1. Pick the Perfect Spot
The location of your wedding determines not only the mood (rustic, sophisticated, beachy), but also the travel, time and budget required to pull it off. You want your guests to walk away from your wedding weekend saying, “That was so them!” Your wedding elements — not just location, but also activities and overall vibe — should say something about your personal style and your passions. Did he propose on vacation in Paris? Then why not host a swank wedding in the City of Lights? Are you foodies? Think about gathering your crew in a place like Tuscany or California wine country. Or if you love outdoor adventures, consider Costa Rica, where guests can zipline through the treetops before the rehearsal dinner.
2. Time It Right
Unfortunately, the best weather in popular vacation destinations tends to correlate with tourist season, when there are typically more crowds, fewer hotel and venue availabilities, and higher rates all around. If you choose to marry during high season, you’ll want to reserve hotel blocks and venues immediately and send out save-the-dates 10 to 12 months in advance so guests can book their flights and accommodations before prices skyrocket. If you choose the shoulder season (right after high season), you may be able to save yourself and your guests some money and still enjoy great weather. While the off-season will mean fewer crowds, the weather can be iffy, and you may find that many stores, venues and vendors close up shop.
3. Take a Trip
We seriously can’t recommend this enough: Take at least one planning trip and if you can swing it, two or three is ideal. On the first trip, you’ll need to scout and secure your key venues — ceremony and reception spaces, hotels for guests, a rehearsal dinner venue — and local suppliers such as caterers, florists and photographers. Next (or during a second trip), you’ll need to schedule “tastings” with your caterer, see sample bouquets from the florist, plan a hair and makeup session with a local salon and organize activities (golf, tennis, walking tours, museums) for your guests.