OK, so maybe they didn’t get the tan that they originally expected on the island of Antigua. And there was the minor inconvenience of cooking almost every night and making their own beds.

On the bright side, there were no long lines at the airport, and no itineraries to plan.

When Kelly and Ryan Shanley recently returned from their honeymoon, it was as if they had never left.

Which was actually the case.

Even though the coronavirus pandemic thwarted plans for their honeymoon to Antigua, the South Jersey couple wasn’t going to let that spoil their fun. What occurred was a honeymoon that played out in public, with the couple receiving rave reviews on social media for their daily updates.

No Antigua? No problem for the Shanleys.

A selfie of Kelly and Ryan Shanley taken on their "honeymoon."
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A selfie of Kelly and Ryan Shanley taken on their "honeymoon."

The couple chose to look on the bright side. At least the pandemic didn’t interfere with their wedding.

This story began on Oct. 5, when they married in Cape May. Since Kelly is a third-grade special education teacher in Cherry Hill, she and Ryan decided to schedule their honeymoon during Easter break, beginning on April 4.

With everyday living limited due to the pandemic, both were resigned well before that day that there would be no actual honeymoon.

But they still had a backyard in their Haddon Township, Camden County, home, so not all was lost: The idea struck to have their honeymoon at home, but to make it feel like they had all the amenities of the island.

Newlyweds Ryan and Kelly Shanley pose at their Haddonfield home on April 21, 2020.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Newlyweds Ryan and Kelly Shanley pose at their Haddonfield home on April 21, 2020.

As Ryan said, “Kelly was the brains behind it, but I was the star.”

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On April 4, the day they were supposed to have left for Antigua, Kelly found herself thinking about what their actual honeymoon would have looked like.

“All throughout the day we’re like, ‘All right, we should have been at the airport at this time,’ and then, ‘Oh, we would have been sitting by the pool at this time,’” Kelly recalled. “We figured we have to do something for this, and it was a beautiful day, thank goodness, as was that whole week. It wasn’t raining like it was the week prior.”

So with good weather, the honeymoon was off and running — and documented on social media with funny posts.

“We started the week off by relaxing by the ‘beach,’ hanging out at the ‘Tiki Hut,’ laying out in the sun, and splashing around in the ‘pool,’ and ended our honeymoon at our ‘favorite restaurant’ with a candlelit dinner.

“The first day we posted pictures on Instagram, and everybody said, ‘We’re so sorry, but this is great,’” Kelly said. “The second day, we got even more response.”

Many of the comments urged them to keep up with it, so they obliged.

They both agreed that the tropical tiki hut they “built” was one of the more fun scenes to create.

The Tiki Hut was a favorite destination for Kelly Shanley on her honeymoon.
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The Tiki Hut was a favorite destination for Kelly Shanley on her honeymoon.

The couple did their best to recreate things in the most accurate of ways. That’s why one day, Ryan filled up a storage container with water, jumped in, and splashed around his makeshift pool.

Wasn’t it a little cold, especially since they weren’t actually in Antigua?

“It was probably about 60 [degrees],” Ryan said.

His wife added, “It took a little bit for him to get in.”

Still, that stunt is one reason why he called himself the star of the show.

Another day, Kelly posted that they gave “the help” the day off, so she made the beds.

Kelly and Ryan Shanley documented each day of their honeymoon to the delight of their social media fans.
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Kelly and Ryan Shanley documented each day of their honeymoon to the delight of their social media fans.

As for actual cooking, she did do it most of the time, although they left the “island” for takeout on two occasions.

By the time their stay-at-home honeymoon had come to an end, the couple said they had a great time. So did their social media followers.

“I love that they wrote this about y’all!” one Facebook commenter posted. “I was following along on your honeymoon 😂.”

Kelly said she and Ryan felt like they had “no choice” but to play the hand they were dealt.

“We decided we could either be upset about the vacation and memories we were supposed to create as newlyweds in Antigua,” she said, “or make the best of the situation.”

And did they ever.