We’ve Launched!

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Hey blog lovers,

We have exciting news today…we’ve launched our new brand and website!

For almost a year, I’ve been feeling a bit like I’ve outgrown my old website. And though it feels like I JUST redesigned it (in 2010!), in the world of the internet, that is old, old, old. Plus we’ve grown so much in the last three years that I wanted to take a new approach at highlighting a new style and the updated services we offer.

New colors: while my brand has always been very feminine (lots of pastels and soft colors to go with my love of all things gorgeous and fresh), I wanted to also highlight my (and my clients’!) personalities in my new colors and fonts. I opted to go with a bold blue for my main logo color and add gold as a highlighting undertone, to not only show my outgoing and fun nature but also to show my love for bold colors that pair well with  traditionally beautiful colors like gold.

New font: While I am at heart a professional, I also believe in having fun (I mean weddings and parties are inherently FUN things! Which is why I really believe I have the best job in the world). The lowercase LL’s paired with the fun, slightly whimsical, but still modern and professional font helps to highlight my love of all things modern and streamlined, while also showing that I have a bit of humor and I love to laugh.

New servicesWell, not exactly new, new but restructured so that they are more understood.  I specialize in event design, floral design, and full event planning which is why those three things are highlighted on the website. If those three things aren’t what you’re looking for, feel free to contact me and set up an hour consultation and we can discuss what you might need.

Still to come: We’ve got our initial site going but there’s still more to come! I’ve planned hundreds of weddings, so I’m still sorting through photos to add tons of the most special and gorgeous ones I’ve planned. So stay tuned for more inspiring (and Pinnable!) images.

Also, I LOVE the photographers I work with (Lauren Brown, Morgan LaMare, Kene Sperry, Amy Hallenius, and Jessie Moore) and I have yet to credit them (working on it, I promise!). But in the meantime, check out their websites and see how awesome they are.

And thanks so much for following along as I go through this whole crazy-town process. You guys are the best!

Thoughts on the new website and logo redesign (logo and website courtesy of Barton and Pete, and copy courtesy of Lauren Caselli)? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

It’s All in the Details

There’s nothing I love more than gorgeous details at a wedding (which is why our tagline is “beautiful details, naturally”). And, based on that, if you couldn’t tell how much we love including natural elements here are a few visual examples of details we created to capture our couples’ sophisticated / fun-loving / wild and crazy personalities (and sometimes all three!).Leslie Collage 1Leslie Collage 2 Leslie Collage 3 Leslie Collage 4 Leslie Collage 5 Leslie Collage 6(photos by Jessie Moore Photography and Lauren Brown Photography)

Holiday Countdown: The Perfect Holiday Party Menu

Being a wedding and event planner is like a dream come true for me because even when I’m not actually planning my clients’ big days, I’m hosting my own events. From girls’ nights replete with fancy cocktails to big dinners for my husband’s work colleagues, I love being the hostess with the mostess.

Whether you’re having people over for the holidays this year or you’re simply cooking for a few family and friends, below is my fool-proof, no-holds-barred, fan-favorite holiday menu that will make grownups and kids alike want to come back for seconds.

SPECIALTY COCKTAIL

No special party is complete without a signature cocktail. This Pomegranate Martini  happens to be my favorite for the holidays because of the gorgeous, deep red color.

8 oz citrus vodka
2 oz fresh lemon juice fresh
1 oz fresh pomegranate juice fresh
4 oz simple syrup or Grand Marnier

Shake well and strain into chilled martini glasses (just pop them in the freezer the morning of your party). Garnish with a sliver of an orange peel.

APPETIZER

An alternative to the ever popular bacon-wrapped figs, satisfy your guests’ salt-tooth (those exist, right?) with these Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts. The salt of the bacon plus the crunch of the water chestnut is what makes these so delicious.

1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups ketchup
1 lb. bacon
2 cans (8 oz.) water chestnuts
 
Preheat oven to 375.
Separate the bacon and cut each slice in half crosswise. Then, wrap a water chestnut with each half-piece of bacon. Set in place with a toothpick (without ruffles so it doesn’t burn in the oven) and place evenly in a baking dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
When bacon looks like it’s starting to crisp, remove from oven and pour off the fat (into a tin can so it doesn’t clog your drains). Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, then bake for 30 minutes. Platter and serve (and swoon)!

