Ask anyone married, recently or not, and they won’t hesitate to tell you that one of the most exciting things about planning a wedding, and then finally tying the knot, is the honeymoon. Drew and I were no exception. From the moment we become engaged back in February 2010, thoughts about where we’d spend our first week as a newly married couple began swarming in our heads. We spent hours on my laptop pouring over numerous tropical islands and magical getaways. After ruling out Fiji—the flying time alone soured that idea—Drew and I started looking at places in Mexico. We’d heard a lot of good things about the all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya, and despite several family and friends’ concerns (“Don’t drink the water!” “What about all the drug smuggling?” “Oh…Mexico…well that’s nice”) we soon became set on our destination-El Dorado Seaside Suites.
From the beginning, Drew took the initiative planning the honeymoon-from setting up the flights, to the resort’s honeymooners package, to the transportation to and from the resort. The more we talked about the honeymoon, the more excited we became. Drew was busy with work and I was busy working with my Mom to plan the wedding of our dreams. Needless to say, a week of relaxation on the beach sounded perfect.
Fast forward to the week before the wedding. My maid of honor, Chelsea, and I spent several days deciding what I would pack for the honeymoon. I’d bought a new swimsuit and several dresses especially for Drew’s and my week at the beach. I casually tossed my passport on top of my stuffed-to-the-brim suitcase, grateful that I wouldn’t have to go through the several week process of getting a passport made. I’d had mine since the family vacation my parents and I took to Costa Rica back in 2004, and had used it only one other time when I traveled to Italy the summer before my senior year of high school. My passport photo was far from glamorous, and I cringed at the thought of Drew seeing a picture of me during my token “awkward phase,” but this little booklet was going to get me in to Mexico so I could start married life with the man of my dreams.
In the early hours of the morning after the wedding, Drew and I took a taxi to the airport. Our flight left at 9:30 a.m., which would put us in Cancun by mid-afternoon. I’m sure we both had a little pep in our step as we walked up to the ticketing counter. I was even wearing the “Bride” jacket that Chelsea had bedazzled with rhinestones. Yes, I’m quite sure we had that newlywed glow. As we handed over our passports to the woman behind the Delta counter, she opened my passport and paused. “Do you realize your passport expired back in 2009? You can’t get into Mexico with this.”
My heart stopped. My hands started getting clammy and it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. Surely this woman was mistaken. As Drew and I both looked at the passport expiration date, there in black block letters lay our fate. Tears began welling up at the corners of my eyes and it wasn’t long before the floodgates opened. Drew on the other hand kept his composure, working with the attendant to try to work something out, and later calling our resort to let them know we wouldn’t be making it. As I sat in a corner of the airport, a blubbering mess, Drew never lost his cool and still managed to keep a optimistic smile on his face and a comforting arm wrapped around my shoulder. He had plenty of reason to be angry with me; I messed up big time. Yet he never rose his voice or was curt with me. There in the airport, wiping my red, snotty nose on my sleeve, I fell in love with Drew all over again. He handled the situation with such composure, something I couldn’t even try to muster. As we formed a Plan B, I realized that we truly had to work as a team in order to get through the rough patches in life.
After several hours brainstorming how we could still have a honeymoon, we decided to spend the week at my parents’ house in North Carolina. We would still be on the beach, and most importantly, still be spending a week together, just the two of us. Our trip to North Carolina was not without its flaws. Ten minutes into the drive, my car got a flat tire and we had to turn around and take Drew’s car instead. Again, Drew showed that he was a pro at dealing with less than ideal situations. By Tuesday night, we had finally reached the beach and could really start enjoying the week.
As it turned out, North Carolina was the perfect getaway for us. We spent hours at the beach, played bocce ball, fell asleep poolside, drank margaritas at noon, and had many delicious meals. We decided that the only thing different about this honeymoon was the location; we may not have made it to Mexico but we still spent an incredible week together. Hindsight 20-20, that’s all that really mattered.