The Out-of-Towners

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Abby and MattImagine planning your big day — rehearsal dinner,ceremony and reception — in five months. Now imagine planning it without once seeing the venue in person.

That was the story for Abby and Matt Englert ofBloomington, Ind., married last June on Folly Field Beach.

“I didn’t feel like planning a gigantic, elaborate wedding — that didn’t matter to me,” said Abby. “It was a little crazy, but it was almost a little bit better. I wasn’t into meeting with people and going over menus.”

Instead, Abby relied on cousins who live on the island to help her select venues and vendors. “I had to put my trust in everyone down there,” Abby said. “Once I learned to do that,everything was really, really great.”

In fact, it was the wedding of her dreams: an intimate beach ceremony with 40 friends and family members on a gorgeous summer morning. Abby wore a strapless knee-length dress with a short trane. There were four bridesmaids and five groomsmen, and the reception took place at the home of her local cousins.

Planning from a distance had its challenges, but there were only a few details that were really near to Abby’s heart. The first was the photographer.

“That was a big one,” Abby said. “You have the memories, but the pictures are what you take away.”

Her other priority was the rehearsal dinner.

“We had so many people coming in,” Abby said, “It was our way of saying thank you. It was the one time besides the wedding when everyone was together.”

Abby says she chose Hilton Head not only because it can accommodate all types of weddings, but because it offered a great place for loved ones to gather. “The cool thing about a destination wedding is that everybody who wanted to be there was there,” Abby said. “It wasn’t an obligation for people you might not know very well.”

Most of Abby’s guests took advantage of the Hilton Head lifestyle. They went to the beach. They golfed. They ate. Most of all, they were there.

“What was most important to me were the people standing up with me,” Abby said.