Planning Your Destination Wedding in the Smoky's!
Getting married can be such an exciting and heartfelt time but it can also be exhausting and stressful. There are so many things to consider when planning a wedding. Do you want a small intimate wedding with just close friends and family or do you want a wild event with everyone you hold near and dear? Do you want a local wedding close to home or do you want a destination wedding with a built in Honeymoon? Before you choose, there are some things that you have to consider. The first thing I feel is the most important thing to consider is the location. Does this location have a special meaning to you and your fiance? Is it a special place that you have always vacationed as a child, together or wanted to visit? I was married 18 years ago close to home but wanted to have a vow renewal in the Smoky Mountains on our 10 year anniversary. We chose to have it in the Smoky's because after vacationing here a dozen times and purchasing a log home, we wanted our close friends and family to see how special the area was and why we loved it so much.
The second thing I feel is very important is accessibility. I find that if the location is more than a half a day's drive (12 hours), it might be difficult for some guests to attend. My brother and his fiance didn't consider this and unfortunately I and the majority of our family will not be attending his wedding this weekend. They chose a special, meaningful place to them but it happens to be in Palm Springs, CA. Their families are in New Jersey. The majority of us have children in school and with the new absentee laws, they will lose credit if they are absent more than 8 days per school year and most doctor's notes don't count The second reason it is a bad idea is cost. For a family of 5 it would cost us between airline tickets, hotel, rental car and food, over $8,000.00. I kid you not! There are only 3 family members who can actually attend the wedding and all 3 are single. If you don't plan on paying the traveling expenses for your guests, location will be very important. Start doing your research on lodging before your make your destination final decision. Make sure lodging is available and affordable. The Smoky's have many options from very inexpensive motels to luxury log cabins. We rented several log cabins for our family to stay in. It actually was more affordable than hotel rooms because the log cabins sleep quite a few and our family and friends enjoyed staying together. My advice is to ask your family and friends well in advance if traveling to the destination is something that they would be able/willing to do.
The third most important thing is cost. An amazing wedding in the Smoky's can be very affordable. A wedding with all of the bells and whistles for 75 guests in the Smoky's will cost you under $10,000.00 but the same wedding in NYC will cost you closer to $30,000.00. My advice is to decide on a budget and go from there.
I think it is important to make sure your have a wedding planner/coordinator involved. Do not try to do it all yourself if you don't have any experience. Having someone who is familiar with the area and who knows the vendors are key. We have a group of vendors who work together on a regular basis and I must say, the events run like a fine oiled machine. I have had a bride insist that she didn't want a coordinator the day of and things didn't run so smoothly. Let's face it. If you don't know how to cut a wedding cake properly, not everyone will be eating a piece of cake. We also have had some of the parents insist on choosing their own vendors. Sometimes this works out but other times, they choose vendors from out of town because they are cheaper and what a mistake. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. My advice, leave the planning to a professional.
The last bit of advice I have is choosing your theme. If you choose the Smoky Mountains, have fun with it! You can go the formal route and every bride should love the dress they choose but for the fellas and guests... many choose informal. Some grooms and groomsmen choose dress pants with suspenders and no formal jacket. Some choose jeans and a bow tie. Some choose the old Appalachian look. In the Smoky's you can go in any direction you choose so have fun!
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