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Advice: Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding from a Local Bride

Portlander Michelle Clabby recently got hitched in Mexico; she shares her advice on hosting a fabulous, stress-free destination wedding.

By Nicole Cordier

Destination weddings can be amazing, customized, personal celebrations of love with the couple’s closest family and friends. They can create beautiful memories that will last long after the plane touches down and the thank-you letters are sent out. But they can also be overwhelming. Proper planning can ensure a destination wedding runs smoothly and keeps stress levels at bay for the couple and their guests.

Portlanders Michelle Clabby and Justin Lewis recently hosted a fabulous destination wedding south of the border; check out the couple’s fun video of their Mexican nuptials. Below, read Michelle’s advice for hosting a successful out-of-town celebration and see a slideshow of the couple’s festive wedding photos by Matthew Brush.

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1. Make it Easy for Your Friends and Family to Say “Yes”

It can be hard to convince your guests that a destination wedding is worth the trip. International travel can cause huge amounts of stress and requires extensive planning. Michelle’s recommendation? Make a website that serves as a home base for your guests.

“People don’t want to annoy the bride with their questions, so setting up a website can really help them,” she says. “The goal of the site is to answer any questions your guests might have.”

If your wedding will be out of the country, include information about how to get a passport and a timeline for the process. Also, provide details about booking flights and lodging. Michelle recommends having all guests stay at one hotel, so pick a place that can accommodate everyone’s budget.

“It makes the experience less disconnected if everyone stays at the same place,” she says. “That way, when you’re going out to grab drinks or just relaxing on the beach you don’t have to worry about people getting left out or missing the memo.”

2. Dial in Your Vision and Then Have a Professional Interpret it

To make a wedding truly special, it needs to be planned and organized to fit your vision. To get inspired, Michelle used mood boards and Pinterest. She watched other couple’s wedding videos and searched wedding-related hash tags on Instagram and other social media sites. But not all planning should be done online!

“Print is still a great resource for wedding planning,” she says, “When you’re only looking online, the links can get lost or misplaced. Bridal magazines give you a physical resource to reference.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Once Michelle had a vision in mind, she collaborated with Los Cabos-based wedding planner Maria Boehme to bring her dream wedding to life. Boehme helped Michelle make reservations with hotels and venues in Mexico. She also connected her to local vendors like Divine Designs, who procured and sized Michelle’s Monique Lhuilier dress, and  New Vintage Beauty Lounge, who gave her hair and makeup tutorials so she could style herself for the wedding.

3. Make it About You!

A wedding is the one day that a couple opens up their private life to family and friends while celebrating the love they share for each other. Often, your parents or best friends will have their own opinions about what your wedding should look like. Michelle recommends that you politely ignore them and do whatever you want.

“I think the only things that matter are having the people that you love and care about with you on the big day and staying true to whatever makes you and your groom happy,” she says.

Whether your dream destination wedding is a non-conventional celebration hosted on a Mexican farm like Michelle and Justin’s, or a classically designed ceremony in a Parisian chateau, the most important thing is that you and your groom create happy memories to share for the rest of your life together.

Click on any of the images below to start the slide show.

 

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