We decided to get married in Eastern Massachusetts where I'm from. My husband is from Central Pennsylvania and we were living in South Jersey- with no ties to where we lived, we wanted to get married somewhere that mattered to us, and it was important to me to get married back home. So we did a lot of the planning from afar. I did a lot of research and contacted prospective professionals via the internet. I checked websites, read reviews, looked at pictures and started to put together a list of what was important to us and what we wanted.
We both made the trip to Massachusetts to pick a venue. Since we did our homework, we had pamphlets, brochures, and pricelists from a number of places we were interested in. We made some appointments and started with the one place we were most interested in. We ended up liking that place, so we stopped there, but if we hadn't, we would have continued on and picked one of the places we saw that weekend. We also met with a photographer and I started the dress hunt.
When it comes to choosing the main professionals for your event, the ones that it is important to meet with, it's smart to plan multiple meetings for the same trip in a couple of categories so you can get them done at once, and then handle the big things you don't need to do in person, from home. Make a list with what's important to you at the top (food, photographs, entertainment, decor, etc.) and start there. That way you can maximize your time, your trips, and your budget.
Even if you're planning your wedding from out of town, there are some things you can do where you live. Invitations can be purchased from anywhere- either in a local store or online. You can purchase paper and color samples from a lot of online places, many will also print an invitation sample for a small fee. You can also shop for a dress, shoes, and other accessories anywhere.
Planning a wedding from out of town isn't much different than planning a wedding where you live, it just takes some organization, forethought, and patience. In this case, a wedding planner would be a big help as they can recommend professionals and guide you, especially if where you're getting married is an area you're not overly familiar with.