You live out of state, but your wedding is in California…

What should you consider before you plan an out of state wedding?

Read for some helpful tips and guidance!

California has long been known as a top vacation spot. We have beaches, valleys, mountains, wineries, cities, and everything in between. You can find just about anything here in The Golden State!

Maybe you grew up here and eventually moved out of state. School or family took you elsewhere, or you wanted a new adventure outside of the place you’ve always called home. Maybe you’ve never been here, but you want to have a destination wedding somewhere in the US. Whatever your reason, there are so many great options when you choose California!

If you are from California, it’s likely that you already have a destination in mind: in or near your hometown. So many of my couples live out of state and decide that they want to get married “back home” in California. For them, the decision is easy in terms of location. Other times, my couples have never visited California before and have no idea what to choose. Oftentimes, it’s underestimated how large our state really is. It can take as long as 15 hours to get from the top of the state to the bottom! In this case, it’s super important to decide on a general location. Knowing your location is definitely the first thing you want to narrow down.

When determining your location, it usually comes down to personal preference! If you are adventurous and nature loving, Yosemite might be a good option for you! If you love the beach and want the convenience of being near tourist areas, you may want to consider Santa Monica or Orange County. Others want a grand building and opt for San Francisco City Hall. On the other hand, you may not know what you want at all, and the task of narrowing down a venue can be daunting.

Sites like Here Comes The Guide, Party Slate, and Wedding Chicks can be useful places to start your venue search. But the most valuable source to help you find your perfect venue? Your wedding planner! Planners know the ins and outs of venues, the best times to get married, what the location near the venue is like, and so much more. If you are thinking of having a destination wedding in California, consider a planner before anything else. Even if you know the area, a planner can do the leg work for you in terms of searching and narrowing down spots…and that’s exactly what I do!

When couples plan with me from out of state, they are often looking for someone who can be in the area while they can’t. Usually, I set up venue tours for them while they vacation in California. After finding the perfect venue, they often don’t come back to visit until the wedding day (and if they do, it’s to complete a venue visit with me). Having peace of mind that someone can plan for them and that knows their venue is invaluable, and adds peace of mind.

Because so many couples plan with me from out of state, I am used to venue sourcing and searching. But the venue itself isn’t the only thing you need to consider! Some other things to consider when starting out and selecting your venue and location:

  • The season and the weather: is your venue in an area that is hot or cold at certain times of the year? What has the weather been like in the past (for example, do we need to plan for rain or heat)? In California, there are certain areas of the state that are prone to wildfires at certain times of the year. Is your desired date at a peak time when this could happen?
  • The proximity to a major airport: if most of your guests are going to fly in, how close is your venue to a major airport? How easy is it for your guests to get from the airport to nearby accommodations?
  • Festivals: does your venue have local festivals that could impact the ease of getting to the area, or the availability of nearby hotels? For example, in Monterey/Carmel, The Concours D’Elegance and Car Week happen every year in mid August. If you are thinking of having a wedding in Monterey or Carmel in mid August, you will need to book things well over a year in advance. Hotels book up quickly, and pricing for accommodations increases significantly during this festival.
  • Dates: are there any dates you should avoid? Are there certain dates where your venue fee or local accommodation rates would increase (for example, on a holiday weekend)?
  • Capacity: can you venue hold your amount of desired guests? Additionally, if your guest list is smaller, you don’t necessarily want to have a large space, as it could look empty. If you are having a smaller guest list, chances are your goal is to have a more intimate wedding. Finding a venue with the right capacity is key!
  • Your marriage license: if you want to get married in California, you need a marriage license! You do not need to be a California resident to obtain a marriage license in California. But, you will need to apply for one in person. When you select your venue, consider the nearest County Clerk’s Office so that you can get your marriage license. Many places require an appointment, so be sure to make your appointment before you arrive in California! Alternatively, many of my couples choose to get legally married in their home state, while having a symbolic wedding ceremony in California.

