HOW TO PLAN A DESTINATION WEDDING

PICK A DESTINATION

This is one of the best parts of the wedding process! As soon as Emilio and I got engaged, we knew we wanted to find a location that was both suitable for his family and mine. We talked about locations that felt right to us and immediately knew that the Amalfi Coast really resonated. Some factors that helped us make the decision: 1. We had been there before and knew the lay of the land 2. Both he and his family spoke Italian so if we ran into issues, communication would be easy 3. Good weather during the months we wanted to have our wedding 4. Fun activities and things to see/do for our guests 5. He proposed in Positano so it made sense to us to keep the Italian theme going 6. Italy just was our vibe and we felt confident and excited thinking about it. When picking a destination you want ask yourself all of these questions. What feels right for you and your partner? Where do you both feel most like yourselves? Don’t ever force a location and make sure you outline all of the reasons that that location works. Make sure you take into account the budget, travel time, accommodation, weather, mood, wedding aesthetic and just your overall wedding vibe/vision.

HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER

I really had no idea if I needed a wedding planner right off the bat. It was ALL so new to me. As we started researching and got deeper into all the things we needed to plan/do, it made sense for us to get a planner. Honestly, I can’t imagine having planned this wedding without our wedding planner, Valentina. It’ definitely an added cost, but so critical when it comes down to the fine details and finding vendors overseas. We used Wedding Wire to look for planners that were based in Italy, specifically those that serviced the Amalfi Coast. We got on Skype to interview several and finally came across Valentina from SposiamoVi. She was perfect and totally understood our vision for the wedding. We felt very comfortable with her and the vibe was just right.

WEDDING WEBSITE OR INVITES

We decided to skip the traditional invites and build out a website for our guests. We wanted all the information to be digital. That way if something needed updating we could do so easily and quickly. It also gave us the opportunity to be super thorough with our wedding itinerary, directions to and from the airport, all the venue information and small details we didn’t want our wedding guests to miss. We included packing lists and photos of the Amalfi Coast, delicious Italian food and all the things that would make this wedding fun and exciting. Emilio is great with websites so he built our site and we shot all of the content ourselves. I know this isn’t something everyone can do, so websites like Riley&Grey are perfect and easy to use to build out wedding sites. Although we decided against hard invites, we did design/print a few for us to keep as a personal little reminder. This all comes down to personal preference. You can do digital invites or hard copy invites – it’s just what works for you, your partner and guests.

TAKE A TRIP

We had about 6 months to plan our wedding and decided not to make a trip to Italy to location scout and confirm the location. I know, very bold and very risky. But – we knew what we wanted and our wedding party was small (only 26 guests) so we knew that whatever location/venue we decided on we’d be pretty happy. We also really trusted our wedding planner and she went out and personally did the location scouting for us, got on FaceTime showed us around and walked us through everything. We got to chat with the venue manager and confirm that all we wanted would be possible. If you can make the trip to location scout and confirm your venue, food, cake options, florist, basically everything, then I HIGHLY suggest you do! This will be so much easier if you can and will give you peace of mind. If can’t, you can still make it happen with a really solid wedding planner. With Emilio’s new job we were tied down and couldn’t take off at the time and I didn’t want to jet off and make those decisions without him. We decided to be really communicative with our planner and do everything we could to plan locally. After hundreds of emails, phone calls, and creative decks, we made it happen exactly as planned!

HELP GUESTS ARRANGE TRAVEL

Giving your guests the heads up as soon as you know your date is key. This gives them plenty of time to budget accordingly and set aside time off from work to travel. Being as informative as you can with your wedding plans is the best thing you can do. We didn’t do save the dates since we set up the site and had the date listed along with a place to RSVP online. We did this so that we could put all the information in one place and be quick to answer any questions that could possibly come up for our traveling guests. It’s important to help guests figure out travel to and from the airport. You will also need to fill them in on surrounding accommodation or any tips you have on booking flights. What are the important travel details they should know? Provide them with all of your tips and packing essentials. They will appreciate all of this.

BUDGET

I’m working on a full blog post in regards to budgeting so I won’t go into too many details here. I will say – START EARLY! The most intense and stressful moments that come up during the wedding planning process has everything to do with finances. Knowing your budget and sticking to it is key. Communication between you and your partner is also key. Don’t be afraid to cut some things out. There are so many line items that come up when planning a wedding. Don’t get caught up in all of the must-haves. Remember that an extravagant 10 tiered cake will not make or break your wedding! Think about what’s really important! Keep it simple and pull back if need be. Trust me and save where you can.

VENDORS

There are so many details to fill in for a wedding and finding vendors that support your vision isn’t easy. The way I started this process is by putting together a visual wedding deck for my wedding planner. It had everything listed from flowers, to table setup, chairs, cutlery, and lighting. I was very detailed because I wanted to make her job easier and help us get on the same page aesthetically as fast as possible. She knew exactly what Emilio and I wanted and could source vendors that could bring our vision to life. She would send us a deck back with options and we would mark off those we didn’t like and those we loved. The process continued until we found every single vendor to every single line item needed. Finding your music (violonist, harp, DJ, live music, etc.) also falls under this umbrella. You will have to pay for their accomodation and travel most likely so keep this in mind when budgeting. Contracts will have to be signed and it will all seem so stressful. My adivce to you would be to put together a visual deck of everything you want and to do your research. You can start peeling off the layers one by one as you pick your vendors, sign your contracts, put down your deposits and cross off your to-do list.

