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Planning a Destination Wedding

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Given my day job, I have some experience in planning events…I love fashion, design, style – all that good stuff – and planning events is an extension of those elements. So naturally, I loved planning my wedding because I was my own client! So, while I definitely do not have all the wedding planning answers, here are a few tips I think anyone planning a wedding, destination or not, can keep in mind:

1. Let your venue guide your choices. If you are struggling on nailing down a look, pick your venue first. Visit a few places, or in my case, research online and book your venue site unseen (I wasn’t worried – have you seen these pics? Sold!). Either way, you’ll know it when you see it, and then the location and setting (and season) will help drive your dress choice, flower selection, etc. For example, I knew I wanted an outdoor ceremony with a glamorous touch and that a ball gown would be all wrong in the setting. However, the girl at the dress shop kept bringing me princessy dresses to try on. I didn’t want to eliminate anything without giving it a try, and it was tempting once those babies were on, but I knew  deep down that they weren’t right. When I tried on the dress I ended up with, I knew the moment I put it on that it was perfect.

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2. Simplify. Couples often seem to have a million meetings when planning their weddings, and I can tell you it is probably not necessary, and also not feasible, when planning from afar. I found it helpful to streamline communication methods (e.g. fill out vendor questionnaires thoroughly, have a few phone calls), and don’t set up in person meetings until you have some sort of idea of what you want. Visuals are a huge help if you are having a hard time articulating your vision, utilize Pinterest and pick vendors you trust (read reviews!). Following this plan, I was able to only go to Napa one time when planning our wedding and then had a few phone calls and email sessions after that. Something I found extremely helpful was looking at Napa-area weddings on sites like 100 Layer Cake and Style Me pretty and noting the vendors used in the weddings that best represented my style. When it came to our florist, Nancy and I created a co-Pinterest board that we both could pin to and were able to comment on each other’s pins.  On that note, you do not need a rehearsal. The Auberge doesn’t typically do them, and that was fine with me! Just make sure you and your officiant and day-of coordinator/planner are all on the same page.

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3. WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS! This is a big one for me. We were both a little nervous about reciting our own vows – such personal thoughts and feelings – in front of a ‘crowd’, but we knew we’d be glad we did. Well, we are 100 times over.  Writing them came pretty easily and we weren’t even embarrassed reading them to each other once it was ceremony time. There were some nerves, but mostly it was exhilarating! Write your own vows and save them, because you will probably never be in a setting again where you can get away with declaring your love so openly and publicly.

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4. Don’t be afraid to throw certain traditions by the wayside. If a certain song is important to you, use it as your processional. Don’t like cake? Have a cheese tower. Whatever it is, do what feels right to you as a couple. It can be easy to let other people make choices for you in this overwhelming time, but your wedding should represent your style as a couple. You want people to leave feeling like they know you both better.

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walking down the aisle to ‘here comes the sun’ by the beatles

5. Try to see your guests before the wedding. With a destination wedding, people are traveling to be with you and celebrate you, so consider that when making arrangements. We had our “rehearsal” dinner on Thursday night (Farmstead – yum), and on Friday morning we had a welcome brunch at the hotel where our room block was (The Silverado Resort). After that, people broke off into groups and did wine tastings. That night, my mom and I checked into the Auberge for a light dinner, a massage and a good night’s rest. By Saturday, Dan and I had already spent time with our guests, so the wedding was our time to let loose and celebrate.

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6. Enjoy it! Planning a wedding can be stressful, but once the day has come, trust your vendors, maid of honor, mom, whomever, to keep things in order. If something doesn’t turn out exactly as you’d imagined, your guests will most likely never know. This is the time to revel in your celebration, soak in all that love and dance your socks off! The last thing you want is to look back on your wedding day and think, I missed that hilarious moment, or I didn’t get a chance to dance with my friends, because I was dealing with something inconsequential.

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I’m sure there are more, but I think those are the biggies, at least in my experience! You can find some more of my tips here at Junebug Weddings. Happy planning! xoxo



One response to “Planning a Destination Wedding”

  1. Dan says:

    From the guy’s perspective it is incredibly helpful to have a finacee who is meticulously organized and motivated to ensure that her vision is flawlessly executed. I just decorated the place on the day of the wedding.

    Don’t let Allie fool you, she made it sound easy, but I know she and Cathy worked around the clock to make it happen. They saw that her perfect vision was carried out and it was truly amazing to watch. I’m lucky to have a bride who could pull off such an amazing and complex event and a family to support her with her vision. We both loved every minute of the trip and continue reminiscing about that amazing weekend.

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