Hey friends! I’m back with another “Ask Lauren” post today! This is the second time that I’ve received a question about planning an out of town wedding, and so I thought it be perfect to finally touch on here on ELD! Plus, it’s something that I did for my own wedding, as well as something that I wish I had known more about…
I found a venue that I absolutely Love, however it is about 2 -3 hours from where i live, and where most of my family live. I was wondering what your advice is about planning a wedding from afar. Such as finding vendors such as catering in a place that you are unfamiliar with. Is this a wedding no-no? i would love to hear your thoughts!
Hi Julia! I think your question will help lots of other brides, so thank you so much for asking! As I mentioned above, this is something that I myself experienced for my own wedding. And I actually wish I had done things differently.
It’s most definitely possible to plan your wedding from out of town. You just really have to have your ducks all in a row! I myself got married in my hometown where my family was, so my situation was kind of opposite from yours. However, I’ve also planned weddings for brides were from out of town, so I’m quite familiar with this song and dance. :)
So with that said, here are a few tips for planning an out of town wedding:
1. Get a planner who is familiar with the area. If you’re concerned about being able to find vendors in a place that is unknown territory to you, your best bet is to have someone helping you out who DOES know the area. Just think about it for a second- when you go somewhere new, what do you do? Ask your friends for recommendations of what to do and where to go, right? It really shouldn’t be any different when it comes to your wedding, and having a planner will help you way more than you could ever imagine. Your planner will be able to give you reputable vendor recommendations, as well as help you set up meetings for your visits- which leads me to…
2. Kill two (or three or five) birds with one stone- aka schedule your vendor meetings ahead of time and on the same day. Since it takes some traveling to get to your wedding’s location, you are going to want to schedule your vendor meetings all on the same day if you can help it. Your planner can work with you and your vendors to schedule meetings to occur on the days of your visits. Keep in mind that these need to be planned somewhat in advance though. Taking into consideration your own travel, as well as vendors’ schedules, expect to schedule your days of meetings at least 3 weeks ahead of time. If you’re meeting with floral designers, schedule all of those meetings on the same day. If you’re going to cake tastings, schedule all those on the same day. And on and on. However, with the awesomeness of technology now, it may not be completely necessary to even make trips and meet in person for some meetings. Some vendor meetings can easily be done via phone or Skype, especially if they’re solely information based.
Photo by Leo Evidente Photographers
3. Do your research. Since you’re not local to the area that your wedding is taking place, it’s important to do your research to find your vendors. Now, if you have a planner, you don’t necessarily have to put too much weight on this part. But if you didn’t hire a planner, you’re going to want to make sure that the vendors you’re finding are great, right? Because let’s face it- nowadays, Google doesn’t always cut it. I recommend looking for vendors via resources like Every Last Vendor, to find vendors that have a stamp of approval. Yes, these vendors do usually pay to be listed on these sites, however, some sites have specific requirements in place for vendors to be able to be listed- look for vendors on those sites! For Every Last Vendor, I myself review all of my vendors- checking reviews, asking their colleagues about them, and of course making sure their work is consistent- because I want brides to know they can trust ELV members. :)
[BONUS TIP!] When it comes to vendors, you don’t have to be tied down to your wedding’s location. This is something that I wish I had known when I was planning my own wedding. I thought that I could only use vendors who were local to my venue, when in reality, there were much better vendors just a mere hour away. Yes, I know I said to get a planner who knows your location, but that is mainly for your own sanity. It’s important that you know that all wedding vendors travel. In fact, it’s pretty normal for them to travel an hour or more to get to weddings. It’s just how it is- and they’re used to it. So maybe you’re not quite happy with the selection of vendors in the area that your wedding is taking place, or you have your heart set on a photographer already- it never hurts to ask vendors if they’re willing to travel! Just be up front with where your wedding is taking place. Remember- you don’t have to be tied down to any specific area when it comes to finding the vendors of your dreams!
4. When it’s time for the wedding, establish a home base. Since you are from out of town and you don’t have any family in the area of your wedding’s location, I definitely recommend establishing a “home base” when it’s time for you wedding. Chances are good that you’re going to have tons of things- decor, favors, programs, etc- not to mention your dress, and everything else that you need for a weekend away! Look into renting a house or condo near your wedding venue, or perhaps a hotel suite. This doesn’t necessarily have to be where YOU stay, but more for where your family members can gather, as well as house all of the items that you’ll need for your wedding to happen!
5. Accomodate your guests. Since you’re from out of town, chances are going to be that your guests are from out of town too. It’s always nice to do something to make your guests feel more at home. Providing a welcome bag upon your guests’ check in is a great idea. Also, if you know that you’re having guests fly in, it’s also a good idea to provide transportation to your wedding, so as to avoid any issues or complications.
Photo via ELV planner, Leigh Pearce Weddings
Planning an out of town wedding is indeed a bit more difficult compared to living close to your wedding venue. Just stay organized, plan ahead (aka hire a wedding planner!), and you can make that out of town wedding happen! :)
Brides, are any of you planning out of town weddings? Do you have any other tips to share with Julia?
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