Tips for Planning a Remote Wedding

Tips for Planning a Remote Wedding

Planning a wedding will always create stress; the planner has to juggle competing opinions, stretch limited budgets, and run on a tight timeline. Planning your own wedding compounds these issues; I don’t recommend planning a wedding while attending graduate school, working full time, and buying a house like I did. Even though I had a lot going on, the biggest hurdle while creating my perfect day was the remoteness – I was in Austin and my ceremony was in San Francisco.

I’d never lived in California, and had only visited the bay area once before, so I was on my own when it came to selecting vendors. I realized quickly that yelp and tripadvisor weren’t healthy resources; only the angriest and most satisfied customers are willing to take the time to write a review, and evaluating someone based on these extremes doesn’t help anyone. So where do you go?

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My best advice first and foremost is to trust your instincts. You won’t please everyone, and knowing that on the front end will make it easier when people call you disappointed with your choices. If you’re using a vendor with limited online content, follow-up is key. Our florist had no website but was one of the most amazing and reliable vendors we used. To calm my fears, I called every other month until the wedding to make sure arrangements were confirmed. Don’t let vendors take advantage of you because you’re from out of town and make sure you get quotes in writing.

For Food…

When it came to selecting the perfect post-ceremony dinner, we started looking at foodie blogs and aggregate sites like Thrillist, Eater San Francisco, and others, which are easy to track down in any urban area. The best part of bloggers is they provided us with photos, sample menu shots, and detailed reviews of their experience. From there, we narrowed it down to two vendors and selected our space based on dietary restrictions of guests, menu selection, and the ambiance of the space. The food was amazing, arguably one of the past moments of the wedding. The runner-up restaurant came in handy for brunch the morning after the wedding, so don’t feel like your research can’t be bundled into the overall itinerary.

When we selected the cake vendor, I needed a vegan option. I found ours from Instagram and did some follow up research. This helped with our initial conversations; I asked questions and we ended up with an amazing option. A little internet browsing can go a long way.

With Travel…

I wasn’t excited about the prospects of checking luggage; losing my dress or wedding items was scary enough, but the alternative was losing my clothes for the rest of the trip. Make sure you purchase your airline tickets with a credit card that offers lost luggage protections. We also selected an airline that allowed us to track our luggage via an app. Thankfully we didn’t have any issues. We packed a steamer to make sure the dress and suit were like new, but if you don’t have room in your luggage, most hotels have a steamer available upon request. Make sure that you pack clothes for the day-of that are easy to take off without going over your head for post-makeup changing. Give yourself a bit extra space while packing, especially if your guests bring gifts or cards. I also gave myself extra room to bring back my bouquet for drying and preservation; this is important because how you place the flowers in the luggage will dictate the permanent dried shape – no smushing!

For Guests…

When planning a remote wedding, you may have a small enough group that you don’t qualify for hotel blocks or discounts. Keeping in mind that our guests had a wide range of budgets, we selected a short list of hotels near us so it would be easy to visit with guests, carpool, and meet up for drinks and touristy activities. We picked a list of chains, boutique hotels, and AirBnB spots, so there would be something for everyone. Again, base your choices on cost, location, and photos. Reviewers out there are harsh when it comes to hotels, so just remember that your guests get to make the final decision and no one is forcing them to stick to your recommendations.

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For your Peace of Mind…

Arrive with enough time to meet your vendors prior to the wedding. This set my mind at ease in a way that made the rest of the experience more enjoyable. Follow up via phone as often as you need, and remember that you can always call them back and ask questions. For our photographer, we were able to select a vendor who specialized in our building, and for the musicians we emailed back and forth to plan a very specific set list. These vendors work for you, so make sure you’re entirely comfortable before you place a bid. Use all of the resources at your disposal – social media, skype/zoom/google hangout, emails, and calls and it’ll be just like you’re nearby.

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