In the Heart of Central America: Planning a wedding or honeymoon in Honduras

Imagine walking down a lush green aisle to a small open-air wooden structure where billowy white curtains frame a view of a valley spread below and blueish mountains in the distance. An intimate group of family and friends has gathered to watch you say your vows on this hilltop and after the ceremony, they’ll join you to celebrate as the sun sets and the lights of the village beneath you and the stars above begin to twinkle in the dark.

That fantasy, and several others, can come true in Honduras. Honduras is overlooked as a destination wedding or honeymoon spot, but the country offers just as many opportunities for romance as its Caribbean and Central American counterparts.

Whether you fancy yourself as a barefoot bride or want to go eco-chic, Honduras has a wedding locale for you. And because all-inclusive “wedding factory” resorts don’t exist here, brides can take comfort in knowing that their special day will indeed be special and private.

Those looking for an adventurous honeymoon in Honduras will find plenty of activities, like zip-lining, diving, horseback riding and white-water rafting here as well. Here are three location options to get you started planning a wedding or honeymoon in Honduras.

Hacienda San Lucas is situated on a hill just outside of the town of Copan Ruin as. From the hotel’s deck chairs, you can see the ruins of Copan and the town below. It’s a long walk from the Hacienda into town, but owner Flavia will arrange for pick up and drop off for guests. You can also hop into a moto-taxi for the $1 ride home.

The Hacienda was a labor of love, and it shows. Flavia was born in Honduras, but moved to Kentucky and lived there for three decades. She eventually returned home and took over the property that had been in her family’s name for a hundred years. It was in a sad state of disrepair, so Flavia set about restoring it piece by piece. As she says, she would sell one cow and have enough money to restore one wall. Another cow sold equaled another wall.

It was a long process, and by the time the renovation was complete, nearly ten years had passed, over 4000 native trees, including cacao and fruit trees, had been planted on the property, solar lighting had been installed in the rooms, and 50% of the employees were local Maya Chorti people, descendants of the indigenous Maya people.

When the resort first opened, it was just two rooms. Now it’s grown to eight rooms spread amongst three buildings. Rates for rooms that are basic but comfortable start at $125 for low season. Rooms don’t have A/C, TV, radios or telephones, but they do have hammocks and there is wi-fi at the main house. There’s also a restaurant where Flavia serves a four-course dinner ($30 per person) made of grown-onsite or locally purchased ingredients. Because she only buys as much as she needs each day, reservations are required.

On the night I dined by candlelight at Hacienda San Lucas, were were served a salad of cantaloupe and fresh cheese, a velvety cream of corn soup with chipilin flower and macadamia nut powder, and a rich creamy dish of chicken in lorocco (a native flower) sauce, baked in a corn husk and served with avocado and rice. For dessert: Kentucky rum cake. After tasting her delicious food, I could see why Flavia’s cooking retreats at the Hacienda were popular.

Hacienda San Lucas also has one feature that makes it perfect for a destination wedding. Gaia, the Hacienda’s yoga center (where Flavia also runs yoga retreats) is one of the most picture-perfect wedding locales I have ever seen. Perched at the top of a hill overlooking the whole valley of Copan, it feels incredibly intimate, romantic, and natural. As soon as I saw it, I told my husband that I’d found the spot where I’d someday like to renew our vows.

For couples who get married here, the planning couldn’t be easier – Flavia does it all. She’ll decorate Gaia and bring in chairs for guests (unless you want them to sit on pillows on the floor), arrange for flowers, a band, an officiant and a photographer.

Dinner will, of course, be served at the Hacienda restaurant. Afterward, guests can dance under the stars, relax with a view of Copan Ruins, or sit by the fire at the Hacienda’s firepit.

Rent out the whole place for your wedding, or just book a room for the bride and groom and then encourage guests to stay down in town. Flavia will arrange for round trip transportation for your party.

Pre- or post-wedding, spend a few days exploring Copan, venture off to visit an eco-lodge in La Ceiba or relax on the beaches of Roatan.

If getting married barefoot in the sand is more your style, head to Roatan, where resorts like eco-friendly Palmetto Bay Plantation allow you to get married on an empty beach on the shores of the Caribbean.

