How To Plan Your Destination Wedding From Philly
At approximately 10 p.m. on the evening of October 9, 2010, my husband and I got engaged. At approximately 10:15 p.m., we started trying to decide where we’d get married. He’s a lifelong Philadelphian; I’m a native Tennessean who considers Philly my home, but Nashville my hometown. Philly was where we met and fell in love; but Nashville meant a fun trip for our guests. (Also, fried chicken.)
In the end, Tennessee won out. We did the wedding at our favorite restaurant down there, with barbecue and fried chicken and biscuits and bluegrass music. I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of it—though I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments when I envied the brides who were planning local weddings here in Philly and who could just pop on over to the venue to take measurements or whatever.
For sure, long-distance planning had its own set of challenges (like plane fare for the four trips down over the summer, for instance). But our wedding was so special to us, it felt so totally worth it—plus, I think I learned a few things in the process. Now, I’m full of (unsolicited) advice for any bride-to-be considering a long-distance wedding that has to be planned from right here in Philly. In case this means you, here are my top tips:
- Schedule a certain time in your day to make wedding-related phone calls. This keeps you feeling productive (everyday from 2 to 2:30 p.m., I made some sort of wedding headway), but also from feeling like the phone calls are taking over your life. Containment is key.
- Don’t sweat not being able to make every decision in person. Not wanting to fly down to audition bands, we just did some online homework and got recs from our photographer, then asked the most promising ones to send us CDs. They did. We had fun listening to the music over a bottle of wine, and the band we picked ended up being one of the best parts of the party.
- Trips home (well, good trips home) are all about the planning. I made whole timetables for my three-day visits to make we were able to squeeze in all the things I had to be there for: dress fittings, bridesmaid-dress shopping, hair trials, tastings, etc. Advance planning means you can stay relatively chill when you’re there, since all the thinking’s already done. You just have to show up.
- Keep the wedding as simple as possible. I had one bridesmaid, my sister. The men wore gray or blue suits they already owned. The reception and ceremony were at the same place. In our view, the less there was to micromanage, the better.
- Delegate to anyone willing. Yes, Dad, I’d love it if you would order the candy for the gift bags; yes, sis, feel free to pick out the unity candle. Check, check.
- Ship stuff there. If you’re as lucky as I was and had a parent’s house to send stuff to, do it. Yes, you’re anxious to see that table runner you got on Etsy, but you won’t want to lug all that junk home with you on top of your regular and honeymoon luggage.
- Trust the pros. As much as possible, just have your meeting, make your decision, then let go, and let the pros do what you hired them for. I met once with the florist to talk about flowers and colors I liked, and then I didn’t give another thought about the bouquets. And they turned out to be beautiful. It’s nice to have a few things you can just release from your mind.
- Send save-the-dates early. An obvious one, perhaps, but if a lot of people will be traveling, it’s nice to give them a chance to plan—in which case, as soon as you’re settled with the place and the date, send ‘em on out. After all, you want them all to be able to actually make it to this wedding you’re working so hard planning.
Any other destination brides out there have any other great tips to share?
Ed. Note: Christy Speer Lejeune is the deputy editor for Philly mag and a recent bride who became so wedding-wise as a result of planning her far-flung nuptials from her home here in Philly, we felt it only right to ask her to share the wealth—and what she learned—with our own bridal community. Before her wedding, she blogged here about her struggle to force herself into a real skincare regime, in the name of getting glowing skin for her Big Day. Next up: Her thoughts on why you should do nothing for your honeymoon. That’s right. Nothing.
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