ENTREE

Our holiday tradition is ham, and lately, I’ve been improving on my family’s version of a Spiral Hame with Sweet Mustard Sauce.
1 4-lb spiral-cut ham
3/4 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coarse-grained Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place ham in a roasting pan and pour about 3/4 cup water into the bottom of pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until heated through, soft and tender.

Whisk all ingredients together in a saucepan until smooth and heat over medium-low to medium heat until simmering. Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat.

When ham is heated through, remove the aluminum foil, and pour or brush the glaze over the top to cover completely. Raise oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Return the ham to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until glaze is caramelized and bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

DESSERT

Last but not least is my family’s absolute favorite Kahlua Cream Pie. It’s sweet and sinful after a meal that’s mostly salty.
1 cup heavy cream, beat stiff
1 pint vanilla ice cream, whipped until soft
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 Hershey bar with almonds, grated
Baked graham cracker or chocolate pie crust
Mix cream and ice cream and Kahlua until smooth. Pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with chocolate on top of pie and freeze.
Et voila! An easy, delicious holiday meal loved by family and friends alike. Happy Holidays!
What’s your favorite holiday meal? Leave me a comment!

6 Wonderful Wintery Holiday Decorating Ideas

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Hello, holiday season! I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and warm, delicious and decadent, homey and hopeful. I had a wonderful time with family, friends, and am especially excited that the passing of Thanksgiving means that it is officially time for winter holidays!

I’m a big fan of using natural elements in my holiday decorating, especially because things you can find in your backyard or your neighborhood park add a particularly festive touch. Here are some gorgeous decorating ideas for your home, gifts, and for that holiday party you’re hopefully not stressing out about!

Evergreen wreaths (and lots of them!)

I love evergreen wreaths because they brings a natural element indoors without seeming too invasive. Plus, the smell is unbelievable. If you’re particularly crafty, you can make your own, or just purchase one when you’re getting your Christmas tree. One wreath is beautiful, hung on a door or over an entryway, but you can also line your stair with a tiered cascade of wreaths or hang them in all your windows, uplit with an electric candle or LED light.

A twist on gift decor

Sparkly bows and ribbons are gorgeous, but I’ve been a fan of incorporating more Montana elements in my packaging lately. Wrap your presents in craft paper (natural or mute colored) and then tie with a piece of burlap or simple twine. Wrap the twine a few times around and then tuck a piece of spruce, pine, or a holly berry into the twine for a natural twist on a traditional favorite. Gorgeous!

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Ornaments everywhere

Multicolored globe ornaments are my favorite because they’re so simple, inexpensive, and can be used about a thousand different ways. Sure, hanging them on your tree is the obvious one, but what happens when you have leftovers that just won’t fit on the tree? Make an ornament plate! Take a white ceramic or clear glass cake stand or tray and spread the ornaments around. Add spruce boughs, pinecones, or other natural elements to make it look festive.

Or, if you have 20-30 sturdy globe ornaments, make an ornament chandalier. Take 1-inch wide ribbon and string one piece through each ornament (they can be different lengths for an added element of texture), gather them all at the top and hang above your dinner table, kitchen island, or anywhere else that needs a little cheer. Easy!

Ribbon as tree filler

Have you ever gotten one of those Charlie Brown Christmas trees that doesn’t seem to have enough branches? Don’t be discouraged, just grab the ribbon! Get some chunky ribbon (2″ to 4″ depending on how daring you are!) and instead of stringing it in a circle around the tree, try cutting them into 6″-8″ pieces and stringing it vertically from one level of branches to the next level. Do it sporadically around the tree and fill in with ornaments. When you’re done, it will look like a waterfall of ribbon, and your tree won’t look very Charlie Brown anymore.

Lights!

It is the season of lights, so why not try to use more of it in your holiday decor. How about investing in a bunch of 2′ – 3′ wire floor lanterns (which you can use year round) and filling them with inexpensive pillar candles (even two or three of varying heights per lantern). Then, buy a bunch of tiny votives (big box stores sell them for 50 cents each or less) and place them on your mantle, dining table, coffee tables, bookshelves. You’ll love the look of a fire burning in the fireplace and the rest of the house lit only by candles.

Stockings hung elsewhere

If you live in an apartment or house that doesn’t have a mantle, never fear! There are plenty of cute ways to hang stockings for a festive, feel-good atmosphere. My favorite is to take some heavy twine, hang it along a windowsill or two columns and hang your stockings with heavy duty clothespins. Or, grab a sturdy branch and hang it from the ceiling with wire and tack your stockings to that. Functional AND fashionable.

