This past fall, Golden Note had the privilege to entertain Vince & Daryl’s guests in Vermont at The Quechee Club. The reception was a blast, and we felt like guests as much as entertainers, but what really stood out for us was that we completely felt at home even though we were miles out and away from New Jersey. Why? Vince and Daryl’s knowledge of the area and a lot of planning made the whole weekend incredibly comfortable; so comfortable that the hardest part was driving back home (to our real home!). There are a lot of conveniences in keeping your event close to home, but if you plan well enough, we think you can feel at home with your destination wedding too:
1) Know Your Location
It seems like a simple idea, right? But sometimes it is the simple things we too easily let slip. Knowing your location requires either a lot of foreknowledge or planning. This includes travel times (to the destination, from venue to venue, etc.), accommodations, the weather in the area, and a few local haunts and conveniences. Going to Mexico? Quebec? Do you speak the language, or will the language barrier be difficult for you and your guests? Do your guests have passports? Knowing all of this way in advance will save you loads of trouble getting there and getting around.
Vince and Daryl gave us a lot of information about our stay in Vermont, and had answers to every question we threw at them. They even provided us with a list of places to visit, to eat, and to buy necessities while we were there! It made our transition into Vermont really simple.
2) Keep Your Friends and Family Close
When your reception is close to home, aside from those who must travel to you, it’s rare to worry about whether or not friends and family can make it. But when your reception is off the beaten path, you’ll want to make sure your friends and family can reasonably attend. Being a young couple that loves to party does not mean you must get married in Ibiza. Can everyone you love travel to Spain? As it is, your wedding and reception will be a celebration for your loved ones as much as you–an inch of consideration will go miles here, and we think ensuring that you have your friends and family around will be more appreciable than an extreme destination. Keep your friends and family close! Make sure they can enjoy the trip as much as you. Otherwise, save the really exotic locales for your honeymoon.
Quechee, Vermont is not “close” to New Jersey–a five hour drive–and some guests traveled from much farther away than us. But once we arrived, every place we needed to be that weekend was within a few miles. The church was on the same street as the reception! For families and friends (and vendors) alike, this was very easy and convenient.
3) Befriend Your Vendors
Whether your wedding plans take just weekend or end up as a week-long excursion, your hired vendors will most likely be around for longer than they normally would be. You’ll certainly have more than eight hours of special moments for the photographer to capture. If you’re having pre/post-reception activities, you might want your DJ to provide background music for those times as well. Don’t simply hire your help, but be their friend too! This will open your ability to communicate with them, to coordinate with them well in advance, and to make any necessary changes on the fly. It’ll also save you a lot of stress, when you’re miles from home, knowing you can trust and enjoy your vendor’s work.
Daryl and Vince went above and beyond our expectations of befriending us, but it made our job easier. We knew what to expect and, though there weren’t any surprises, we were prepared to deal with any situation because we were comfortable in a foreign space.
4) Tie Up Your Loose Ends
Bad things happen. And Murphy’s law will make no exception for your beach-bound ceremony. Consider every “what if” possibility and have a contingency plan in place for the things you can reasonably expect to go wrong; weather and timing are at the top of Golden Note’s list. And since you’re friendly with your vendor, speak to them too. Chances are, they’ve dealt with a much wider range of wedding emergencies and can offer great advice while you prepare. For everything you can’t plan for, be ready to go with the flow.
5) Maintain Your Relationships
Most weddings at home are pretty simple. You get married, celebrate for a few hours, and then everyone goes back to their regular lives. You’ll see your co-workers and family again the Monday you get back from your honeymoon. But…this isn’t the case with destination weddings. All your loved ones are concentrated in one space, dealing with arrival and departure plans, and they ultimately end up with a good amount of down-time surrounding a high-energy celebration. Rather than have your guests rush to be there and rush to shuffle out, you can maintain your relationships positively by providing small buffer events. Before your reception, this will give your guests a chance to greet everyone and to relax after traveling in. After your reception, this will give your guests a chance to ride out the high from the night before and say farewell.
Vince and Daryl hosted a BBQ for the guests slowly filtering into Quechee on Friday night. After a long five-hour drive, cramped in a van full of equipment, sitting down to a hot meal was more than welcome. On Sunday morning, the day after the reception, they hosted a full brunch. The night before was a wildly good time and having a chance to decompress, to see all of the guests again, was a really smooth way to close out the weekend. And it gave us a refreshing boost, too, so the trek home wasn’t as arduous.
One factor we’ve left out is your budget. Simply, the more you’re willing to commit time and money into planning your destination wedding, the more “at home” you and your guests will feel on the big day. This doesn’t necessarily mean extravagant plans, but more so considerate plans. So as you prepare for your wedding, we hope these tips help you, whether you’re staying close to home or want to feel at home somewhere else.