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  • Writer's pictureEmily Gustafson

#wednesday wisdom - Destination weddings

Photo courtesy of Brittany Conner

With the 4th of July of coming up tomorrow, we are in full summertime mode. It's hot, we are at the pool, splash pad, or slip and slide every day, and like many folks, we are traveling. I'll be out of town next week for a little girls' wedding in Montreal (can't wait) and then the next weekend for a wedding in Santa Barbara, California (also can't wait).

Summertime also brings many destination weddings, with couples flocking to the beach, mountains, beautiful coastal, rural, urban, and every in between destinations to tie the knot with a select few guests or sometimes a whole bunch of guests!

I've been lucky enough to be a guest at a few destination weddings and I have to say, they're a lot of fun. I love when the wedding party and guests are able to spend some time together before the wedding enjoying each other's company and celebration the upcoming nuptuals.

Photo via Zion Lodge

One of my very best friends, who I will be traveling to Montreal with, was married in Zion National Park and it will forever be one of my favorite trips ever. She was married right there under that great big tree with about 40 guests, friends and family, and it was perfect!

I am 100% on-board to plan your big or small desination wedding. However, there are some big considerations to take in when planning a destination wedding. Planning from a distance is totally doable (especially in our technological age), but it requires a few extra steps that aren't always a part of a wedding happening in the city where the couple and many of the guests also live.

Photo via Martha Stewart Weddings

So, here's a short and sweet list of things to remember about planning your amazing destination wedding:

- Venue touring/vendor selection - if you know that you want to get married in Southern California, but you live in Northern Michigan, touring venues and meeting with vendors can be tough. You'll need at least one scouting trip and then you might have to make some decisions quickly based on the demand for your venue and potential vendors. It can be done, but if you're heading to your wedding location, be ready to make some choices and do some preliminary research first. Make sure to reach out and ask questions of each vendor by phone or email in advance so that you get the information that you need.

Most vendors and venues post their portfolio of work online and social media and those can be great resources for getting a feel for a place without being there physically. In particular, getting your venue selection take care of is a BIG first step towards making your destination wedding dream a reality.

- Hotels/guest accomodations - since folks are traveling for your wedding, you need to choose a good place for them to stay. Consider booking a block of hotel rooms that guests can reserve, often at a discounted rate. Or, provide suggestions of alternative housing for your event if you're marrying in an area with fewer hotel options (think cabins, airbnbs, etc).

- Permitting - if you're getting married on a beach, you'll most likely need permits to hold the event there. Don't delay in applying for those or least getting the information from the local government, because certainly areas sometimes cap the number of wedding to be held in a year and you want yours on the calendar!

Photo via Rustic Chic Weddings

- Accessibility - Are you hiking up to get married on a mountaintop? While that idea is absolutely stunning and fun and I love it, Grandma and Grandpa might not be able to make it. Consider how accessible your location will be for guests if you intend to have the whole family present for the ceremony.

- Reception location - Let's go back to that windy, lovely, moutaintop location - where will your reception be? How will you keep your food and flowers in usable condition? Consider what the elements of the beach, a beautiful mountaintop, or really any remote location might have on your chosen food and florals.

Photo courtesy of Shanna Jones Photography

But please remember, that for each unique situation created by the location of your amazing destination wedding there is a solution. I promse, there's always a solution. I don't post these little reminders to discourage you, only to help make you aware of potential issues that could arise so that it's handled before you ever arrive. I'm here to inform, my friends!

So, since the travel bug always seems to strike me pretty hard during the summertime, let's start planning YOUR gorgeous desination wedding. Whether you want to celebrate with the whole family at a beachy barbecue or whisk your nearest and dearest away to Italy; we can work together to make it the wedding day adventure of your dreams. And seriously... I can pack for a week in like 15 minutes - let's go!

Happy planning,

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