Tips for couples traveling to Central Ohio to be wed

This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2018.

The term “destination wedding” needn’t be reserved for the sandy beaches of Florida or a place that requires a passport. For many couples, a destination wedding is a place formerly known as home and, for many of their guests, still is.

Wedding planner Emilie Duncan of Emilie Duncan Event Planning refers to this phenomenon as her “missing Buckeyes”—people who are originally from Columbus, have family in the area or went to school here, who later moved away. Due to their family bonds, fond memories or whatever else makes people love Columbus (the list could go on forever), these missing Buckeyes are choosing to make Columbus their wedding destination.

Planning a wedding can be a daunting task for anyone, but when you live outside of the city or state where you’ll marry, this can be especially true. So it comes as no surprise that nearly half of Duncan’s clients live elsewhere, she says. Her role as a wedding planner can be vital for helping to alleviate the challenges that come from living so far away.

Sheela and Ryan Jorgenson know these challenges all too well. While the couple met through work while living in Columbus, their jobs eventually took them to their current home in Houston, Texas. But with their mutual friends and memories in Columbus, not to mention most of Sheela’s family, the Arch City was the obvious choice for their wedding. That doesn’t mean it was always the most convenient, Sheela admits.

To prepare, Sheela spent countless hours online, researching venues, perusing pictures and reading reviews. “I remember being so stressed out about it at the time,” she says. “We were just going off pictures, and quite often places don’t have the same feeling when you walk in, even if there are great pictures of it.” Ultimately, Sheela and Ryan ended up making a weekend trip to the city to look at venues, packing six appointments—as well as many impromptu visits—into two short days.

Duncan says that in her experience, the Jorgensons’ situation is one of the most common problems associated with trying to plan a wedding so far away.

“We pack a lot into the time when they are able to be in town. There are weekends when my couples come in and we will whirlwind around the city, seeing vendors and venues and tasting things and trying to pack as much as we can into a long weekend,” Duncan says. “When you’re doing a destination wedding, you need to be able to make a good decision a little bit more quickly [than in-town couples] and narrow down your choices a little bit more definitively.”

While Sheela decided to tackle everything on her own, sans planner, a big part of her decision for a venue was the accommodations it offered. Her venue, Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph, was a one-stop shop when it came to tables, cutlery, decorations, food and much more. Having an inclusive venue like Le Méridien or a planner such as Emilie Duncan can be crucial in dealing with the myriad decisions that are required when planning a wedding.

“It comes down to having the comfort of having somebody with the knowledge of weddings in Columbus, knowing all of the vendors, knowing the venues, understanding how to run a wedding, but then also how to help you plan the wedding,” says Duncan. “I tell my clients, you don’t know what you don’t know, and a good planner knows those things and can help you through them.”