People continue to ask how Alex and I pulled off our destination wedding week in New Orleans, Louisiana. With wedding inquiries coming in from different states, I thought I would elaborate on our experience planning our destination wedding from across the country and the things we learned!
You Need Time
Time was on our side as we started planning our wedding trip over a year in advance, actually booking a house for us and our friends 14 months out. We decided to rent a six bedroom house for our traveling friends to stay with us for the week vs. everyone booking their own hotel rooms. This saved a lot of time searching, money booking, and made the entire experience more fun having everyone in one place the whole time! (Other friends and family took our lead and rented houses in the neighborhood for the week too!)
Notify Your Travelers
Once our wedding date was confirmed, we sent messages to our friends we knew would need to travel so they may begin budgeting and planning for the party. This was a very informal email/text to close friends and family as a save-the-date, for the official save-the-date. (Notifying travelers of your plans as early as possible will allow proper planning on their part, even if it’s before your “official” save-the-date mailer.)
Plan Like Normal
Consistent online research, emails, and phone calls are the only way to get things done. (Alex and I were lucky to have my mom in New Orleans doing some ground work for us once we confirmed the things we wanted/needed after our online homework.) Certainly traveling to the destination city is the best option, but we all know saving and planning the budget for a wedding may not allow this luxury. You will literally go through the same planning process you would for a local wedding. Email inquiries to venues, caterers, photographers, djs, tuxedo rentals, florist, etc. Like local planning, once you have narrowed your choices down to one or two vendors in each category, phone/skype call is suggested to solidify your questions and confirm your vendor selection. (Many vendors have video and virtual tours that may assist in your research.) If further reassurance is needed, set up an appointment with the vendor and a friend to confirm your selection.
For destination weddings it is suggested to send your Save-The-Date cards eight-ten months in advance allowing your traveling guests time to budget and prepare. (As noted above, any earlier notice is always helpful in travel arrangement.) Similarly, you may want to send your wedding invitations earlier than normal for a destination wedding, about three months in advance.
Introducing Your Guest To The City
It is beneficial to include “tourist” information for your guests to assist with their transition to the wedding city. A website or information card will work best to notify your guests of transport accommodations, local shopping, suggested dining, wedding week timeline and events (rehearsal dinner, etc.) While your guests are traveling for YOUR BIG DAY, they are also spending money to take a “trip” and will probably enjoy site seeing and experiencing their ‘time away’ so any assistance in their travels will make their wedding experience more memorable and fun!
Make to-do and check-lists for everything! (I suggest mailing as many things to the destination as possible as you will have tons of other items to travel with to your wedding.) Get everything on paper needed to travel! If you are a good planner, you may complete a project months in advance, then put it in the closet for later use. Out of sight is out of mind! Make sure to check off completed items (mail them if possible) then re-check them when packing! Pack SMART! Place items only needed on the wedding day together, so when you arrive, you are ready to go and don’t have to ‘re-pack’!
Ask For Help
HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER! Delegate small tasks to family and friends upon arrival to assist in the final planning details. Stay organized, stay healthy, and have fun!
As always, please feel free to comment or email me with any questions! I am always happy to help!