The perfect honeymoon? Avoid safaris and ski instructors… and go easy on the rose petals!

The perfect honeymoon? Avoid safaris and ski instructors… and go easy on the rose petals!

It IS possible, says the editor of Brides magazine. Just avoid
safaris and ski instructors… and go easy on the rose petals!

6:22 PM on 17th May 2011

You can’t say you feel sorry for a man very often. But a man charged with the task of organising a honeymoon is one to be seriously pitied.

So while it’s not a problem if your name is Prince William and you can whisk your new bride off to the 4,000-a-night island somewhere in the Seychelles, it’s not so easy if you’re John from Milton Keynes and face the apparently insurmountable pressure to deliver a wow-factor honeymoon on a budget.

Every woman dreams of getting on to a plane and turning left towards club class. But a woman on honeymoon wants that level of luxury to continue for the full two weeks.

Newly weds: But we can

Newly weds: But we can”t all jet off to a 4,000-a-night island like The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

She doesn’t want to lift a finger, whether it’s to confirm a flight or a dinner reservation. When it comes to the holiday of a lifetime she wants her new groom to have the bank balance of Simon Cowell, the contacts book of Ben Elliot, founder of concierge service Quintessentially, and the body of Matthew McConaughey. Anything less Just disappointing.

So there are a few basic rules couples need to follow if they want a honeymoon to remember for all the right reasons.

First, location is everything, and if newly married Laura Topman’s experience is anything to go by, avoid a safari at all costs.

‘The second I stepped off the tiny plane in the South African bush, I spotted Mark our guide waiting in his jeep — one hand on the wheel, the other on his large gun. I admit it was an impressive sight,’ she says.

‘As the week went on he began to tell us about the number of propositions he regularly received from newly married women. A woman, he said, who has married a man who wears a suit every day to his safe office, is capable of losing her mind in the presence of one who risks his life, protecting yours from wild lions.’

With that in mind, you may also want to strike ski trips off the list. Dashing male instructors are known worldwide for their prowess on and off the slopes.

If in doubt, choose the beach. Adventure holidays are for when you’re dating and there will be plenty of time for weekend city escapes later in life when you’ve dumped the kids with grandma.

‘Another golden rule is never to let your parents “treat you” to the honeymoon,’ says writer Stephanie Johnson. ‘When I married my husband Simon in 2008, we were broke, so I did. Because they were paying we didn’t feel we could dictate the location and as a result we ended up in Austria on a non-stop sightseeing tour taking in every city museum. The result of which was also non-stop — rows.’

Safe bet: Relax on the beach

Safe bet: Relax on the beach and save activity holidays for when you have a family

Once you’ve decided on your location, you must choose your resort wisely. Those that specifically target honeymooners are well known for overdoing the schmaltz.

‘It’s all very well and good putting pretty macaroons on the pillows every night,’ says writer Alice Garrett. ‘But not if you come back to your room to find the bed covered in ants.’

Another couple came unstuck after poor planning at their resort. ‘We had been on this amazing sunset cruise before being dropped on a secluded sandbank where three waiters were poised to serve us a romantic dinner,’ says Lucy. ‘We both drank a lot of champagne on the boat and when we got to dinner we were horrified to note that there was no loo. Dinner was rushed and frankly quite painful.’

Hurling rose petals on every surface is also a favourite of the honeymoon resort. But one Brides magazine reader told recently how her hotel in the Maldives went one better by placing a whole perfect yellow rose head in the lavatory bowl.

Some honeymoons will represent the first time a couple have effectively lived together — or at least shared intimate time for a prolonged period.

Illness is not uncommon in far-flung places, and on my own honeymoon to Italy I had to contend — on day three — with a husband with serious food poisoning. Let’s just say that once he had broken the loo, he moved on to break the shower before the hotel finally moved us to a different room. If honeymoons are supposed to be the most romantic holiday you ever have, we failed.

In my experience a man’s sense of style — or rather lack of it — can be one of the biggest causes of rows on a honeymoon. The bride wants to feel she’s with a style god. The reality is often quite different.

Happy honeymooners: Don

Happy honeymooners: Don”t cut corners, it”s the only chance you get to be completely self-indulgent

Key rules must be obeyed and you may want to leave your fianc a shopping list — he should pack a Panama hat, Rayban aviator sunglasses, linen shirts, this season’s Villebrequin swimming shorts. He must not pack socks or Speedos.

Tell him to log on to Mr Porter — the men’s website from — and throw money at it. And to remember he’ll be showing people these pictures for the rest of his life.

But be wary of setting the bar too high for yourself. One couple whose wedding we are featuring in Brides began with a proposal at the Dylan Hotel in Amsterdam, where the groom filled a suite with his girlfriend’s favourite variety of rose, and presented her with a De Beers ring in a velvet box.

The ensuing stag do was in Panama, the hen do in Miami, and the wedding was held at the exclusive Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest, the bride’s gown coming from the seriously up-market Brown’s Bride.

Now word is reaching us that the honeymoon to an undisclosed destination will top 30,000.

Obviously, this groom is a man who is not afraid — and can afford — to throw money at the problem.

For the rest of us, the general rule appears to be that the honeymoon should cost double that of the ring.

You can — and should of course — ask for the free flight upgrade. On any one flight an average of only 37 per cent of first class travellers have paid the full fare. One airline executive told me: ‘You stand a much better chance of an upgrade if you’ve paid full-fare premium economy — and you never go more than one class up. So opt for the busiest flights because upgrades have to happen when a flight is overbooked.’

My advice would be not to cut corners on this trip because it may be the only chance you ever get to have a completely self-indulgent, selfish, sexy holiday. Because, let’s face it, as soon as your feet touch down at home, the pressure will be on to deliver on all that honeymoon sex you should have been having when you were busy arguing about his socks and sandals.

Jade Beer is acting editor of Brides magazine.