Joanna Hawes was in Boston Common on New Year’s Eve 2011 when her long-time boyfriend, Phil Powers, asked her to spend the rest of their lives together. These two Vancouverites knew that they wanted to tie the knot in their hometown with their friends and family, but work would keep them in Boston and Toronto during the planning months leading up to the big day.

Having successfully planned her Vancouver wedding while living on the opposite coast, we asked Joanna about her long-distance experience.

What was the most difficult aspect of planning your Vancouver wedding from the East Coast? 

Planning the wedding from Toronto could have been harder, but having the flexibility to fly back and forth was certainly very helpful. The most difficult part was not being able to meet with the vendors or see what they were talking about as quickly as I would have liked. A lot of long-distance minutes were spent making calls from Toronto to Vancouver on a nearly daily basis trying to find the best choices for our wedding.

Was there anything that was surprisingly easy to organize from a distance?

We were able to find all our vendors using the right Internet searches and suggestions from friends and family. We found our venue, the Jewel Ballroom, which we had no idea even existed, on a fluke Saturday morning Internet search.

Were there any elements to the wedding that you felt had to be planned in Vancouver?

Just about everything was planned from Toronto, but making sure we picked the right venue had to be done in Vancouver. Had I not been able to visit the Jewel Ballroom to see the space or taste-test the food, it would have been very difficult to decide if that was the right place to have our reception.

Any advice to offer other away-from-home brides?

It’s not as difficult as it sounds. If you don’t have the flexibility of going out to see the vendors as often as I did, do your research and narrow it down to one or two choices. If you have the luxury to head to the wedding destination, make sure your time is booked with vendor meetings so that you get the most out of your trip. Wedding shows are also fabulous places to get ideas no matter where you are planning your wedding. I attended wedding shows in Toronto and Boston, which allowed me to take pictures and give those visual ideas to my vendors back home. It really helped with pulling my vision together.

What advice do you have for all brides?

Don’t let stress get to you. Take it easy – one step at a time, one day at a time. There are some great planning tools out there, which give you budget planners, checklists and even décor ideas. Also, make sure you have a good support team even if you don’t have them with you every step of the way. Know who you can rely on and ask for help when you need it. Trying to do everything on your own can be overwhelming. Lastly, enjoy the planning, and especially the day, because it goes just as quickly as it comes!

Venue Jewel Ballroom | Florist Kathleen Chiu of Proline Trading | Decor Christopher J Designs | Cake When Pigs Fly Pastries | Makeup Sabrina Ferreira | Bride's Dress San Patrick from Sposa Bridal | Bride's Shoes Stuart Weitzman | Bridesmaid Dresses Allure Bridesmaids from Lisa's Bridal | Groom and Groomsmen Attire Donna Karan from Moores | Videographer Joseph Lee of After Dance Media Productions