By Dana Vanden Boogart
It’s that time again. June … wedding season. If you’re like me, it’s a Summer of Weddings, mostly weddings of college friends who haven’t strayed far from school.
Those weddings are easy; just get dressed and go, drive home safely, and that’s that.
But then there are those other weddings, the ones that don’t take place within a 20-mile radius of your home.
Never let a little travel stop you from celebrating the wonderful, magical experiences that come with a wedding. It just takes a few steps to get yourself ready for a wedding that’s a bit farther away from home. Plan. Save. Prepare. Enjoy. And you’re done.
Plan. This seems obvious, but planning is crucial with wedding travel. Traveling to a wedding is a different than going on vacation – and depending on your involvement in the wedding, the planning will differ as well. Plus, there’s an entirely different level of preparation required if you’re in the wedding party or just attending. Either way, a portion of your trip will be planned for you, and those times won’t budge. Whether you make the trip a long weekend or a week with a wedding in there somewhere, at least one day will be filled with wedding festivities, and you need to reserve that day for the wedding and the wedding alone, or fireworks may ensue. Take my word for it.
Planning can be broken down even further:
- Save: We’ll talk about this more later, but as far as money goes, plan to set aside money to attend – and then some extra. You never know; the bride may ask you to pick up the flowers, but leaves out the fact that you have to pay for them … and the bride won’t be able to pay you back for six weeks.
- Schedule: Save the adventures for after the wedding. If you want to go hiking on the trip, that’s great – but save it for the ride home. No one wants to attend a wedding with a sprained ankle from hiking or arrive late because a tire popped when you went rock climbing,
- Transportation: How far is the drive, what are the flight options, and are the savings worth the exhaustion? You’ll have to decide based on your situation. Keep in mind that driving makes for great sightseeing, and opportunities for roadside adventures and deviations from the route, but also takes longer. If your vacation time is more valuable than the cost of airfare, consider flying.
- Accommodations/Activities: Know where you’re staying, check the local area for the lowest hotel deals, and ask the bride and groom if they’ve blocked off rooms at a discounted rate. Once you have a place to stay, check the immediate area for things to do. If you arrive ahead of schedule, you and your traveling companions may need to kill some time – especially the night before and the morning of the wedding, when the bride/groom/wedding party are occupied with rehearsal and wedding duties.
- Wedding Particulars: Remember that weddings require special attire and cards/gifts, so include those in your planning process. Also, think of how you’ll transport these items without damaging (or wrinkling) them – and don’t forget the shoes! (You may need several pairs: casual, for the trip; dressy, for the ceremony; and semi-dressy/dancing, for the reception. Think about that as you pack, especially if you’re flying.)
Save. Start saving as soon as someone close to you is engaged; if you think they’re going to get married sooner rather than later, start saving yesterday. You may have no idea if your second cousin is going to opt for a simple backyard ceremony or a destination beach wedding, so bank some cash ahead of time – not only for travel, hotel, and meals, but also gifts. Make sure you have cash on you for anything that may come up on the wedding day or the day before. (Like an unanticipated cash bar at the reception, for instance.) In addition to your emergency money, make sure you have some emergency money for the truly unexpected – like that flat tire in the desert.
Prepare. Be sure that you, your family, your significant other, your dog, and whatever other travel companions you have are prepared for change as the trip goes on. Be flexible, and imagine possible disasters. If you’re driving, make sure your vehicle has a fresh oil change, new wiper blades, tires full of air, and working brakes. Don’t cut your flights too close; don’t take the last flight out if you can avoid it, and prepare for flight delays or cancellations by buying AirCare before you leave.
Enjoy. Traveling to a wedding far from your home can be totally enjoyable – if you let it. Weddings are fun; when two people are so in love they want to commit the rest of their lives to each other, and they celebrate by throwing a party for family and friends, that’s fun. Remember that as you go, and make sure you take the proper steps in planning, saving, and preparing for your trip so you can enjoy it the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.
For all your trips, purchasing ExactCare will cover you for travel mishaps and trip interruptions, and both AirCare and ExactCare come with MyAssist travel and personal assistance … just in case.
Now, go enjoy your own Summer of Weddings!
Dana Vanden Boogart is a marketing/communication brand specialist at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.