I was visiting my younger daughter in England seven years ago when her boyfriend proposed. What a joy to share this time with them! They told me that they wanted a small, elegant wedding… in London, where they live… in seven weeks. So, here was the planner’s challenge! And yes, it can be done. I wrote this right after the wedding and am posting this with all good wishes for a happy anniversary! It’s fun to look back!!
These are my favorite dozen tips for planning a quick destination wedding with a week to do the planning.
- As always, start with your guest list. Make “rules” (no kids, only first cousins) and agree to stick to them. You won’t have time to visit more venues if your guest list suddenly mushrooms.
- Know that you aren’t going to investigate every venue, band and florist in the universe. Ask for recommendations from locals and go from there. We kept with the “Rule of Three” and interviewed no more than three wedding professionals in any category.
- Know your vision. And stick with it. Go online to help your search, and call your first three venue choices to see if your date is available. Then visit only three – and make your choice.
- Have a computer with you as often as possible, and stay in touch with the venue and all of your wedding professionals. Ask all of your questions now.
- Decide what you want. Abundant flowers? Simple centerpieces? Bring photographs to the florist, who is probably very visual and will understand what you want from the pictures.
- After you have the venue, secure an officiant. Make sure you ask what the local laws are as well as any religious requirements.
- The minute you have the place and the officiant, start with wedding invitations. And ask about local customs. In London, we discovered that the name of the groom’s parents shouldn’t be listed on the invitation unless they are helping to give the wedding, the letters RSVP appear on the bottom corner of even the most formal invitations even if there is a separate RSVP card, the RSVP card should have some sort of check-off spot rather than just a blank card, AND the first names of the guests should be hand-calligraphied at the top of the invitation. In addition, no return address is used on the envelopes! Remember not to put stamps on an RSVP envelope if the invitation is going to another country.
- The “Rule of Three” works with music too. Meet with no more than three bands/DJs/entertainment companies. The goal is to find a sound you like… And quickly.Venues and other wedding professionals will have recommended lists of vendors. Ask if these groups pay to be on the list. And if you start seeing the same name on several lists, you can figure that they are well-known and reliable. Even if a vendor is paying to be on a list, a venue can’t afford to have someone who doesn’t perform well.
- Call a bakery or two and make an appointment to have a cake tasting, not just a chat. Either bring in photos of cake designs you like or be prepared to choose one that the bakery shows you.
- Block rooms for guests. The “Rule of Three” applies again here. Remember to find hotels in different price ranges. Guests will already be spending a lot of money to get to the wedding. And if you are a member of a club in your home city that has reciprocal privileges in the city of the wedding, you may find some treasures. We found a terrific hotel in London, right around the corner from the wedding venue, this way.
- Wedding dress shopping… The “Rule of Three” applies here too! But as with other dresses, you sometimes can’t tell how a dress looks on a hangar. Go to no more than three shops, but try on lots of dresses at each.
- If you will be providing welcome bags for your guests, go to the tourist area in the city. I went to the souvenir shops in Piccadilly Circus and got everything… the bags themselves, London umbrellas, Kate and William pens, and the like.
What is most important at this wedding, and at every other, is the people. The room will be filled with guests who truly love the bride and groom and who mean so much to the couple. All of the other details will fall into place.
Thanks to stylemepretty.com for publishing my article!
Photo courtesy of Micaela Scimone