When it comes to wedding planning, whether you've moved away from home and are heading back to tie the knot, or you have your heart set on a destination wedding, there's a good chance you'll be doing most of the work from afar. No matter how big or small, that distance can make the planning process a bit more complicated (to say the least). With everything from your venue to the planner to vendors, it's obvious you'd prefer to vet them all in person—so when you are located far away, there are some additional hurdles you'll need to be ready to jump. A fantastic planner can help make it all a little bit easier, so we turned to a few of our favorites for their insider tips. Now let's get planning!
Hire a Planner
"If you do it right, planning a wedding from afar can be just as seamless as planning one on your own stomping grounds," says Calder Clark, owner and creative director of Calder Clark. "Start by employing a planner who will be your advocate. Select someone who knows what questions to ask and which potential hiccups could arise. A strong planner will be able to guide you through the process and build relationships with vendors that, in turn, will benefit you." A great local planner will also be able to turn to their go-to local resources to help ensure a seamless celebration.
Arrange a Comprehensive Visit
There are a few things you should do in person, namely touring your venue and meeting with your caterer, florist, and tenting company. "Spend a weekend at your destination and take time to walk the space, have a discussion (or even a tasting!) with your caterer, and review design ideas with your planner and florist," says Alison Laesser-Keck, creative director of Alison & Bryan. "Then schedule a final site visit 30 days out to wrap up the last details." Clark adds that you should "spend time walking the space with your creative partners and building a rapport. After that, you can plan from afar with ease by referencing pictures, measurements, notes, and a to-do list from that site meeting."
"Find vendors who are accustomed to working remotely and who have flexible schedules," says Laesser-Keck. "If you're visiting on the weekend or living in a different time zone, vendors who only have Monday through Friday daytime hours may not be your best fit—especially if most of your meetings will be via Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or Skype."
If you know you'll be traveling for your wedding, start looking at hotel rooms as soon as you've chosen a destination. "We've had clients put down a deposit on a venue, only to discover that there weren't hotel rooms available," says Laesser-Keck. "They had to move their wedding to an entire other city!" By blocking out rooms immediately, you'll know you've got space for your guests (and you!) to make the trip and enjoy the weekend.
Test in Person
While you can do most of the planning long-distance, there are a few things you just have to do face-to-face. For example: hair and makeup trials. "Having someone work on your hair and makeup is so personal," says Viva Max Kaley, owner of Viva Max Weddings. "A trial allows you to give feedback and adjust the plan based on the results—things only you can do. Even if that means having a trial the day before your wedding, it's worth it to spend some time with your stylist in person."
And of course, there are the tastings! "If you can, arrange for a tasting on the same trip so you can understand your caterer's strengths, even if you won't be able to taste the actual menu before the big day," says Clark. Kaley adds: "Having a tasting with your planner and caterer is also the perfect opportunity to review the room layout and the timeline of the event, which will impact things like when dinner will be served and how many servers you'll need." Can't go in person? Send someone you trust in your place, then have them call you on Skype or FaceTime while they're at the meeting so you can see platings and ask questions. "Just don't get on the call when you're hungry!" Kaley reminds.
With miles between you, communicating clearly with your vendors is absolutely key. "Use a shared drive like Google Drive or Dropbox to keep everything organized," says Kaley. "You can keep track of all the details, give your vendors access to key files, and share and save large photo and video files to make sure everything is taken care of to your liking."