We’ve gotten to know Lindsay of Fleur de Sel over the past few months as an expert food contributor on SMP Living. So when we got word she was knee deep in planning her own special day, there was no question she’d make a perfect blogger bride. Today Lindsay and her beau are sharing secrets to an amazing destination “I do” and Sylvie Gil snapped their French-inspired shoot you just mustn’t miss.

Hi lovelies, Lindsay here from Fleur de Sel, stopping by as part of the Blogger Bride series to share top 5 tips to planning a destination wedding. My fiancé and I are in the midst of planning a destination wedding at a villa outside of Versailles for the end of May, and I thought that I would share some tips we have picked up along the way for all of you brides that are considering a destination wedding.

A huge thank you to our wedding planner, Ophelie Tronchet of Alliance Par Fete who has been nothing short of incredible and provided input on the tips below, the amazingly talented Sylvie Gil for the beautiful images she created and for making us non-models feel comfortable and have some fun, and Katie Nash who is a fantastic hair and makeup artist.

5 TIPS FOR PLANNING A DESTINATION WEDDING

GET HELPMake sure you find THE reliable person on site in the location of your destination wedding to be your eyes and ears. Especially if you are unable to visit the location in advance of the wedding, you should choose the right professional wedding planner who’ll be able to listen to you and understand your wishes/expectations and the wedding you’re envisioning. Cultural and language barriers may sometimes also lead to to some miscommunications, so it’s imperative to select the right person who has a deep knowledge of the language and culture of your destination, but with whom you can communicate seamlessly as well.

Confidence in that person will be a key to success for a fabulous destination wedding. I cannot say enough good things about Ophelie from Alliance Par Fete – she has absolutely gone above and beyond for us, recommending excellent vendors, visiting our venue to take pictures and videos and communicating regularly. She has made the entire process so much less stressful and so much fun. I highly recommend her for any brides getting married in France.

MAKE IT AUTHENTIC: If you decide to have a wedding in a foreign country, you might be the only couple of your family and friends who does it, so take that opportunity to really showcase the elements of the food, culture and decor of the region, and give it a unique style that will distinguish it from the traditional, domestic weddings we have all been to.

Also, be aware and respectful of the cultural differences in the region. For example, caterers in France are not used to the American custom of providing guests with multiple options for the main course, and instead of forcing this American custom onto our caterer, we decided to just go with the flow and selected one main course that we feel our guests will all enjoy.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY: You’re not going for a destination wedding to just “copy and paste” weddings you’ve seen in your own country; you’re looking for some exoticism, for something different and a way to reflect your personalities as a couple. To execute your vision flawlessly, communication with your wedding planner and vendors is key. Often, phone calls are difficult to schedule across timezones, so stay in contact via email and the occasional Skype call. Make sure you select a wedding planner who communicates well and responsively via email.

RELY ON RECOMMENDATIONS: Even if you opt to go for a more “laid back” destination wedding, every single detail should be planned in advance, so you can enjoy it all. Oftentimes, destination weddings can require even more planning and thought than a wedding in your hometown. Although the internet makes finding local vendors much easier, having a wedding planner on the ground who can recommend vendors that they have experience working with is crucial.

KEEP IT EASY FOR YOUR GUESTS: Having your friends and family specially travel for your wedding is a great mark of honor, so show your appreciation by making sure their trip and stay is as easy and pleasant as possible. Prepare a list of accommodations, travel tips, things to see and visit in the region.

Consider creating a welcome package with maps of your favorite restaurants and museums and little treats from the region to whet your guests’ appetite for what is to come. If possible, the night before the wedding, host a welcome reception for all guests that will convey more of the culture and food of the destination, but with a more relaxed atmosphere.

Photographer: Sylvie Gil | Event Planning: Alliance Par Fete | Floral Design: Natalie Bowen Designs | Hair And Makeup: Katie Nash | San Francisco: Cafe De Le Presse