I’ve just finished a 13-month stint working for a popular tour operator who provides family holiday favourites. I’ve worked during this time in the email team which means I basically replied to everything from ‘Does the hotel provide pool towels?’ to ‘Why am I not sat next to my dad on our flight?’ on a daily basis. Tedious, to say the least. However, the greatest variety came in the form of the ‘We’ve just got engaged/hitched’ emails. I am a hopeless romantic so I’ll be the first one to congratulate someone on their engagement and want to know all the details of the wedding and the honeymoon. So, wherever possible, I’d bring this personalisation into the emails I wrote. Sometimes it was really appreciated whereas other times I may as well have said ‘I love pink hair. And Miss Piggy. And my cat’s dressed like a dinosaur right now’. Maybe that would have gotten more of a reaction than my sincere best wishes for their future happiness.
The emails that always pleased me the most were the ‘I want to propose to my girlfriend whilst on holiday’ ones. Aww, so sweet. And often dreadfully naïve. No sir, I don’t think we can stop the entire excursion trip so you can jump on top of a scenic cliff and declare your love whilst doves hover overhead and champagne magically appears on a bed of rose petals. How about a nice meal in the a la carte restaurant and some free cava instead?
Here are a few handy tips for any would-be couples looking to get engaged, married or to honeymoon overseas;
Don’t expect freebies because you’re engaged/married/getting married overseas – Long gone are those days of surprise extras. If you’re likely to get something free it’ll be clearly advertised as a marketing tool and there’ll be terms and conditions attached to it.
Asking for freebies and admitting that you ‘know it’s a bit cheeky but if you never ask…’ is fine. What isn’t fine is demanding freebies when they’ve already been declined. No means no.
Brutal truth now: Please remember the world as a whole doesn’t care about your wedding/honeymoon – Hotels receive hundreds of couples every year celebrating similar events and even more celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, retirement, graduation, overcoming a bereavement, a break-up, an illness. Again, if something is available as a special gift, it will be advertised.
Mexico tends to be one of the most popular and relatively affordable honeymoon-orientated destinations. Fruit baskets in the room and a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine are more common here than most places. Still, asking for the hotel to rent you a tuxedo, arrange for there to be a horse for you to ride down the beach to a waiting candlelit dinner and blushing girlfriend simply isn’t going to be paid for by the hotel so don’t embarrass yourself by thinking it might be.
Read the terms and conditions of seating on the plane carefully. If sitting next to your new husband/wife is that important, take the time to be properly informed about what seats to book and when.
Please ladies, take care when booking your honeymoon. Yes, I know you want to travel in your married name (as would I) so everyone can call you ‘Mr and Mrs So-and-So’. But if you haven’t got time to also change your passport, take a moment to think. Booking a honeymoon in your married name and then later having to change it to your maiden name can incur amendment fees that, frankly, after paying for a wedding, you could do without.
Be aware that getting married abroad carries varying legislation depending on destination. For instance, to marry in Mexico both the groom and the bride have to under-go a blood test. So if you don’t like needles you might like to try another destination.
And finally, if you do write or call your tour operator please refrain from saying ‘This is for our honeymoon. It’s the most important holiday of our lives and it has to be perfect.’ We know. Don’t you think we all dream of our honeymoons too? We want it to be great for you but we can’t magic the moon. And just remember, somewhere else out there is a customer emailing in saying ‘My mum’s just survived cancer; this holiday is the most important one we’ll ever take as a family. I want it to be perfect’. It’s all about perspective.
By all means, enjoy your honeymoon. Take every opportunity to make it special. And remember those maiden names for the bookings, ladies!