Real Destination Wedding + Mini-Moon: Philippines

I know I always say something about how I’m excited to share a particular blog post, but this one really is extra awesome because it’s a real destination wedding and mini-moon in the Philippines! My husband and I are hoping to recreate a similar itinerary there this winter, so I’m grateful that Monique and Josiah have shared so many helpful insights (and beautiful photos) below. Enjoy!

When and where was your destination wedding?

Our wedding was on February 1st at the Shangri-La Resort and Spa in Boracay, Philippines.

Boracay destination wedding

How did you decide on doing a destination wedding?

Josiah and I had originally thrown around the idea of a destination wedding, since we have lived abroad a few times and travel so often, but decided against it since we knew so many of our friends and family would not be able to join us. However, after a year and a half of searching all over the bay area and not really finding anything that we fell in love with (that we could also afford), we revisited the idea of a destination wedding.

This time the Philippines and the Shangri La came up and we both knew immediately this was right! We had spent New Years there three years ago and Josiah’s dad’s family lives in Manila, so it felt special and we really wanted to share this place with our friends and family.

boracay wedding

It’s hard to believe that this perfect shot isn’t a stock photo!

The best part about our destination wedding was…

Having a full week with the people we love most on a beautiful island!  We were able to plan lots of events and really sit back and watch all of our friends and family talk, laugh, explore, and enjoy every moment together. I had no idea how incredibly special it would be to see our worlds come together and get people away to a place that had a lot of meaning for us.

Boracay wedding

What was the hardest part about planning a destination wedding?

I think had it been anywhere else [aside from the Shangri La on Boracay] it would have been more challenging. We had the most amazing planner who was on top of everything. I emailed her almost daily with questions and ideas, and she responded right away and was just as excited as I was. I have a high attention to detail, so I will admit I can be a bit much for some, but we were extremely fortunate!

In general the people in the Philippines were so incredibly accommodating and wonderful that it made for an easy and stress free process. Of course not being able to see things in person makes it tougher, but fortunately we had been once before. I think the time difference, currency conversions, and lack of some internet sites or functionality made it a bit more challenging, but nothing we couldn’t work with.

Boracay wedding

What are your tips for other couples who are considering planning a destination wedding?

I think its important to pick somewhere that is meaningful. This can be because the couple has traveled there before, they have family from there, or have dreamed about going together. It makes it that much more special to share it with friends and family. I would also get as much information up front [from the venues] to ensure you know about what is included, what isn’t, different ways/traditions of having a wedding there etc. I think this is also a great way to find out if the person you will be working with is responsive and helpful before you book anything. I can’t imagine planning a wedding from across the world without someone really great on the other end.

boracay honeymoon

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Real Mini-moon: Sedona

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Real Mini-moon post, so I was extra excited when my friends CK and Allison told me that they were going on a mini-moon in Sedona.  Read all about their amazing pet-friendly getaway below:

When and where did you mini-moon?

We traveled to Sedona, Arizona for our minimoon October 14-17th [2013]. After getting married in Scottsdale, we wanted to take a little getaway after our wedding since we are not going on our actual honeymoon until middle of November. Sedona is a popular tourist town known for its red rock formations, outdoor activities, and beautiful fall weather.


sedona pup

How long was your trip?

We stayed for three nights. We initially were only going to stay for two, but we are definitely glad we stayed for three. We have both been to Sedona a few times before and have explored most of the things to do there, so this was more of a relaxing trip. For someone’s first time, I would definitely recommend a minimum of three nights, but four to five nights would probably be best.


sedona hiking

How did you decide on your mini-moon destination?

Sedona is great because it is only about an hour and a half drive from Phoenix. You also get a welcome change in temperature and we were able to see the start of some fall colors. One or two weeks later would have been perfect to view the fall leaves. We knew that Sedona would be the perfect escape as a nice resort town; it is quiet, has great restaurants, and plenty of hiking opportunities.


We chose to stay at the Amara Resort and Spa. The Amara resort was wonderful. Perfect location, located right off main street/uptown Sedona where all of the shops and restaurants are and is also located right on the beautiful Oak Creek. Another main reason is that it is pet friendly – we couldn’t leave our pet behind knowing we would be going on multiple hikes, she would not be happy with us. It is part of the Kimpton line of hotels which I have learned are all pet friendly. We opened our room to a welcome sign for our dog Molly, a nice dog bed and food/water bowls setup. (They also had champagne and strawberries for us).



We had a courtyard suite, which I definitely recommend. Well worth it for the better view of the courtyard, pool and creek. The salt water pool that has a negative edge overlooking the creek was also a nice place to relax and enjoy the view. Oh, and don’t forget the free wine tasting every evening, that was a plus! Lastly, the famous L’Auberge de Sedona resort is located right next door. This place is amazing, you are able to walk right over, they basically share the same grounds. They have adorable little cottages and an amazing restaurant, queue the next question…

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The New Vocabulary of Honeymoons

Alright, I’ve already blogged a few times about mini-moons and I know about (and am simultaneously terrified of) baby-moons, but I was completely unaware of an entire subset of other honeymoon labels in existence until I recently came across this Jetsetter article.  Maxi-moons, group moons, destination moons – excuse me?  How was I so out of the loop?


