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Top 5 Tips on Planning a Wedding from Afar

June 28, 2010

Westin Hotel Maui

Often couples plan their weddings to take place in a location that is hundreds, or thousands, of miles away from their current location. This is no small task. I’ve met brides attending graduate school in New York, while planning their wedding back home in LA.  I’ve also worked with couples who have never even visited California, but have decided to have a destination wedding on the beach, and are planning all the details back home in the Midwest.  It takes a lot of time, energy, and help from others to pull off a smooth wedding day, when you have been out-of-town during the entire process.

As I work with more and more couples flying in just days before their ceremony, I thought I should post my 5 top tips on planning a destination wedding:

5. Find someone reliable and helpful who lives in the city where the wedding will take place.  This person might be a family member, a best friend, or a wedding planner.  The main point here is that they want to help and that person is reliable.  They might already be familiar with local venues, traffic/transportation issues, and strange nuances of the city.  It is also wonderful to have someone who can go to a consultation in the event that you absolutely cannot attend.

4. Use the internet. OBVIOUSLY! Wedding review sites and forums are a priceless tool for planning a wedding–even when it is local!  The Knot, Project Wedding, Wedding Wire, and Yelp offer community forums and reviews of local florists, venues, and officiants.

3. Research local weather and sunrise/sunset patterns. This may sound silly, but it is important.  I am in Hawaii right now and the sun went down at 7pm last night and I was surprised.  Why was I surprised?  Because the day before, I was home in Long Beach and the sun set around 8:15pm.  Wouldn’t it be awful to have a “sunset wedding” in the darkness of night?

2. Be understanding towards your guests. If you are planning a wedding in a far away place, know that not all of your guests will be able to attend.  Many of them may have to fly, book a hotel, take days off of work, find a baby sitter, find a dog sitter, etc.  It may be difficult for some guests to afford all this. Please keep this in mind if a guests says they cannot attend. Also, when you register for gifts be sure to include a wide range of gifts at different price points.

1. Look for all-inclusive packages. One of the easiest ways to plan a destination wedding, is to book everything in one place.  One of the venues I work with, The Renaissance Hotel, includes food, valet, flowers, wedding cake, linens, and can recommend offciants and djs.  This really simplifies the planning process. There are lots of venues that have great packages so be sure to ask!

If you are planning a destination wedding in Los Angeles or Orange County, check with Studio 404 Weddings or The Long Beach Wedding Collective to find local vendors and venues. Happy Planning!

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