Tips on remotely planning a wedding

Posted on Jan 26, 2012

Tips on remotely planning a wedding

Yeah, I know, I should probably work on the Wedding Primer series, or maybe finish editing the pile of interviews I have waiting for me.  But no, the muse has spoken and she has spoken through my analytics, so I must write!

I make it a habit of going through my site analytics (obsessing about them really) to see what brings people here.  Well, one person got here by searching for “planning a wedding remotely”.  Since some of my keywords are “remote” and “wedding” well they came to my site.  And I had nothing for them.  I feel horrible.  So anonymous person who visited Tuesday from Plano Texas, I’m sorry, and this is for you.

Planning a wedding is hard enough, planning it long distance sucks.  Fortunately the internet has made it SOOOOO much easier (For serious though, what the hell did we do before the internet?  How did we live?  Were there caves?), but it’s still no picnic.  Here are some tips that will hopefully make your long distance wedding planning work.

Embrace a Local

No this isn’t just a promo for wedding planners, it can be a friend, a family member, anyone who can get in the car and visit any of your vendors/venues in a matter of an hour or two.  If you don’t have any of these people, I would highly suggest a wedding planner.  Some things can only be handled in person and you need a representative to be there in person to be a surrogate you.

It also keeps vendors accountable.  It is VERY easy to blow someone off over email or the phone when they know that you can’t do anything about it.  The knowledge that there is indeed someone who will bang down their door and throw a raging fit tends to keep them on their toes.

Some things to keep in mind when looking for a local:

  • Neutral on all things wedding – You don’t want someone who’s going to make changes without notifying you, or make decisions on their own.
  • Detail oriented – Who will either take notes, and/or pictures, or who has a spectacular memory (Although I would rather have notes).
  • Excellent communicator – Relaying information, not leaving anything out, and not adding anything in, also making sure you get this info in a timely fashion.
  • Born mediator – Someone who is good at smoothing out ruffled feelings, and will have no problem standing up to bullies.


It is extremely nerve wracking to buy anything site unseen, or food untasted, or flowers un….smelled?  So I urge most couples, when planning  a wedding remotely, do as many site visits as you possibly can.  I understand it can be difficult, and sometimes you can’t even visit once, and I get that.  However, for stress relief purposes, you (and your vendors) will feel better if you visit at least twice.

Here are some tips for visiting your future wedding neighborhood:

  • Try to duplicate your event- If you know that you want to get married in the fall, try and time your visit for the fall.  This is incredibly vital because the time of year can affect every aspect of your wedding, and you want to know what to expect.
    • Venues – There are multiple reasons to visit a venue around when you’re planning to get married.  If you want a venue for the foliage, its important to see what foliage is available that time of year. You want to see what the traffic is like (tourist season can totally mess with a wedding), check the weather so your guests will know how to dress.  Even checking to see if it smells (many barn venues are totally fine in the winter, but reek in the summer).  You also want to check to see if you need things required in your contract.  For example, you go to a venue to scope out the site for your winter wedding, and the steps are covered in ice (You wouldn’t notice that in the summer) make sure your contract includes ice removal so Grandma doesn’t fall and break her hip.
    • Food – Especially a factor with providers that utilize local foods.  Their menus change constantly, and the food you fall in love with in November won’t be available for your wedding in June.  Even if foods are available, the quality and cost can be vastly different depending on the time of year.
    • Accommodations – The tourist season can effect everything from hotel availability to pricing.  Make sure to stop at lots of local shops, see if there are any other events going on, or that you just barely missed that typically book up the whole town.
  • Call ahead – You can’t just jet away for the weekend and show up at your intended vendors.  Venues are often booked, even in the off season and even more of them won’t have anyone there to show you around or ask questions without an appointment.  Even if your caterer is based out of a restaurant, that doesn’t mean they have the same menu options.  They usually want to have a meeting with you before your actual tasting, to get an idea of what you want.  At the very least you need to call and talk to someone to see if you can arrange for a tasting, and tell them what you’re looking for.
  • Wedding Tri-athalon – While it can be tempting to go sight seeing, or visit friends and family while you’re in the area, this is, for all intents and purposes, a business trip.  Granted it has the possibility of being a ridiculously fun business trip, your goal is to hire someone.  Actually, a bunch of someones.  Depending on how large of an area you’re talking about, you want about an hour extra between the end of the previous visit and the start of the next.  Not only to give you time to get lost/stuck in traffic, but it gives you and your partner time to digest the meeting you just had while it’s fresh in your mind, and you get some private time to discuss knee jerk reactions.  “The food was great, but I’m a little concerned with how the cook was missing some of her fingernails…”
  • Multiple visits – If at all possible, try to visit the area at least twice.  While you’re incredibly busy (You know, with planning a wedding), it’s incredibly helpful to check in.  Like I said earlier, some caterers won’t even offer you a tasting until after they’ve met you in person.

You’ll have to wedding to the nth power

  • Fill out this form in triplicate – When you’re planning a long distance wedding, make sure you have multiple back up copies of everything, and ways to access it.  Best way to do that is have physical copies, and digital copies (either through Google docs, or sending all your documents to a wedding specific email account)  This means if you have your wedding binder, but forget it on the plane, you’re still good because you can pull it up on your phone, or a nearby computer.  Even after you’ve booked your vendors, keep your contracts in digital form too.
  • Don’t trust your memory – Write everything down, even if you think it’s stupid.  You’ll be surprised what comparing things after the fact will bring up.  (Good to do this step during your post meeting detox)  You can be kind of crazy pants running around to see vendor after vendor and they might blur together, so its important to have a series of notes to fall back on.
  • Constant Contact – While it’s not a good thing (obviously) some vendors get sort of lazy when they know that there’s no one to check up on them (Like I said earlier.  I’m psychic like that).  So it’s always good to follow up with them a little more often than you normally would if your wedding was local.  Just a quick email to say “Hey, just wanted to check in and see how everything is going.  Let me know if you need anything from us!”  That last part makes your vendors feel good, because it makes you look helpful, not obnoxious and micro-managey.  If they don’t get back to you within a week, follow up with a phone call.  These quick check ins are great for following up on contractual stuffs.  For instance, if your venue is handling rentals, give them an up to date guest count, and see how that’s going to affect rental price.  Not going to lie, you need to walk the line between being a good informed client and a pain in the ass.  Never forget though, you are their boss, you are paying them, and you’re trying to make their job easier by giving them the information that they need.  So DON’T let them be rude to you.  Ever.

Airplane pic used by creative commons, provided by AmyDianna

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