10 Crucial Tips for Planning a Destination Mountain Wedding


A destination mountain wedding is a different kind of banana. The land is rugged and often difficult to access. The weather can be variable at best. It can be difficult to find the best local vendors. I know; I live in the mountains! So I’ve compiles a 10-part checklist to help you have a gorgeous, stress-free and memorable destination mountain wedding for both you and your guests.

Avoid Wedding Planing Mistakes

The logistics and requirements of planning a mountain destination wedding are often tricky! Use these tips for making the process less stressful.

1. Reduce Travel Hassle

Colorado mountain license plate

Choose a destination with minimal hassle for your guests. The key here is the term “for your guests.” If you are getting married in front of a handful of your closest, most athletic friends, than a helicopter ski wedding may be the best thing ever. But if your 83 year-old Aunt Tilly is rolling in a wheel chair, try to find a destination that doesn’t include a five-hour plane ride followed by an 8-hour car ride, followed by a 20 minute hike to the ceremony. Lake Tahoe, Asheville, NC, and The Berkshires in MA all have airports within an hour of the destination. Mammoth Lakes CA has an airport within 10 minutes from town!

2. Make a Special Trip

Sequoia National Park Elopement

Even if you’ve been there before, and it’s your family’s vacation spot plan to make a trip to the destination to tour a few locals and look at the region through the lens of your wedding. Check out the florists and make sure their flowers are fresh and beautiful. Drop by the cake baker’s shop. Do they have contemporary-looking wedding cakes that are creative and follow modern trends in the fashion you prefer,  or do they look like they came straight out of your mother’s wedding album, piled high with grocery-store butter cream roses?

3. Hire a Wedding Planner or Week-of Coordinator

Stephanie Anderson Lifestyle Headshots
Lake Tahoe Wedding Planner Stephanie Anderson

Face it, you cannot be at your destination enough to ensure that all of the vendors and logistics are properly in place. Furthermore, if anything goes awry, it’s difficult to manage problems from afar. I whole-heartedly recommend that you hire a planner to take care of the logistics when you can’t be there.

4. Consider the All-Inclusive Package

17-Devils-Thumb-Ranch-wedding-Becky-Young Photography-reception-wide

If you don’t have time to visit your destination and can’t afford to hire a planner, you can always play it safe with an all-inclusive package from a big brand hotel like the Ritz-Carlton, the Hilton, or the Westin. Keep in mind you may give up a bit of creative control and personalization with these out-of-the-box, look-alike wedding packages, but you gain valuable peace-of-mind knowing that your wedding professionals can produce a wedding in their sleep.

Use the Internet the RIGHT way

Sometimes the internet is your best friend. Other times, it’s a trickster waiting to flub you up. Consider these tips for harnessing the power of the internet while protecting yourself from mountain wedding day disasters.

5. Don’t Trust the Internet

wedding review site

When choosing vendors and venues don’t just rely on websites and online reviews. Many of these can be fake. Get solid references from both former brides and other vendors in the area. (As an aside, the Mountainside Guide {forthcoming} is a vendor directory based on peer reviews as well as references, and is an exclusive guide showcasing only the best mountain wedding professionals!)

6. Sign Up for a Skype Account


wedding planning with skype

Sign up for a Skype account and ask your vendors to have face-to-face meetings online. You can get a good feel for a vendors personality from such a meeting. Better yet, ask your key vendors to meet you in a Google Hangout where you can not only chat face-to-face, but you can also share images and your screen, letting your florist, cake baker, or planner know exactly what your vision is during the meeting.

7. Set up a Wedding Website

beautiful pinks and blue wedding website

Free and easy-to-build wedding websites on Wix.com

Set up a wedding website with information about the locale, including getting there (nearby airports, car rentals, and hotel information), fun things to do, and interesting facts about the destination or your tie to it.

Be a Good Hostess

In addition to being your big day, a destination mountain wedding is a big day (or weekend, or week) for your guests.

8. Offer Out Of Town Packages (even if they’re basic)


rustic stamped favor bags | Colorado Wedding

Plan to offer Out Of Town (OOT) packages. These don’t need to be elaborate, a Visitor Guide, local map, suggested things to do and itineraries, and a couple of bottles of water will do just fine. For your VIP guests, you may want to include a local delicacy such as local wine or beer, local foods, or a handmade item such as a candle, soap, or whatever product the region famous for.

9. Plan Some Events for Out of Town Guests

wedding lawn games

Plan a few events for your guests. Go beyond the welcome BBQ and day-after brunch, and arrange for a tour of a local winery or historic house, or maybe suggest a group hike or ski day. Print out suggested activities, and include a local visitor guide, a local map (look to the local visitor center for free maps and guides), and a couple of bottles of water (guests not used to altitude dehydrate quickly).

10. Build in Down Time

footprints on a dock

Don’t forget to build in down time for your guests to relax or explore the area on their own terms. While it’s nice to have activities planned, don’t be offended if your guests simply want to relax and enjoy their only vacation of the year!

Image Credits

Tomasz Wagner Photography via Mountainside Bride // Andy Sams Photography via Mountainside Bride // Bergreen Photography via Mountainside Bride // Image from Catherine Hall // Image from Becky Young Photography via Mountainside Bride // Personal Screen Capture // Image via IBN Live // Wix.com // Dash Photography via Mountainside Bride // Becerra Photography via Mountainside Bride // Minaret Photography via Mountainside Bride