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Wedding Afar

When done right, a destination wedding can be surprisingly budget friendly —all the while making your day uniquely memorable. Destination weddings have exploded in popularity in the last decade; however, planning your wedding hundreds or even thousands of miles away presents a set of challenges completely different from planning a wedding in your hometown. We offer this crash course on how to plan your wedding when it’s beyond your own backyard.

Think carefully about the locale of your wedding. Is it best to select somewhere that will not require significant travel for your guests – like the Rocky Mountains? Or would you prefer to go all out and enjoy the sand and surf of Hawaii or Jamaica? Do you dream of a European destination? There are countless breathtaking locations which would be ideal for a destination wedding – from Estes Park to Tahiti to London. 

Just be certain to educate yourself on which locale is best, as the options are vast. An all-inclusive resort can be an excellent money saver if it fits with your dream destination. Most destination locations have special packages available for out-of-town weddings. Do not forget to take into account the weather conditions that are inherent to a particular location and season. You don’t necessarily want to plan a Florida wedding during hurricane season. Likewise, a fabulous winter affair at Lake Tahoe could be beautiful, but not if many of your guests are trapped in a snowstorm. Consider all factors!

Proper etiquette dictates mailing your save-the-date announcements at least six months in advance, thereby allowing your guests adequate time to plan. Some may wish to turn the wedding trip into a family vacation, while others may need time to save up for such a special trip. 

Giving your guests plenty of notice will be deeply appreciated and will provide you plenty of time to receive accurate RSVP responses. The attendance count becomes highly critical when planning from afar. Be sure to include important travel information in your save-the-date announcement, such as passport requirements, destination airport suggestions and lodging recommendations. You should communicate to guests that a reserved block of hotel rooms has been arranged for their convenience. Providing this information to your guests early in the planning process is important.

For all the things you believe you can accomplish from a distance, there are twice as many little details that are more difficult to attend to from afar. Hire a wedding coordinator in the area or look for another expert to assist you. Travel agents are excellent resources for everything from booking a venue to finding great rates for you and your guests. 

Hotel coordinators will also be helpful, as many have a wealth of knowledge and experience assisting brides when planning destination weddings. This person will be your advocate in your absence. More and more hotel coordinators are taking on full planning responsibilities—particularly if it is a popular destination wedding spot.

Countless talented local vendors love to travel for destination weddings. The travel costs often balance out, as destination vendors may charge much more for their services. There are numerous benefits to hiring local vendors, many of which you can find through Nebraska WeddingDay. Hiring a local vendor can assure better communication during the planning process, as well as ease your stress about hiring a competent wedding professional across the miles. Meeting face-to-face is often the best option and is obviously easier to accomplish when utilizing local vendors.

Some local vendors may also be able to help you in choosing a location, as many have traveled to a variety of areas and are willing to recommend favorite spots. You will enjoy the benefits of a seasoned, proven professional who may also be familiar with your destination location —truly a win-win!

Ideally, you will want to visit the location of your destination wedding at least once before you head there to pronounce “I do.” Scout out special spots where you want to exchange your vows. Most likely if you are planning a destination wedding, you are looking for the perfect outdoor scenery. Whether beachside or mountaintop, you will want to select the best backdrop available. 

Also during your preview trip, make it a point to visit with as many of your long-distance vendors as possible, such as your wedding planner, florist, officiant, photographer, caterer and cake artist. This will not only ensure you are able to clearly communicate your wishes for your wedding day, but will also establish a positive rapport between you and your destination vendors —a vital element to successfully executing a fabulous event planned from afar.

When the time comes, be certain to arrive at your wedding destination with plenty of time before your big day. Allow yourself several days prior to the wedding to make sure the finishing touches are all in proper order. Giving yourself this extra time will ensure everything runs smoothly and will ease the stress of planning your wedding long distance.

A destination wedding is the perfect chance to go all out. Research the local wedding traditions and unique customs of your destination to create an authentic feel. That does not necessarily mean you need to wear tribal garb for a wedding in Kenya, but you can still add some local flavor to your wedding.

Choosing a destination with a personal connection could be a great way to honor your family heritage. If your family is French, a traditional wedding in the Cognac countryside may be a perfect fit for you and your guy. Or perhaps you’re a college transplant looking to get married in your home state of North Carolina with a classic Southern affair. Take your location into account when adding those special details.

Be certain to check into the legal requirements of getting married in a different locale. Research what must be done to obtain a proper wedding license in that particular locale. Each state has its own set of rules to follow and if you are heading out of the country, the rules may become even more complicated. You do not want to have a beautiful wedding in the Turks and Caicos Islands to then undertake a second ceremony to make it official once you return home.

Be aware that a destination wedding is not for the faint of heart. The margin of error and likelihood of miscommunication is definitely greater. If your candles won’t stay lit from the ocean breeze or if your officiant is ten minutes late, keep in mind that it is not the end of the world. Be prepared to accept that things may not go off without a minor hitch or two, so just keep a sense of humor about it. Don’t let the little things ruin a beautiful destination wedding—just remember why you wanted to marry your man and enjoy the unexpected! |NWD|