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Tony and I got back from our honeymoon late Saturday night. It was the best trip of our lives. We went to Tahiti and stayed at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, where we were treated like royalty. (*They know how to treat royalty, too. Jen Aniston & co. may have been staying at the Four Seasons next door while we were there, but the Princess of Qatar was staying at The St. Regis with us.) Coming off of one year, seven months and two days of wedding planning that ramped up to a feverish, dizzying speed of overwhelming joy and emotion for those last few weeks, Tony and I were exhausted. I think everyone is after a wedding. But we were so lucky that we got to actually take off for some R&R while my parents were still cleaning up the catering staff’s cigarette butts off the beach in Tahoe (thanks again, Mom). And there is no better place in the world for rest and relaxation than Bora Bora.

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We first visited Bora Bora in 2012 when we tagged along on a trip with my parents, brother and aunt, and subsequently fell in love with the place. But, because we’d already been, we initially explored a few other honeymoon destinations: Tony wanted to go on a safari, but that was ruled out because of cost and the idea of being on a plane for 24 hours after the wedding madness. I wanted to go to Italy and stay on the coast, dreaming of eating pasta on the beach; but that was ruled out because August is high tourist season, and Tony’s never been to Italy and wants to do things like hit museums before spending his days there eating pasta on the beach. We weren’t even sure if we’d be able to take a honeymoon, with Tony’s work schedule. (My saying “I can write anywhere!” is a fancy term for “I’m unemployed.” THANK YOU for supporting this blog, so I can continue building it into employment.)

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{Pic from our first trip to Bora Bora in 2012. So young. So little hair on Tony. So much beach make up on me.}

A few weeks before our wedding, Tony was given the green light from work to plan a honeymoon. Since I was drowning in the seating chart at that point, I put him in charge of our post-wedding vacation and he enlisted our friend and miracle worker travel agent Kara Slater. (That’s not lip service. Travel + Leisure recently named her one of the best, and you can see from her Instagram that she knows how to travel.) We actually met her on our first trip to Bora Bora when we were both staying at the Four Seasons, and she planned this beautiful, perfect trip for us. Thank you, Kara.

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{Gifts from Kara awaiting us in our bungalow}

We left on a red eye flight Wednesday August 5th, which was the perfect amount of time after our wedding. It gave us a few days to enjoy the friends and family who had traveled from all over the world to celebrate with us, polish off the leftover wedding cake and do laundry, and be an at least functional level of exhausted when we traveled, as opposed to completely delirious, which is what we were for a solid two days after the wedding.

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{Loading up on free airport swag}

There was an unfortunate incident with Air Tahiti Nui that caused Tony and I to be seated apart on the flight out, so Tony sweetly/insanely splurged on business class so we’d be able to sit together on our honeymoon. And like people who have no business riding in business class, we gleefully raided the fancy airport lounge for cookies, granola bars and sandwiches for our flight. I chugged several glasses of wine, trying to drink our money’s worth. And then, on the flight while everyone else was sleeping, I ate both Tony’s and my complimentary cheese trays and champagne, because we paid for them and they were not going to waste. I am my grandpa‘s grandchild.

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Because of this extravagance, however, we were able to turn our seats into beds and actually get a good night’s sleep on the way out. And we woke up in Tahiti! We jumped one more quick flight from Papeete to Bora Bora, where a boat from The St. Regis met us with floral leis, ready to jet us to paradise.

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{PARADISE I TELL YOU! THEY HAVE A HAMMOCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN!!!!!}

And The St. Regis is truly paradise. Nearly everyone who works there speaks French, so everything they said in their beautifully accented English sounded gorgeous and upscale, even “The bathroom is that way!” One of the many perks at this hotel is that you are assigned your own personal butler. Ours was named Sebastien, and he is one of my favorite people I’ve ever met: He has a hypnotic French accent, lives on a boat, and unpacked my suitcase and folded my underwear for me. All of these reasons put him on My Favorite People I’ve Ever Met list.

