Jennifer and Matt met on the Eurostar train from London to Paris, dated long distance between the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt, and then went to New York City to start careers. Now the wedding’s set for her hometown of Chicago, and his parents provide input from northern Virginia.
For Cindy and Van, both teachers in northern Vermont, the decision to marry at her Connecticut hometown resulted in coast-to-coast planning with his mother shipping grapevine rehearsal-dinner centerpieces from her home in Orange, Calif. For Jake and Andrea, wedding planning became a long distance challenge when they took summer assignments at a New Hampshire camp without fax capabilities during the crucial planning months.
Typical late-20th century love stories? Definitely. With later marriages and frequent moves, more and more couples find themselves planning their weddings long distance. It’s a rare woman who marries the boy next door. And even she and her prospective spouse often live and work elsewhere, making them long-distance planners, too.
There are long-distance elements to almost EVERY wedding..
The truth is, there are long-distance elements to almost every wedding. In the case of destination weddings, no one is local, and everything is arranged in absentia. Even with a hometown wedding, today’s brides confer with their out-of-town bridesmaids and review dress choices over the Internet. It’s not unusual for each groomsman to have his measurements taken in a different city, and often at least one parent will be traveling to the celebration.
But is it really a problem to plan a wedding long distance?
Wedding consultants and brides alike say, “no” – but with a few caveats. Like, for example, be sure you have a good long distance rate because you’re going to live on the phone. And don’t think that, because you’re confirming details from afar, things like references and contract clauses aren’t important in the selection of vendors. Spend the extra few hours to check references, and reread contracts to be sure that they reflect your needs. Communication remains key: with family members who want a part in the planning, with wedding party members and with wedding service providers.
Fortunately, in today’s wired world, there are plenty of opportunities for quick and accurate communication. The savvy long distance bride will use them all: From traditional telephone to fax, from Internet e-mail to speedy delivery by express services. With scanning capabilities and the Internet, you can see color photographs of potential locations, e-mail bridesmaids dress choices and even review cake designs.
Long distance Wedding The planning Long distance Wedding The planningThere are some things that you or your envoy must do in person. These include seeing the reception site, selecting the officiant, sampling the cake, meeting the photographer and reviewing his or her work, seeing pictures of the florist’s work and hearing the band or DJ. Ideally, the bride and groom would both be involved in these decisions.
Long distance weddings follow the same time schedule as any other wedding. If you want a “hot” reception site, be prepared to book it a year in advance. If you must have a particular chapel, coordinate that with the reception site selection from the outset. High-profile bands, photographers, videographers, caterers and wedding cake specialists must all be booked early to get your first choice.
The big difference in planning a wedding from afar lies in your need for efficiency. As Gail Jordan Thompson of Weddings by Jordan in Atlanta points out, with organization you can plan your wedding in two three-day trips to the wedding location city. Depending on distance, how much you want to retain control and who can help you in the wedding city, you may decide to use a wedding consultant. “If you get the right resources, a long-distance wedding can be handled very easily,” Thompson said.
She suggested that brides research wedding consultants carefully, checking their references and finding out from locations how the consultant has done there. Often the consultant more than pays for himself or herself by saving you the cost of extra trips, finding vendors that fit your budget and handling details locally.
Carol Gregorio of B B’s Occasions in Phoenix said that brides are sometimes most comfortable with a consultant from where they now live. Other brides choose a wedding consultant in the wedding city.
“I’m happy to do the research for an out-of-town wedding, or, when the bride wants the name of a wedding consultant in the wedding city, I refer her to the Association of Bridal Consultants at its headquarters in New Milford, Conn.,” Gregorio said.
Brides also can log onto the Internet where Weddingpages lists wedding vendors by city for each of its publication areas. Its “wed-site” address is www.weddingpages.com. Libraries with their telephone books from cities around the country are another resource.
Successful remote planning often rests in deciding what to handle in your city and what to handle in the wedding city. For example, you can order invitations and other stationery items in whichever city is more convenient. If you don’t use a calligrapher, you can address invitations and even write out place cards from the comfort of your home. You can have responses come to you, to your mother, to your wedding consultant, or even via the Internet.
You also can select items such as your wedding gown, attendants’ dresses, attendants’ gifts and wedding favors in either place. And you and your groom can conveniently handle most aspects of premarital counseling in the city where you live.
If you don’t know the resources available in your wedding city, rely on your wedding consultant to come up with great choices for you to consider. Thompson, who frequently chauffeurs her out-of-town brides from one appointment to the next, says to allow one day for each of the major wedding vendors that you have to select in person. In most cases, you’ll want to consider two or three alternatives for each service.
When appointments are scheduled by locale, it can take less than one day to select each vendor. The location appointments are first, followed by “must see” vendors. Skip visits to vendors such as videographers whose work can easily be reviewed at your leisure once you’ve returned home.
Thompson said that, in some ways, planning a wedding long distance is easier on the bride. “There aren’t as many meetings, and there is less of a ‘TMI’ problem. ‘TMI,’” she said, “too much information.” With details all in place, you can enjoy the wedding. But don’t arrive in town too late. Get there as early as possible to give yourself a day to unwind, a day to pack for the honeymoon and a day to enjoy bridal luncheons and last-minute festivities.