Need some help decorating for your holiday event? I’m now planning out my December schedule for decorating and planning. Send me an email at info@leslielukas.com to see how I can make your holiday party the most memorable one yet!

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Dear Leslie: What Should I Be Doing Right Now?

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Dear Leslie,

My wedding is early next summer and I’m a bit unsure of my next steps. I’ve secured all my major vendors and now I feel like I’m twiddling my thumbs. What can I be doing right now to ensure post-holidays I’m not a total stress case?

Awesome question! Fall can definitely be a time for some slow down in the wedding process, particularly if you have a summer wedding. With Thanksgiving next week, we’re already into holiday mode and preparing for time with our families. However, if you’re feeling like you don’t know what to do next, here are a few things that everyone seems to forget about until the last minute.

1. Create organizational systems

I know, how boring does that sound? But when you’re planning a wedding for 50 people or more, it’s really important to start streamlining your communication with them. Create a spreadsheet with all of your guests names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Have columns that say “Sent Save the Date”, “Sent Invitation”, “Accepted for Rehearsal Dinner”, “Accepted for Wedding”, etc. If you do it now while you have more time, you won’t be scrambling later to organize all the information.

2. Line up your Save the Date information

If you’re having a destination wedding here in Montana and most of your guests will be traveling, it’s a good idea to send a Save the Date packed with information for them to make travel arrangements. Save the Dates should be sent at least six months before the wedding date. Call local hotels and set up a few room blocks (I like to call a high-end, medium, and budget hotel so that all guests have something to choose from) and put that information on your Save the Date. List the major airports that are within reasonable driving distance, and make sure to encourage people to reserve a car if they are staying far from your venue (Montana isn’t very cab friendly). Interview a few graphic designers and get the ball rolling on design and production if you’re planning on doing a printed Save the Date.

3. Talk to your bridesmaids/groomsmen and maid of honor/best man

If you haven’t already, make a plan to ask your wedding party if they’ll be a part of your special day. A simple phone call will do, but since we’re suckers for nostalgia, we love handwritten cards, little gifts, or even a video sent via email (for the creative types out there!).

4. Go dress shopping

As if I even had to bring this one up. Dress shopping is important because you’ll get a sense of what’s out there AND there might be good “last season” sales at some of the major boutiques. Now is when a lot of trunk shows are happening as well so even if you’re not in the market to buy, you might find something that you love design-wise that you could find more inexpensively online.

5. Gather vision inspiration

While I do love Pinterest, I am a HUGE fan of a hands on vision board. It’s something you can put up on your wall, get inspired by, and edit as your wedding day approaches. Plus, having a night with your bridesmaids where you each create a vision board is such a fun way to get everyone together (and could even be how you ask them all to be bridesmaids!).

6. Consider putting together a wedding website

Now that the word is out that you’re engaged, you’ll be getting questions from those close to you weekly or daily. In order to cut down on answering the same question over and over, create a wedding website. There are tons of pre-templated sites out there where you can create something super easy (we’re big fans of Weebly) and informative. Plus, if things change or more details become available, you can easily update your website so that people are aware of the changes.

7. Enjoy your engagement

So much pressure surrounds planning a wedding that brides often get stuck in the trap of “Ohmigosh I have so much to DO.” Remember that your wedding will be perfect no matter how much you plan or don’t plan. Remember to enjoy your engagement as much as you possibly can (romantic evenings in, trips to the beach/mountains, and lots of talking). The planning part can come later.

I love getting questions via email! Want to know anything about wedding planning? Email me at info@leslielukas.com!

My Top 10 Favorite Things

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I know Oprah might have the market cornered on the “My Favorite Things,” (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here) but since the holidays are sneaking up very, very secretly on us (or not so secretly if you’ve been talking to my kids!) I thought I’d give a little glimpse into what gets me inspired both at home and when I’m working.

