Preparing for an Out of Town Wedding doesn’t have to bring Out of Site Challenges

With greater speed, mobility, and access to information, working from a distance, on the surface, should be just as efficient and productive as preparing or a wedding locally. Today it’s easier to leave messages, scan anything needed from budgets to diagrams. Therefore, much of the legwork can be done over the phone; via blackberry or cable lines just about anywhere you live and work.

When it comes to weddings though, the old adage, "seeing is believing" is alive and well. No matter how many photos, descriptions, samples on line you look at, when it comes to making final decisions, it’s important to make time for those in person meetings with sites and services.

The task of setting up meetings with sites and services to meet is standard practice for a wedding planner. The challenge for the planner comes when you are coming into town on the weekends and the very services you want to meet with are out working on those precious weekend events.

It all comes down to lots of advance planning, being selective about the services you arrange to meet in person, having sufficient blocks of time needed to interview and review while you are in town.

It’s wise to make sure with your planner if using one, just how many trips it will take to do the physical side of the planning with potential sites and services. Ideally it’s best to allow a minimum of 9 to 12 months ahead of the wedding day for planning to make sure that both you and potential wedding services/sites will have enough time to arrange for visits and meetings at convenient times for all concerned.

Since time is of the essence, being selective about which wedding services and how many meetings can be scheduled within a couple of days really makes a difference to the quality and productivity of each trip. It’s ideal if you can manage to have the services meet at the event location, selecting no more than two services per category, especially if
these suggested services haven’t had the opportunity to work at the selected event site. Carving out 45 minutes per interview meeting with 15 minutes on the front end and back end of each meeting to take care of bad traffic or unexpected extra time needed will keep you on track time wise. Obviously it’s best to not have two of the same service come to the event site too close together to avoid any embarrassing or awkward moments.

When traveling to and from services if needed, it’s great if you can bring lunch or snacks to consume at the various offices you visit. A cooler in the trunk stocked with sandwiches, snacks, cold drinks, and paper goods gives everyone a few moments to relax and get better acquainted and not feel like they are on a merry go round of unending appointments.

Figure on a minimum of three trips to the wedding site city; first to meet and select all major wedding services (Clergy, photographer, entertainment, flowers, and potential sites). Second trip is set aside to visit sites for accommodations for family and close friends traveling to the wedding, cake/dessert design decisions for décor and rentals, hair and make up artists and videographers.

Fortunately, you can decide to handle invitations and stationery in the city where you live. The third visit would include the tasting to finalize the menu, a sample centerpiece and décor meeting with sample linen, chairs, and lighting companies. With numerous email exchanges and scheduled telephone chats to hammer out the budgetary choices and finer details for scheduling purposes, you will have a handle on the look, cost, feel, and pace of the wedding day.

In order to be as efficient and productive while you are in town, it’s best to confirm all meetings at least 24 hours ahead with services and sites. You can also elect if you are working with a planner to have them do that for you depending on the level of service you have contracted with he or she. If you are running early or late for any reason, just give the site or service a call and work out the change as soon as possible if needed.

Hopefully, with enough advance planning, adequate open weekends to handle the extra necessary meetings, planning an out of town wedding will actually be a fun adventure and help minimize the stresses and challenges for everyone involved.