To get us both up to speed in terms of new wave honeymoons, here’s a helpful breakdown:

The Maxi-moon

The lengths of the Real Honeymoons on this blog range from seven to 21 days, but a maxi-moon is the type of trip when the couple takes several months off to travel the globe.  This usually entails quitting jobs (or being lucky enough to take a sabbatical), finding subletters or giving up apartments, and a lot of confidence that you and your new spouse travel well together.  Although I haven’t received any submissions from this kind of honeymooner yet, I would absolutely love to hear from one.  If you’re interested in booking this type of trip, check out this helpful blog post about buying round the world (RTW) tickets and then let me know how your trip went when you get back!

The Advance Moon

Remember Amy and Dave who went on an African safari honeymoon?  They are the first (and only) people I know who did an advance moon – that’s right, a honeymoon before the wedding – and it worked out wonderfully*.  While traditionalists will find the practice pretty strange, it completely makes sense to couples who have to schedule their wedding around school start/end-dates, job responsibilities, and other family obligations.  Just make sure that you have all of your wedding plans mostly finalized before you leave so you don’t have to stress out too much when you get back from your trip.

(*Not only did they have an amazing trip, but Amy and Dave took some absolutely incredible photos while they honeymooned in Africa.  Then they used those photos to great a personalized guestbook for their wedding.  Everyone loved it!)

The Group Moon

What’s more romantic than a honeymoon with your new spouse… and a dozen of your closest friends?  Jokes aside, I can see the appeal of this sort of trip… to a certain extent.  According to Jetsetter, a group moon is when you rent a private villa for a few weeks, stay there alone with your spouse for half of the trip, and then invite friends to join you for the rest of the time.  The idea is that you get a nice combination of private time as well as a social outlet that’s much more reliable than randomly chatting up other guests at a resort.  What the article doesn’t explain is whether you invite friends to actually be your guests or you expect your friends to chip in on the costs, and I think it’s a bit presumptuous to assume that your friends will want to buy into your honeymoon.

The Destination Moon

Wait, what?  What makes a destination moon different a regular honeymoon?  It’s apparently what you call a honeymoon that takes place near a destination wedding.  I didn’t know that sort of thing required a special name, but I guess it’s a thing.

Real Mini-moon: Carmel

I’m excited to share the second mini-moon on Peonies to Palm Trees!  And this one is extra special because it features my best friend Alice and her husband Jason.  Since their super fun Carmel wedding was the weekend before Thanksgiving, they didn’t want to go on a long honeymoon right away, and why rush to leave such a nice resort anyway?  Check out their relaxing mini-moon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We’re doing a delayed honeymoon about a year after our wedding, but decided to do our mini-moon right at Carmel Valley Ranch**, where we got married [in November 2012].


Carmel Valley Ranch

How long was your trip?

Including the wedding weekend festivities, we were at CVR for a total of 6 days.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We decided that we didn’t want to go back to reality right after our wedding, and since we just wanted to relax and drink lots of wine, we decided staying put at CVR would be the best bet since it included a spa, pool, hot tub (!), vino, and access to great restaurants in Carmel.

Infinity hot tub

Just chilling in the infinity hot tub

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Relaxing poolside all day! The weather was pretty rainy on our actual wedding day, but it was beautiful after, so we were able to take advantage of the entire CVR area and just lounge all day. And hanging all day with Roxy the bulldog.


Hanging out with Roxy, the CVR mascot

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I would have made earlier reservations to check out the bee-keeping area of CVR, sounds like so much fun!

How much planning did you do in advance?

Minimal for the mini-moon. Jason made reservations at some awesome restaurants (absolutely loved Casanova) but otherwise we did some good lounging.


Out on the town for a nice dinner

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Real Mini-moon: Napa

I’m excited that today we have Peonies to Palm Trees‘ first ever real MINI-moon blog post!  More on mini-moons in general later on, but check out Jennie and Chris’ quick trip to Wine Country below.  And then next Monday, make sure to come back and read all about their longer European honeymoon, too.

When and where did you honeymoon?

Napa in June 2011. We stayed at the Napa Valley Lodge in Yountville, which I would highly recommend.

How long was your trip?

3 days.


How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We wanted to go somewhere close to our wedding location (Santa Cruz) since we only had a few days available for our mini-moon. And we love wine and good food, so Yountville was the perfect place to go to enjoy both.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Staying in a hotel that was walking distance from so many fabulous restaurants. It meant we got to go on some nice walks, we didn’t have to drive to all our meals, and we didn’t have to spend lots of money on cabs.


If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I’d eat a little less of each course at French Laundry so I didn’t get too full by the time the meat courses arrived. They give you a ton of food, so unless you have a huge appetite, I’d suggest eating a portion of every serving and taking the rest to go so you can enjoy all of it without feeling too full.

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