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When we arrived, Sebastien took us on a golf cart tour of the expansive property and Tony and I took note of all the places to eat: breakfast buffet, bar, Italian restaurant, sushi restaurant, room service and The Lagoon, the fancy restaurant with glass floors so you can watch sharks and fish swim under your feet while you dine on their relatives.

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{Sebastien’s ride}

He then proceeded to profusely apologize for the fact that our overwater bungalow wasn’t ready yet (it was 8:30am, we weren’t expecting it to be), and let us know they had a private house on the beach with it’s own private pool for us to spend the day in while we waited for our bungalow to be cleaned. I have no idea how this magic happened to us. Maybe because Kara is a miracle worker? Maybe because we were on our honeymoon? Maybe because I was telling anyone who would listen that Tony is an American television star? However we snagged it, it was glorious. We both ate three full plates at the buffet, then went back to our house and slept until our bungalow was ready.

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{NBD, just our helipad}

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{My husband doing pull-ups in the tree in our backyard overlooking the ocean, a sentence I always dreamed I would write}

Let’s back up and talk about that buffet for a minute, though. This place was my downfall. And if I had the chance, I’d make the same choices all over again. Every morning, Tony and I went for a 1-mile jog around the property that would conveniently end at the outdoor restaurant Te Pahu, where we would be guided to our table overlooking the beach, not sit down and instead head directly for the food. I always skipped the “make your own Bloody Mary” station because I wanted all the room in my belly to be dedicated to the following: Almond croissants. Ham and cheese croissants. Croque monsieurs. Mini quiches. Mini stuffed potato boats. Chocolate croissants. Chocolate chip muffins. Caramel banana cakes with passion fruit sauce. A made-to-order omelet station. The best hash browns I’ve ever had. Bacon. Sausage. Homemade vanilla bean yogurt and granola. Fresh fruit. French toast made from baguettes. Baguettes. Chocolate bread. Banana bread. Fried rice. Ahi tuna chunks floating in coconut sauce. Vanilla sauce that Tony would get a cup of just to dip his bacon in. Crepes. Waffles. Cheese and prosciutto and olives. Fresh-squeezed watermelon juice, mango juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, even banana juice. I know I’m hardcore Bubba Gump’ing here, but I can’t help myself. I’m drooling on my computer, just reminiscing about it.

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{Cool down from our run before attacking the buffet}

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{EXTRA CHEESE}

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On average, Tony and I would eat most of these things on one of our 2-3 trips through the buffet. We’d eat so much that we had to walk on the beach for 45 minutes because it hurt to do anything but waddle, and then we’d go back to bed because our bodies needed to be asleep to physically be capable of digesting the amounts of food we’d just consumed. We are what is wrong with America, and are the future faces of the obesity epidemic.

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Other culinary highlights: The discovery of the burger. THE BURGER. I’ll dream of it. Tony and I split one almost every day for lunch, adding bacon and extra cheese BECAUSE I FIT IN MY WEDDING DRESS AND NOTHING ELSE WILL EVER MATTER AGAIN. Some days, we got serrano ham baguettes and fries that we dipped in mayo to honor the French heritage of the hotel and because it was delicious. One day, we ate a pizza on the beach and my Italian “carbs on the beach during my honeymoon” dreams came true. We ate at the sushi restaurant almost every night, which was magical.

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{Room service from the sushi restaurant}

We went to The Lagoon twice, where we had ahi tuna encrusted in sea salt crackers, scallops with avocado cream and some sort of frozen spicy Ovaltine ice cream bar that was dropped from heaven and will haunt my dreams. Wherever we went, we got homemade ice cream every night. My favorite was the white chocolate wasabi, but I always tried three flavors. It should be noted that my mom gained 10 lbs on her honeymoon. I gained 15. WORTH IT. I’m going to the gym as soon as I’m done writing this because Hollywood generally prefers skinny girls and I want a job one day.

