To truly grasp the idea of how perfect our honeymoon was, we feel that we should share a little of our background first. Just two short months before we embarked on the journey of our dreams, we were being reunited as a couple again after a year apart. You see, four months after Mitchell proposed he was deployed to Afghanistan with the National Guard for a 12-month (and one day) deployment. The distance seemed to be unbearable. How are you supposed to marry somebody that you barely even know anymore?
Throughout one year, we spent a total of 18 days together. Those 18 days were absolutely perfect. During one of those 18 days, we decided to plan our honeymoon. We knew we wanted to go somewhere beautiful, after all of the sad, ugly things Mitchell had seen the past seven months. We wanted to go where people were happy to see us, where people welcomed us with open arms. It all came down to one simple fact: I wanted to help Mitchell see happiness again. Thus, we spoke with a travel agent and located the perfect honeymoon spot: Riviera Maya, Mexico. It seemed too good to be true. The pictures were beautiful, the people so happy. And so began our honeymoon dreams!
We paid for our honeymoon up front - a grand total of $2,700 for airfare and seven days at an all-inclusive resort. To help defray costs, we set up our registry page through Traveler’s Joy and over the next two months we watched the gifts roll in. We were amazed by the amount of gifts that were given! We thought for sure that it would not work out as it is a fairly new concept, but boy were we wrong.
Fast forward to May 2012, the month of Mitchell’s homecoming. Both of us really began looking forward to getting away and getting to know each other again. We were ready to be alone, because as we expected family and friends surrounded us with Mitchell’s return. Don’t get us wrong, we were so grateful for their presence, but we barely knew each other anymore. We needed to run away and fall in love again, just like in all of the fairy tales.
Then came the wedding day, a balmy 106 degree day in July, only two days before we arrived in paradise as a newly married couple and we were blissfully happy. Emotions flooded in throughout the day. Happiness does not even begin to describe it. I had this man that I had loved unconditionally for so long, right beside me for the rest of my life. Our love had survived a war. Family and friends gathered to witness this beautiful new beginning and we could not have had a more perfect (and warm!) day.
Finally, on July 22, we travelled eight hours into the night because we were married in our hometown, which is far from large enough to have an airport, let alone to have one near it! We booked a hotel room in St. Paul, Minnesota only to wake up after just laying our heads on our pillows so that we could board our flight to Cancun. We sat staring at each other on the plane, partly from exhaustion after the whirlwind weekend and partly because we were trying to come to terms with the reality that seemed like a distant dream. We were married - happily ever after, ‘til death do us part, in sickness and in health, etc.
And now comes the part that every future honeymooner will need to read: our honeymoon! We stayed at the Valentin Imperial Resort for seven days. We arrived just two days after being married, July 23rd-July 30th. To be honest, the resort is the epitome of paradise. We stepped out of the cab and into paradise. Oh, I forgot to mention the cab. Let me back up and explain. The moment we stepped out of the airport, our cab company was waiting to take us to the resort. No searching, no waving or hailing, just stress free. Okay, back to paradise. Before we were even out of the cab we were handed chilled champagne. We sipped on our champagne as our luggage was loaded onto a cart by concierge and we were then whisked away to our honeymoon suite which became our home for the week. Jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, just a start to the list of ways we describe our resort.
We started the honeymoon on the private beach, just relaxing as a couple and soaking in the sun (and the fact that we were married). We spent most of our days alternating between the beach and the main resort pool where we sipped on every drink that a person could imagine. When we got hungry, we went to one of the eight all-inclusive restaurants to eat to our hearts desire. We even ate dinner on the beach one evening! We took long walks throughout the resort and witnessed some interesting wildlife that chose to call the resort home. There were parrots, monkeys, iguanas, other forms of the lizard species, and Mexican raccoons (not sure what their actual scientific name is)!
Although we would have been perfectly happy just spending our entire honeymoon like this, we had some money to spend from our Traveler’s Joy account! We had racked up a total of around $700 of extra money in the honeymoon registry. With that, we made our way to the front lobby to book tour after tour. We should mention that each tour came with perfectly timed transportation.
Our first adventure was a day of parasailing over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. We enjoyed spectacular views from the sky and had some very close (beings that we were strapped together) alone time above the boat. Our boat driver could tell that we were having the time of our lives so he even let us have a few extra minutes in the air.
One of the most unforgettable tours was a day spent walking amongst the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. It was a long bus ride there, but we made a few pit stops along the way to make it more enjoyable. One of the pit stops included a swim in an ancient sink hole with beautiful (but cold) turquoise water. The thought of jumping into this 75-foot deep hole was a little terrifying at first, but we quelled the fears with thoughts like, “We will probably never be here again,” and “This is a once in a lifetime experience!” So we jumped in, snapped some pictures, and then off we did spin again.
Once inside the gates of Chichen Itza, we experienced more history than both of our 14 years of schooling combined could compare to. We had a wonderful and smart tour guide that helped to make the journey unforgettable. We believe this tour could make anyone love history!
We went back and forth on the idea of taking this last adventure, thinking we should save some of the money to help us begin our lives. But once again the idea that, “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” took the reins and decided for us! So, we booked a day of swimming with dolphins at Dolphinaris in Riviera Maya on one of our last days of the honeymoon and have never regretted it. In the beginning it was me who wanted to swim with dolphins, but I will never forget the smile on Mitchell’s face that day. We had the time of our lives and it was the perfect close to our perfect honeymoon.
None of this would have been possible without our Traveler’s Joy honeymoon account. We are so thankful for the opportunity to spend that week together as a couple. It gave us the chance to get to know a side of each other that we had not seen in a very long time. I saw a very happy, fun-loving side of my husband that had been suppressed for almost a year and a half. This trip helped us to blossom and flourish as a couple as we began our new lives together. We love telling our story in hopes that other couples will take the leap and enjoy the experience of a lifetime on their honeymoon.