How to Plan Your Wedding From 400 Miles Away

On December 3, 2016, while taking a casual stroll through Indian Hills, I said, “Are you serious?” after my boyfriend (now husband, Stephan) asked me for my hand in marriage. Little did I know I was not only saying yes to spending forever with my best friend, but I was also accepting the responsibility of planning my own wedding.

At the time of my proposal, I was one week away from moving to Kansas City, Missouri, to live with Stephan. I had a huge life change ahead of me and although I was on cloud nine about my proposal, I was also completely stressed about other “adult” things like unpacking and finding a job in an unfamiliar city.

After getting moved, Stephan and I started discussing what it would take for our wedding day to be perfect. Lucky for us our vision for this special day was pretty parallel. Both of us agreed we wanted our wedding back home in South Dakota because it was important to us that family and friends would be able to easily share the day with us. However, being 400+ miles away from where our wedding would take place, faced some challenges. In this blog I am going to share my experience planning my own wedding from afar and other things I learned throughout the planning process.

Do your research on wedding vendors

Lucky for us we were previously living in Brookings so we knew most of our venue options, but we had to do a ton of research on entertainment, cakes, florists, transportation etc. in the surrounding area. We read through a lot of reviews and took suggestions from family and friends. Hiring a wedding planner (like Hitch Studio!) would come in handy for this too. We have a recommended vendor list which includes the best of the best in the Brookings area to save you hours of research. This list includes vendors that are professional, great to work with and good at their job!

Skype is your friend!

Stephan and I set up Skype calls with wedding vendors back in South Dakota. It’s not as ideal as meeting in person, but it’s the next best option. We started out by emailing vendors we were interested in to acquire some information, and as we narrowed down our favorite vendors we started scheduling Skype calls. We found it a lot easier to ask questions over Skype vs. going back and forth through an email chain.

*Have a list of questions prepared to ask each vendor before starting the Skype call. Questions will naturally come throughout conversation, but it is helpful to have an idea of what you’ll discuss or need to know going into the meeting.

Meet with your chosen vendors

Once you’ve chosen all your vendors, plan a trip to your wedding location and schedule meetings with all necessary vendors in person to finalize details, attend tastings, and get a signed copy of all contracts. It’ll be easiest to plan these meetings in one trip back!

*Make appointments. We decided to just “stop by” to talk with a few of our vendors on a weekend home and some weren’t available. Not much planning got done during those trips! I know by working at Hitch Studio now, that making an appointment with us ensures you get our 100% full attention during your meeting and we’ll be that much more prepared for you!

Have an estimated guest list before booking your venue

Before booking your venue make sure you have an estimated number of guests that you are planning on inviting – and a drafted guest list from your parents. Stephan and I had a certain number of guest in mind, but as we discussed the list with our parents that number continued to grow. We ended up inviting more people to our wedding than our venue could actually hold. We are extremely fortunate that so many people were able to share our special day with us, but with every RSVP card that came back to us with marked “happily attending”, we had a little extra stress added to our day hoping we wouldn’t max out our venue!

*In case you were wondering, everything turned out fine! Our guests all fit in the room and enjoyed a fun evening of celebration. =)

Accept help

Being a creative person, I was set on planning and styling my wedding on my own. I had many friends and family offer their assistance, but I continued to have the same response, “thanks, but I’ve got everything handled so far.” I had no problems booking my vendors, but as my wedding approached the more I realized how far in over my head I was. My time was consumed with final dress fittings, payments to vendors, creating a seating chart, getting the marriage license and contacting guests who didn’t RSVP. I lacked the time to execute things I really wanted like choosing reception decorations and creating a wedding day timeline. That is why I suggest turning over some tasks to family or friends, or hire a wedding planner or stylist (like Hitch Studio!) to help you with those small details that take a lot of time. It’s so great to have someone by your side who can intercept the millions of questions you receive before and on your big day.

Make it Personal

Everyone who knows my husband and I can see we are complete opposites. Especially when it comes to our tastes in music. I listen to country, classic rock and pop and his music selection requires some to bang their heads, and me to plug my ears. On road trips we started a “you pick a song, I pick a song” ritual so both of us can at least enjoy every other song. We thought this would be a fun thing to highlight at our wedding. We decided to design personalized labels and burn CD’s with our favorite love songs. Our guests got a kick out of the randomness of these and we got to share some of our favorite songs and a timeline of our relationship though music. There are so many other things you can do to personalize your reception!

Why Hitch?

When weather, travel, or time prevents you from visiting each and every vendor or detail, considering hiring Hitch Studio to help you with that. Also, when traveling back to Kansas City, I was fortunate enough to be able to leave my gorgeous glass vase centerpieces with my parents. If you don’t have that luxury, Hitch Studio provides all the décor you’ll need – at no extra cost! And no extra hassle hauling it back home with your wedding gifts on Sunday. =)

Planning an out of town wedding was indeed a bit more difficult compared to living close to my wedding venue, however I learned so much throughout the process and now get to share my knowledge with brides like you! Stay organized, plan ahead, and you can make it happen to0. And if you do start to feel overwhelmed Hitch Studio is here to help!



Photography by Brittany Maasch Photography

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