1. Freshly Popped Popcorn
I’m talking actual kernels popped in one of those fancy air poppers or a Whirley Pop (yes, that’s actually what they’re called). Something about the homey smell and the buttery, salty taste makes me want to curl up and pop in a movie. Plus, they’re an ideal snack for everyday, or as a cute little appetizer at weddings.
2. Volunteering + Community building
Giving back is a huge part of my life and my business. I help out with Thrive’s Girls for a Change Conference which teaches girls in our community new skills through a series of daylong workshops. It’s super important to me as a business owner to give back to my community and to ensure its success by investing into it through mentorship, financial contributions, or volunteering.
3.  Food and Wine
In the event you are looking for the ingredients for my perfect winter evening, here they are: homemade soup + a little wild game + a juicy glass (or two) of vino + my family around the dinner table.
4.  Small Town Living
It’s true that my office and client work is mostly done in Bozeman (with a whopping 40,000 people), I actually live and raise my kids in Ennis (population: 838). That means I get to wave at my kids’ teachers at the grocery store, run into my best friends weekly, and can attend any community event without being anxious that I might not know anyone (in fact, I’ll likely know everyone!) Small towns aren’t for everyone, but I can’t imagine living any other way.
5.  Textiles + Fabric
Some people buy more shoes than they can wear; I buy more bolts of fabric than I can ever make into things. But something about them all lined up by color and texture makes me swoon. Plus, I cut them out for inspiration boards for weddings, so not all is lost, right?
6.  Dates with my Husband
After a million years of marriage (okay, only 15), we still have regular date nights and even sneak in a no-kids trip every now and then. (If he asks, New York City is on my “dates in the near future that I’d love to go on” list :)
7. Walks or Road Trips with my Kiddos
I have two really, really gorgeous kiddos, ages 9 and 7. Sometimes, our weeks are so rushed from swim lessons, to gymnastics, to homework, and playdates. Which is why I take the time to use those in between moments (car rides or little hikes after school) to help them decompress. They’ve proved to teach me SO much about what my kids think and how they view the world. They blow me away practically everyday with how much they know about themselves and the world around them. It’s crazy!
8.  National Parks
Fortunately, we practically live in the backyard of Yellowstone, and I get to Glacier at least once a year for weddings or just to vacation. But no matter how often I visit, I love driving or hiking through our national park system and discovering different paths, drives or views that I’ve never seen before.
9.  Speaking of “National,” the National Anthem(s)
One of the little known facts about me is that I am a trained singer (and even met my husband singing at a wedding!). An even littler known fact is that I once sang the American national anthem AND the Canadian national anthem in front of 5000 fans for a Spokane Chiefs hockey game. Ask me about it sometime (and if I’ve had a glass of wine, I might even sing it!)
10.  Musical Theater
Broadway, show tunes, and Bette Midler. Need I say more? (PS If you’re ever driving past me on Main Street, feel free to give a honk. If I don’t honk back, it’s probably because I’m doing a little “car-aoke.”)
Okay, your turn! What are your favorite things?

Link Love: Spooky Links to Make Your Halloween Even More Fun

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Happy (almost) Halloween!

Fall is one of my favorite seasons; not only because of pumpkin everything, crisp leaves blowing around, and first glimpses of wedding trends for next season, but we are also full on prepping for the holidays.

And with the holidays comes (you guessed it) holiday entertaining.

First up: Halloween. Here are some of the things that I’m totally loving from around the web.

I love all these fun and not terribly difficult-to-assemble Halloween costumes.

How cute are these ‘blood’-orange cocktails. The presentation is fabulous! (Nothing but the best from Martha, right?)

Having a Halloween party? Design Sponge rolls out a Halloween-themed playlist for your background music.

For the crafters out there, here’s a gorgeous DIY Halloween-y room (purchased largely from second-hand stores using readily available crafting materials. Win!)

Apartment Therapy is one of my favorite blogs. I loved their fun takes on home-inspired Halloween costumes.

Spooky gifts for your the hostess on Halloween(that also happen to be super useful).

Halloween bark is delicious (and the Pioneer Woman is hilarious!). Here’s how to make it.

Super helpful guide on throwing a Halloween party for kiddos. And alternately, a guide for throwing one for adults.

Happy reading and happy Halloween!

(image: enchantedprints)

6 Tips to Manage Family Expectations During Your Wedding

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A lot of times when I work with couples and their families to plan their big day, there is a disconnect between what the bride and groom want and what the family is prepared to expect (and this advice can be applied to the holiday season as well!).

I’ve had brides whose relatives have asked them ON the day of their wedding if the bride or groom will pick them up at the airport (the answer, if you’re wondering, should be no). I’ve had families who have attended a Montana wedding expecting black tie and have been confused when jeans and cowboy hats abound (check the invitation for clues about attire). I’ve even had families who fail to enjoy the wedding day because they are so invested in preventing anything from going “wrong” that they forget to enjoy everything that is going right.

