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The Simple Joys of a Hometown Honeymoon

By Kate Sullivan


Airport security hassles, flight delays, high gas prices - who needs 'em? Newlyweds turned off by the cost and frustrations of long-distance travel are rediscovering the brilliance of spending honeymoons close to home. Here's how to do it in style.

No longer a mere three-hour affair, the wedding has evolved into a three-day event. Long weekends, filled with dinners, activities, brunches and of course, the main reception, require more organizing, planning and time off from work. To balance the elaborate planning, more couples postpone the idea of a big trip and opt for a scaled down honeymoon: a post-wedding ritual to takes us back to our simple roots.

New York event planner Marcy Blum sees, "couples delay their 'real' honeymoon for logistical reasons but still take a few days off after the wedding just to recoup and realize that after all the hoopla, they are actually married."

You don't have to travel to Shanghai for nuptial closure; keep it hip, fresh and close to home. Take airport hassles and flight delays off the itinerary and discover the simple pleasures of local lovin'. Trade in those airline tickets and upgrade your honeymoon to first class without ever leaving your time zone.

When Katie Flynn of Pebble Beach, Calif. said, "I do" to her college sweetheart she donned the role of planner with a smile. For a reception of 300, this was no easy feat. Her saving grace was a honeymoon without any lists or hassles. Staying locally in the family vacation home, "We had guilt-free detox for the first three days. There was no pressure to get out and sightsee right away. We played tourist on our own terms," she says.

And playing tourist is exactly what they did. Being familiar with an area equals instant stress-reducer. You know your favorite spots and can take day-trips on your own time. No maps, language barriers or driving on the opposite site of the road here. And for these newlyweds, raindrops didn't mean tear drops. "We just holed up for the day, ordered take-out and watched movies. We reveled in having nothing to do, rather than being bummed that it rained for one of our vacation days," Flynn says.

But staying local isn't all lounging. It's a chance to discover what has been there all along. Summers in Union Pier, Mich., meant beach and barbecue for Katie Solimine. So for her September honeymoon, she chose a bed and breakfast near the family home to switch up the scenery. "We're excited to experience this cute town with new eyes," she says. This time around, they'll go out to restaurants and poke around the specialty shops. Discovering the off-peak season means more privacy while you break from tradition activities. Trade in a day at the beach for a day of apple picking and transform the familiar into fresh instantly.

So whether you channel city chic or relaxing on the ranch, book your lodgings and think tourist. Do it locally, but do it right. Research your destination as you would if you were heading to the hills of Cinque Terre or the beaches of Barbados. Find out what's hot and new and treat yourself to things you wouldn't ordinarily splurge on. For Katie Flynn, this meant five-star dining. "We went out to dinner and ordered the most expensive bottle of wine without even batting an eyelash. What we spent that night was more than we would have spent on all meals in one day had we been away and it was worth every penny," she says.

Scaling down the destination doesn't mean scaling down the style. Dress up as if you were away. And Marcy Blum warns us, "this goes for grooms as well - silk boxers and freshly shaven chins go a long way in the romance department." And forget modesty when it comes to choosing your mode of transportation. Scoot around town in style: Rent a flashy car. In sunny California? Go for the convertible. City bound? Pass on the cab and hire a car service. Think 24-hour indulgence. Call for an in-room couples massage or champagne and caviar room service at midnight. And for the bed and breakfast couple, check out the scenery and enjoy an extravagant picnic (complete with table linens and crystal) for the perfect low-key vibe with high-class touch.

Staying close has it's own hidden dangers - accessibility to your new in-laws for starters. So while you might be local physically, keep your distance mentally, as if you were on a different continent. Commit to not answering phones or making calls. Bury the Blackberry, shut down the computer, stay away from the local news and let everyone know you are "out of town." And don't make the same mistake Katie Flynn did. "We spent one day doing errands, like returning the aisle runner. Looking back, we should have arranged for someone else to take care of it," she says. Let's face it: There's no romance in running errands. Keep your we're-on-vacation guard up at all times.

So when the band's packed up, the last champagne flute is put away and you've bid farewell to your guests, it's time to revel in your newly marriedness, and right away. Forget waiting for airport security lines, because you're the pilot when you keep it close to home. No waiting for takeoff as you discover you've already landed in honeymoon bliss (on-time guaranteed).

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