezeway. And I leave you with this quote :) when you feel stressed out, just remember that it will be okay and you can still have fun in the rain!

-Nikki

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How To: Honeymoon in Italy

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Buongiorno! I’ve never been on a honeymoon in Italy before, but I have been around the country a few times. Italy is an absolutely beautiful place that offers a variety of scenery, weather, food, wine and activities.  I recommend visiting in late spring or early summer; it should be mostly warm during the day and cool at night this time of the year. There are many things to do and see in Italy but chances are you don’t have time for that long of a trip, so I’ll tell you how to make the most of a few of my favorite places in this 12 day honeymoon trip! As for where to stay, let me say that not all hostels deserve the bad rep and I very much enjoyed my stay (I stayed in a total of 4 on my last trip); you can usually find a lot with rooms for two people. But! This is your honeymoon, so if you’re looking to splurge a little then don’t worry; the hotels have just as much character as the hostels.

Days 1-5: Florence

Florence

Start your trip by flying in to the Airport of Florence and taking either rental car, bus, taxi or limo service to your destination. It is fairly easy to walk to the majority of the sights Florence has to offer but you may want to stay near Stazione Santa Maria Novella, the train station (buses and taxis also wait here). 5 days gives you plenty of time to leisurely explore the city and maybe take a few side trips, too. I recommend seeing the Duomo and climbing the steps to the very top; the view is simply stunning (go in the morning before it gets too hot or in the evening)! There are many museums but a few of the more famous ones are: the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia (which houses the David), Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens. Make sure to walk through all the main piazzas (Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, Repubblica and Signoria) as well as take a romantic sunset stroll over to Ponte Vecchio, a bridge across the Arno River with shops along it. There’s also a wonderful leather market, Mercato de Porcellino, not far from Piazza de Repubblica where you can try your hand at bargaining. Be sure to check out my favorite tour company, Florence For Fun, and take a day trip to Rome, Pisa or Lucca! I highly recommend their Chianti Hiking and Wine Tasting tour! (Personally, I only recommend one day in Rome because it is so hot, crowded and expensive- tourist trap.)

Days 6-8: Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

The Amalfi Coast is still on my list of places I must visit one day, but on my last trip I went to Cinque Terre and fell in love (to be fair, I do that a lot in Italy)! I recommend Cinque Terre if you’re feeling adventurous and ready to explore, and the Amalfi Coast if you would prefer to relax on the beach. Cinque Terre is a collection of 5 cities on the coast of the Italian Riviera that all have beautifully colored houses perched on the cliffside overlooking the Ligurian and Mediterranean Seas. They have the best white wine I have ever tasted; it’s really spoiled me as I can’t find it here in the States. Make sure to get a National Parks Pass that will also give you access to the train. Hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola on Via dell’Amore, also known as Lover’s Lane, and visit the amazing beaches in Monterosso. If you choose to visit the Amalfi Coast you can spend your time on the black sand beaches of Positano, the Emerald Grotto and the island of Capri, or take a trip to Pompeii! Also, don’t be surprised if you see giant lemons; locals use them to make an alcoholic treat called Limoncello.

Days 9-12: Venice

Venice

I’ve recommended 4 days here because if you prefer to save money by taking the slow train, it may take half a day to get from the coast to Venice. First thing you need to do in preparation for a trip to Venice…get a map! If you have a smart phone I recommend downloading City Maps 2Go, either free or $2.99 on iTunes. It has detailed maps including attractions, transportation and your current location. It can be very easy to get lost in Venice, but  don’t worry because that can be fun; the hard part is getting un-lost and back to your room at the end of the day! The food is great all over Italy but Venice is where you must try seafood, even if you aren’t a fan of it. Of course, you also have to take a romantic gondola ride; it is definitely worth it to pay the extra for a narrated tour. Try to find a gondolier who seems eager to tell stories. Chances are if you ask them about their life or their country, they won’t have a problem talking all about it! Make sure to walk over the Rialto bridge, another one filled with shops. Be careful when buying things in this area as it’s a huge tourist trap and you will find a lot of items made in China. Also be sure to check out Piazza San Marco and the Basilica, a Murano glass demonstration, and like I said before, don’t be afraid to get lost!

If you choose to honeymoon in Italy then I hope you love the country and its culture as much as I do and I wish you the happiest time! One more note that’s very important: when taking the train, make sure you fill out all the information on your ticket and get it validated in one of the machines, usually green, near the platforms before getting on your train! You will be charged another full price ticket if you are caught on the train without a validated ticket! Once you learn your way around Italy’s transportation system it can become quite easy and almost second-nature to you. I have found that Italy is full of friendly people but if you’re having any difficulties then just remember, the more effort you make to learn their language and culture, the more friendly and helpful you will find the locals. Ciao!

- Nikki

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