The Wedding Vacation

Jenna eating a japanese sweet rollIn mid 2017 my soon-to-be husband and I visited 8 cities & towns across Japan and the United States during our wedding vacation. We were both in agreement that spending an exorbitant amount of money on a single day wasn’t the direction we wanted to go in, and coupled with my ever-growing anxiety, we decided to keep it small and exciting.

Starting in early June we flew in to Japan and began 10 days of temples, shrines, gardens, and sprawling cities filled with life at all hours. We spent our days visiting cultural sites, eating delicious street food, experiencing the wild deer, and getting lost in the expansive shopping district of Shibuya. At night we hopped through the tiny bars found in Golden Gai, each one seating anywhere from 4-8 people, went clubbing, and did an amazing pub crawl.

There were so many fantastic places, but the ones listed below were some of my favorites.

9 must-see places in Japan

  • Golden Gai (Tokyo)
  • Shibuya Crossing (Tokyo)
  • Sensō-ji (Tokyo)
  • Meji Shrine (Tokyo)
  • Nara Deer Park (Kyoto)
  • Fushimi Inari-taisha (Kyoto)
  • Nijō Castle (Kyoto)
  • Peace Memorial (Hiroshima)
  • Atomic Bomb Dome (Hiroshima)
Hiroshima bomb dome
Paul with a deer at Nara
Golden Pavillion
Jenna holding umbrella at Meji Shrine
Jenna feeding a monkey
Paul taking a photo at Senso-ji

From Japan we flew to the United States. Landing in LAX is always an adventure of it’s own, but we eventually made it through and checked in to our hotel down in Santa Monica. It was here that most of our family met up with us in anticipation for the wedding day, and we spent a few days exploring and visiting family who live in Los Angeles before heading off to Las Vegas.

Yep, we got married in Las Vegas. On Monday the 26th of June at 10am, we headed off to the Chapel of the Flowers, and surrounded by family and friends we got fake married. Uh-huh, that’s right. We were enjoying ourselves so much in Vegas that we both forgot to go pick up our marriage license the day before!! We had a pretend ceremony in front of everyone before frantically dashing downtown to pick up our license and sign the papers with the chapel afterwards. Oops!

Aside from that little hiccup, it was a fantastic day. We enjoyed a gorgeous Italian lunch at Maggiano’s before heading back to a Skyline Suite at MGM Grand where we drank the rest of the evening away.

We spent the next few days partying until the early hours, and “recovering” by the pool the next day (and by recovering I mean consuming more alcohol to ward off the hangover)!

Jenna and Paul walking down the isle
Jenna and Paul in front of the Las Vegas sign
Family wedding photo
Friends in the high roller
La Vegas pool party
The Flamingo Hotel sign

From Las Vegas we headed off on our own and drove to Death Valley, the next stop on our road trip.

Road trip itinerary

  • Santa Monica
  • Las Vegas
  • Death Valley
  • Yosemite (Half Dome Village)
  • San Francisco

Driving through the desert was an experience, the vastness of it all, and the heat! At 49°C/120°F walking more than a few steps from the car to the view points was exhausting.

We stayed the night at Stovepipe Wells before heading out the next morning to Half Dome Village via Tioga Pass. Oh - my - god. Coming into Yosemite was the most beautiful drive I’ve ever experienced. The air temperature dropped significantly, there was ice floating in the rivers, and snow on the mountains and hills.

Needless to say, the drive in took much longer than it should have as we couldn’t help but stop almost everywhere to get out, soak in the breath taking view, and snap a few photos.

Over the next few days we went to Lower Yosemite Falls, hiked the Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, ate a HUGE PIZZA after our 8+ hour hike, slept in a cute cabin, and watched a camp talent show!

The last leg of our trip was a stop in San Francisco, where we explored Fisherman’s Warf & Pier 39, biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, walked down Lombard Street, saw the redwood trees, and watched amazing street performers down by Market and 4th.

JPaul and Jenna at Death Valley
Paul at the top of Nevada Falls
Jenna hiking in Yosemite
Jenna on Lombard Street
The Golden Gate Bridge
Paul dipping his feet in the San Francisco Bay