Other important things to consider when planning a destination wedding in California:

  • Always check with the guests that you want to invite before booking to see if they are available and able to travel on the date you are planning for.
  • Try to schedule a time to see venues in person! A space feels much different in person as opposed to photos. If you are looking at venues in Northern and Southern California, plan on renting a car (again, huge state)!
  • Consider the time zone you are in. When communicating with your vendors, remember that there will likely be a time difference (whether that’s 2 hours or 5, ahead or behind). Communicate with your planner and potential vendors ahead of time that you are not from the area, and that meetings and calls may look al little different!
  • Consider that you may want to have additional events (a welcome dinner and a brunch the day after). If guests are traveling for your wedding, chances are you want to maximize your time with them! Factor this into your overall budget, and make sure your planner knows you are considering these things before you book anything.
  • Invest in wedding insurance. Many things can go wrong while planning a wedding from out of state (delayed or cancelled flights, illness, etc.). Having wedding insurance can save you money!
  • Consider shipping some of your decor items directly to your planner. Taking a dress with you on your flight is already a challenge. Don’t add to your stress by remembering to pack your escort cards, your extra invitation suite, your card box, and other items that could require a whole additional suitcase. Shipping your items to your planner simplifies things, and most of the time we are willing to receive your items and bring them with us to set up on your wedding day!
  • Try to start early. Weddings can take well over a year to plan, and destination weddings have more logistics involved. Send out your save the dates as soon as your vnue is booked, and keep your guests updated along the way!
  • Be flexible with your wedding date! If you and all of your guests are traveling, you are likely taking an extended vacation. Having your wedding on a weekday usually means that your venue and other vendors provide a discount, since you are not getting married on a premium day (Saturday).
  • Your planner will be your rock, your ultimate guide, advice giver, and source of knowledge and support!

California is such an amazing state, and has so many unique places to get married! Whether you are from here originally or you have never been, it is the perfect place to tie the knot. Get yourself a planner that knows the area and take the unknown out of planning a destination wedding in California! Take it from previous couples of mine who lived out of state and planned their wedding with me:

My husband and I truly had no idea what we wanted our wedding to look like. Pair that with the fact we were planning our wedding in Monterey, CA from NYC, and we knew we needed someone to help us out!

Working with Nicole was truly a breeze. Her professionalism paired with thoughtfulness and understanding of who we are as a couple was integral throughout the entire process. She gave us direction where we needed it (which was A LOT!), while letting us plan things the way we wanted to. Leading up to our wedding, we had no qualms about anything from our vendors, to our timeline, because Nicole was always on top of it.

Her day-of execution was a sight to behold. None of us had to use our brains or lift a finger the day of because we had such confidence in Nicole and that she’d execute our vision. Not only that, but her communication leading up to, and the day of, put us at ease so we could truly enjoy our big day with our families and friends.

We are so thankful we found Nicole Taylor Events and would not hesitate to recommend her. Everything was flawless thanks to Nicole, and we couldn’t have asked for a better person to be by our side throughout this entire process.

-Maddy + Nick, New York

Nicole was the absolute best wedding planner we could have asked for!!! She is so kind, thoughtful and extremely organized and professional. She is so detailed and thanks to her our wedding day was perfect!!! I truly don’t know what we would have done without her. She is so responsive and an incredible communicator. We were planning our wedding from out of state and she was so accommodating on meeting times and she always responded so quickly. She helped so much with check-ins and reminders to make sure we stayed on track for the months leading up to our wedding. I would recommend Nicole to everyone and anyone planning a wedding!! We are so so thankful for her and all the time and effort she put into planning our wedding. She is the absolute best and an absolute joy to work with!!

-Jessica + Preston, Texas

Hiring Nicole was one of the best things we did for our wedding day. Throughout the process, she was extremely professional, timely, and thorough to make sure the day goes according to plan. She brought new ideas that we hadn’t even thought about to make sure the day was reflective of us as a couple. She had great tools that made the planning process easy and help us stay organized. She also coordinated with our vendors to make sure the day was seamless. For anyone on the fence of hiring a wedding coordinator, just do it and hire Nicole. Not only is she a great wedding coordinator, she’s an even better person with a really kind heart! We are so thankful for Nicole and all she did to help make our day really special.

-Jessie + Dominic, Hawaii

Ready to plan your wedding in California with me? Reach me here. I can’t wait to plan with you!