Here are a few tips to help ease your family’s expectations on your wedding day (and give yourself some sanity as well):

1. Assure them of the importance of their support. A lot of times, family members care deeply about your big day because they care about you and your happiness (what they don’t realize, is often they are the cause of that unhappiness). Assure them, either on the day of the wedding or when you see them during wedding week that you are so excited to have them present on this special day, and that their support and love is more than you could even think to ask for on your big day.

2. Make it clear what your wedding is about. If you’re going for Montana chic (aka cowgirl boots and an outdoor venue), make it very, very obvious well ahead of the wedding the vibe of your wedding. Your grandmother still may want to wear her evening gown and her string of pearls, but as long as you give her a heads up, she’s less likely to feel out of place when everyone else is wearing sundresses.

3. Take one for the team (the team called “your own sanity”). Mom upset that you want to use online RSVPs exclusively instead of traditional paper invites? Dad buy your wedding dress without even consulting you? Let ‘em have their way. Weddings should be about you and your partner, yet our family is still important and still will try to exercise their wishes. Task your mom with collecting and tracking RSVPs (mom’s LOVE projects) and tell your dad that you love the dress enough to wear it for the ceremony, but you want to have a reception dress as well. They feel like an important part of the process, and you get to keep your sanity.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more information your families know, the better and more involved they feel (and the fewer questions they’ll have for you during the week of your wedding). If you feel like you’re overcommunicating, you’re probably doing it right.

5. Thank them again and again. Sometimes, all our family wants is the acknowledgement that they are important to you and present on your big day. And often, with everything else going on, we forget how far people travel or how much they put on hold to be with us and supporting us on our wedding day. No matter what feeling your wedding has, gratitude is always in style.

6. Know that a wedding is temporary and a marriage is a lifetime. Often, when I have couples who are stressed by their families’ involvement, I advise them that this wedding will be gorgeous, they will be married no matter what, and it will definitely provide funny stories in the years to come.

Do you have anything to add? Have you ever been in a situation where your family expected a totally different wedding than what you planned? Comment below and tell me about it!

(image: Lauren Brown Photography)

8 Gorgeous Ideas for Wedding Shoes

It’s no secret around LLWE headquarters: I’m a sucker for shoes.

Cowboy boots, heels, flats, heck, even TOMS if you please, I’ve seen my brides wear, well, pretty much everything. And I absolutely love it when a bride uses her rarely seen shoes to display a bit of a personal touch. It’s like a little secret that only she and her groom know about.

Here are some gorgeously personalized shoe details that I love.

Classic

Classic white is one of my favorites, but this lace pair with embellished heels are simply stunning.

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Blue brocade? How gorgeous!

Vintage-Bridal-Shoes

Vintage shoes like these always make my heart melt juuuuust a little. So romantic and sweet.

Polkadot Peekaboo

I love the see-through element, as well as the vintage polka dots.

Flats

Flats are my fave, especially when you’re getting married outdoors. And these are so sparkly!

Feathers

Ohmigosh! Feathers!

Printed

Printed shoes are SO in. Why not use it for your wedding?

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Now who would I be if I didn’t include cowboy boots, huh? Plus, I love this shot of the bride walking away gathering her dress. So fun!

What are you considering for wedding shoes? Classic white, something funky, or a little cowboy boot to stomp?

Top 5 Beach Honeymoon Vacations (Part 2)

Last week, our resident travel guru, Jackie Laulainien, gave us the rundown of two of her favorite honeymoon-by-the-beach locales. Here are the last three, which just leaves one question: where are you going this winter?

Thailand

Thailand Honeymoon

Thailand was one of the stops we made on our honeymoon, and I’ve never been to a country where traveling was easier. If you’re a first time traveler, this would be a great place for you to start. Thailand is also wonderful because it’s easy to live like a king there even if you are on a budget. Getting there is the expensive part, but if you can find a ticket for around $1,000, you are in good shape. The beaches in Thailand are literally endless, as Thailand has about 2,000 miles of coastline but is only the size of France.

Best time of year to go: November through February, this is Thailand’s “cool season” (cool is relative, it’s still nice and hot). The west (Phuket and around there) has a rainy season from April to October, and the east (Gulf of Thailand) has a rainy season between September and December.

How to get there: Fly into the capital city of Bangkok. For shorter flights to get around Thailand, check out AirAsia.com.

