You've selected your destination and your family is behind your choice of this non-traditional wedding. Now you must begin the planning process. Here are some tips for making the preparation plan seem as silky as your dress's fabric.
TIME IT RIGHT
Allow sufficient time (a year or more would be helpful) to put together your plan. Remember, if you've chosen a site that's several states away or in another country, this planning process is going to be a little (or a lot) more complicated than if you choose to marry close to home.
While you may be able to get married the same day in some places, others may require four to six months to go through all the governmental red tape (both here and abroad) for passports, health certificates, visas, marriage licenses and other prerequisites. Plan your timing accordingly.
If you don't have an excess amount of free time and expertise in your wedding destination, you may want to consider hiring a wedding coordinator who is based near your planned site. While you may think you can't afford the luxury of a planner, you will be happy to know that a qualified coordinator can save you not only time but money from making costly mistakes. And most will work with you to do as little or as much as you feel is necessary.
"Many hotels or wedding sites have their own planners on staff," said Christina Kosta, editor of "Destination Weddings & Honeymoons" magazine. "They can assist couples with all the details of the events being held at that hotel. Their services are often included in the wedding package. "
These packages can lessen your workload and anxieties.
In fact, Kosta suggests that another benefit of working with an independent, site or hotel coordinator is having someone who can assist you with the myriad of details including obtaining a marriage license, finding hotel rooms, food, ground, land or air transportation, photography, floral bouquets, and other needed services. In fact, she can help you arrange everything that you want that would be difficult to do from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
If your planned wedding site doesn't have a staff coordinator, ask the local convention and visitors bureau, the Association of Bridal Consultants http://www.bridalassn.com, chamber of commerce, or June Weddings, Inc. http://www.juneweddings.com for qualified referrals.
MORE THAN JUST HONEYMOON PLANS
Finding the right destination wedding package may be as close as your local travel agency. Some offer packages so complete you need only choose your wardrobe. Others will offer a pick and choose selection to match your needs.
Once your site is finalized, work on your budget (deciding what expenses besides the reception you are willing to pay). Remember there may be additional costs involved than you would expect with a local wedding (read Look Before You Leap Into Destination Wedding Plans).
Another reason to consider a local planner if you are marrying in a foreign country, is that your coordinator will be able to tell you about local exchange rates and what, if anything, you'll be able to pay for with a credit card or you need to pay with cash with your own or foreign currency.
A note of caution. With the volatility of the world's currencies, you would be wise to have a flexible budget. Work with your local full-service bank to see about establishing a line of credit or a foreign account if that is needed..
Next, put together your guest list. You should immediately, but no less than six months before, send out "save-the-date" cards. This will give guests sufficient time to save money, plan vacations and do whatever they need to do (including possibly applying for a passport) to join you on your wedding trek.
If you don't have the specific times and complete details, include the date, site, hotel and possibly airline information on the card. Be very careful however that the guests you are sending the cards to will be people you wish to have there. Once you have mailed the save-the-date card, you won't be able to remove that person from your guest list.
Once you've planned your work and worked your plan, relax. All that's left is seeing your dream come true.
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