Must-Read Destination Wedding Tips

We are thrilled to be featured in Four Seasons Magazine sharing our best destination wedding tips and some of our very favorite far away photos…

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Photos by: top two Jesse Leake Photography  // Thayer Gowdy Photo // Chrisman Studios

Couples planning a destination wedding, whether within a day’s drive or on the other side of the globe, need to add a few more lines to their wedding checklist. Different laws may mean residency requirements and extra paperwork. You may also need an interpreter to help you explain your wedding vision to your vendors. To help you cover the many details, we asked wedding planner Alison Hotchkiss of Alison Events, author of All the Essentials Wedding Planner: The Ultimate Tool for Organizing Your Big Day, to share her advice on planning a wedding from afar. Follow her tips for a destination wedding that goes off without a hitch.

What’s the thing that couples most commonly overlook when planning a destination wedding?
Couples often plan events for every day of their destination wedding weekend, but guests appreciate having a free day to explore the area on their own. To me, Sunday is the best day to leave your guests uncommitted to wedding activities. They can sleep in, take a dip in the ocean or take a couple of ski runs before heading to the airport.

What are the benefits of hiring a wedding planner?
When you add a foreign location into the mix, it’s best to visit your location several times prior to the wedding to meet with vendors, have your tasting and design meetings, and finalize the details. Having a wedding planner lets you sit back and relax instead of coordinating all these logistics. You offer direction on your likes and dislikes so your planner has a sense of your style, and let them do the work for you!

Many people just think of beach destination weddings, but are there other locations well suited to a destination wedding?
I love winter weddings. If you’re a skier, it’s a great opportunity to get everyone to take a holiday, and nothing’s more fun than seeing friends on the slopes, drinking hot toddies and enjoying s’mores, and watching snow fall on the mountains. My favourite places for winter destination weddings are Aspen, St Moritz and Whistler. Wine country can also be a fun spot . . . Santa Barbara, Oregon, Napa, and Tuscany have amazing wine and food.

In addition to the wedding, what are other events that couples should plan?
I think a rehearsal dinner and an informal welcome cocktail party really set the mood for the wedding. Couples should also plan at least one excursion to a local site, such as a snorkelling trip or a whisky tasting.

What are the benefits of having a bound wedding organizer instead of having everything digitally?
Couples love iPhones and iPads, but a wedding planning binder is great for things you can’t get digitally, like contracts that might be handwritten, mood boards created from magazine tear sheets, business cards, hand-drawn floor plans and fabric swatches.

The great thing about my new organizer, All the Essentials Wedding Planner: The Ultimate Tool for Organizing Your Big Day, is that many of the organizational tools are downloadable, so you can edit your documents as needed and then have them accessible in your three-ring binder.

Can you share some of the organization tricks you use when planning a wedding?
• Get everything in writing. You may become best friends with the salesperson at your wedding venue, but if she leaves and your wedding details aren’t in writing, there is no guarantee that her replacement can approve those requests.

• Be sure to visit the wedding venue before signing the contract, to get a feel for the location as well as the surrounding area.

• Schedule a menu and cake tasting. What sounds delicious on paper might taste differently than you expect, or perhaps the presentation is not what you had envisioned.

• Keep all copies of every contract, and don’t throw older versions away in case there’s a discrepancy.

• Keep a copy or write down the check number for every payment made.

Written by: Anne Chertoff

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