Friday, January 30, 2009

Planning a Destination Wedding.. In Michigan!

Alison Hardin and Rishi Narayan both grew up in the Great Lakes State and met while attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Although Alison now lives across the country in Berkeley, California, holding their July 2009 nuptials in their homestate of Michigan, seemed like a simple and natural choice. Alison was kind enough to give Wed Michigan some advice and tips on the planning process by sharing the "ups and downs" of planning a Michigan destination wedding!

What are some challenges you've faced while planning your Michigan wedding from across the country?
The biggest challenge to date in our wedding planning has been lack of face time. During the early stages of the planning, it was difficult to not have time to look at every possible venue while in Michigan for the weekend. Instead, we narrowed down the list of potential places, looked at those and hoped to find the best place. This challenge has continued to present itself in choosing vendors, selecting a menu and decor, checking out is always better to see it in person, but this is not always possible.

While we anticipated a limited amount of time in Michigan being a challenge, are the smaller issues that I did not consider. For example, the time difference between coasts is significant! Vendors call me at 6am pacific coast time, and I need to call them back before 2pm my time, 5pm Michigan time. Where should we get the gifts sent? How will we get gifts from Michigan to California?

What are some elements of your wedding that will be unique?
One of the aspects of our wedding Rishi and I hope will shine through to our guests is that we are mixing cultures. There will be traditional Indian attire and also guests in western clothing; food from the Ritz Carlton kitchen and Rangoli; awesome Indian music and a rockin' local band; a traditional Indian garland of flowers as well as a bouquet to toss!

One of the elements of a traditional Indian wedding celebration that we are embracing is the scale! We are very happy to know we will be surrounded by hundreds of friends and family on our big day. Keeping this in mind we feel like we should go the extra mile to make the day feel very personal and not like a sea of people. We are still working on many of these details, but we started with the save-the-dates, a T-shirt made by Rishi's company. We are planning to take a photo with each family at the reception to send to them post-wedding. Each table will have its own theme, complete with fast-facts on how that relates to our lives. For example, instead of sitting at table #11, you might be seated at table "University of Michigan" where Rishi and I both attended school.

What advice would you give other brides when planning their "destination" wedding in Michigan?
Two words: wedding planner! Although it is not an absolute necessity to have a wedding planner, when planning a wedding from a far, it is extremely helpful to have someone pointing you toward vendors that line up with your needs. For us, our planner has helped us make the most of our time in Michigan, introducing us to phenomenal vendors. Additionally, have a planner in Michigan gives you a local person to be there when you cannot be there.

I wish that I would have sat down in early stages of planning and made a timeline of wedding-to-do's and coupled this with planning trips to Michigan. The time goes by so fast and weekends fill up quickly, that it can be difficult to sneak away to Michigan for a few days unless it is planned well in advance! And I am finding it is important to have a well outlined agenda with defined goals for each trip.

Any great vendors you've been working with that you'd like to share?
With six months to go until the big day, two individuals have been critical in keeping us on task, free of stress, and having fun with our wedding planning. Eren Denski, our contact at the Ritz Carlton in Dearborn where our ceremony and reception will be held, is always on top of her game and brimming with fabulous ideas. And Eren introduced us to Rupali Bedi, a wedding planner affiliated with Rangoli Events. One of the things that always makes me happy when I talk to Rupali is her can-do attitude, she makes anything possible and has been a joy to work with.

Why did you choose to hold your wedding in Michigan?
Rishi and I share common roots in Michigan. We both grew up in Michigan, still have family in Michigan, and we met seemed like the natural choice!

Congratulations, Alison and Rishi, and we look forward to your July wedding!

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