01/12/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
No crews, no lights, no TV cameras; just a beach, a book and a little bronzing. The honeymoon, says 31-year-old reality bride Trista Sutter, née Rehn, was just about perfect. "We needed time away from the craziness," she says of the 10 days she and her new husband, Ryan Sutter, 29, shared at a remote Fijian resort. After a year of courtship and a Dec. 10 TV wedding before 17 million viewers, "we were ready to relax."
For Trista, the lounge chairs proved particularly inviting. While Ryan dove with sharks, Trista, who'd taken scuba lessons stateside in a pool, realized in Fiji she was somewhat chicken of the sea. "I started feeling nauseous, just getting nervous," she says. She worried about clearing her mask underwater and remembering all the warnings if something went wrong. "If you go too far down, you can't just swim up while you are taking in oxygen because your lungs will explode." She opted for a good book (Life of Pi) and let the sun brown her "butt-white" skin.
By New Year's Fiji already seemed a long time away. After celebrating Christmas with relatives at their new home in Vail, the couple were planning to ring in 2004 at the Playboy Mansion and then ride FTD's float containing 100,000 roses in the Tournament of Roses Parade. But reality—the real reality of marriage—still hasn't quite sunk in, says Trista. "I was talking to a friend today and I said, 'I think I need to check with my fiancé about something...wait, my husband!' And Ryan called me his fiancée at the resort, and I was like, 'No, wife! Wife!' " Says Ryan: "I'm sure we'll get used to it."
Cynthia Wang in Los Angeles