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  • Package

    Bora Bora


    The most legendary island in the South Pacific maintains its reputation for good reason: It is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. You'll first appreciate Bora Bora's unforgettable geography from the plane window as you circle striking Mt.
    View Details The most legendary island in the South Pacific maintains its reputation for good reason: It is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. You'll first appreciate Bora Bora's unforgettable geography from the plane window as you circle striking Mt. Otemanu towering over a serenely blue lagoon. More amazing vistas appear as you "taxi" to your resort in a comfy speedboat. Fragrant leis around your shoulders and cocktail in hand, you'll be both physically and mentally transported by the mere experience of arriving. Wedding Requirements Now legal for overseas visitors, Bora Bora weddings require advance planning: You'll need to begin the application process at least six months out, translate and file multiple documents at least 45 days prior to the wedding and arrive three days before you say I do. While the official ceremony must take place at City Hall, the ensuing beach or hilltop vows are designed to capture the ancient spirit of marriage in the islands. Other restrictions: you each must be 18 years old, you cannot be French citizens and same-sex marriages are not yet permitted. What to Do Feed Sharks and Stingrays Believe it or not, it's one of the top activities on Bora Bora and special snorkeling excursions get you up close and personal with these formidable creatures. (Fear not — guides follow a protocol that makes it all perfectly safe.) The black-tipped reef sharks ranging from two to four feet in length may seem scary as they circle you, but don't worry — they're only interested in the fish your guide is doling out. The stingrays, on the other hand, tend to get close enough to touch and can be surprisingly playful. Circle the Island by Boat or Jet Ski Bora Bora's physical beauty is best appreciated from the water. If a sedate photo tour is your thing, take a daytime or sunset cruise that will allow you ample snaps. If you crave adventure, book a two-hour Jet Ski tour and zig-zag your way around the entire lagoon. Shop for Black Pearls One of the most popular souvenirs from Bora Bora is a luminous black pearl. Despite their name, Tahitian black pearls come in a variety of colors — from a steely dark gray to blue-green, light green, aubergine, bronze and even pink. Most resorts have pearl shops onsite and Bora Bora's only town, Vaitape, is lined with them. High-quality pearls are quite pricey, while less-perfect ones are often for sale at the handicrafts market and in souvenir shops. Take your time and comparison-shop to assure the best quality for the price. Off the Beaten Path Go on a Motu Picnic To truly feel the castaway vibe of the South Pacific, book a private and romantic motupicnic for two. Bora Bora's dramatic main island is ringed with small islets, which Tahitians call motus. Most resorts offer half- or full-day picnics, which include lagoon tours, swimming and snorkeling, followed by a picnic of traditional Tahitian specialties. Private tours (just the two of you and a guide) are worth the steep price tag, but group picnics are available if your budget is more limited.
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    Greece


    Everyone recognizes the iconic images of Greece: white washed architecture, blue roofs, cobblestone-paved villages and the turquoise blue waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. But venture further into this storied locale and discover a plethora of historic ruins filled
    View Details Everyone recognizes the iconic images of Greece: white washed architecture, blue roofs, cobblestone-paved villages and the turquoise blue waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. But venture further into this storied locale and discover a plethora of historic ruins filled with mythological tales of love and lore. Add in 6,000 islands (only 227 which are inhabited), a passion for fresh food and fine wines, and near perfect temps, and you've got a backdrop for romance. Wedding Requirements While Santorini might be known as the most popular spot in Greece to wed, you can also choose from one of the country's many churches, historic town halls or even aboard a cruise on the Aegean Sea. Don't be alarmed if you hear honking horns in the street before or after your ceremony -- it is a friendly tradition here as passers-by wish you well. Contact the US Embassy in Greece before visiting to ensure you have all of the necessary documents. Generally, you will need birth certificates, a Single Status letter (along with an Apostille stamp, which you can get from the Secretary of State of your issuing state), and photocopies of your passports. Everything needs to be translated into Greek (except your passports) and sent in at least three weeks prior to the wedding date. Things to Do Athens Most international flights will take you directly into Athens, Greece's capital. For a day trip, check out Acropolis (Athen's "holy rock"), the Parthenon and the Temple of Athene Nike. Then shop in Greece's fashion mecca, Kolonai, where boutiques are filled with everything from the flea market to Jimmy Choo. And be sure to stop by Tsakalof Street -- a string of shops filled with shoes. Restaurants abound here from high-end to out-of-the-way taverns but don't leave without trying the souvlaki (small pieces of grilled meat or vegetables), Greece's national snack. Santorini and the Greek Islands The Cyclades islands are the place to swim, sunbathe, waterski and windsurf. Santorini, the most iconic, is known for its blue domed churches and stepped streets. Start your sightseeing in Fira, the capital, set one of one if the island's highest points with striking views of the central caldera and the sea beyond . Then sample wine at one of the local vineyards (the island is known for its crisp, dry whites) before ending the day at Perissa, a black-sand beach lined with restaurants and bars. The Ionian islands are less traveled than the Cyclades, exuding privacy along vast stretches of sand or among forests of hundred year old olive trees hiding historic monasteries. While on the Dodecanese islands get away from the tourists at the hot mineral springs near Empros, Kos or the pebble-beach town of Livadia, on Tilos. The best way to get around the Greek Isles is by sea: cruises are popular, and they have a great ferry system during the warmer months. Come winter, when temps drop, the tourists leave and the islands are delightfully empty. The downside: Most ferries cut back dramatically on schedules and many resorts and restaurants close for the season, so check it out in advance. Festivals You'll find a festival almost every month of the year in Greece. January 6 is the epiphany; in seaside towns, a priest will throw a cross into the water and young men dive in a competition to find it. February through March marks carnival season, the three weeks before Lent where everyone celebrates with dancing, drinking and dining. But the fireworks really come out for Easter: it's the most important date on the Orthodox Greek calendar, with loads of beautiful religious spectacle. (It's also a peak travel time for locals, and hotels fill quickly.) When summer hits, festivals are hard to miss but the Hellenic Festival is a favorite with plays and music held in the many indoor and outdoor venues. Off the Beaten Path Delphi Spend some time in Ancient Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, located on Mount Parnassos and believed to be where Zeus's two eagles met after being released on opposite sides of the world. Among other things to see: a 4th century stadium, a tholos (dome), and the Sacred Way, a path once lined with "thank you gifts" offered to Apollo.
  • Package

    Mexico: Cancun, Riviera Maya


    Cancun: Conjured out of virgin jungle and beach in 1976, Mexico's number-one destination delivers with sun, surf and round-the-clock excitement. There are actually two Cancuns: the island ZonaHotelera, with its string of luxurious high-rise resorts lining the sand, and
    View Details Cancun: Conjured out of virgin jungle and beach in 1976, Mexico's number-one destination delivers with sun, surf and round-the-clock excitement. There are actually two Cancuns: the island ZonaHotelera, with its string of luxurious high-rise resorts lining the sand, and the low-rise "downtown" of Cuidad, located on the mainland. European and wealthy Mexican visitors lend aspects of Cancun a cosmopolitan edge, but the overwhelming vibe of this youthful resort city is strictly casual. If you tire of the beach, remember that Cancun is the major gateway to the Mayan world; there are even several minor archeological sites within the city limits. Riviera Maya: A wilderness less than 30 years ago, this Mexican destination stretches south from Cancun along 80 miles of white, power-soft Caribbean beaches. There's still plenty of "wild" here to explore -- the beaches are beautiful, the resorts lavish, and the attractions plentiful-- but what sets this Riviera apart is that it's the gateway to the mystical world of the Maya. Wedding Requirements Couples need to be in Mexico for at least three working days to submit the necessary legal documents; original birth certificates with certified Spanish translations, passports, tourist card, and