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Destinations: How in the World?

No one said destination weddings were easy, but these local couples made it happen, and so can you

You’re wanderers. Travelers. Movers, shakers. We get it. Why stay when you can go? Why plan a wedding in your backyard when you can get 150 of your favorite people to the far side of the mountains and celebrate there? We’d never argue that Seattle isn’t rife with killer wedding venues, but destination weddings have a certain attraction, too. No doubt about it.

Yet out-of-town affairs come with their own set of challenges. Vendor and venue decisions can be difficult even when appointments and meet-and-greets are in town. With an entire planet at your disposal, how do you even decide where to go—let alone whom to hire and how to make it all work?

Next to the help of a professional party organizer (always high on our list of planning recommendations), nothing beats learning from real-life couples and local photographers who have been there, done that.

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Photograph by Carina Skrobecki

NEW ENGLAND MODERN

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art

Their community stretched from coast to coast and then some. EMP Museum public programmer Kristen Hoskins and graphic designer Benjamin Shown knew they’d be asking almost everyone to travel somewhere for their September 2012 celebration, so why not gather them all in the highly singular town of North Adams in Massachusetts’s Berkshire Mountains? It’s home, after all, to the converted mill that is MASS MoCA—the edgy but homey modern museum where the couple first met.

Planes, trains, and automobiles
The remote location required a flight and a two-hour drive in a rental car, so not everyone was able to make the trip. Still, their guests totaled 120, which is exactly what they were aiming for in the early stages of planning. “The best part was sharing this special location; most of our friends and family would not have ever gotten there on their own,” Hoskins says.

Retro modern
With exposed beams, brick walls, and large windows, the venue needed little decoration, and the industrial feel was a perfect fit for the couple’s aesthetic. Hoskins wore her future mother-in-law’s dress from 1978, altered by Seattle designer Angela Holstrom of Frankie Four. Shown went with a tailored Hugo Boss suit from Nordstrom and a Holstrom-designed custom tie.

Important imports
Seth Hayden of indie folk band the Washover Fans ensured that the wedding had a Seattle sound; Theo Chocolates were shipped in and given out as favors, adding a little long-distance local flavor.

 

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Plantation Gardens, Poipau Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

“Creating intimacy was our priority,” recalls Richenda Vermeulen. When she and Kyle Vermeulen gathered 60 guests in Hawaii in January 2012, it was the first opportunity for their parents to meet. Indeed, the remote and very special small island was key. “By the end of the wedding week our guests were like one big family,” the couple report.

Globally sourced
Kyle worked with an Australian designer (thegrandunion.au) to create invitations with a travel theme. The bride—then Richenda Ghebrial-Ibrahim—hired a Kauai planner (hawaii-wedding.com) and worked with her and the venue to bring in flowers, food, and décor. Ghebrial-Ibrahim sent material to bridesmaids in Seattle, San Francisco, Dubai, and Chile and had them design their own dresses.

Point and shoot
It’s always important to, uh, click with your photographer, but especially so if you’re flying them to your location, putting them up in a hotel for three nights, and renting them a car. Yep, that’s the norm. The Vermeulens’ photographer, Julie Harmsen, explains: “The first day is for getting settled and making sure you’re there on time (no canceled flights), and the day before the wedding is purely for location scouting. For this wedding I drove around trying to find an amazing first-look location. Poipu had several overgrown little roads, and I had the time to scout them out.”

 

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Photograph by Brandon Patoc

MOUNTAIN HIGH

Crystal Mountain Resort

When you know, you know, and Lauren Ivie and Jeff Johnson just knew upon visiting Crystal Mountain Resort that the guys would end up playing disc golf and the gals would do yoga on the lawn, and that the convenient on-site accommodations and spectacular natural setting would be perfect for their July 2011 celebration. About 70 percent of their invitees were out of state, so the couple really wanted to show off the Northwest and bring everyone together for a casual, fun weekend.

