Across the Miles

Planning an out-of-state wedding? It can be done with less stress than you think

Planning an out-of-state or overseas wedding can be a snap. Here, ten terrific tips to make sure things go your way.

Be an Early Bird

Start the planning process as soon as possible. Because of the distance, you won't be able to jump into your car and pay vendors a visit anytime you want. You'll be using the phone, Internet, e-mail, and fax, so reserve ample time for back-and-forth communication.

Send out the Troops

Friends and family make excellent scouts, so if they live near your wedding location, put them to work. They should be able to gather recommendations and narrow down vendor choices for you.

Hire Some Help

Consider hiring a wedding consultant who has worked in your wedding locale for several years. Make sure she knows the top-notch vendors and can match the best ones with your budget and vision. To help her understand exactly what you want, send pictures.

Consult the Experts

If you've already settled on one vendor, ask him to recommend others. Chances are your photographer has worked well with the same DJ a few times, or your caterer has coordinated details with the same florist more than once.

Take a Pre-Wedding Trip

By scheduling a quick trip—jam-packed with appointments—you can put your mind at ease and avoid any potential surprises. Confirm all appointments a few days before you arrive, and take plenty of pictures while you're there.

Make a Call to Say It All

To keep talk-time (and bills) to a minimum, prepare a checklist—before you get on the phone—of everything you need to discuss. Consider getting a cell phone with a good long-distance plan.

Spell It out

Most vendors require that you sign a contract. Include the nitty-gritty details, such as the photographer's attire or the liquor selection in the limos. If a contract is not involved (as with an officiant), send a detailed letter instead.

Opt for All-In-One

Consider having your reception at a hotel equipped to cater a wedding. Your wedding party can even stay at the hotel to make transportation easier. For a destination wedding, look for package deals.

Remember the Extras

Include all the additional costs in your budget (train tickets, overnight mail, hotel stays, restaurant meals).

Mind the Rules

Marriage-license regulations vary. Along with blood tests, some areas require a brief residency. Call the county clerk in the town of your choice. If you're marrying overseas, contact the country's tourist bureau.

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