Hot-air balloon rides not optional.
Big-budget weddings were so pre-pandemic. In this economy, we’re more intentional about cash, and that means spending that hot-station-buffet money on an all-in, weeks-long vacay with your lawfully wedding lover instead, simply because life can be a dumpster fire. Hot-air balloon rides not optional.
1 The Vibe: Safaris and Suntans
Grab your other half and book it from the bush to the beach with Alluring Africa’s eight-night vacation package in South Africa and Seychelles. You’ll fly into Johannesburg and start with four nights at the Singita Lebombo Lodge in Kruger National Park, where you’ll sip sundowners (aka sunset happy hour cocktails) over the N’wanetsi River after days spent gawking over wild lions and knobby-kneed giraffes. Your next four nights on Mahe Island at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles will involve massages, mango mocktails, and many, many midnight dips—skinny or otherwise—in your private plunge pool.
2 The Vibe: Private Islands and Jet Skis
You and boo can scope out all of Curacao’s 35-plus beaches during your romantic stay if you travel by Jet Ski, but it’d be much more fun to hit one a day on your monthlong stint in paradise, no? A single week on this Dutch Caribbean island isn’t enough to explore its pastel-colored shops or hidden coves and inlets, but we’ll excuse a shorter stay as long as enough stroopwafels and champagne bubbles are consumed. Choose your villa at Baoase Luxury Resort based on your favorite private pool type—tropical, plunge, or infinity—or just casually opt for your own private island at the resort’s exclusive Isla Kiniw.
3 The Vibe: Middle East and Middle of Nowhere
Dividing up the flight to the Maldives with a weeklong stopover in Dubai is just good math. Sultry Arabian nights inspired the palatial suites at Jumeirah Al Qasr. The hotel is just steps from Dubai’s classic souks, abras, and beaches, but you two will need to head farther out to the Aura Skypool Lounge to solve the ultimate equation: 360-degree infinity pool + cocktails + views of The Palm = X (X being total bliss, duh). Hop by plane and boat to the remote Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island, where your only agenda will be to capture the perfect handholding leap into the crystal sea outside your overwater villa.
4 The Vibe: Sekt and Castles
A little German lesson: “burg” means “castle,” and “sekt” is code for “sparkling wine.” And your sekt-filled German fairy tale begins at the Schlosshotel Kronberg—Empress Victoria’s former digs—outside Frankfurt for a few glam nights before driving south for a three-night stay at 11th-century Burg Hornberg on the vineyard-lined Neckar River. Spend a spa day at Thermen & Badewelt Sinsheim to sauna and swim as you two please (e.g., nude and with booze) or day-trip it to explore romantic Heidelberg’s vineyards, castle, and cafes. From there, you’ll sleep a night a la Rapunzel at the Hotel Burg Trendelburg (thought to be the story’s OG inspiration), ending with three regal nights along the Moselle River at the picturesque Schloss Lieser.
5 The Vibe: Villas and Vistas
Reserve that two-seat convertible early for the ultimate Barbiecore honeymoon (dream houses included) along California’s Pacific Coast Highway. The luxed-out homes with AvantStay make perfect multi-night stops along this gorgeous 656-mile route—concierges for each property do the fridge stocking and planning for you, including booking hot-air balloon rides and wine tastings in Sonoma, private-chef dinners in Paso Robles, and in-home spa treatments in San Diego. Drive north to south for peak coastline peeping, and plan to pause for brunch at Stationaery in Carmel-by-the-Sea for over-the-top avocado toast or caviar and kettle chips.
6 The Vibe: Whiskey and Sleeper Cars
Do you need matching tweed luggage for this Agatha Christie-esque rail ride? Why, yes. Yes, you do. Grab your better half and board the Belmond Royal Scotsman train in Edinburgh and check in to your private sleeper cabin for a seven-night journey through the Scottish countryside. Head to the spa carriage for a massage synchronized with the sway of the train, hit up the mahogany-clad dining car for multicourse meals, or cuddle up in the observation car for a wee dram with live music. You’ll spend plenty of time off-train for excursion extras too, like stargazing and picknicking in the Highlands.