A Modern Love Story

This incredible Wanderable couple share their even more incredible love story.

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Here at Wanderable, we’re lucky to support a community of smart, thoughtful, and adventure-loving couples who all dream of experiencing the world. Today, we’re honored to share the story of Shannon and her fiancé, Phil. Their relationship has been through life’s ups and downs, and Shannon would love nothing more than to surprise Phil with the dream ending – a honeymoon to Italy! See their beautiful registry here and read their story below. 

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What is your and Phil’s dream honeymoon?
Gosh, that’s such a great question! For as long as I can remember, we have always dreamed of visiting Italy – Rome, Venice, Florence, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast – so many places to see! We love, love, love learning about foreign countries, their cultures, and of course their food! We are both adventurous and like to try new things, but we also appreciate relaxing on the beach with a drink in hand! I have no doubt that our feet will touch ground in Italy at some point in life!

Where do you plan on going? Why?
As I’ve mentioned, honeymooning wasn’t even on my radar, and I think both of us knew Italy was definitely out of the question, so we never even gave it a look. We also knew we might not be able to afford a honeymoon at all, so a location that was somewhat economical was of importance. Phil and I have dreamed of traveling the world – Italy, Greece, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Indonesia, it’s hard to pick just one! Initially we had looked at Mexico, and I hate to say our destination was based on financial reasons rather than fulfilling dreams, but there is a lot of truth to that. When it came down to it, we were focused on areas where we could fly on banked Southwest miles, or travel in the off season to save a little more – even if that meant dealing with the threat of hurricanes. Is it our dream? Not necessarily. After really contemplating this question, and considering why, I had to change course. I’m doing all of this to honor Phil, his love, and our new life together, so with that in mind, I know in my heart he would love to go to Italy.

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How did you know that Phil was the one?
After having both been married before, that’s a question I can’t say I’ve considered. If I get real about it, we both, at some point, thought we had already found “the one” previously, and that obviously wasn’t the case. However, we both learned a great deal from our marriages – we learned why they didn’t work and accepted and acknowledged our parts in that, but we also did a lot of self reflection and healing to hopefully be better people. If I had to pinpoint a time of knowing that Phil was “the one”, I’d say it was when I clearly understood that who I am was good enough. I know it sounds a bit cliche, but when you’ve lived the last 10 or so years in emotional and mental distress, feeling as if you are enough is like being able to breathe – we often take breathing for granted until it’s difficult to do so.

Phil’s acceptance of me and my fondness of him never really made me feel as if I had to impress him. I absolutely adore him and I’ve seen time and time again, his dedication to me and my boys. The past few years have challenged us in ways I didn’t know possible; from my diagnosis, to raising two teen boys, to helping my ex manage mental health and substance abuse issues, it’s been a very emotionally charged time in both of our lives, yet we seem to come out stronger each and every time we are thrown a curve ball. We laugh at some of it now, but quite honestly, I had no idea how drastically Phil would change my life.

I didn’t realize how much the little things really affected me. Your question has sparked some wonderful, reminiscent thoughts! I remember the first time we sat in a booth at a restaurant – on the same side when it was only the two of us – I had never done that before! And, he didn’t think it was gross to share a bite of my food or a sip out of the same glass. I remember the first time he held my hand – we were on our way home from lunch at an Indian restaurant – funny thing is, five years later he still holds my hand while we are in the car, even if it’s just a short trip to the store. He jokes how lucky he is to have found a loud Italian girl so he doesn’t need to turn his hearing aids up – although, I’m quite certain there are times when he turns them off!! HA! I actually forget that he’s hearing impaired; he’s been so since birth due to underdeveloped nerves. I love that he doesn’t use his disability as a crutch, but rather as a means of conversation and education – it’s just one more reason why I love him so much.

Together, we have learned what the other needs and wants. We know what the other likes to eat, the movies we enjoy, the best blankets for a good night’s rest, and if we prefer our socks folded or balled – for the record, he likes his socks folded so they don’t stretch the elastic! On a larger scale we talk about our dreams and visions for the future, come to each other’s side when there is a work-related struggle or family issue needing addressed, and have open conversations, no matter how uncomfortable, about our finances.

As for my kids, he loves them, and has no problem letting them know it! He treats them with respect, and makes certain they have what they need – he always has. He’s never faltered, understands his boundaries, and knows if that line as been crossed. He resolved a long time ago, that he would never have children of his own, and is happy that mine have accepted him – they refer to him as their “step-ish” dad, which we think is very telling and pretty funny too.

Phil and I have built a secure foundation that is laced with respect for each other, and because of that our connection blossoms, communication improves and our commitment deepens, and for those reasons, and I’m sure many, many more, I know Phil is “the one”.

