My fiancé Justin and I love Mississippi, but we decided to head north to my hometown in Michigan for our wedding this June. Some decisions have not been a problem, but planning a long-distance wedding has had some challenges. Here are some tips for planning a wedding from afar, whether it is two hours away or twelve.
Alert guests earlier than usual– if you are planning a wedding where more than half of the wedding guests will be traveling, it is definitely a good idea to give people plenty of heads up. I sent out our save-the-dates in September for a June wedding.
Do your research in advance– I was able to do a lot of research about different venues before I narrowed it down to a small list with the help of the internet. That way, when I traveled to Michigan I was able to have meetings set up with the venues I had already narrowed it down it.
If you can, schedule a trip to meet with vendors– If you are getting married in Cancun, this may not be possible. With my family still in the area, I still travel to Michigan for holidays and other gatherings, so I was able to meet with vendors when I was already there. Another option is Skyping or scheduling phone chats with vendors.
Point of contact- Like #3, it helps tremendously if you have a point of contact where you are planning on having the wedding. It was not in my budget to hire a wedding planner, so for me that has been my family and friends in Michigan. My mom has been a big help with pretty much everything, and my friend Kelsey checked out a wedding venue for me.
Consider purchasing locally– Some things like your wedding dress or wedding bands may require more than one fitting, so if you find one where you living it would help with logistical stress. Instead of flying up for a fitting, you can make a quick stop at your seamstress as many times as needed until you have the perfect fit.
Look up local marriage laws– In Michigan, if you are a non-resident, there is a higher fee than for local residents, and it requires two witnesses to sign after the marriage ceremony. Some places, like here in Mississippi, require a waiting period of a few days so make sure to plan ahead. Same thing for an international wedding.
Logistics– This is probably the thing that has given me the biggest headache during wedding planning. There are so many little details that go into wedding planning that you really don’t even think about. Something to consider is where guests can stay, or how they will get from point A to point B. Hotels will usually do a block of hotel rooms where guests can book, and sometimes will even have a shuttle that can transport you to the venue and back. My friend had her wedding at a campground, and guests could book cabins to stay in for the weekend. It helps guests know there is a nearby place to stay when traveling from out of town.
Out of town guests– It is traditional to do a something for out of town guests as a thank you for traveling, like leaving a welcome gift in their hotel room, inviting them to the rehearsal dinner or hosting a small gathering for them. A good number of our guests will be traveling from out of town, so my family is planning on hosting a casual bonfire after the rehearsal dinner for those guests who traveled from afar. I’m also planning on giving people a local map of the area with recommendations of things to see and places to eat.
Start a wedding board- Whether you have a wedding planner or family and friends are helping you plan, start a Pinterest board and share it with them. It helps everyone visually get on the same page. Think about using it to work with your vendors, too. If you can’t do a hair or makeup trial until the wedding day, you could send photos to your stylist so they can have an idea of what you are envisioning.
Keep it simple– You can customize pretty much every aspect of your wedding day, and so many choices can be overwhelming. But, for example, if your venue offers white table cloths, stick with those versus hiring another separate vendor to bring in table cloths of a different color. The less you have to decide from afar, the better.