Monday, 2 February 2015

The Joys, Trials and Tribulations of Planning a Wedding from Abroad

OK, so I promise I'll stop the stream of wedding-related posts and write about something else soon, but after keeping quiet about our engagement for four months, I've got a few thoughts that have been buzzing around in my head that I want to get out of my system.

When we first got engaged, Understanding Frenchman and I had no precise ideas of what our wedding would be like. In fact, both of us would have been happy with a quick visit to the mairie accompanied by our parents and a couple of witnesses, followed by a nice meal at a restaurant afterwards. In the end, however, we settled for our other preferred option: to marry in Scotland surrounded by all of our closest friends.

As it turns out, we have a lot of closest friends. And so we find ourselves coordinating a large, 3 day DIY wedding at a somewhat rustic venue from over a thousand kilometres away.

There are actually quite a few advantages to this setup. For example, I'm not the most decisive person in the world, and if I was in Scotland now, I would probably be spending every waking hour researching, visiting and finding alternatives for every aspect of the wedding. From a distance, it's more a case of, if the website looks good, the staff can communicate by email and it's available, we'll take it.

Also, there's an element of getting the best of both worlds in being able to source some things in France and other things in the UK. We made our own invitations, and ordering the card and envelopes from a British company and getting them delivered to my parents probably saved us a small fortune. (This kind of stationery is one of the things that only seems to be available at the luxe market point in France.) The UK high street also seems to have a good selection of simple wedding dresses that can be ordered online too. On the other hand, the cheap wedding shops around the Boulevard de Magenta in Paris will be a great source of paper decorations, we'll probably source our wine in France, and if I decide I want a high-end designer dress after all, there are some amazing dépôts-vente where I could buy one for a fraction of the original price.

There are definitely downsides as well though. One of the most annoying is the way that absolutely everything in the wedding services industry seems to be bespoke, which is like a secret code for "we'll only give you very vague information, accompanied by lots of pretty pictures, unless you come to talk to us in person". Given that even talking on the phone in UK office hours involves me leaving work extra-specially early (I know, I know, I should probably change my mobile call plan), and we haven't actually been to Scotland since we got engaged, this is pretty difficult for us.

The worst thing, though, has to be the waiting. We had to wait to start making the aforementioned invitations until we went back at Christmas and could collect the card from my parents. I am currently waiting to order a dress that I absolutely love online because it can be delivered free to a UK address and we won't be back for a few weeks yet, and desperately hoping that it won't sell out. Even our budget planning is blocked by the fact that we haven't visited the venue yet and don't know exactly what we'll have to pay for. As a major planner, this has me waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.

At the end of the day though, I think we've made the right choice.. The decision to have our wedding celebrations in Scotland came as much from Understanding Frenchman as from me, and it means a lot to me that he wants to bring all his friends and family to my home country and make it the location of such an important event in our lives. Surely that's worth a bit of waiting and frustration?


  1. I would prefer a more DIY wedding. I know that when Luke and I have discussed it we decided a wedding in Europe - perhaps Spain would be best for us and for our family. I would really want an English wedding though.

  2. I found that less choices was definitely better when planning our French-American wedding in France a few years ago. It's stressful enough mixing the two different families/friends groups, so having the venue tell us stuff like "these are the only tablecloths we have" made that one less thing to stress about! I think I worried most about the Americans having a good trip (for some it was their first trip abroad) so I started to plan a whole itinerary, but my husband kept reminding me they're adults, and if they wanted to do something, they'd ask how, I didn't need to plan every second of the day for them.