It’s not impossible to plan your wedding in another city, but it does take impeccable organization. If you’re a country gal who’s always dreamed of getting married in New York City (or a city boy who’s always wanted to tie the knot at a picturesque farm), don’t let your current living situation stop you. Just follow a few simple rules to ensure you make the most of your wedding planning from afar.
Use a Native Guide
The most important thing you can do to make your wedding planning easier is hire a local wedding planner. Not only will a native to the area be able to suggest hidden gem locations and activities away from the tourist traps, but a local professional will already have connections with other wedding vendors in the area. Instead of having to blindly reach out long distance to cold-call photographers and caterers you’ve never met, your wedding planner can present you with several options of the most reputable vendors with the most spotless records in town.
Since trying to plan a wedding remotely often relies on your vendors’ ability to check their email and return phone calls promptly, you can expect the overall planning process to take slightly longer than planning a local wedding. Start planning about a month sooner than you think you need to. You may be able to speed up the process by scheduling conference calls or video conferences simultaneously with your vendors and your wedding planner.
Don’t forget to leave calendar wiggle room for cancelled trips. Since there are some things you almost certainly want to check out in person (like cake tastings and venue walkthroughs), you may schedule a trip only to have to postpone it when you catch an unexpected cold. Leaving yourself plenty of time takes the stress out of planning wedding-related travel.
Condense Your Travel Time
You already know at least a little bit about the area where you want to hold your wedding; otherwise, you wouldn’t want to get married there. But there’s no substitute for seeing the place in person. If at all possible, plan at least one visit no later than a month before your wedding date. That way, you won’t be caught by surprise when you discover that your picturesque venue is actually downwind of the city dump. Bring a camera and take lots of photos so you remember exactly what your visit felt like.
That being said, you also don’t want to kill your schedule with repeated visits to a long-distance location. You’re surely busy in the weeks approaching your wedding, and the last thing you want is to spend your whole wedding budget on gasoline. So look for ways to condense your travel time any way you can. Schedule vendor meetings and venue walkthroughs on the same day so you can see everything in person while you’re in town.
If your catering professionals run a restaurant, make sure to eat there during your visit. If you’re buying blocks of hotel rooms for visiting guests, be sure to book a night there yourself. There’s nothing like experiencing something in person to make all the little details stand out–hopefully, you’ll be even more impressed with your choices than you were over the phone.
Don’t Get Caught by Surprise
Impeccable organization comes in handy for planning any wedding, but it’s especially essential when you’re planning a wedding from afar. Leave plenty of room in your wedding budget, since it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll encounter surprise wedding costs as you arrange convenient transportation for you and your guests.
Crossing state lines? It’s important to do your legal research, since marriage license requirements vary from state to state. (This goes double for planning a wedding in another country.) Become an expert on local regulations, including neighborhood quiet hours, permits for large public gatherings, and liquor license policies. That way, you can enjoy your wedding without keeping an eye out for law enforcement.
While it’s important to make your own wedding planning process easier, it’s also important to make the experience as easy as possible for your family and friends. As long as you’re traveling the miles for the perfect celebration, go the extra mile for out-of-town guests. Make sure they know about all the best lodging, transportation, food, and activities in the destination city–and a welcome basket or two wouldn’t hurt, either!
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.