Destination Wedding Basics: How to Stay Sane When Planning a Destination Wedding

by Donna Lambeth

So planning a dinner party for 200 people, including seven bridesmaids, six groomsmen, a photographer, a DJ, and two mothers-in-law, isn't enough work for you. You had to throw the long-distance thing into it, too? Everyone thinks you're crazy. You're attempting the impossible -- planning your wedding in a town you don't (or no longer) live in -- and they can't wait to see you pull this one off. You'll do it without a hitch. Just get on it...right away. Here's some advice:

Get a Grip

Get a handle on things early on. After all, you're competing in the Olympics of wedding planning, the long-distance affair. Be organized. Pre-think everything. Taking a trip to your wedding city? Get on the phone first. Every trip should be one fat to-do list of appointments with wedding people. Don't dawdle or procrastinate -- you have limited time in the wedding city. You need to be twice as organized as a local couple.

Distance: A Good Thing?

Use the situation to your advantage. Look at it this way: You can't spend forever making up your mind. You've got a strict time frame to work within, and you need to make decisions quickly. You'll find that if you give yourselves one weekend to find a reception site, you'll find one. Distance will make you decisive.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Accept help, and delegate work from anyone who offers -- especially those who live in your wedding city (and those whose judgment you trust). If they are going to be at the wedding, then they can have a job. If they have an opinion, they can make a decision (with input from you, of course!). Put each bridesmaid on a mission: One can find your florist, another your DJ, and another your photographer.

Wedding Gear

Weddings come with stuff (the guest book, gifts for the bridesmaids, your shoes, and much more), and getting that stuff to and from your wedding city can be a challenge. Don't let it be. When you're there having your final meeting with your caterer, etc., bring some wedding gear with you. Find a place to store things -- your sister's, your honey's parents -- because the more you have waiting for you, the less you'll have to worry about come the week of the wedding. Pack smart: Whatever you buy to bring with you, you have to lug along. And, don't forget to allow ample room for The Dress. As far as wedding gifts, if you've got a ton to take home, maybe someone who lives in your city that can take them back and keep them for you until after the honeymoon -- or even drop them at your home for you. Find this stuff out before the wedding; you'll have a plan of action if you need it.


A lot of people will give you cash as a wedding gift. Cash is good. It packs light. But even monetary gifts need to be considered ahead of time. Here's an idea: Open a bank account in your wedding city. Deposit your winnings after the wedding, and have the money wired to your home account when you return from the honeymoon. This way, no one needs to hang onto (and thereby take responsibility for) your money while you're gone.

Finishing Touches

With a long-distance wedding it can feel like you have twice as much to plan -- but don't forget to plan for yourselves. Brides: Book the hair and makeup thing far in advance. Like everything else, this takes forethought. You'll have to scout out your place, and do a trial run on a visit to the wedding city. (Grooms, be sure you get a haircut before you leave for the wedding, too.) Of all the things on your list, make your aisle-ready look a high priority. No matter how many people rave about how smoothly everything went, all you'll really want to hear is how great you looked!

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