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{En route to La Villa Mahana}

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{La Villa Mahana, best meal of our life}

Our favorite meal, however, was at La Villa Mahana. Tony and I first ate there with my family back in 2012, and have since always referred to that as The Best Meal Of Our Lives. We went back wondering if it would be as good as we remembered… It was even better. The restaurant is actually a little house tucked into the hills of the main island on Bora Bora (most of the resorts, including The St. Regis, are on tinier outlying islands of the lagoon). We took a boat over, where we were met by the restaurant’s car and driven up to a beautiful little home with just seven tables. The chef, Damien Rinaldi-Dovio, lives there, and he’s the only one in the kitchen. It’s like going to a friend’s house for dinner, if your friend lives in Bora Bora and happens to be the best chef in the world. He moved there from France, and cooks the best stuff I’ve ever tasted:

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Even though I’d had two cocktails at The St. Regis, I threw caution to the wind and opted for the wine pairing, in addition to the champagne the restaurant sent us. I lost count, but I think I had around 5-7 additional drinks that night. I slept in the car ride back to the boat, named a homeless cat we found by the dock Maggie 2 and tried to smuggle it back to the resort, then passed out next to the rose petal heart Sebastien had so delicately decorated our bed with. Sorry, Tony. Sorry, Sebastien. Most of all, sorry I couldn’t save you, Maggie 2.

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{Me + Maggie 2}

I know it seems like we mostly spent our honeymoon eating (and we did), but we also got to take advantage of the resort’s other luxuries, too. We went paddle boarding in the ocean nearly every day. My pale skin made me a tourist attraction, and lots of foreign tourists took (probably unflattering, clutching a croissant or burger) pictures of me. I made Tony to stage lots of photo shoots, because what good is a this kind of vacation if you don’t force your loved ones to look at it?

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Our favorite spot was the “lagoonarium” in the spa. Sebastien pointed it out on our initial tour as the location he personally found the most beautiful, and we agreed. It had a stunning view of the mountain, a quiet lawn that never had more than 2 or 3 other couples and offered the opportunity to swim in an enclosed part of the lagoon – essentially, an enormous, fancy, outdoor aquarium. I loved swimming with those fishes and pretending I lived there. I also liked it because swimming is the one athletic activity I’m better at than Tony.

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{Reverse view of the lagoon, which you enter through the spa}

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{Remi, mixing magic}

We also befriended Remi, the greatest bartender who ever lived. One of the cocktail options on the menu was to have the bartender create something for you; I asked for something with watermelon juice and vodka. Remi came up with something that included those ingredients, as well as champagne, strawberry juice and only he knows what else, and it was the most delicious drink I’ve ever tasted. I had at least two every day. (Usually three, if we’re being honest.)

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{Double fisting}

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The most spectacular day of the entire honeymoon, however, was the day we got to go out whale watching. We befriended a French family vacationing there for a month who gushed about their perfect day swimming with humpback whales thanks to Tohora Bora Bora and the eco-conscious company’s owner, Simon… Tony and I decided anyone vacationing there for a month clearly knew how to live life and what was what, and we booked a tour with Simon that night. When we told Sebastien, he laughed knowingly and said “Simon, he is crazy about the whales!” He was right.

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Simon picked us up the next morning on a beautiful new boat he’d recently bought from South Africa. Right away, we spotted two humpback whales. Simon would count when they went back under, trying to anticipate which way and how far they would go in the up to 20 minutes they’d be under water, in the meantime regaling us with stories of whales, living on the island, and more whales while we snacked on cookies and juice (it had been at least 30 minutes since the buffet). Other boats would follow us or call him to see where the whales were. He’d police the bad tourist boats abusing the rules, always putting the good of the whales first. He was the whale whisperer. Other boats were packed with tourists, but we had Simon to ourselves.

