I’ve never been too keen on the idea of overseas weddings but when you are from the UK, your partner is from New Zealand, and the country that you live in won’t let you get married, you don’t have a great deal of choice. The choice that we did have was whose country to go for. When it became clear that I had quite a few ideas about how I’d like my wedding to go, while kiwi gf had LITERALLY NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT, the decision became a simple one.
From there, we found that planning a wedding is incredibly easy.
Here’s a rundown of how the planning process went after we told my parents that we wanted to have the wedding in their part of the beautiful English countryside.
- Parents emailed us a list of venues they thought would be good. We looked through the list and picked one. They visited and booked it. Tick.
- Decided to have the reception in the village hall. Mum spoke to her next door neighbour who does the bookings. Tick.
- Made cute photo of our beagles into a ‘save the date’ email that most people didn’t actually get. Tick.
- My sister said “Please, please, please can I decorate the village hall?” Tick.
- Went through pointless process for kiwi gf to get a marriage visitor visa for UK. Tick. Twice. Tick.
- ‘Gave notice’ of our marriage, with extra scrutiny because of kiwi gf being a dirty foreigner. (Luckily, as the lady later told us, she could tell our relationship was genuine as soon as she saw us in the waiting room – rather than holding hands and looking all lovey dovey, we were playing on our phones.) Tick.
- Asked my bestie if her defunct function band would get back together to play for us. Tick.
- Ordered ten dresses from the internet. Liked one but it didn’t fit. Ordered different size. Tick.
- Went with kiwi gf to a dress shop where she spent 20 minutes trying on dresses (10 minutes of which was spent trying to work out how to put on one of the dresses) before choosing one. Tick.
- Bought an $11 Word template on Etsy for the invitations. Sent invites. Tick.
- Ordered two pairs of shoes from the internet before returning them and deciding to wear a pair I already had. Tick.
- Went shoe shopping with kiwi gf who bought the second pair of shoes that she tried on. Tick.
- Tried to arrange hair and make-up. Failed. Mum booked for us to go to a hairdresser in the nearest town. Tick.
- Mum sent an email with food options for the buffet. Chose our favourites. Tick.
- Asked my awesome friend if she would bake the cake, also to be the desert. Tick.
- Put together our one real contribution to the proceedings – party bags (which we forgot about until half our guests had already left). Tick.
- Copied and pasted vows from the internet. Tick.
Based on our experience, I would offer the following tips for planning a wedding on the other side of the world:
- I suspect this has already become clear but, outsource. If you are very lucky, you’ll have a mum who loves to plan things, as well as friends and family who have talents that they are happy to share.
- Give those people the freedom to make decisions, and trust them to get it right. When my sister asked what the colour theme was, we said: “You choose.”
- Prepare yourself for the reality that some people will simply not be able to come. Find the silver lining: these people will get you the best gifts.
- Decide the things that matter to you and scrap everything else. Wedding favours? No. Chair covers? Hell no.
- If your parents aren’t big drinkers, make sure they are clued up on how much alcohol you and your friends can get through of an evening. On a related note, big thanks to my bro for doing a beer run.
- Film it. We set up a video camera to film the wedding, speeches and some of the dancing. The end product is of dubious quality – not unlike the dancing – but it was great to be able to do a screening for our whanau (family) who couldn’t be there on the day.
- Relax. Most of the arrangements are out of your control so just sit back and enjoy the ride.