Activities not to be missed: Drink from a coconut, try every kind of curry known to man, ride an elephant, visit a temple, take a ferry, find a secluded beach, visit the beach from the movie “The Beach,” try fruits you’ve never tried before, go kayaking, go climbing if you like (it’s a top destination in the world for climbing!), float in a natural swimming pool, snorkel, shop, pick your dinner from the freshly caught array of seafood, have a drink at a sidewalk bar, eat Pad Thai from a street vendor, ride a longtail boat, visit Railay Beach, ride a tuk-tuk in Bangkok, walk down Kao San Road, put your feet in a fish spa, drink freshly squeezed juices, get a foot massage, and eat mango and sticky rice.

I know. That was a lot.

How much time to allow: Considering that it takes a couple of days to get over there, you may want to allow yourself as much time as possible to explore once you get there. At the very least 10 days, hopefully more like 2-3 weeks.

Bali & Gili Trawangan, Lombok (Indonesia)

Honeymoon in Bali

I’m sure you’ve heard of Bali, and I’m sure you haven’t heard of Lombok, but they are right next to each other in the chain of volcanic islands that make up Indonesia. These two islands offer a beautiful snapshot of Asian culture and provide the best of both worlds for the beach-goer and the adventurer.

Best time of year to go: Avoid travel between December and March, which is monsoon season, although you will still see plenty of sunshine during this time.

How to get there: Fly into Denpasar Airport on Bali. You can take a fast boat to the Gili Islands of Lombok easily from Bali.

Bali Honeymoon

Activities not to be missed:

Bali

Have dinner on the beach during sunset at Jimbaran Bay, explore the rice paddies outside the bustling town of Ubud, stay at one of Bali’s many jungle or beach resort hotels that cater to your every need and will be candy for your eyes, catch a traditional Balinese dance, and wander your way through the open air markets.

Gili Trawangan, Lombok

Stay a few days at Vila Ombak with its private swimming pools, waterfalls, and swim up bars just across the street from a beach with views of the main island of Lombok and its Mount Rinjani volcano. Eat seafood every day, go scuba diving or lounge at the beach or pool. Relax. If you have time, head over to the main island of Lombok to climb Mount Rinjani.

How much time to allow: Remember that it takes a couple of days just to get here, so try to come for two or even three weeks and you should have plenty of time to get your relax on.

Greek Islands

Greek Isles Honeymoon

For a unique European honeymoon, consider exploring the Greek Islands, whose beauty will be a treat for your eyes, the mediterranean cuisine a party for your taste buds, and the language a soft song for your ears. After exploring Athens and its ancient architecture, you can catch one of the many ferries that will take you out into the thousands of islands that make up a mediterranean paradise.

Best time of year to go: May through September will be the best time to visit the islands and beaches, as the storms set in late September and many resorts close.

How to get there: Fly into Athens and plan to stay a day or two to explore before you head out on a ferry to the islands. Check out Greek ferry schedules here. If you get seasick, you can fly to Santorini from Athens.

Activities not to be missed: Santorini, the most famous and most beautiful of the Greek Islands. Beach, cruise, snorkel, scuba dive, wine taste, hike, hot spring… Santorini has it all. Naxos is very chill, and Mykonos is happening and has one of the most beautiful downtowns I have ever seen. There are so many islands to choose from, do a bit of research to select the ones that are the best fit for you! Or just stick with Santorini….

How much time to allow: This is a great week to 10-day option, all depending on how much you want to move around and how long you want to spend in Athens. One or two days in Athens is plenty.

About the Blogger

Jackie LaulainienBozeman local Jackie Laulainen is a travel blogger at www.TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com. After visiting, traveling through, and living in over 35 countries in the last 10 years, she has a thing or two to say about travel tips and advice, which is a subject she does not take lightly! Her mission is to equip and inspire other Americans to travel the world and broaden their horizons through experiencing cultures outside of their own. She has just published her first book “The Aspiring Traveler’s Handbook: A preparation guide to international travel,” a detailed resource which answers many of the questions that come with being a new traveler.  The book is now available for purchase on her blog. Besides traveling the world as often as she can, Jackie does freelance web design for small businesses and teaches local adult Spanish classes in Bozeman where she lives with her husband Nate and 100-lb rescue mutt Rami. If there is anything Jackie can help you with in your planning process, please visit her on her blog, or say hi to her on Facebook or Twitter.

Have more questions about international travel? Jackie would love to hear from you. You can email her at jackie@thebudgetmindedtraveler.com.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain