Planning a wedding destination

Are you looking to get hitched without all the fuss of a yearlong planning cycle? Do warm, sandy beaches sound like the idyllic setting to tie the knot?

Are you looking to get hitched without all the fuss of a yearlong planning cycle?

Do warm, sandy beaches sound like the idyllic setting to tie the knot?

A mountain chateau in the Rockies? Or how about a Southern-belle affair at an antebellum mansion?

If these or other fun venues appeal to you, then a destination wedding may be the way to go.

Although some brides may think it’s too difficult to plan their event away from home, the truth is, if you organize yourself, you can plan a destination wedding within a week. Sounds impossible? Keep reading, because it’s definitely doable.

≤b≥Sarah on “Choosing the Date”≤/b≥

The first thing to consider when planning a destination wedding is the time of year for your event. It’s likely to be much cheaper to have your wedding during the summer months in a mountain ski town, but a lot more expensive to have your soiree in wine country during peak season in late summer or early fall.

The date is also likely to have an impact on your theme, colours, etc., so pick a season with that in mind, too. Consider the impact of the date on guests. Having the wedding on a Friday or Sunday may save you money, but you may find that some guests won’t be able to make it if they can’t take off two days from work for travel. Also, choosing a holiday weekend may increase the travel expense for guests by US$100 more per person.

Alicia on “Choosing a Venue/Destination”

Both you and your future spouse should individually list five to 10 places where you would like to have your destination wedding. Then compare lists and see if any destinations match. You could also consider places that have special meaning to you as a couple. Maybe your first vacation together was to the Florida Keys, or you first said “I love you” while at a bed-and-breakfast on a road trip in the Smoky Mountains. When picking the venue, you also need to consider your guests and size of the guest list. If you want a large wedding on a small budget, asking 150 people to join you in Jamaica won’t work, but a 10-person intimate affair on a Disney Cruise may be perfect.

Since you are planning this wedding in a week, and most likely won’t be able to check out the venue in person, Google for reviews, other brides’ wedding/reception photos and videos taken by vendors in that area for a good feel of the destination.

Choose a place that has lots of photos, reviews and positive testimonials.

Here are some more tips to get you started:

1. Save-the-Date Cards — These are essential to give guests plenty of time to book flights, hotels, rental cars, etc.

If you are low on funds, they don’t have to be fancy.

Even a piece of letter-sized paper with a fun border that includes all of the information about your special day listed is fine.

Another option is to create a photo card with a picture of the two of you on the front.

You can order them at online photo sites such as KodakGallery.com, ExposuresOnline.com and Flickr.com.

2. Wedding Coordinators, Entertainment and Menus, Oh My!

Destination weddings are becoming more popular these days, so venues are offering full-service packages that include flowers, wedding cake, dinner, chair rentals, a DJ — the works. This is fantastic for any bride who wants to plan her wedding quickly. Be sure you get a signed contract listing all that is included, any additional taxes and gratuity, and event policies before your wedding day (so you don’t get charged extra for services such as an onsite wedding planner, linens, etc.).

3. Attire

Your venue and date will also have a huge impact on the wedding gown, groom’s wear, bridesmaids’ dresses, groomsmen’s tuxes, etc. A formal tux and huge ball gown on a sandy beach don’t exactly match the setting. Nor would a short dress and khaki pants at a castle. If you buy a large gown, you may have trouble traveling to Mexico with it if it doesn’t fit in the cabin or wrinkles easily. Keep this in mind when choosing attire. You may want to consider shipping your dress ahead of time to U.S. venues if it’s too large to carry on. Have it insured.

(The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife(at)getbuttonedup.com. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)

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