Beach Bliss!

So, we decided to have a wedding in a city that is over 1,800 miles away from our home. Apparently, a year long, long distance relationship wasn’t enough for the kid – I needed more distance and distance I got. Destination sunny Cal-i-forn-ia – beautiful weather, great beaches, tacos, yes tacos – everything that makes this bride smile. However, my smile started to fade when I realized I had no clue as to where to even begin planning this California destination wedding all the way from herre, that is, St. Louis.

I’m truly amazed that destination weddings took place pre-Internet. Seriously. Google is the Def to my Jam, shrimp to my grits – the best friend you don’t see, but call every day for advice. All that one could ever care to know about weddings is literally a click away. Over the last 14 months, I have Google’d to my heart’s desire. Although I love Google and the world wide web, without a plan of action, it’s easy to get lost in the Internet abyss. Here are a few tips that I have devised from my destination wedding planning journey:

Tip #1: Location matters. We knew we wanted a wedding with sun and beaches, something that is unavailable in our home state. Puerto Rico was our first option, since passports aren’t required and we didn’t want to exclude any guests that didn’t have passports, nor did we want anyone to feel pressured to obtain a passport just to witness our nuptials. PR was also eliminated due the limited number of all-inclusive resorts. We felt to travel that distance, we and our guests would want to enjoy all of the amenities of a true island vacation and typically, these types of trips are more economical if an all-inclusive option is available. Know that destination weddings often receive push back from guests who are unwilling to travel certain distances. For us, we decided that those who can’t make it because of the distance, just can’t make it and we love them no less. For brides planning a destination wedding, understand there may be guests who simply won’t travel, but if you are okay with that, go for it!

Tip #2: Networking Isn’t Just for Jobs.
Although my fiancé and I both lived in Southern California, we have been far removed from the West Coast for many years. We do however, have plenty of family members, friends, Sorority sisters, Fraternity brothers that are either living in L.A., have lived there more recently than we have or have their own L.A. “connects”. Our network helped us locate our wedding photographer and contacts for my wedding day make-up artists, wedding rehearsal dinner venue, baker, DJ and wedding singer. Destination brides, make a “Who’s Who in _______ (your wedding destination)”. This will help you identify who you know and those who know your contacts.

Tip #3: Pre-wedding Visit. Since our wedding is taking place in LaLa land which is a relatively inexpensive and easy flight, by the time our wedding arrives, we will have made 4 pre-wedding trips to California. With each visit, we have/plan to take care of those things that we didn’t want to leave sight unseen. The food tasting, cake tasting, viewing the venue, makeup and hair trials, mapping out nearby hotels — all (or will be) accomplished on our pre-wedding visits. I like to think of my pre-wedding visits as necessary – just like those bi-weekly visits that Vlad and I had when we were dating long-distance! If you are planning a destination wedding and it is feasible to make at least one pre-wedding visit, I think it is well worth the travel –plus a mini pre-wed vacay is never a bad thing.

Do you have destination wedding planning tips? What resources have you used when planning your long-distance wedding?

Check out last week’s Road to Mrs. post here.