This is a story of how we decided to have two weddings and an Alaska honeymoon.
Two weeks ago, we received some bad news. Ruby’s mom in the Philippines was denied a visa to attend Ruby’s wedding in the United States. The embassy officer didn’t even check her documents, which included confirmations from the priest and the church, just asked her 3 brief questions and denied her visa. We were all shocked and disappointed, because when Ruby’s aunt was denied a visa just a few days after that, it meant that Ruby wouldn’t have anybody from her family at her own wedding, boohoo.
We discussed our options and thought about throwing a small party for just her family, but then we decided that it wouldn’t be fair for her family to miss out on wedding festivities, so we chose to have a renewal of the vows next October in the Philippines, most likely in the beautiful island of Boracay. It won’t be an official wedding, but it will be a celebration with Ruby’s family and friends, and it will be done near the sea, which is one of Ruby’s dreams. We’re very excited about our upcoming wedding 2 weeks from now, so for now that is taking up most of our preparation time. Once the dust settles and we finish our France/Switzerland/Slovakia/Austria trip in June, we will start looking at potential sites in Boracay. Perhaps we’ll even convince a few of our American friends to come visit the Philippines and see how beautiful the islands are.
Planning one wedding is a headache enough, so planning two will be…interesting, to say the least. We know we want it to be near the water, near the beach, and we want it to be easily accessible for guests who are not familiar with Boracay or the Philippines. Unlike in America, you can’t just hop in a car and drive for a few hours to the destination. People need to likely fly into Manila and then fly to Boracay and be transferred to the resort of our choice. Logistics will be a challenge, because I’m sure we’ll get a few frantic calls asking us where the resort is, how to get there, and why are people such crazy drivers here. Well, welcome to the Philippines: beauty sprinkled with chaos.
Everyone is asking when our honeymoon is after our wedding this month, but the answer is…there isn’t any. We have the Europe trip planned with my brother and cousin, so we can’t do any big honeymoon trip this year. Therefore, we postponed it until May 2017 and we chose between the following options: Alaska, Hawaii, Maldives. Now, the Maldives were obviously very expensive, so even though we could have gotten a free hotel night at one of the spectacular water bungalows and also free roundtrip (RT) airfare, we eliminated that one first. Hawaii was very tempting, but since we’ve already done warm climate destinations such as Turks & Caicos, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica, we then decided that we wanted something different and so the choice was Alaska!
Okay, we did take a day off and booked an overnight trip at the Westin Cape Coral the day after the wedding — sort of like a mini honeymoon, even if it’s only you know, a day.
Alaska is known for its huge size and its tremendous natural beauty. There are giant forests, glaciers, polar bears, whales, grizzly bears, seals, mountains, and on and on. Since we both love nature and animals, this was the perfect choice. Of course, we then had to think about the budget. We knew that we could get free one-way flights from Jacksonville to Anchorage, Alaska and from Vancouver, Canada back to Jacksonville, courtesy of our American Airlines miles. Beyond that, there weren’t many brand hotels available, so we are budget hotel (or AirBnB) hunting at the moment. Besides that, we both agreed that since it is going to be a once in a lifetime trip, we would do a 7-day cruise from Seward to Vancouver, which we have already reserved with the help of Costco Travel. The plan is to land in Anchorage, rent a car for 5 or 6 days and visit the massive Denali National Park and then take a train from Anchorage to Seward, before the cruise. Renting a car will allow us to drive around Alaska and see its beauty first-hand. And it’s much cheaper than doing a land tour with a cruise company.
Besides that, we are also planning several side trips, such as one-day visits to Kenai Fjords, Prince William Sound, small Alaskan towns like Talkeetna and Wasilla, and also Whittier. So, yes, it will be a busy two weeks, but we are really looking forward to it.
The thing is, even though we are these crazy travel hackers, trying to use points and miles for every possible trip, this honeymoon is still going to cost a pretty penny. We’ll try to offset it with cash back points, but apart from that — any suggestions how we can use points on cruises?