Five Crucial Points to Consider When Planning a Rural Destination Wedding
Make sure you think about every scenario.
Escaping the concrete jungle for a wedding weekend with scenic lake views, a secluded mountaintop ceremony spot, or a tented reception in a spacious field might create a relaxing experience for your guests—but only after you or your planners have addressed countless details. "Logistics are everything for an outside the city wedding," says Augusta Cole, executive director of Easton Events. You might need to build a loading dock for vendors to drop off oversized equipment, provide refrigeration and prep space for the caterers, check local ordinances for noise and open flame, or create an entire backup plan in case of rain—plus much more. But for you and your guests, the resulting experience is incomparable. "It's additionally meaningful, for sure," says Cole.
Reserve plenty of beds.
Planning any destination wedding hinges on finding a location that offers enough nearby hotels for your guests—but when you choose a rural location, you need to accommodate another group, too: Your vendors. If you bring in vendors from outside the area, whether for a single day or a three-day weekend with multiple events, they need somewhere to sleep (and eat—so if your location is so out-of-the-way that you can't use local restaurants, include the staff in your headcount.). "The vendors typically have to stay a town over," says Cole. "It's like you've got two different teams you're taking care of, the guests and the vendors." One tip: If your property doesn't offer catering, book a catering service within driving distance so the staff can go home in the evenings.
Write detailed directions.
Every family has their landmarks for getting to a favorite campsite, lake house, or hidden beach—they're part of the journey's charm. But remember that your guests need very specific directions. "Maybe you've been going to this camp forever and you could get there with your eyes closed," says Cole. "But it's so important on your website to explain to your guests what the drive is like, the landmarks, icons, any sort of directional needs." Your vendors need the same level of detail, she says, or you could end up delaying your entire day for a band that missed the turn or a florist who's at the wrong site.
Test your phone.
During your pre-wedding site visits, check for reliable cell phone service and wi-fi at your location. Not only will you need to stay in touch with each other, your bridal party, your family, and your planning team during the ceremony weekend, but your guests also deserve a heads-up if they're going off the grid. "It's such a luxury to go somewhere with no service because we are all so connected," says Cole, "but it's not a luxury if you're surprised by it." Give your guests plenty of notice so they can print directions, look up local destinations, and leave an alternate contact number for their sitter.
Expand your vendor search.
Some rural areas are close enough to a major city—or in enough demand as a wedding location—that you can find nearby vendors who match your style and budget. But many areas don't have a wide roster of locals with the approach or level of experience you might want. "If you're trying to keep it local, you want to book far in advance because there are a limited numbers of best vendors from that area," says Cole. "There are some places a florist just doesn't exist—or maybe it's a floral shop, but it's not an event floral producer." If you're willing to pay travel costs to fly in dream vendors from all over the country or the world, though, choosing a unique destination might be a perk. "In this industry, people love the opportunity to do something new and fresh," says Cole. "People love a new destination, but it usually comes with a price tag."
Expect to spend more.
It might feel like getting married in a secluded field would be cheaper than booking a formal venue, but that's not always true. "We always joke that the most expensive way to do a wedding is to do a backyard wedding," says Cole. "Building infrastructure is always going to be more expensive than using a venue that was built to host events. And the more remote you go, the less inherent resources you'll have, and the more you need to be willing spend to get what you want." But the trade-off for those increased costs is an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind event. "Doing something completely custom, never to be replicated that way again," says Cole, "and showing guests something new and fresh and cool is what we live for."