BY SAM BALZANO
There is no greater gift than getting to marry the person you love the most, which makes choosing the perfect wedding gift an even more difficult task. Giving your partner a wedding gift is a tradition (which my husband never heard of) that can seem impossible and daunting. The costs of a wedding may already be adding up, and how can you find the perfect gift to show someone you love them? My husband does not want material items but instead wants to share time and experiences, which meant I needed to come up with something non-traditional to do for him for our wedding. Shortly after our wedding, we knew that we would be moving away from Virginia, where we fell in love and shared our lives for the last eight years. Luckily all of these factors ended up blending together to help me choose the perfect gift that would show my husband that I love and understand him – the Sunny-moon.
One week before our wedding, I told my husband to pack a bag with lots of layers and cozy clothing, his hiking boots, and some firewood. I got him and our pup, Tilly, in the car, where we drove for about two hours to the middle of nowhere in the southern Virginia mountains. I secretly booked us a three-day stay at a 140-year-old farmhouse on 14 acres of meadows and rolling hills, with no service (and barely any heat!). Check out where we stayed here! We cooked every meal over a campfire and spent sunrises and sunsets exploring all of the hiking paths with our pup. For these amazing three days, we could sit down and refocus on what we were about to do, which was not to have a wedding but to start a marriage together. When you have been dreaming of your wedding your whole life, or you are just hyper-organized like me, it is so easy to focus on making sure every detail is perfect on your wedding day, but I am so grateful for the time this gave me to pivot my attention to my soon-to-be husband.
We were able to go into our wedding weekend with a new sense of intention for why we were there. Instead of being caught up in all of the material parts of our wedding, we were able to focus on each other and the bond that we would be strengthening with the help of our family and friends that weekend. We came up with the name Sunny-moon for our trip, of course, a play on honeymoon, but we chose sunny to describe the light and happiness this trip brought to us before such an important weekend. While I could not have asked for a more perfect wedding day, I also could not ask for a stronger relationship and a better husband, and I am so grateful these events allowed me to take time to grow the appreciation for those aspects of my life. Although our trip had unexpected challenges, like 40-degree temperatures in May, it showed me that no matter what life brings us, we will get through it together and probably laugh a lot along the way.