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Getting hitched: How to plan a honeymoon that starts your marriage in style

Romantic honeymoon couple near Tahiti

VV-pics/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Marriage is its own reward, but a lavish vacation in a luxurious setting is no small incentive. Your first days together as a married couple might set the tone for the life you'll lead together, so it's important to get the details right.

Rodrigo Calvo, a managing director for the boutique travel group Mr & Mrs Smith, has had a hand in booking countless honeymoons over the years. Here are his tips for making the most out of what truly should be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

Divvy up the duties

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The biggest mistake Calvo's team regularly comes across is the failure among couples to determine who, exactly, is in charge of the honeymoon. "I can't tell you how many times we get the frantic 2 a.m. call from someone saying, 'I thought my groom was supposed to be planning the honeymoon and it turns out he didn't do anything.' " So, clearly spell out priorities and responsibilities (literally) by writing down who is taking care of what.

Plan ahead

If you're looking for one-of-a-kind luxury accommodations, don't expect to score a room the week before your departure. "For the kinds of destinations and hotels that we recommend, you normally have to book at least three months in advance," Calvo says. This applies not only to lodging but also to a good table in a hot restaurant or a spot in a private cooking class, so give yourselves plenty of lead time to make all the reservations.

Go east (and south)

While Cambodia and Laos are growing in popularity as honeymoon destinations, Italy is the "big winner," Calvo says. Instead of heading straight to Tuscany, however, just-marrieds are increasingly "heading south and east, where not only will their money go further, but they're also less likely to be telling the same story to their friends when they get home," he says. Calvo cites Umbria as an excellent and less touristy choice, as well as the "medieval hilltop towns of Puglia and Basilicata, [whose] stunning hotels are little known to outsiders."

Be flexible

"When you're travelling, and especially the farther you go, remember to be okay with things going not exactly the way you planned them," says Calvo, whose team always builds "slack" into clients' itineraries, just in case an unpredicted event or delay arises. "Sometimes things happen and you shouldn't let them ruin your entire trip. Depending on how you interpret it, the unexpected thing that happens on your honeymoon could be what you remember most."

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This is part of a six-part series on getting married in style. Click here for earlier instalments on planning the perfect proposal, planning a top-notch bachelor party, finding that top-notch wedding wardrobe, writing your own vows and giving a memorable speech.

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