This sluggish economy is having an effect in every area, and weddings are no exception. Couples are looking for ways to get the most for their dollar and cut back where they can. However, the honeymoon doesn't have to be something that is omitted from the celebration or put on hold. Couples-friendly destinations and romantic hideaways can be found not far from home, allowing newlyweds to spend a few days connecting without jumping on a plane.
West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden, Indiana
One step into this magnificent masterpiece boasting an enormous freestanding dome and you'll feel like you're traipsing around Europe. An award-winning luxury hotel with award-winning spas and breathtaking gardens, it offers a taste of distant opulence with a fascinating history. Live entertainment and fine dining are just down the road at the French Lick Casino, where another historic hotel sits. Once the premier Midwest destination for celebrities and the wealthy who traveled to the area by train, it's now affordable for the less famous, but without sacrificing any of the charm or luxury. Golf, bowling and horseback riding are additional activities available. A railway museum sits between the two hotels.
Serenity Springs, LaPorte, Indiana
Tucked away in our own backyard is a secluded romantic getaway that is an ideal place for a couple to reside for a couple days to start off their new life together. The site has 36 cabins that include a king-size bed, sunken whirlpool tub, gas fireplace, mini-fridge, two-person shower, heated floors, gas grill and gas campfire. They'll even provide freshly laid eggs in the morning to make breakfast on your deck grill. Horse-drawn carriage rides can be taken through the 85-acre grounds.
A Wedding Night Package is available with late check-in, a 4 p.m. late check-out, champagne, silk rose petals around the tub, gourmet chocolates, bubble bath, candles, massage oils and a breakfast basket. Package is $350 and additional nights can be added for $150 per night.
BIG AND LITTLE PLACES
New Buffalo, Michigan
A great spot for long walks on the beach without heading to the tropics, you'll also find ample shopping and quaint eateries as well as a nearby casino if you're looking for more action.
Loaded with the natural beauty of rolling hillsides and a river, outdoor recreation is plentiful year-round along with historical tours and shopping and antiquing opportunities. Cruises on the Mississippi are a popular activity. Lodging ranges from quaint bed and breakfasts to a full-service resort.
To truly get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some closeness without distractions, plan to visit Northern Indiana's Amish communities of Shipshewana and nearby Nappanee to enjoy the customs of a different time, see a show, enjoy Amish meals and appreciate a simpler way of life.
To enjoy the thrill of the big city, settle into a hotel with a view of the lakefront, take in a play, dine in style, shop 'til you drop and see the great city through a tourist's eyes. For the ultimate in romantic dining, check out the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center for an exquisite meal while you watch the sun set over Lake Michigan.
Another big city bursting with culture, fine dining, nightlife, history and attractions is Indianapolis. Visit an art or history museum, take in a sporting event together or just nestle into your hotel room after a romantic canal ride being serenaded on a gondola by Old World Gondoliers.
Bed and breakfasts
If you're looking to spend your honeymoon in a quaint bed and breakfast rather than a stark, boring hotel room, you'll find many options. Here are a few:
• The Inn at Aberdeen in Valparaiso is full of inviting Victorian touches in this farmhouse-turned-bed and breakfast that will make your time there a memorable one. FYI: INNATABERDEEN.COM
• Chesterton's Gray Goose Inn is off the beaten path with lovely pond views in a historic home with suites made just for honeymooners. A spa just around the corner offers relaxing massages for couples. FYI: GRAYGOOSEINN.COM
• Oozing with the charm of a bygone era, the Schenck Mansion in Vevay, Indiana, is a 35-room bed and breakfast dating back to 1874. Some rooms have fireplaces available to cozy up in front of and a long wrap-around porch is an inviting spot to enjoy a glass of wine and chat. FYI: SCHENCKMANSION.COM