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Hawaiian Honeymoon and Wedding Planning Article features Expert Renee Meyer's advice

Oregonian News Article

Features The advice of top honeymoon expert Renee Meyer

Sonja Johnston, Oregonian Special Writer

Ruth and Mark Johnson wanted a wedding that required sunglasses. Bu the felt they needed to try to make the family happy with plans for a Portland wedding.

Who's the wedding is it anyway? That's the question the johnsons came up against when their wedding plans started escalating.

"We realized we were going to have to make a choice between a wedding and a honeymoon," Ruth said. "And the idea came to me- why not get married and do the honeymoon in someplace to please ourselves?"

"Like paradise," Mark added. "We just didn't want to do some mainstream, church-on-Sunday sort of thing."

They were dreaming of the "Hawaiian Wedding Song" on a balmy beach under a tropical sun cooled by trade winds for their February wedding. Mark and Ruth, both in their 40's, were paying for the wedding themselves, and, ultimately, they decided to do it their way.

Ruth found Unforgettable Honeymoons, the RomanticTravel Specialists.

The couple knew they'd found the right travel agency when owner Renee Meyer showed them a photo of a wedding couple kissing on a Maui beach at sunset. It was exactly what they wanted.

"Renee did absolutely everything, from tickets to the room at the Royal Lahaina Resort to the wedding on the beach at the Hyatt Regency," said Ruth.

Meyer has a couple of directions to the place to get their marriage license. She arranged for a hair and makeup artist,a wedding coordinator, a wedding photographer and album, and a videographer. She also arranged for a tuxedo for Mark, a minister, flowers, champagne and engaged champagne glasses, a Hawaiian singer and guitarist who performed the "Hawaiian Wedding Song," and, most importantly, the perfect time or those wedding kids: sunset.

The cost: $6,000 for air, hotel, a simple but wonderful wedding, and two honeymoon weeks for whale-watching, snorkeling, hiking, shopping and sunning.

Meyer says more couples each year are combining wedding and honeymoon, often in Hawaii, Fiji, or the Caribbean. "TurtleIsland in Fiji is getting more popular because it's so unspoiled beautiful, the people are wonderful and speak English, and there's no-tipping," said Duane. "The costs are comparable to Hawaii."

Hawaii is especially popular because it takes less time to fly there and many Oregonians are familiar with the state.

"Also, it's the easiest place to get married. you can get a license and be married the day you arrive."

Like the Johnsons, may couple go with another couple of parents. Some invite friends and extended family for a tropical wedding party. Duane says wedding/honeymoon trips she arranges take a lot of hand-holding -- between her and the couple. "Couples have really high expectations that everything is just right," she said.

Meyer visits all of the resorts she recommends she knows which ones are best. Because she does so much repeat business, she's able to get room upgrades and special treats for her clients (like massages). She takes pride in scoping out the perfect resort for weddings and honeymoons, showing couples actual photos rather than brochures that might make places look better than they are.

An average one-week stay, including airfare and wedding like the Johnsons', costs about $3500, said Meyer A special four-night condo package and wedding is $1320. But the possibilities are almost endless on the islands of Hawaii, which have a huge variety of hotels and resorts.

Equally expansive ar the range of details Meyer can take care of. For example, a couple can pick their own accommodation and have Meyer arrange only the ceremony -- a deluxe sunset beach wedding for $800. Or she can arrange luaus and Hawaiian hula dancers --or helicopter a couple on a site with waterfalls for $1700.

Link: www.oregonlive.com

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