Divers looking for an intimate ceremony can say “I do” to their scuba sweetheart at Anthony’s Key. The resort will handle all details and offers several ceremony locations to choose from. The honeymoon package includes 7 nights accommodations, all meals, 3 dives per day, 2 night dives, all equipment, dolphin snorkel and open water dolphin dive, wine and flowers on arrival, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing and other excursions for $1789 per person.

La Ceiba
If you prefer a more traditional wedding reception but want a natural setting, try the Lodge at Pico Bonito, named for the mountain that rises over it. Rooms start at around $200 and there are 22 rooms onsite. Set on 400 acres of tropical rain forest, the resort is home to hundreds of species of birds, which you can see on guided hikes around the property. There are two nearby waterfalls for swimming and the resort features a restaurant, pool, butterfly house and serpentarium.

Rooms are wooden huts built on stilts. Clean, with soft beds and ceiling fans, each cabin has its own hammock for lazy afternoons.

The reception space is air conditioned, seats up to 200 guests, and serves dishes like coffee crusted beef medallions from the restaurant.

Spend your honeymoon days zip-lining through the jungle, white-water rafting, and wildlife viewing, or explore the rest of Honduras.

Requirements for getting married in Honduras
Most resorts will help you with the paperwork and provide an officiant for the ceremony. Generally the paperwork is due 14 days before the wedding will take place. You’ll need to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate, a certified copy of your police record and an affidavit of single status, as well as a valid passport.

If you’ve been married before, you’ll need a certified copy of either the divorce decree or your previous spouse’s death certificate. You’ll also need two non-related witnesses, who must have valid passports.

This trip was paid for by the Honduras Institute of Tourism, but the views expressed are entirely my own.

You can read other posts from my series on Honduras here.

Gadling Take Five: Oct. 17–Oct. 23

Each time I read through posts for Gadling Take Five, I look for those that may have been missed by readers. I also look for posts that may fit together in some sort of cosmic theme. It’s often hard to choose five. While browsing the offerings this week, it seems this was a week of great ideas. This week I found a gold mine.

Here are ten great ideas:

  • When Alison was at Litquake in San Francisco she discovered The Bookmobile, a former actual Bookmobile that has been turned into an experiential gathering place for readers, if you will. If you see the Bookmobile somewhere along the Lincoln Highway this year, step inside. You might encounter a famous author driving it. The material being gathered during the Bookmobile’s journey will be turned into a documentary.
  • A good idea worth considering is reducing the number of traffic signs. Although Aaron is a swell driver, he’s given some thought to how he might be better at it if there were fewer signs to distract him. There is research to prove him right. Fewer signs have been shown to decrease accidents.
  • As world travelers, we’re often introduced to problems we wouldn’t have been otherwise. In Tibet, blindness is a problem. In Sean’s post on the Planeterra Foundation, you can read more about the organization’s wonderful idea to tackle blindness and how you might get involved.
  • Kraig, who knows a thing or two about adventure travel, highlights the reasons why hiking the Continental Divide Trail is a good idea. In the case of hiking this trail, Kraig suggests a good idea is to plan for extremes. For example, on one section there’s a lack of water. On another, you’ll be on the look out for grizzles.
  • Here are two airlines with great ideas. KLM is giving away personalized luggage tags. Scott tells you how to get them. Virgin America is considering testing out this good idea. Those without carry-ons can board first. Alison did think about how this good idea might not be so good after all.
  • If you’re on a long flight, Tom has come up with great ideas for how to be more productive. Since one of my favorite things to do on a plane is zone out, Tom’s tips are extra handy.
  • For anyone looking for where to have a destination wedding. Look no further than St. Maarten. Katie has the scoop on why having a wedding on this island is a great idea. It’s free.
  • You probably came across Annie’s post on 10 things not to forget to pack when you go on a trip. Pajamas is one of them, something I consistently forget.
  • Here’s a good idea that might be a bit weird. I found out about GoGirl, a device that helps women pee like men.
  • And here’s a shout out to Heather’s grand idea even though it’s already found great press. It’s such a great idea, I had to include it. Heather has turned Laviator into a household word. I still have yet to become a Laviator. It’s probably because of my tendency to zone out on a plane. One of these days, though–one of these days.

