Insider tips for a destination wedding

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Traffic. Meals. Accommodations. Licenses. 

If you’re planning a Newport wedding and don’t actually live on Aquidneck Island, there are special considerations you might want to keep in mind. We asked a few event planners to share their insider tips for a successful destination wedding. Here are their suggestions.

By Fred Albert | Newport Wedding Magazine 2020


Newport is a popular wedding destination (as indicated by the title of this magazine). Book your venue, rehearsal dinner, brunch, house of worship and transportation as soon as you know your date. If you’re planning a summer wedding, competition will be fierce, and you may pay more for venues and services.  


Find out when your hotelier of choice starts accepting reservations for room blocks and jump on them as soon as they’re available. Hotels will usually accept reservations one year in advance, while inns and B&Bs might only accept them six months out. When you book, make sure you reserve rooms at a variety of price points, as not everyone may be in a position to splurge. And a lot of guests use Airbnb and VRBO these days, so you may not have to hold as many rooms as were needed in years past. 


If any of your guests are traveling with children, provide them with the name of a childcare provider. Every event planner we spoke to recommended Newport Nannies.


To help you anticipate traffic problems, Erica Trombetti of Infinite Events in Newport suggests checking the events calendar at to see what’s happening on the day your wedding is scheduled. Even better: If you know your date more than a year in advance, come to Newport on the equivalent date (i.e. second Saturday in July) and check out what’s happening in town and how long it takes you to get from one place to another.


One way to deal with traffic and parking problems is to arrange transportation for your guests. Wedding trolleys are a popular option. Barring that, you might include an Uber code in your welcome bags, offering guests free or discounted rides. (Keep in mind, however, that not everyone is app-savvy.) 


A destination wedding asks more of your guests. They need to make travel plans, book accommodations, rent a car, arrange child or pet care, etc. Sherry Scott of Ruby Collaborative in Newport recommends asking your guests to return their RSVPs six to eight weeks in advance, instead of the usual four. That will give guests more time to make their arrangements, and will give you more time to chase down the slackers. Because of the expense involved, you should also expect a lower acceptance rate: it’s not unusual for 10–15 percent fewer guests to attend a destination wedding. 

Marriage License

Not all “Newport weddings” take place in Newport. Your ceremony could actually be in Middletown or even Portsmouth, and you will need to obtain your marriage license in the municipality where the wedding is held. So confirm the ceremony address, then contact the town hall there to find out what, precisely, they need in terms of identification. (For example, they may only accept an actual birth certificate, not a photocopy.)

Town and Gown

How do you plan to get your wedding dress to Newport? Depending upon the fabric and the bulk of the gown, it might be hard to get it here without sustaining massive wrinkles — or worse. If you’re flying, consider booking an extra seat on the plane just for the dress (we’re not kidding), or purchase your dress from a Newport-area bridal shop and pick it up when you arrive.

Event Planner

Lastly, consider hiring a Newport-based event planner, even if your venue offers a wedding planner as part of their package. That person’s focus will just be on their venue, notes Katie McLaughlin of Leila Ryan Events in Newport, and their services generally won’t include help with transportation, scheduling, off-site rehearsal dinners, and the needs of your guests when they’re not at the venue. 

Welcome Bag

Many of your guests will turn the wedding into a mini-getaway (lodgings often impose a two-night minimum stay in high season, so they may not have a choice), so be sure to provide everyone with a welcome bag that includes a list of recommended attractions, restaurants and bars. Or slip in a copy of the Newport Best Read Guide, produced by the publishers of Newport Wedding magazine, which lists all of the major attractions, dining and entertainment options in Newport County. You can obtain bulk quantities free of charge by calling (401) 380-2313. If you’re feeling generous, add a gift certificate for a mansion tour, trolley tour or coffee shop. 

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