At Brides, our editors love interacting with you, our readers, through our Brides to Brides Facebook group, and on Instagram with comments, DMs, and our We Ask Wednesday series. We read your comments, respond to your messages, and get ideas for stories based on your feedback. This was the case on January 24, 2018, when our editors asked: “Got honeymoon questions? We have answers!” We wanted to hear your opinions on minimoons, dream destinations, and the challenges of planning—but, instead, something else happened.
Leslie Riquelme, a wedding cake baker, saw our call-out and commented quickly while on her way to work at her family’s bakery in Vancouver. “I follow and like the pics on big pages like @brides but I never comment,” she recalls. “But I just decided to ask a question. I said we’re planning to go to Paris and Rome but we’re not sure we can do it with a small budget.” A few days went by, and then an editor—specifically, our creative director, Yolanda Edwards—pinged her with a response. At first, Yolanda imparted her general travel expertise and advice: “Spend more time in Rome (it’s cheaper); embrace Aperitivo time, when you can get free snacks at bars; eat the street food in Paris,” she said. But her brain was running wild with ideas so she ended with: “DM me!”
So Leslie did, and they talked in more detail. Leslie explained that she and her fiancé, Angel Caceres, planned to spend 10 days in Rome and Paris following their February 24, 2018, wedding. (It would be their first trip to Europe, a place they’d always dreamed of going together, Leslie said.) She also shared their budget: $1,300 for accommodations and expenses.
“I wanted them to have a memorable experience and was worried how that would work with their budget, especially over so many days," Yolanda explains. But then she had a thought: “I was like, I know travel, and I know people in travel. Let me see what I can do,” she recalls. And with that, she and her assistant, Sigrid, became Leslie and Angel’s “Honeymoon Angels,” quite literally. They emailed their contacts, tapped on their travel expertise, and booked Angel and Leslie honeymoon suites in Paris and Rome—all for free!
If that’s hard for you to believe—just ask the lucky couple, who themselves didn’t think this was all real!—keep scrolling to read Leslie and Angel’s account of their dream European honeymoon.
The Couple's Itinerary
After researching flight options and different travel days, Leslie and Angel decided to depart the morning after their wedding and booked a multi-city flight—purchased on Expedia!—from Vancouver to Rome to Paris and back to Vancouver. "At first, we thought we would just go to Rome, because it would cost less," explains Leslie. "But out of curiosity, I checked the cost for a multi-city ticket and it was the same to fly to both countries as it was to fly to just Rome." Their plan was to spend the first six days in Rome and the last four in Paris, as flights were cheapest with that timing.
Days One and Two: Hotel Hassler Roma
After a 15-hour journey from Vancouver, Leslie and Angel checked into their first hotel, Hotel Hassler Roma, a five-star historic property in the heart of Rome's City Centre. "When we first arrived, we felt out of place—we had just had a long flight and were in comfy clothes, with these big backpacks," Leslie admits, laughing. But the hotel's staff gave them a warm welcome, showing them to their double room, which featured views of the Vatican and the Spanish Steps, and was personalized with a handwritten note to the newlyweds.
The couple kicked off the first leg of their honeymoon by taking in the city's tourist attractions, stopping at both the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum. "We just wanted to explore," she says.
Days Three and Four: Hotel de Ricci
"Our second hotel was a boutique hotel; it's new and modern and has a James Bond–like vibe," says Leslie. During their time at Hotel de Ricci, which is located in Rione I Monti, the couple visited the Vatican and explored the nearby city markets. "It was cool to experience different parts of the city," Leslie says of staying at different hotels while in Rome. In addition to seeing the sights, Leslie says they explored the city and simply enjoyed each other's company. "We wanted to be able to experience everything, but we also left time aside to just enjoy our company," she says. "We went for walks and discovered chocolate shops and bakeries that were hidden, the kind of places that only the locals know about."
Days Five and Six: Hotel de Russie
The couple's final stop in Rome was Hotel de Russie, which is situated between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. "I think I actually cried when we walked into our suite," Leslie says of their room, which was decorated with fresh red roses and a heart-shaped cake. "It was gorgeous—we were like, 'Is this real life? Is this happening to us?' " After dinner at a nearby restaurant, Leslie admits that she cried upon entering the suite for a second time. "When we came back from dinner, our bed was full of rose petals, as was the bathtub," she describes. "There was also another arrangement of beautiful roses on the nightstand. It was like something you see in the movies."
Days Seven to Ten: Paris Perfect
During their time in the City of Lights, Leslie and Angel's home base was the Chambertin Apartment, a luxury rental provided by Paris Perfect. The spacious apartment featured a full kitchen—"perfect for cooking pasta at home," says Leslie!—and stunning views of the Eiffel Tower. "The Eiffel Tower was so close, every time we walked by a window, we would just stare," she says. "There was a light show every hour, and we looked forward to it every single hour!"
The couple took in the sights—among them, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre—but Leslie really wanted to check out the shops and taste the pastries (she is a professional baker, after all!). "In school, you learn a lot about the French pastries, and I wanted to see that first hand," Leslie says. With that in mind, the couple tasted their way through the city, making stops at Ladurée and enjoying plenty of crepes from street vendors. They also cooked a number of dinners at home in order to save money—and since they saved on meals, they were able to splurge on a scenic river cruise to take in the views by boat. To end the trip, Angel had one final surprise for Leslie: a macaron-making class! "It was a highlight for me," she says. "It was a small setting, and I learned how to make them, which was such a cool experience."
Looking back, Leslie says the trip was "everything she dreamed of and more." The cities were historic, beautiful, and unique, and the hotels were stunning and special. But beyond all that, Leslie is thankful that she and Angel were able to spend time this together. "We’re starting our marriage with this amazing experience," she says. "When we have a disagreement, we'll have to remember that we felt this amazing in Rome and Paris. We have to carry that feeling with us back home."
Oh, and Leslie has one final takeaway from her dream European honeymoon: "We can’t believe this experience was because of an Instagram comment—I’ll definitely be commenting on Instagram more!"