Planning From a Distance, Part I

Many of you know this, but it’s not easy planning an event from a distance. Atlanta isn’t Jamaica, and I did have the opportunity to visit multiple times during the process, but clearly it was not as easy to pop in to the venue, scoot on over to the linen company, or scout out potential photo sites as it would have been had I held the event in Chicago. That being said, we always knew we wanted to hold our vow renewal in Atlanta. This was mostly because of the Welcome Party at Turner Field, but also due to the potential for horrible weather in Chicago and flight cancellations or delays.

My first task was selecting an event planner. I needed someone with their feet on the ground in the city to do the legwork and handle the logistics. One of my main criteria for selection was availability on weekends. As my visits to Atlanta would be mainly over weekends, many planners had conflicts due to existing weddings.

My second criteria was that I expected a high level of service. I was very far out, 17 months at the time of booking, and I needed a vendor that would work with me throughout the planning process and manage the high-level items, yet let me take the reins when it came to the event details. Lastly, I obviously needed someone that would click with me on a personal level. All three criteria were met in Eventologie: they plan many corporate events, rather than all weddings, so they were available when I needed them with very few scheduling difficulties. They knew the local area vendors extremely well and helped me to narrow down my choices. Kim and Julie were always available to me, and we definitely clicked from the beginning!

Here is roughly how we split up the work to make planning from a distance feasible and not so stressful.

I:

  • purchased the apparel
  • designed and created all of the paper items, worked with each of those vendors without the assistance of Eventologie
  • communicated my overall feel, direction, and requirements to Kim, Julie, and other vendors
  • completed all of the DIY projects
  • researched photographers (my highest priority vendor), florists, and videographers
  • kept my to-do list of projects, mostly DIY-related
  • visited approximately 6-8 times during the process for final vendor selections

They:

  • researched all local vendors and sent me choices for approval
  • recommended my fabulous, wonderful, amazing [intlink id=”4147″ type=”post”]venue[/intlink]
  • maintained the budget for all items that I was not personally making
  • worked with all of my vendors throughout the process
  • took my requirements and design and scoped out pricing and selected various items for me to choose from (rentals, linens, etc)
  • coordinated my weekend visits and appointments, keeping me on schedule and on track
  • took my projects and instructions and carried out all of the details on the days of the events
  • worked with the hotels to set up room blocks and deliver OOT goodies
  • gave wonderful advice on direction and logistics (things like floor plans, linen choices, etc)

Essentially, me = vision and creation, them = implementation! This division of labor worked very well for me. It allowed me to function somewhat independently here in Chicago and then carefully communicate logistical items to them for completion. In addition, I felt very in control over the event’s direction and responsible for the end result, which was extremely important to me.

Another difficulty I encountered while planning from a distance was transportation. Not of me, but of all of my STUFF! As you’ll see, I ended up with over 65 DIY projects completed either in Chicago or in my parents’ hometown of Greenville, SC. Some were easy and small but other things were large and needed to be transported to Atlanta. To accomplish this, we eventually decided to drive from Chicago to SC for Christmas, where we completed the last bit of tasks for the event, and then from SC to Atlanta. Our car was loaded up, to be sure, but this accomplished the task and allowed me to know that none of my precious items would be damaged in shipping!

Last but not least, the budget was a huge consideration. Distance planning requires site visits, which require not only time but also transportation and hotel costs. Be sure to factor this into your budget when starting out.

Later today, I’ll share some of my best tips for distance planning, so stay tuned!

E.