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The Oregonian featues Unforgettable Honeymoons Hawaiian Wedding planning services

OREGONIAN HEADLINE: A Future so Bright, they need shades.

Bright: Travel agent handled long-distance details.

Ruth and Mark Johnson wanted a wedding thatrequired sunglasses. Bu the felt they needed to try to make the familyhappy with plans for a Portland wedding.

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

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

"Like paradise," Mark added. "We just didn't wantto 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 theirFebruary wedding. Mark and Ruth, both in their 40's, were paying forthe wedding themselves, and, ulitmately, they decided to do it theirway.

Ruth found Unforgettable Honeymoons, the RomanticTravel Specialists. The couple knew they'd found the right travelagency when owner Renee Duane showed them a photo of a wedding couplekissing on a Maui beach at sunset. It was exactly what they wanted.

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

Duane have the couple 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 avideographer. She also arranged for a tuxedo for Mark, a minister,flowers, champagen and engraged champagne glasses, a Hawaiian singeradn guitarist who performed the "Hawaiian Wedding Song," and, mostimportantly, the perfect time or that 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.

Duane says more couples each year are combiningwedding and honeymoon, often in Hawaii, Fiji, or the Caribbean. "TurtleIsland in Fiji is getting more popular because it's so unspoiled andbeautiful, the people are wonderful and speak English, and there's notipping," said Duane. "The costs are comparable to Hawaii."

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

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

Like the Johnsons, may couples go with anothercouple of parents. Some invite friends and extended family for atropical wedding party. Duane says wedding/honeymoon trips she arrangestake a lot of hand-holding -- between her and the couple. "Couples havereally high expectations that everything be just right," she said.

Duane visits all of the resorts she recommends soshe knows which ones are best. Because she does so much repeatbusiness, she's able to get room upgrades and special treats for herclients (like massages). She takes pride in scoping out the perfectresorts for weddings and honeymoons, showing couples actual photosrather than brochures that might make places look better than they are.

An average one-week stay, including airfare and awedding like the Johnsons', costs about $3500, said Duane. A specialfour-night condo package and wedding is $1320. But the possibilites arealmost endless on the islands of Hawaii, which have a huge variety ofhotels and resorts.

Equaly expansive ar the range of deatils Duane cantake care of. For example, a couple can pick their own accommodationsand have Duane arrange only the ceremony -- a deluxe sunset beachwedding for $800. Or she can arrange luaus and Hawaiian hula dancers --or helicopter a copule on a site with waterfalls for $1700.

Link: www.oregonlive.com

Sonja Johnston, Oregonian Special Writer

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