Get a free wedding in St. Maarten

Hosting a destination wedding is a great way to cut down on the expenses involved in getting married. Fewer guests equal less money spent on food, drinks and invitations, and fewer tables to seat those guests means your costs for flowers and rentals like linens and chairs will also be lower. Two Sonesta resorts in St. MaartenSonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino and the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino – are now making the idea of a destination wedding even more appealing. . .and affordable.

Guests who book a seven night stay for themselves and 20 guests (10 rooms with double occupancy) will receive a free wedding package. And we’re not talking a single bottle of champagne and a sheet cake. No, this package includes the reception dinner and open bar. With my friends and family, that savings alone would be significant.

The package also includes the services of a wedding coordinator, marriage licensing services, wedding cake, corsage and boutonniere for the bride and groom, room upgrade, and 10% off of spa services.

[via HotelChatter]

Ave Maria or Hava Nagila? No Need to Choose at Cabo Azul

Planning a wedding is the final test of a relationship. If a couple can survive this gauntlet of vendors and family members, the marriage has a real shot. It’s even more taxing when you’re putting together a destination wedding (definitely not my favorite kind). The only thing that could make this experience worse is the emotional toll exacted by interfaith struggles. If you’re dealing with this challenge, cross the border. At Cabo Azul Resort, the chapel is uniquely equipped to execute your compromise.

In my experience, at least (limited though it is), interfaith squabbles have more to do with the parents and less with the couple. Two people meet, fall in love and decide to take the plunge. By that point, they know the religions involved and either don’t care or develop the appropriate coping mechanism. The parents, however, may feel differently. Even if there’s no bigotry involved, choices have to be made … starting with the opening to so many jokes: priest, minister or rabbi?


Ultimately, the power of the purse wins the day. The person writing the checks makes the final call – that’s the beauty of capitalism! Of course, there are alternatives to the tyranny of the fiscally endowed. Compromise can be achieved, and this is where the Cabo Azul Resort is ready to jump in.

Located along the beach in Los Cabos, Mexico, Cabo Azul offers an airy, open (but covered) chapel with a view of the only chunk of shoreline in the area on which you can swim. Natural sunlight illuminates the space, but careful design minimizes the glare. Guests in the pews can stare out at the water instead of paying attention to the service … perfect. While scenery and sunshine do alleviate the tension of interfamily, interfaith tension, Cabo Azul has taken the concept a step further.

Two for the price of one!

Without undue effort, the religious space at Cabo Azul can be converted from church to synagogue. The cross suspended from the ceiling can be retracted and a Star of David lowered. The need to choose is obviated, and you can focus on what matters most – avoiding your in-laws!

Disclosure: The Los Cabos Tourism Board picked up the tab for this trip. But, if you know me, you know I don’t do anyone favors. The opinions are definitely my own.

Gadling Take FIVE- April 4-April 10

There are still travel deals out there and specials to keep your eye on. Plus, with spring comes certain events that can mean discounts. Here are Gadling posts from this past week that point to the diversity in travel pleasures from the free to the less expensive.

  • In Italy, from April 18 to 26, it’s Italian Culture Week. As Alison wrote, this means many attractions are free, and in some cases, the only time during the year when they are open to the public..
  • One trend that’s great news for travelers is the one where upscale restaurants are offering less expensive meals. Tom’s post on pris fixe menus is a reminder that these are the days when deals can appear where you least expect them.
  • Not only are higher end restaurants becoming cheaper, so is New Zealand. Grant outlined ten reasons why a person should go to New Zealand sooner than later.
  • One detail about spring is the loveliness of flowers that belong to every one who is lucky enough to pass by flowerbeds and/or flowering trees every day. In the Netherlands the tulips are everyone’s treasure. Scott has the scoop on KLM’s very own tulip. The tulip was acquired as part of KLM’s 90th year birthday celebration.
  • With wedding season upon us, Annie found a great deal for people who are looking for wedded bliss AND happen to have family and friends with money. The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain is running a wedding special that sounds divine. It does follow the adage, “it takes money to make money” or something like that.

And one more. If you haven’t watched this video taken at the Antewerp Belgium train station, you’ve missed out on a feel good time. It’s sort of a Sound of Music for everyone extravaganza. Here’s handing you a smile that will cost you nothing to get.