license application. Blood tests for bride and groom are also required. If they aren't Mexican, your two required witnesses will need to submit their passports (originals as well as copies). Rules vary by state, so check with your coordinator to be sure you're okay. What to Do Beach Cancun's raison d'etre (besides close proximity to U.S. markets) is its 14 miles of talcum soft, ultra-white sands. Washed by the warm, turquoise Caribbean, the beach is the place for watersports including jetskiing, parasailing, windsurfing and luxuriating in the sun. In this party-centric enclave, cold margaritas and Coronas are never more than an arm's-reach away. Beaches, Water Sports, Luxury The Riviera Maya begins at the water's edge, which is dotted with everything from affordable all-inclusive hotels to top luxury resorts. Jet-skiing, fishing and scuba diving abound for those that can rouse themselves from the sand, while the more indulgent luxuriate at spas with traditional herbal treatments, including the purifying ritual of the Temazcal (a pre-Columbian sweat lodge). Budget-minded visitors and many Europeans gravitate to the surprisingly stylish accommodations, irresistible shopping and eclectic restaurants in the booming town of Playa del Carmen. Visitors also love the array of eco-parks, which not only draw crowds but also provide unique wedding alternatives to the resorts. The natural aquarium of Xel Ha has snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and manatee encounters. The larger Xcaret has dolphins and a small zoo, and places a premium on highlighting Mexican culture with a hacienda, subterranean chapels and a spectacular dinner show showcasing Mexican and Mayan folklore. Clubs in Cancun In styles from sybaritic to sophisticated, the city's clubs give night owls (or willing initiates) plenty of reasons to keep going until sunrise. With top DJs, performers and dazzling light shows, Cancun's mega-discos host a wild scene, even offering an "all you can drink" option if that's your cup of tequila. For something more intimate, swing by one of the city's Latin clubs, which often feature entertainment direct from nearby Cuba. Plaza delToros is a converted bullring whose arcades are filled with smaller venues offering everything from rave to alternative rock and folk. Shopping and Markets Forget the sombreros and "sleeping Pedro" figurines, Cancun's upscale boutiques are increasingly geared towards international luxury brands of jewelry, clothing and accessories. Hit the two downtown 'mercados' (marketplaces) for traditional products like beautiful huipiles (embroidered white dresses), high-quality Panama hats and inexpensive (but tasty) souvenirs including fiery habanero sauce and Mexican vanilla. Maya Often packaged with off-roading treks and zip-lining treks through the forest canopy, tours of traditional Mayan villages allows visitors a unique chance experience this ancient culture; you may even get the opportunity to be blessed by a native shaman. The Mayan's sacred underground spring-fed cenotes offer a wealth of adventures beyond swimming; visitors to the cenote of Aktun Chen can spy wildlife like monkeys; you can snorkel amid stalagmites and stalactites at Tak Be Ha; while Dos Ojos attracts experienced cave divers from around the world. Tulum and Mayan Ruins Archeological sites pepper the entire Riviera Maya. In fact, many resorts have their own small temple ruins to explore (or serve as evocative locations to wed). The seaside ruins of Tulum, with its cliff-top "castile" is especially magical at night, when it's bathed in colored lights. At awe-inducing Coba, you can climb the loftiest Mayan pyramid in Mexico. The major Mayan center of Chichen Itza is just a few hours' drive away, and well worth the day trip. Off the Beaten Path Mexican Food Cancun's top-notch restaurants offer an international feast of everything from sushi to authentic Italian cuisine. Of course the Mexican food is great, featuring steaks and fresh seafood served up in cutting-edge contemporary restaurants, or in the grand style of the great haciendas. (Don't miss out on exotic Yucatecan-Mayan dishes like chicken steamed in banana leaf and grilled fish with spicy habanero chilies.) You'll also find many familiar stateside eateries have set up shop here, should you crave a taste of home. Latin Americans and Europeans eat much later than us Yanks, so take note or wind up dining with the tourists and kiddies. Underground Don wetsuits and helmets and descend into the earth for a ninety-minute adventure of hiking and swimming along the clear waters of a natural underground river at Rio Secreto. Just a few miles into the bush from Playa del Carmen, this world of fantastic rock formations makes for a breath-taking experience.
