Charlottesville has long been a destination known for its vibrant downtown, historic venues, and bucolic countryside. Now the popular region can add "Destination Weddings" to the list. In fact, since 2007, destination weddings have more than doubled for most industry vendors in the area. With the opening of many wedding venues during the past five years, prospective brides and grooms have a plethora of options for the ultimate wedding in Charlottesville and the surrounding Albemarle County countryside.

Below are 5 tips from industry pros who know the lay of the land.

1. "Set a realistic timeline of 12 to 18 months for planning," advises Aaron Watson, owner of Aaron Watson Photography. "Being newly engaged myself, I would recommend to other couples planning a wedding in Charlottesville to ease the stress by giving yourself time to enjoy the process. Also, give yourself a little cushion in the budget for unexpected expenses, or items that may be a splurge. Lastly, form your guest list early as this will be important when figuring costs!"

2. Barb S. Lundgren of Barb Wired LLC Event Management and Consultations suggests, "Bringing in the right planner early in the who can find the venue that suits the couple's vision as well as budget, and help the bride and groom build the team of vendors to make their day easy and flawless."

3. Consider an historic venue for your big day. Brittany Harton, Communications and Events Assistant for Highland, Home of President James Monroe, hosted her own wedding reception at the fifth President's home. "The scenery is stunning and offers a fantastic backdrop for a special event. Even though you have the feeling of being out in the country, surrounded by rolling hills and mountain views, Highland is very conveniently located - only a short distance from Charlottesville. In addition to the captivating scenery and rustic ambiance, it presents the incredibly unique opportunity to marry at a historic, presidential site.

4. Albemarle Limousine's business has seen a significant increase in the destination wedding market. According to Jennifer Hamlin, Wedding Transportation Coordinator, "Maybe sixty percent. And it's due to the wonderful wineries and venues opening and adding to what was already available in Charlottesville. Gorgeous landscapes, great wine, history and UVA ties all draw couples to this area." Jennifer suggests couples consider transportation for the rehearsal and dinner prior to the wedding. "Bachelorette and bachelor tours leading up to the wedding are also becoming super popular with our clients," she adds.

5. The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau (CACVB) is a great place to visit for information and ideas. Located on the downtown pedestrian mall next to the Sprint Pavilion at 610 E. Main Street, the friendly staff can help you orient your guests to the area with a handy Point of Interest map and additional brochures about the area's many venues and wedding vendors. Additionally, the staff is available to help with booking hotel rooms. A great place to start is with the CACVB's website: Click on the Wedding link.