Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Planning a long distance wedding: The do’s and don’ts

image courtesy of Ben Harrison Photography

So our very own Mrs. is back after an exciting couple of weeks, not only did they move into their first home but celebrated their one year anniversary...how exciting!!! However this post was worth the wait and you're in for a real treat. When I received the post this morning I could feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into planning this wedding from long distance. I'm sure you will find this blog to be insightful and incredibly helpful. Thank you Alishan for taking time out to share your experience with our readers!

Greetings! First, I must apologize for my absence last week. Mike and I were too wrapped up in the “Oh my gosh we’ve been married for a year already!” bliss and time just got the best of us.

When we became engaged we lived in Atlanta, Georgia but always knew we would get married in Grand Rapids. Both of our families live there and regardless of the jet setting, its home. Planning a wedding from a thousand miles away is a unique experience. Being away from the action and trusting others at all times to make your vision a reality can be overwhelming and intense to say the least.

With the help of my fabulous mom, I came up with this list of do’s and don’ts that we learned during the 20 month process.


  • Assume anything. If you have a question or aren’t 100% sure about something, ask the question.
  • Trust the color of things on line or in photos try to see them in person. While trying to match the perfect shade of pink on the invitation to the linens, escort cards, etc. it was hard to go with what we saw online. A lot of times computers can distort colors and leave you thinking you’re looking at one shade of pink while it’s completely different. Ask your vendors to send you a small swatch or sample of the things you are interested in so you can be certain of what you are getting.
  • Use vendors you do not feel you can trust. These individuals can make or break your day. You don’t want to have to babysit or constantly worry about when your vendors will show up, if they’re doing their job and what the final outcome will be. After the contracts were signed and the details set, I didn’t have to worry about my vendors at all. This allowed us to enjoy the day with friends and family without a care in the world.
  • Set unrealistic expectations of those helping you. As excited as everyone is about your wedding, no one is nearly as excited as you are. You can’t expect everyone in your life to have your wedding be their number one priority just because it is yours. If people are willing to help you plan, allow them to help you when they have time. Not when it’s most convenient for you which is probably 24 hours a day!
  • Be a vendor stalker. These folks are busy and have other brides as well as you. It goes back to trusting your vendors. I promise your wedding in not their first and they will be prepared for your day. There is no need to check and double check and triple check if you trust them to do their job.


  • Get everything in writing. This is for your protection and your vendors. A simple precaution that can save everyone a lot of time and stress later on.
  • Follow up. After a meeting, shoot a quick email to make sure you and your vendors are on the same page. Once you are sure they are, go back on your merry planning way! This follow up will make the week before your wedding enjoyable and stress free you and all of those around you.
  • Take a weekend to get to the wedding destination to see what you have been planning. We went to MI probably 3 or 4 times over the 20 months to meet with our vendors, see the church and the time was invaluable. It eased my nerves and really made things feel real.
  • Trust your vendors. Have I mentioned this already? J I mean it!
  • Be clear about what you want. Once I started planning, I knew I wanted simple, luxurious, elegance. The details may have changed, but as long as I stayed focused on those three concepts, I knew I would be happy in the end.
  • Have a team to help you though all the details. If at all possible have a point person at the wedding location/destination they can follow-up in person and relay information back to you on the spot or later. This person was my mom. I woudn’t have been able to plan this wedding without her. She lives in GR and did a lot of the running around I wasn’t able to. From picking up napkins from Jenn and taking them to the JW to have them folded to the many, MANY visits to the printer for one thing or another, my mom was able to handle it. If you don’t have that person, be sure to stay organized so when you do visit your location, you can handle everything while there. Make a list and stick to it!
  • Send out invitations, notices etc in advance so people from out of town know what they are invited to and can make arrangements. About 60% of our guests were coming from out of town. From the wedding website, to the invitations to all of the different wedding weekend events, we were constantly providing information to our guests. Your Aunt Mary may not need to know 5 times what time the ceremony starts, but your future husband’s college roommate may need the extra reminder. J
  • Have fun! This is going to be overwhelming if you let it be. So don’t and you will thank me later!

I hope this information helps even just a bit! Have a great week and of course, Happy Planning!



Rachel said...

Great post, Alishan! I am familiar with the stress of planning from a distance, so this was very helpful!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen, can you pls extend to Alishan that she was such a beautiful bride and her tips are really helpful. Just wanted to ask who did her hair and make up. Thanks. Continue posting. Cristina