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    Paris


    It's no mystery why couples often honeymoon in this popular European destination. Paris really is as romantic as everyone says, and beyond the City of Lights, you're sure to be charmed by the adorable villages and medieval castles of the French countryside. Equally
    View Details It's no mystery why couples often honeymoon in this popular European destination. Paris really is as romantic as everyone says, and beyond the City of Lights, you're sure to be charmed by the adorable villages and medieval castles of the French countryside. Equally alluring are the Mediterranean Sea and its glamorous coastal towns awaiting you to the south. Wedding Requirements The biggest hurdle for getting married in France is the mandatory 40-day residency requirement (for either the bride or groom) immediately preceding the wedding. If you can get past that, then the process is pretty organized. You must have a civil ceremony first in order for your marriage to be legal, and the civil ceremony must be performed in the town of your 40-day stay. For a list of all the forms and documents you'll need, it's best to call the city hall in the town you plan to reside, but at the very least you'll need your passport, a certified copy of your birth certificate, an affidavit of marital status and proof of French residence. For more information, log on to france.usembassy.gov/index.html, type marriage into the search bar and download the PDF file. Our advice: Save France for symbolic ceremonies. Things to Do Paris When the mood strikes you (and trust us, it will), there are countless places in Paris to steal a kiss. Here's our shortlist. At Sainte-Chapelle, a stunning Gothic chapel on the Ile de la Cite, you'll be dazzled by the 6,458 square feet of stained glass on the second floor. Next up is Notre Dame, where the rooftop has a life of its own. Share a moment among the stone gargoyles as they watch over the city. Later, embrace atop the oldest bridge in the city, Pont Neuf, before taking a picturesque boat cruise along the Seine. Another perfect perch is the Arc de Triomphe, overlooking the magnificent Champs-Elysees. And finally, there's no better place to celebrate your love than under the Eiffel Tower just after the iconic monument lights up the night. Champagne and Wine France offers endless opportunities to toast to your love. If you head east from Paris, you'll run right into Champagne country. Key stops in this region include Reims (home to the ever-popular VeuveClicquot), Chateau-Thierry and Epernay. Be sure to make the time for a tour of the underground caves that house thousands of bottles of bubbly. Your next stop is Alsace-Lorraine and the start of the Alsace Wine Route. This spectacular drive offers 100 miles of delicious wines and beautiful vineyards. Tip: Contact the vineyards you want to visit in advance; you'll get the star treatment if the vintners are expecting you. French Riviera No trip to France would be complete without a visit to the Cote d'Azur. Nice, the gateway to the French Riviera, is a good starting point. Take a stroll along the famed Promenade des Anglais and through the charming old quarter while you're there. Nice's medieval neighbors, Vence and St. Paul de Vence, are also worth a visit. And don't miss Eze, the Island in the Sky, which offers an ocean view you usually only read about. Off the Beaten Path One thing you won't find a shortage of in France is castles — perfect settings for a destination wedding or honeymoon. Some castles, like Chateau de Lauvergne, in the Loire Valley, are small enough that you can rent out the entire place. Others — check out Chateau de Fere, just outside Fere-en-Tardenois in the Champagne region — are so massive that an individual room might better suit your needs.
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    Puerto Rico


    Puerto Rico has long been a magnet for sun-seeking Americans. There are plenty of direct flights to San Juan (the island's capital city is a major connecting point to the rest of the Caribbean), U.S. dollars are the legal tender, and most people speak English, making
    View Details Puerto Rico has long been a magnet for sun-seeking Americans. There are plenty of direct flights to San Juan (the island's capital city is a major connecting point to the rest of the Caribbean), U.S. dollars are the legal tender, and most people speak English, making it a no-brainer as an easy destination-wedding locale. But don't be fooled: This tropical island is very much Latin, so you'll also find great local, spicy cuisine and sizzling nightlife to go along with those palm-lined beaches. Wedding Requirements In addition to bringing valid identification, couples will need to get a license from the Demographic Registry office in San Juan. Federally certified blood tests are required (though a test conducted in the US within 10 days of the ceremony is acceptable) and a local doctor must sign the marriage certificate and blood test paperwork. In addition, two witnesses (both over 21) must be present. What to Do Old San Juan Spend an afternoon roaming around Old San Juan, the former Spanish quarter dominated by El Morro Fort, a 16th century citadel with 18 foot-thick walls, towers, turrets and underground tunnels. From its ancient ramparts, enjoy fabulous views of the sparkling Caribbean Sea. On the surrounding cobbled streets, wander past the brightly painted colonial-era buildings along Calle Fortaleza and Calledel Cristo which now house boutiques, coffeeshops, art galleries and restaurants. Afterward, pick up a café con leche and churros to enjoy on a bench in Plaza de Armas. Beaches San Juan's main beaches, Isla Verde and Condado, are lined with high-rise resorts where you can chill on comfy chaises while staff keep the frozen daiquiris coming, or be active by going parasailing or waterskiing; they also boast plenty of waterfront restaurants. Thirty miles east of the capital is crescent-shaped Luquillo, known for its calm waters. At the rural town of Rincon on the west coast, surfers flock to spots like Domes and Tres Palmas. To truly get away from it all, hop a ferry or puddlejumper to white-sand Media Luna and Green beaches on the island of Vieques, or Flamenco beach on neighboring Culebra. Nightlife Many resorts have open-air lounges with low-slung couches and lanterns where you can start out with a rum tasting while a DJ spins. In Old San Juan, dine on Latin fusion cuisine at Dragonfly and Parrot Club (Johnny Depp dined here during filming of Rum Diary). Stop by Barrachina, the birthplace of the pina colada. Try your luck in one of many on-island casinos and if you're still not ready to call it a night, hit the nightclubs for some salsa and samba dancing. The dress code: When in doubt, do as the locals do and go tight and sexy. Off the Beaten Path Nature's Bounty Though known for its beaches, and rightly so, Puerto Rico also has plenty of protected green spaces perfect for getting lost. About an hour from San Juan is El Yunque, a tropical rainforest where you can hike to cascading waterfalls. Inland in Toro Negro State Forest is Cerro de Punta, the island's tallest mountain offering sweeping mountain and coast vistas. On the southwestern coast in Guanica State Forest, you can hike its desert-like landscape dotted with cacti and guayacan trees said to be more than 700 year old.
