Tips for Planning Your Destination Wedding or Elopement
Tips Planning Your Destination Wedding
One of the questions both Ryan and I have gotten a lot of since returning from our honeymoon was how we went about planning our wedding abroad. Wedding planning is stressful enough, after all, without trying to arrange those details from thousands of miles away.
If you’ve read here before, you know that I am a big fan of hiring a wedding coordinator: particularly if you are marrying abroad. So of course, we did just that. Although, our coordinator actually came to us by way of our photographer – who I selected first.
That shouldn’t surprise you, right? As a wedding photographer myself, the photos were obviously a priority. Luckily, I am part of a group of female photographers on Facebook and some of the women there I have known for over 10 years. One of the members is from Amsterdam, so I reached out initially to her when we were first trying to decide where we would be getting married. Originally the plan was to get married in Bruges, Belgium, but it quickly became clear that finding vendors there was going to be difficult. So after talking to Ellen (my photographer friend in Amsterdam) a bit, we decided to push the easy button and just get married there – it helped that I already knew I liked her work!
The funny thing was that we really weren’t that excited about Amsterdam. We didn’t think it would necessarily be our scene, just based on its popularity and touristy-ness, but because this was an elopement and finding a photographer I could trust meant so much to me – this really did just seem to be the easiest way to go.
And Amsterdam wound up blowing us away. A win-win!
From there, Ellen gave me two referrals for coordinators. After looking at their websites, I contacted one for a quote. My request of her was to create a story for us. My thought process was that with large weddings, there is always a beginning, middle and end to the day. The getting ready, 1st look, ceremony, photos around town, cake, champagne toast – you know what I’m talking about. The photos tell a story. So I wanted the same thing for us, even though our wedding would just consist of Ryan and I. And I wanted our coordinator to take care of all the details, including hiring vendors, arranging transportation and making our dinner reservations that night. Obviously giving her that much control meant a more expensive event and having some blind trust on our end, but it was worth it. Eloping was never about saving money for us: it was about having the kind of event that could be intimate and completely focused on this commitment we were making to each other. To me, it was an investment well worth making in order to have the wedding we wanted without having to stress for a year over the planning. In fact we planned it all in 6 weeks! We agreed on a price and I wired her money. Done!
This definitely made the whole planning thing as easy as it possibly could have been. Honestly, the hardest part was finding my dress & shoes. Granted, we also gave up a lot of control in the process. Like I said, we had to blindly trust strangers to produce the event we had in our heads. I didn’t have a trial hair and makeup run, we didn’t see the flowers or do cake tastings. All I could do was send a Pinterest board and hope my vision was easy enough to interpret.
As could probably be expected, it didn’t turn out exactly as I had pictured it – but everything was still pretty great. And honestly, it was really nice to feel like a guest at our own wedding. We just showed up and everything happened for us. We didn’t have to lift a finger.
OK, so I might have made the cake table a bit less girly – but only after Ryan commented that he felt like he was at a little girl’s tea party. And now when I look at those photos, I can’t help but laugh and remember the entire conversation. I wouldn’t change a thing.
I wouldn’t recommend getting married this way to everyone. It certainly won’t work if you are a control freak. Be honest! But it worked for us, and I have planned similar events for elopements in San Diego in the past as well – couples who consider photos the priority and just need a little help working out the other details. I’m always happy to provide that assistance when I can, and now I understand even more just how valuable that is.