Part of the excitement in the wedding planning process is getting to spend quality time with your closest friends and family in the months leading up to the big day. Your wedding party becomes your support system, ready to help with DIY projects and talk you through the more stressful tasks along the way.
For many couples, their loved ones are not as close as they'd like. Long-distance wedding party members present fun opportunities, as well as challenging obstacles that may arise. Still, it's always worth it to have your inner circle at your side throughout the journey.
"Your wedding should include the people most important to you, no matter where they live," encourages Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com.
Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events agrees: "The most important thing for most couples is to have the people who are truly the most important to them in their wedding party. Whether those people are local or not shouldn't have any impact on whether a couple asks them to be part of their wedding party."
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your long-distance wedding party, whether they're across the state or the country.
Communication is vital when you're coordinating a group, especially when they are in different locations and when some may not know others. Fortunately, technology has afforded us many options to stay in touch and keep everyone on the same page.
"Make sure they all have each other's contact information," encourages Tarrant. "You don't want anyone to feel left out of the conversation. Find the best way for everyone to communicate together, either by group text, email, or even Facebook group."
Heather Rouffe of Atlas Event Rental adds: "Give them specific details and travel arrangements. Make things precise and clear. Use collaborative planning tools when possible so that you can stay on the same page and include them in planning."
As the person responsible for bringing your people together, it's up to you to communicate all of the important details — even if others are taking the reins on some of the heavy lifting.
Set Clear Boundaries
Don't be afraid to lean on your closer bridesmaids, groomsmen, or wedding party members for support if you feel relying on long-distance friends to be more stressful. Also, don't feel the need to create plans around your faraway wedding party members — it's still your day, so you plan the way you see fit. Be considerate to their travel, but don't overhaul your plans or take offense if things don't work out the way you expected.
"Don't change what you want to do for your wedding to accommodate a long-distance wedding party member," says Tarrant. "If it's easier to have your rehearsal on Thursday, do it! Just give them enough notice to be able to plan accordingly. Leave it up to them if they are able to attend."
Rouffe agrees, with a reminder: "While you want to please everyone, it may prove impossible. Do your best to coordinate schedules with your wedding party and take their opinions when asked, but ultimately, you have to do what works best for you and your partner and what matches your vision. If wedding-related events have to happen without everyone present, make sure you are okay with that."
Take Advantage of Their Location
Long-distance doesn't have to be a disadvantage. In fact, you can get a lot out of a friend who lives in another city! New ideas and a prime bachelor(x) party destination make this setup an exciting way to mix up the planning process.
"Friends from another location can help you by pointing out trends from other areas that you may not have thought to include in your color scheme and décor," says Rouffe. That's right — call up your friend in California or your sister in Maine and get a pulse for somewhere else.
"One of the benefits of having wedding party members out-of-town is planning the bachelorette/bachelor party in the city where they live," shares Tarrant. "Make it a weekend away to a place that one of your closest friends knows best!"
You need to be flexible with the amount of commitment and assistance you receive from your out-of-town wedding party members.
Weinberg says: "When they're in town for your wedding, enjoy that time together. You can plan pre- or post-wedding events, like brunch or cocktails, with just your wedding party to show your appreciation."
Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards agrees, noting, “Keep your wedding locale in mind by thanking them for their hard work and planning help throughout the process — treating them to local wine, bubbles, or craft beer as a celebratory cheers to making it to the finish line together!”
Whether they're there every step of the way or they're just there for the big day, remember why you chose them to fill such an important role. If you can't imagine your wedding day without them at your side, then you can rest assured you've made the right choice.