“How the heck are we were going to plan a wedding, let alone plan a wedding from states away?”
That was easily one of the first questions that popped into Eric and I’s head once we had selected our venue, but were packed up and jet-setting across the country to settle into our new lives, states away from where were to get married…
I by no means consider myself a wedding planning expert, but I do think we’ve managed to do incredibly well checking things off our list for the big day in Texas, all the way from The Windy City. I’m beyond thankful for this, it’s definitely been a fun learning experience!
That being said, it does come with challenges, so I thought I’d share some tid-bits I’ve picked up along the way that might be of help to those who are currently in similar situations, or could be in the future
- Consider a long engagement // I don’t think there’s any perfect, cookie cutter length of time to be engaged. A lot of factors go into how long this period should ultimately be – i.e. location, budget, etc. – but for us, erring on the side of a longer engagement has been THE BEST. Eric and I have been engaged for ten months now, and it’ll be just over a year and a half by the time we get married.
One reason I’m such an advocate for a longer engagement, especially in a situation like ours, is that we have truly been able to just enjoy this sweet chapter of time in our lives, without feeling rushed. We had time to celebrate before diving into planning. It’s also given us the opportunity to continue to do so throughout the process, all the while check things off bit by bit. Having plenty of time to plan for days off work and periodic trips back home for events like Bridal Showers, Bachelor/Bachelorette Weekend’s, and lots of vendor appointments has also been so nice. Lastly, being new to this whole wedding planning thing, it’s given us time to learn with a lot of research and questions, so that we can make sure we are making informed decisions that we’re truly happy with!
Like I said, there’s no perfect time, and every couple is different, but we have loved our long engagement.
- Take time to prioritize and research. // The to-do list can seem overwhelming, especially if you feel like some of your go-to people are far away, but you honestly just have to break it down into manageable steps in chronological order. Once you can visualize priorities for 12 months away versus 5 months away, you realize there’s stuff you don’t needed fully think through just yet. When you know what item you’re looking to check off your list next, put in the time and effort to read reviews on sites like Wedding Wire or The Knot, even Yelp, so that you can get a variety of insight. Your vendors are also SO MUCH HELP here. They are the industry experts and can point you in the right direction when you feel unsure.
- Don’t be afraid to call // Seeing as you can’t meet in-person for all first appointments from another city, the most convenient next approach is to shoot an email. This totally makes sense, but I’m also a caller. Eric can tell you. I also feel like long distance situations sometimes require more background info than I’d prefer to write out.
A perk to phone calls, especially with people you might be signing a contract to work with for such an important event, is that the relationship instantly becomes much more personable when you can actually speak to the other person and gauge character! You can hear the inflections in their voice, you get to elaborate on points you’re both relating on, or they can jump in with immediate clarification when needed. Even when email has been a first step, I’ve made sure to reach out on the phone to make a connection.
- It’s all about teamwork // Eric is doing so much with me in all of this planning. I hear about Bride’s doing it all on their own, and fiances being uninvolved, and I just can’t imagine. Like I said earlier, every couple is different, so certain situations might make that the necessary case! Thankfully for me though, Eric has been there every step of the way, making it 1000% less stressful since I’m probably the world’s most indecisive human. We make a killer team, and tackling our wedding to-dos has been such a cool way to see our partnership in action.
I have to give a shout out to my awesome mama, sister, mother-in-law, and bridesmaids as well! Even scattered across the country, group texts and FaceTimes keep me feeling so connected and supported. Now that most of the big reception decisions are checked off, I’m excited to work with them on all the fun leading up to it. 🙂
- Pinterest & Google Docs are your BFFs // Oh my gosh, y’all. I was the most out of the loop girl and hardly used Pinterest before planning a wedding, but the help you get from here is so real. I can’t imagine planning without it. Wedding planning timelines, actual wedding timelines, color palette inspiration, etc. – Pinterest is the real MVP. You can check out my wedding board here. It’s definitely been the first place I’ve gone when I’ve had a specific vision in mind and needed a visual for.
The master Google doc spreadsheet to keep track of budget, payment schedules, guest lists, etc. was Eric’s idea actually. He loves crunching numbers and the crazy organization Excel let’s him accomplish, in true engineer fashion. This has been a great tool that has kept everything so visually easy to keep track of. See an example of our guest list sheet below.
Overall, the thing I’ve worked to keep top of mind is to not stress or worry more than necessary, because what good does that do? Have fun with it, and know that with all else going on in life, you’re doing our best – that’s most important!
If you’ve got more tips on how to plan a wedding states, even countries, away – I wanna hear ‘em. 🙂