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Elise Tagatac wasn’t your typical bride. For starters, the New Yorker, who heads up the hotel partnerships team at Mr & Mrs Smith, turned her New England wedding reception into a silent disco. Towards the end of the evening, the boogying bride slipped into a glowing LED vest and danced into the early hours beneath a disco ball shaped like a dachshund (a tribute to her dog, Oso). So, when it came time for her and her now-husband, Colin, to plan their honeymoon, we knew to expect something spectacular.

Here, she gives us the lowdown on her post-matrimonial travels, plus answers all our nosiest questions about honeymoon hotels and planning the trip of a lifetime.

First off, tell us about your own honeymoon.
We spent two and a half weeks exploring India, starting in Mumbai and ringing in the New Year on the beaches of Goa. From there, we travelled north for the Rajasthan circuit: Udaipur for its beautiful lakes, Jodhpur for textiles, Jaisalmer for desert camping, Jaipur for gems, and Ranthambore National Park for tiger spotting. After all that, we continued on to five very relaxed days in the Maldives, where swimming with whale sharks was the highlight.

Aman-i-Khás hotel in Ranthambore National Park, India_honeymoon planning

One stop on Elise and Colin’s honeymoon – Aman-i-Khás hotel in Ranthambore National Park, India

We hear there was a buddymoon portion of your trip. How did that come about?
Initially, we were thinking of a honeymoon in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but then we got invited to India by a friend who has family in Udaipur. Everyone knows it’s always better to visit a new place when you have locals to show you around, so we really didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. After the wedding bills started piling up, we decided it would be too expensive to do both trips, so swapped Sri Lanka for India and turned it into a two-part holiday: half friends trip (the India portion) + half honeymoon (the Maldives). It was the best!

How to plan a buddymoon

The newlyweds and their buddymooners in India

Any tips for picking the right destination?
That’s really a personal preference, so it’s important that you and your partner decide what kind of trip you’re looking for. Do you just want to relax on a beach, or are you looking for a culture-rich destination and a full itinerary of new experiences? We wanted a mix.

Any advice for couples who can’t see eye to eye about the type of honeymoon they’d like?
Fortunately, my husband Colin and I are always on the same page when it comes to travel, but I realise that’s not the case for everyone. My advice for couples who can’t agree on the type of honeymoon they’d like is to find a way to do both. And that doesn’t necessarily mean a multi-stop itinerary. For example, if he wants the beach and you want city and culture, go to Barcelona or Rio de Janeiro, where you can get both experiences.

Which destinations are especially hot for honeymoons right now?
European multi-stop honeymoons to the likes of Italy and Portugal will always be hot. At Mr & Mrs Smith, we’re also seeing a lot of African safaris paired with the Seychelles, and the outdoorsy couples who have already been on safari are opting instead to hike in Patagonia or seek out the Northern Lights in Iceland.

Explora Patagonia hotel, Chile_how to plan a honeymoon

Hot honeymoon spot of the moment: Explora Patagonia hotel in Chile

How do you make a honeymoon feel special and not just like another trip with your partner?
Do all the cheesy romantic things that you may not always splurge on. Go for the upgrade to the suite with more privacy. Book the 90-minute couple’s massage. Ask for a private candlelit dinner.

Henna_how to plan a buddymoon

Buddymoon henna

Should you take a social media hiatus during your ‘moon?
A digital detox sounds great in theory, but I say save that for a yoga retreat. Who doesn’t love ‘gramming beautiful beaches?!

Ok, tell us the truth… does all that alone time with your partner kinda, well, wear on you? Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know he’s the love of your life, but give us the scoop! 
Listen, there’s nothing wrong with reserving some ‘me’ time on the trip. Book a spa treatment for one of you and a round of golf for the other, or just take time to relax and read your books side by side without talking. You’re married; it’s not like you’re suddenly conjoined twins.

Any new amenities or experiences hotels are offering honeymooners?
Experience is the new luxury, and hotels are embracing this idea by offering more than a room upgrade. Conti di San Bonifacio Wine Resort in Tuscany offers newlyweds a Tuscan cooking class with their head chef. Villa La Coste in Provence offers a couple’s massage and private tour of their vineyard. Dar Zemora in Marrakech goes all out with a romantic bath, candle-lit dinner and half-day guided tour of the city.

Dar Zemora_how to plan a honeymoon

The Perla Suite at Dar Zemora in Marrakech – a hotel with major honeymoon perks

What about timing? Should you travel right after your wedding or wait a bit?
Definitely be sure to get some alone time after your wedding weekend, which can be truly overwhelming (in a good way, of course). We waited a few months to take our honeymoon. This was mainly due to the seasonality of the places we wanted to visit, but it also felt like we could drag out the newlywed celebrations a little longer.

Any tips for budgeting for the big trip?
It’s hard to keep a really special honeymoon on the inexpensive side, so here’s my best advice: book early, avoid peak season and pay for the different components of the trip at different times so you can avoid getting hit with a big bill at once.

Is it ok to nurse a hangover on your honeymoon, or does everything have to be picture perfect?
There is no such thing as a hangover on your honeymoon. Nothing that a dip in the ocean and your next cocktail can’t fix, anyway!

How to plan honeymoon_Maldives

The couple in the Maldives – an epic end to an exceptional honeymoon

Thoughts on couples who wear matching outfits while on the road?
On purpose? I mean, Colin and I have matching silk pyjamas, but we don’t wear those in public. Twinning with your spouse is a no for me.

How far will mentioning that it’s your honeymoon get you? Did you finagle any freebies just by dropping the ‘h’ word?
We sure did! Don’t hold your breath for freebies, but chances are if you’re in a honeymoon-friendly destination the hotel will look after you.

Anything you wish someone would’ve told you before heading out on your honeymoon?
Never come back! Just kidding. There are always anniversary trips to give us something to look forward to…

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