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After a few hours on the boat, squealing with delight and frantically taking photos every time we saw a tail splash the water or a whale come up for air, Simon spotted a mama humpback whale and its 2 week old baby. Simon asked us if we wanted to go swim with them. We said YES PLEASE. He handed us his GoPro, instructed us on how to slip into the water and swim over without splashing so as not to disturb or frighten them, and how close we could get. It was the most magical experience of my life, being in that water as the baby curiously swam up to us and the mama splashed her giant tail. It was unreal.

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Afterward, we asked if Simon could recommend a pearl farm; he took us to his friend’s shop, where Tony and I got to pick out a beautiful loose pearl and have a simple, delicate necklace made with it attached to a gold chain. I befriended a homeless dog (there are so many in Tahiti, it’s Tony and my dream if we ever become stupid filthy rich to open a dog rescue and go over once a year to save ALL THE DOGS). Then, we went back to The St. Regis to eat and sleep some more.

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{Homeless doggie I fell in love with}

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{Private dinner on the beach}

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{Getting the last bits of his meal through a straw because I married a classy, classy man}

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I wish I’d taken pictures of the inside of our bungalow #226 because it was so big and beautiful, but the truth is, we didn’t spend much time in there and when we did, it was sleeping off our food binges. Here are a few we took of the exterior, and interior photos I pulled from the interwebs to give you an idea:

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{Just enjoying the OPEN AIR SHOWER FROM THE CEILING}

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bathroom

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livingroom

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Other highlights:

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The French Disney channel features what we are 99.9% sure is a transvestite character (the scene right before this one had a pretty hilarious gag in the men’s restroom), one of the many reasons why that country is a lot more progressive than we are. Tres chic!

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{At one of the Couples Retreat filming locations}

The St. Regis has a movie channel solely dedicated to Couples Retreat, where it plays the film on loop. Only that movie. Over and over and over. (*Couples Retreat was filmed at The St. Regis Bora Bora.)

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Tony discovered that if we tied the life jackets in our room from the bungalow to our floatie, we would not drift out to sea and could lounge on the water to our hearts’ content.

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The one day it poured rain, we ordered room service, opened a bottle of champagne and sat outside on our deck in our robes.

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We saw other couples get married almost every day. It brought me so much joy, seeing other people join our happy little newlywed club; all of the brides’ beautiful dresses and flushed faces brimming with love and excitement reminded me of my own.

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On one of his early morning runs, Tony discovered this sweet baby. He was crying because he’d gotten separated from his mama, who jumped up and crossed a bridge too tall for his tiny body. Tony helped reunite him with his mom, and we spent every day of the vacation after looking for them with food. You had better believe if I’d found them, we would have flown both home and illegally have 5 dogs now.

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{Our last night, soaked in sunscreen + bug spray}

We went through 5 cans of bug spray, and 9 cans and 3 tubes of sunscreen. If you ever go to Bora Bora, pack so many of those items. SO MANY. And don’t ever leave your room without either. (We even took to sleeping with bug spray on, to combat the mosquitoes that flew in through the vent in the night.)

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{Sebastien waving goodbye to us}

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{Me, leaving with one of Remi’s drinks. I took it on the boat to the airport and shamefully had to hand my empty glass to the captain before we disembarked.}

And now we’re home. When I’m being melodramatic, I like to sigh to Tony, “It’s all over,” or my other favorite, “There’s nothing to look forward to anymore.” But really, this huge milestone that I have been dreaming of and looking forward to my entire life happened. It is over, and it’s something I’ll look back on rather than forward to. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m grieving that; I’ve got a case of the bridal blues, which I am fully aware is so indulgent to say given that I just had the perfect wedding and honeymoon. It feels a little like a hangover (in fact, given the amount I drank in Bora Bora, it probably is one), coming off of the high of the past few weeks.

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But when I take a step back and let the dust settle, I realize that I got the prize that kicked all of this into motion: My husband. I have a teammate for life. The vows he said to me are just as much alive today as they were August 1. And, as stunningly gorgeous as Bora Bora is and as epic and indulgent as our vacation just was, Tahoe is still my favorite place in the world, because that’s where we celebrated our marriage.

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{Bye bye, Bora Bora}


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