Organising a wedding, as many know, is never a simple process. Regardless of how simply you imagine it in your head, there’s always hiccups, last-minute dramas and unexpected outcomes. And then there’s organising a wedding from outside the country… where you have to rely on the internet and other people’s help to get anything done. So, following my experience, here’s my top 10 tips for organising an overseas wedding.
This, I guess, applies to all weddings. But for an overseas wedding, you have to realise that the actual organisation process can take a lot longer. If you’re unsure about a venue, you can’t just up and go and look for yourself, you have to rely on emails from venue staff or family/friends having time to go there for you.
Make sure you’ve got the legal stuff covered
Find a celebrant ASAP so you can work out what sort of paperwork you need. Some countries require a ‘certificate of single status’ and I’m sure there’s plenty of other nasty surprises out there. But don’t rely on the celebrant, do your own research too, just in case. You don’t want to arrive only to find out that due to missing paperwork, your wedding isn’t going ahead as expected.
Then there’s even more paperwork
You also need to make sure you’re aware of what you need to do in order to verify the marriage in the country you’re living. In our case, once we get the wedding certificate (which we will only get 2-3 months after the wedding, after submitting yet more paperwork), we have to have it apostillised in Australia, and then it has to be translated here before it will be recognised.
Have someone on the ground
Even with the internet, you can’t do it all yourself. Luckily my parents are retired and all too happy to get involved. They went and checked out the venue, rang the people I’d found online to scope them out before booking and did numerous other small jobs for me. I also delegated some (small… I didn’t want to be bridezilla), jobs to those who said they wanted to help (close girlfriends etc.), and asked all my former brides for advice with bands, catering, photographer etc.
The internet is amazing
Without the internet, my parents would have had to do a whole lot more. It’s amazing what you can find out online through websites and reviews to really paint a clear picture of how things will actually be. I basically did all my research and most of the bookings online, via email – we did skype the celebrant and the photographer because it was important that those people were perfect for us.
Go with what you know
Unfortunately, not being onsite means that you can’t possibly check out 15 different venues. I had a couple in mind and did a bit of extra research. After getting some info via email I picked out my favourite and had my parents go and visit. And voila! It was much easier to go with things I already knew, or recommendations from friends.
Sometimes it was a blessing in disguise
I’m now on a few annoying bride emailing lists, but had I been contactable via phone, I also would have had to deal with annoying phone calls. Pretty much every supplier, once you mention the word wedding, wants to phone you up or meet with you personally so they can talk you into what they’re selling. I was free to think take my time in thinking, and then the ‘thanks but no thanks’ emails were a lot easier than phone calls!
The dress goes on the plane
Check with your airline, but most are more than happy to take your wedding dress off your hands, and hang it in the first class wardrobe. Not only that, but everyone instantly smiles as soon as you mention you’re off to get married. Sadly it didn’t translate into an upgrade, but you never know! Also make sure you pack any essentials and high priced items (jewellery, shoes, those hand-painted place cards etc.) in your carry-on luggage. You don’t want to have to stress if your luggage doesn’t arrive.
Organise some time away from the family
In my case, Thomas’ family and mine were meeting for the first time. With at times up to 11 people in the house, it was pretty crazy – though definitely crazy fun. I pre-organised with my parents to take his sightseeing a couple of days, so that Thomas and I had some time to ourselves, and also so that we could get some of the finicky little jobs done quickly and easily. We also booked 3 nights of accommodation (night before and after the wedding) so that we had some pre and post-relax time.
Understand you’re going to be homesick
And when you head back to your ‘other’ home, be prepared for the homesickness. You can’t stop it. You just spent a glorious few weeks introducing everyone to your favourite man in the world, caught up on the goss, went out with your girlfriends and had some D&Ms with your mum… it sux but it’ll be there waiting for you.
But all in all, the process was (mostly) painless and heaps of fun. And I’m super excited about our Austrian-wedding-party in a few weeks… Thomas is a little bit stressed with all the organising, but it’s his turn now!