No uphill battle
Although she used some Seattle vendors as well, Lauren Johnson credits the mountain staff with connecting her with a few key local professionals. She says the venue’s referrals, and their event coordinators, made easy work of what could have been long-distance difficulties. Not only were the folks they recommended of top quality, they were familiar with the venue and location—always a boon when dealing with a destination event.

Home on the range
“It may not seem like a big deal, but the wooden lodge chairs provided by Crystal Mountain really helped give the reception the picturesque look of a mountain wedding,” says Johnson. Ditto the rustic pies by High Five Pies on Capitol Hill—and the bridesmaids’ low-key knee-length dresses and cowboy boots. “We felt the need to fit in with nature by keeping it simple,” she adds.

At one with nature
One of the best things about all-inclusive locales like Crystal is that guests are happily corralled for a weekend of togetherness. “We had a big welcome barbecue outside at the Alpine Inn Restaurant on-site, and a prewedding party at the Snorting Elk Cellar, where our guests got to know each other before the day of the wedding,” Johnson recalls. At all-inclusive resorts nestled into natural settings, guests are also corralled with wildlife—like the herd of elk that grazed nearby during the Johnsons’ reception dinner.

 

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Photograph by Nicole Goddard

EUROPEAN UNION

Lake Como, Italy

It was a promise that had to be kept: Kelly O’Halloran and Andrew Mechling visited Lake Como while teaching abroad in 2006 and vowed to get married there someday. But it wasn’t easy. The couple reports that planning a wedding on the other side of the globe takes trust and flexibility; they wired money to their Italian wedding planner (italianweddingevent.com) and dealt with a nine-hour time difference, but Skype, e-mail, and dedication to a dream made it all possible.

That’s Italian
“Italians love a long, drawn-out meal,” says Kelly O’Halloran Mechling, “which left less time for dancing than we’re used to.” But oh, that meal. The cake was a traditional fruit-topped custard, the officiant was from the Vatican, and the favors were locally made ceramic wine bottle stoppers.

Chic and easy
Since their attendants were already incurring travel costs, the couple skipped mandated outfits and asked that their guys wear a black suit; the gals, black cocktail dresses.

All American
The Bellevue pair hired Seattle’s Hobson House Design to create the invites, which had a travel vibe.

Bringing it all home
Over a hundred loved ones were invited to Italy, but only 25 made the August 2011 event. Veraci Pizza’s mobile oven and plenty of imported wine helped make up for the missed adventure when everyone convened for a second reception at the bride’s parents’ home near Gig Harbor.

 

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Photograph by Lindsay Borden

CAMP VINTAGE LOVE 

Fort Worden in Port Townsend

Janae Hawkins initially resisted the idea of a wedding that required crossing a body of water. Ferries were a necessity in her childhood, and the Queen Anne resident associates them with stress and hurry, not love and marriage. But after exploring other options, Hawkins and William Waterstraat decided that a ferry ride, scenic drive, and two-day glamping getaway at Fort Worden State Park on the Olympic Peninsula would be pretty wonderful.

History lessons
The charming Victorian town of Port Townsend and the turn-of-the-century fort’s restored event halls and officers’ quarters provided the couple with an all-in-one rustic, vintage vibe for their celebration. The apartments, duplexes, houses, and bunks can accommodate upwards of 400—plenty of room for the 160 guests who gathered for the June 2012 weekend.

Seattle style
Hawkins had Renate Gehrig of Design in Fabrics create a custom dress that took Port Townsend and Fort Worden’s heyday, and the natural beauty of the overall area, into account. She credits local shooter Lindsay Borden with capturing those distinctive elements in a stylish, modern light.

Close call
The couple utilized several Peninsula-area vendors: the reception was catered with local, organic favorites by Café Bon Appetit (cafebonappetit.com) and Eileen France of Sweets and Savories (sweetsandsavories.net) delivered a glorious cake, sparing a Seattle baker that aforementioned ferry-induced stress and hurry.

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