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    Dominican Republic


    This island paradise, sandwiched between Jamaica and Puerto Rico, offers the ambiance of its more visited neighbors in an affordable, low-key setting. The sheer variety of locales is one of the major draws here, where everything from idyllic beaches and waterfalls, to t
    View Details This island paradise, sandwiched between Jamaica and Puerto Rico, offers the ambiance of its more visited neighbors in an affordable, low-key setting. The sheer variety of locales is one of the major draws here, where everything from idyllic beaches and waterfalls, to tropical rainforest and the highest mountains in the Caribbean keep you interested. The prices, of course, go up in the winter months, but in the Dominican Republic, you can often snag a balmy setting for a lower price than on other isles. Wedding Requirements There is no waiting period or residency requirement to marry in the Dominican Republic. You do, however, need to write the American Consulate in Santo Domingo prior to your wedding date to ask permission to marry in a civil ceremony. It is recommended that you start this process early (a few months before the wedding date) because the required documents, including original copies of your birth certificates and a Single Status Affidavit, must be translated into Spanish. You can do this at the closest Dominican Consulate in the U.S., which can also legalize your Single Status Affidavit (this takes about 2-3 days). Your documents can be sent by mail if you include a pre-paid envelope for their return. When you arrive for the ceremony, you will also need a valid passport with your latest entry stamp and two witnesses with photo identification. What to Do Punta Cana and Cabarete With its wide swaths of sand and reef-protected waters, the Costa del Coco (Coconut Coast) near Punta Cana is one of the fastest-growing beach areas, and home to many larger all-inclusive resorts. These resorts are where most of the action happens, but you can still find some out-of-the-way beaches on this stretch, like Cortecito, with its smaller restaurants and bars. On the North Coast, beaches like Cabarete are where travelers go to get active. With an abundance of wind and waves, this coast caters to kite surfers, windsurfers and the like withsmaller hotels and a lively string of funky beach bars. Whale Watching The waters off the coast of the Dominican Republic are a natural breeding ground for Humpback whales, who return here each year between December and April. The migration brings thousands of whales to the area, particularly in Samana Bay, where several tour operators can take you on a full- or half-day excursion to see the excitement. The Peninsula de Samana has a stronger European influence, having been historically controlled by the Spanish, British, and French (Napoleon himself, actually). But it also has some of the most untouched natural beauty (think swaying coconut palms, cool rivers, sparkling-blue sea) on the island. Puerto Plata Fort San Felipe, in Puerto Plata is one of the oldest forts in the New World. Built by Philip II of Spain 1564, it was a nearly impenetrable fort complete with solid rock walls, moats and deadly swords hidden in the coral beneath the waterline. It was eventually used as a prison, but in the early 1970s it was restored to its former glory and opened to visitors. La Romana The charming village of Altos de Chavon is a replica of a 16-century Mediterranean village that overlooks the Chavon River in La Romana. Quaint cobblestone paths lead to galleries, studios, restaurants and workshops that make up this Caribbean art center, which is also home to a design school and an archeological museum. The Church of St. Stanislaus (you can actually marry here as well) is the center of the main square, and the 5,000-seat open-air amphitheater has hosted everyone from Gloria Estefan and Carlos Santana to local music festivals. Off the Beaten Path Jarabacoa Head into the hills to the town of Jarabacoa, passing sugar plantations and coffee farms for a glimpse of the real DR. Jarabacoa has long been a summer retreat for Dominicans, and the pine forests, rivers and waterfalls (complete with rapids that are great for rafting), offer a nice contrast to the tropical setting below. Hike to the top of Pico Duarte (at just over 10,000 feet it's the highest peak in the Caribbean), go horseback riding or take in one of the nightly baseball games on the local field Calle la Confluencia.