RESEARCH LOCAL MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS

Emilio and I initially had planned on getting married at the central church in Positano. We had this beautiful idea of taking a big boat with all of the guests to Positano for the ceremony and taking the boat back for an intimate dinner at the villa. After we did our research and got on the phone with a few people and our wedding planner we found out how difficult this would be. The marriage laws in Italy are very strict and you really have to jump through some hopes to get the correct documentation you need to be married in a church there. We really tried everything – I’m not Catholic, I’m Christian and Emilio needed a document from the priest that baptized him Australia and that was just the beginning of all the documents we needed. These documents also have a time frame in which they need to be received ahead of the wedding. We actually had gotten married at the court in Beverly Hills for visa purposes months ahead but wanted a church ceremony in Italy. It just wasn’t feasible for us. We decided to move our ceremony to the villa which made things so much easier! Make sure that you do your research when it comes to marriage laws in your destination country! They are usually very strict and demand documents months ahead of time.

GET ALL THE LOCATION DETAILS

When location scouting for your venue I highly suggest that you start jotting down all that’s around. What activities are around that you and your guests can do? Are there laundry, dry cleaning, beauty services around should you/your guests need them? I needed to have both dresses steamed and got a great tip from our venue manager. Talk to your venue managers, wedding planner and do your own research on all that is available in and around your wedding location. You’ll want to make sure you have a list of go-to’s in case you need it. Most planning agencies will also offer concierge services for your guests which means they can put together a list of all of the best restaurants, activities, salons, shops, excursions, etc. They will also be available to you and your guests to answer any questions and help in any way they can. We opted out of this service since we already knew the Amalfi Coast area pretty well and had Emilio’s family, who speaks Italian, to help. You may need someone to help with all of the logistics like transportation to and from for your guests, so this service could be helpful. I recommend either the concierge service or designating someone to help with all of the communication and direction of your guests. You don’t want too much on your plate the days leading up to your wedding and when you actually hit the ground.

SAFELY PACK WEDDING ESSENTIALS

One of the biggest mysteries at the time of my wedding was how the heck I was going to pack a GIANT wedding gown into a suitcase! Really, like how?! I did my research and called my airline and was informed that they no longer take on wedding gowns like they used to. If I wanted to carry my wedding dress on the flight, I would have to buy a seat for it! When you’re spending money left and right, the last thing you want to do is pay for a private seat for your wedding dress! OMG. But, yes, this is legit the truth and something that you have to think about and pre-plan. I had to think about a few things – if I didn’t buy the seat for my dress there was a chance my dress would never make it there. How do I even get this dress to fit into a suitcase? What are the chances it won’t make it to Italy and could get lost in transit? I had to weigh my options. Luckily, I had an alternative option. My seamstress who hemmed my dress was brilliant at perfectly steaming and packing gowns that needed to travel overseas. I didn’t know this until close to my last fitting when I was venting to her and needed her expertise on the matter. She did a beautiful job packing the dress into a protected, heavy-duty wedding gown bag. I decided I would put this dress in a suitcase and pack my reception dress, which was lightweight, silk and virtually took up no room, into my carry on. If worst came to worst and my ceremony gown never made it on time, I could wear my reception dress. I had to do the research, re-visit my budget and weigh my options. It was a gamble I had to take and seemed like the most sensible option. Thankfully, all was fine and all of my bags made it to Italy. My advice to you would be to start thinking about the packing process of your dress as soon as you decide on the one. Call your airline to check to see if they do wedding dress carry-ons. If not, buy the seat (if that’s in your budget) or talk to your seamstress about the best possible packing method and ask for help. There was also the option of shipping via a secured carrier, but something I just couldn’t stomach doing, even with the signature and all. Do what is best for you and what you feel the most comfortable with!

BE FLEXIBLE

You’re getting married! Remember how special and fleeting this time is. Don’t sweat the small stuff and the things you can’t change or don’t have much control over. Even if things don’t go to plan exactly, chances are no one will know but you! Be flexible with changes and last minute switch-ups. Have a plan b for those things that still seem uncertain. But remember, all will be fine! The best tip I can give you is to plan, plan, plan and do your research ahead of time. Everything else will fall into place. Emilio and I always say that if there’s anything we could have done differently it would be to truly soak in each moment. It flies by so quickly and before you know it, that’s it. We were always on our toes making sure our guests were doing well and things were going to plan. I guess as much as you try to let things play out, you can’t really help but want to check on everyone and everything. But, from me to you, do your best to focus on you, your partner and creating those once in a lifetime moments that are the most precious. These moments are the only real things you will remember.

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