When none of the chairs was delivered for our wedding, we knew we had made the right honeymoon decision.
Our 100 guests were gathered at Rockwood Manor, a flower-filled park in Potomac that we'd chosen for our outdoor wedding. All the tables and food and wine were in their proper places; the guitarist and flutist were poised to play Pachelbel's Canon in D for our processional; the rabbi and minister duo we'd chosen to honor our two faiths waited by the gazebo with their blessings, and the photographer hovered, ready to catch every nuance of our big day -- and no chairs.
My imminent husband turned to my strained face, kissed me on the nose, and whispered: "Smile, my darling, the chairs will come, I love you, and it's all downhill from here."
Thank God we'd chosen a no-brainer honeymoon!
Not the diving resort in the South Pacific that we'd considered. Nor the African safari our best friends had recommended. Not even the Caribbean island that came with your own sailboat that we'd been offered at a bargain.
No, we were driving slowly south to North Carolina's Outer Banks for a veg-out week in a seaside condo. No planes to catch, no hotel bureaucracy to hassle, no restaurant reservations to make unless we felt like it. Our condo came with a fully equipped kitchen where we could make anything from a quick sandwich to a gourmet feast to a phone call for pizza delivery.
Our friends and colleagues were shocked at our humble plans. )) After all, we were both professional travel writers, with contacts worldwide, a gargantuan guidebook library, and a reputation as adventure seekers.
But after all the stress of wedding planning, what we were seeking in a honeymoon was a recovery, not a challenge. We'd switched caterers four times and bands twice. Our temperamental florist had threatened to mutiny over some minor boutonniere dispute, and the Weather Channel persisted in forecasting violent thunderstorms for our wedding day.
Miraculously, our wedding day dawned sunny and dry, 100 chairs materialized just in time for the ceremony, and the entire event went off without a hitch.
Our leisurely six-hour drive south two days later gave us plenty of time to reminisce about the wedding and to laugh about all the passionate squabbles we'd had over insignificant issues.
By the time we pulled into Nags Head, heart of the Outer Banks, all residual stress had evaporated and we were ready to crash. We did so with gusto.
The chain of barrier islands that stretch 150 miles from the Carova Beach on the Virginia border to tiny Ocracoke Island, south of Cape Hatteras, abounds with seductive sights and activities, from hiking to hang gliding and kayaking. But we stuck our prenuptial agreement to spend the first two days holed up in our condo, cuddling late into the morning, then leisurely reading the paper on our huge balcony overlooking the crashing Atlantic Ocean, where pelicans flew in tight formation, breaking ranks to crash-dive for fish.
We'd intended to take a long beach walk every afternoon, but a cold snap accompanied by violent winds put those plans on hold for the first few days -- all the better to concentrate on each other instead of our surroundings. We were not at all unhappy when an aborted ocean stroll metamorphosed into a languid Jacuzzi soak. Clinking champagne glasses, we toasted the rotten weather as we lolled neck-deep in the rich foam supplied by a handy bottle of Mr. Bubble.
Even when we did finally venture out to sample the attractions, we took them in little doses, steadfastly fighting the urge to see and do everything -- an occupational hazard for travel writers and other compulsive tourists prone to stop only when they drop.
Not this time. Our first day out we drove slowly up the coast, dropping in on the snazzy beach communities of Southern Shores, Duck, Sanderling and Corolla. We drooled over the million-dollar oceanfront "cottages," fantasizing about lazing on those wraparound wooden decks for the rest of our lives.
When hunger struck, we lunched alfresco on fresh tuna at a little restaurant called Chauncey's Porch that fronted the Pamlico Sound (much calmer than the ocean side) in Corolla. Hearing we were newlyweds, the 60ish waitress took a motherly interest in our meal, shaking her head in a cautionary manner when we considered ordering fish entrees that she knew to be frozen or not yet up to snuff for the season.
We got back to Nags Head just before sunset and high-tailed it to the upstairs lounge of Windmill Point Restaurant, which we had heard had a first-rate view of the nightly meltdown over the Sound.