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What does being able to take this honeymoon mean to you and Phil?
Let me start by saying that Phil has no idea that I’m doing this – he has no idea that I’ve set up a registry, have posted on various social media outlets to ask for help, or that I’ve been in conversation with you and your fabulous team at Wanderable. As far as he knows, I’ve dropped the entire idea of going on a honeymoon, so if I’m able to make it happen, it will be a HUGE surprise!

When we crunched the numbers and determined that we could either celebrate with a small backyard party or take our honeymoon, provided it was an economical location during the off season, we decided that time spent with family and friends was priceless. We will marry in a private ceremony this summer, and share that news with our guests via party invitations! Clearly we love surprises! While we would absolutely love the opportunity to celebrate our new life together in a far off land, I’m just not certain how it will happen. Taking this trip would illustrate how the unconditional love Phil emanates creates a domino affect. From this love a passion was born. My deep desire to make his dream come true was fueled by the kindness and generosity I see in others, and with their assistance, they solidify the power of love and what it can do, and that would mean the world to me – to us!

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Thank you, Shannon! We are wishing you and Phil the best as you continue to collect donations on your registry.

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How to Take Beautiful Photos On Your Honeymoon

Amazing tips for taking beautiful (and affordable) photos on your honeymoon – without a fancy camera!

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Have you ever seen a friend’s photo and just been floored by how beautiful the moment was? Well, this is how we felt about every single photo shot by the uber-talented photographer, Sam Shorey. Sam’s work is gorgeous. She specializes in film photography and told us that “film has this wonderful memory-like quality, a softness that has so much feeling in it.” What an incredible way of putting it. Here, she shares her top three tips for how to take your own beautiful (but affordable) photos during your honeymoon.

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1. Bring a disposable camera!

A lot of people don’t realize that you can still buy these at just about any drugstore (for about $15) and have the photos developed there too. They’re a perfect-match for honeymoons for a few reasons:

— Disposable cameras are tough. — On a honeymoon, you’re going to be doing adventurous things that aren’t great for carrying around your quality digital camera or even your smart phone. Sunset cruises and beach days; sand and water are electronics’ worst nightmares! But disposable cameras are basically indestructible. Once on a trip to Big Sur, I left mine on top of my car and drove 25 miles down the road before I realized it was missing. It’d been flung off my roof, but was fully in tact on the roadside (and the pictures still turned out great!)

— If you like the look of film, disposable cameras actually take pretty great pictures! — Just as good as your iPhone or a point-and-shoot digital. They’re going to have all the great color that’d you be emulating with your Instagrams, but with #nofilter.

— Disposables are way lighter than a digital kit and easily fit in your bag or pocket. — Save on overweight baggage fees or having to lug lenses through Yellowstone (I’ll only make that mistake once.) And, if you’re traveling abroad, bringing a few disposables saves you the stress of having your fancy digital camera stolen. All you’d lose is $10 and the memories. And I mean, who’s going to steal a disposable?

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2. Natural light makes taking good pictures so easy! 
In general, get outside or a room with big windows. Coordinate your most scenic activities during “golden hours,” the first hour after sunrise or the last hour before sunset. Everything looks so magical! The light is gold or blue in color and doesn’t have the harsh shadows of noonday sun that might highlight your under-eye bags from the redeye flight. Use this time for big events – like riding the Ferris Wheel in downtown Seattle – or even the more photogenic day-to-day stuff, like taking the ferry home. No matter what I’m doing, I always try to be out-and-about during these hours when I travel! Even just walking around the neighborhood.

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3. Get on the other side of the camera!

If you’re reading this post you’re probably the designated photo-taker on vacations, just like me. Whenever I get home from a trip and show my family the pictures everyone says “well that’s all lovely, but where are all the pictures of you?!” Over the last 5 years, the number one thing I wish I’d done is taken more pictures of me.
I know it’s embarrassing and can feel kind of vain – but ask your partner to take your picture (especially on the good hair days!), and don’t hesitate to ask a trustworthy stranger to take one of you together. Everyone loves young people in love.

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Sam, thank you for your amazing tips! We’re feeling inspired right now to run to the corner store and grab a disposable camera to take images of all the small, joyous moments. Practice for all our future travels!

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What to Pack – Thailand Edition Featuring Ashley from Her Sparkle

The only Thailand honeymoon packing list you’ll need, by fashion blogger, Ashley Fehr Hajjar

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Ashley Fehr Hajjar of Her Sparkle is one of our all-time favorite fashion bloggers and wedding enthusiasts. ICYMI: Ashely has already given us the DL on what to pack for Hawaii and Italy and is back to share her tips on what to pack for Thailand.

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Ready for another edition of Her Sparkle’s What to Pack!? This time we are going {or dreaming of going} to Thailand 🙂

When packing for Thailand it’s ALL about bright colors & prints. These pretty prints will be perfect for Thailand’s gorgeous beaches. It’s important to note that Thailand is a modest country so don’t go overboard with any skin bearing outfits. Also, the basic rule for Thai temples is to cover your shoulders so the printed wrap would be a welcome edition to your packing list! xx

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Mara Hoffman Slouch Pants // Trina Turk Beaded Halter Top // Personalized Towel // Elephant Tank // Neon Print Maxi // Madewell Fringe Beach Tote // Michael Stars Print Wrap

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Well now you can all understand why we love Ashley and her packing lists so much. Thanks for all your tips Ashley! Now it’s time to plan all of our future trips and put these packing lists to good use!

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TourNative’s Best Local Tips for Traveling in Vietnam

TourNative has the best local tips for traveling in Vietnam.

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As the weather warms up, our team at Wanderable is dreaming about traveling to Vietnam. A country known for its beauty and energy, Vietnam offers travelers everything from peaceful beaches to bustling cities. With a country as unique and interesting as Vietnam, it pays to have some local insight. This is why we asked our friends at TourNative to share their best local tips for traveling in Vietnam.

TourNative is an innovative company allowing travelers to book authentic experiences with local guides. They have tons of experiences in Vietnam, which makes them the de facto experts, whether this is your first or tenth trip to Vietnam. Read their local tips for traveling in Vietnam, below.

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1. Definitely try out the local cuisine in Vietnam: Bánh mì, coconut water, Pho, coffee – all these things are best savored in random restaurants and next to carts by the roads.

2. You may run into some minor scams if taking a taxi in Vietnam, especially if you hail a taxi driver who goes by the meter, so always arrange your transportation through reputable companies. Or if you’re up for a thrill, enjoy a motorbike tour.

3. The traffic in Vietnam is incredibly packed. In big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, cross roads with caution. Be confident: let cars avoid you, keep a consistent pace, and keep walking forward.

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4. Do not drink the tap water. Sometimes it is fine and sometimes it is not, but it is always best to be safe and carry bottled water wherever you go.

5. Remember to pack mosquito repellent with you. It’ll be extremely useful if you end up exploring Vietnam’s countryside trails!

6. The Northern, Central, and Southern areas of Vietnam have completely different climate, so pack accordingly if you’re planning on traveling to many different areas of Vietnam.

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Just like TourNative, Wanderable believes in enjoying authentic, memorable, and local experiences while traveling. Peek inside Wanderable’s top-rated curated experiences in Vietnam, to really bring your Vietnam trip to the next level.

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Top 10 Cutest Wedding Invitations from Minted

Check out our list below for the Top 10 Cutest Wedding Invitations from Minted!

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Have you ever received a wedding invitation in the mail and thought to yourself: now, this is a wedding invitation! All of us here at Wanderable suffered from this pretty badly when we discovered the amazing site, Minted.

Minted might be our kindred spirit when it comes to wedding invitations. Wanderable makes it easy for you to crowdsource amazing honeymoon experiences in a way that is simple and classy. Minted also crowdsources – it collects art through monthly challenges. Their huge, unique inventory of card designs is perfect for couples who are looking for beautiful and affordable wedding invitations. See below for our favorite Minted wedding invitations!

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1. Destination Wedding

This invitation feels like an old-fashioned map that was created by a hip, young designer – perfect for out-of-town relatives and friends!

2. Gilt Agate

You don’t just have to be a rock lover to appreciate this design, which utilizes geode-like coloring  to create an invitation that is truly stylish and beautiful.

3. Retro Hawaii

This invitation looks and feels like a retro print of Hawaii. This will be a fun way to invite your guests to help you celebrate with the island spirit.

4. Edenbridge

Beautiful typography and soft background colors are framed by a simple map of the world. Use this to showcase your love of travel to all your wedding guests.

5. Moments Captured

This invitation features on a collage of images, perfect for couples who want to feature their engagement photos front and center!

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6. Dainty Deco Foil Pressed

Looking more like an Art Deco-inspired piece of art than a wedding invitation, the gold foil press will pop against the dark, rich colors of this gorgeous invitation.

7. Ombre

This wedding invitation is designed with simple typography and an ombre background, creating an effect similar to a soft watercolor painting.

8. Rustic Charm

Typographic designs are becoming more and more popular these days. This invitation utilizes soft colors and large text so well that it’s, well, really very charming.

9. Passport

The clean lines, passport design, and crisp typography of this invitation will beckon all your guests to celebrate your perfect destination wedding.

10. Fiesta Folk Art

Inspired by traditional Mexican paper art, this wedding invitation is perfect for you if you want the look of folksy cut outs without any of the d

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Crowdsource your wedding invitations from the talented, fresh, independent designers and artists at Minted. Then, once all your guests RSVP “YES,” create your honeymoon registry at Wanderable! You can even use Wanderable’s free, beautiful layout designs to match your gorgeous Minted wedding invites.

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