Thursday, August 11, 2011

Long distance weddings - the good, the bad and the scary!

I headed off camping with my family this week, so I asked fellow blogger Ember if she would be willing to put one together for me. Ember also happens to be my wonderful baby sister and she and her husband had their wedding in our yard a couple of summers ago. 8 hours from their home in Edmonton. Between her florist cancelling 9 weeks before the wedding, a guest room block that somehow never got set in the hotels computer and the hotel her wedding night suite was supposed to be in not being open for her wedding date it was an . . . adventure to say the least. The wedding itself was amazing and beautiful and went off perfectly.  Here is what she learned in the process:
Ember on her wedding day.
                If you are considering having your wedding long distance, my first advice to you is don’t.
Just don’t. If there is any other option for you that will still provide you the wedding you’re dreaming of, take it. If you are a control freak, are easily stressed out (and most brides are, the stress and tears are one of those rights of passage you get to sit around bragging about when some other hapless friend or relative announces their intention to tie the knot), or have a very hard time delegating the details of the most important day of your life so far to someone else, drop the idea, find a nice park or church where you live,  and go with it. If you think that you are able to be laid back, if you can understand that no wedding goes exactly according to plan and that goes double for one being planned several hours away, if you trust the person on the ground doing your running and cake tasting and planning implicitly, then go for it. You can have a very magical wedding that way!
                Step one for the bride trying to plan a wedding elsewhere is Get Some Help. Let me repeat that… GET HELP. This kind of wedding is one that will make a wedding planner worth every penny of their fee. They know the area, they know if that charming little spot you loved growing up has been booked two years ahead of time, and they know what vendors to go with and which to avoid.  If you don’t want a wedding planner, then find someone who lives there who is willing to do an insane amount of running around for you that is willing to act as your feet on the ground. My sister was mine- the lovely lady who helped you with your dress? I put her through A LOT.  She managed to pull off exactly what I wanted and needed. You need to make sure the person you choose is dedicated to helping you do the same- after all, you want YOUR wedding, not what your mother, sister, or cousin Sally wants for your wedding. Without help, planning your wedding will go from exciting, stressful and fun to stressful. I mean it.
                I highly recommend that if you are going to have lots of out of town guests make sure they have somewhere to stay. If they aren’t familiar with the area, it’s also a good idea to include some information about the area and it’s attractions in your invitation. Now- by making sure your guests have somewhere to stay, I do not mean you have to pay. I mean block some hotel rooms off so that your guests don’t arrive at three AM the night before your wedding and discover their room has been sold out from under them.  This happened to one of my bridesmaids, and it was not. Pretty.
                If you are not allowing children at your reception, try to arrange for childcare for out of town guests.  This does not mean you have to pay the baby sitter- just have one (or two, depending on the number of kids) on standby so parents can have fun too.
SO, to sum this long winded epic of a post up:
-Avoid a long-distance wedding if you can
-If you MUST have a long distance wedding, be ready to delegate. Get a long distance plan on your cell phone. You will need it. Expect to spend long periods of time going back and forth with your person on the ground about details.
-MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PERSON ON THE GROUND!!! Also, make sure this person knows what you want in detail. Then trust them to carry it out.
-Your marriage certificate is purchased from the province you are marrying in, not the one you are living in.  If you are getting married in a smaller area, get it sooner rather than later. They can run out.
-Expect things to go wrong. Almost anything can be fixed. Don’t freak out about it until you and your alter-ego have tried every avenue to fix it.
-Arrange for hotel availability. If you get married on a popular weekend like I did, you will find that good hotel rooms are a hot commodity.  Try to include suggestions for things to do for guests who come a day or two early. Try to also arrange for your babysitters to be based out of a hotel room in the same hotel.
-If you are serving booze at your reception (and let’s face it, you will probably need a drink or two by this point!) make sure there is a way for your guests to get back to their hotel rooms. You do not want to start your married life by fighting a lawsuit because one of your inebriated guests got behind the wheel of a car.
Getting  married long distance is exciting and stressful, but with proper planning and the right attitude you can pull off an amazing wedding!


Anonymous said...

Heres a tip. Don't carry your dress on the plane! The closet is tiny and your gown will become inflight origami. So ship the darn thing and get it pressed on location. Or ... sip champagne and get your Mom to handle it, which means, you owe her big time :)
Nice blog!

Unforgettable Jess said...

Thanks for the reminder - gown travel! Yikes! A good tip is to contact your location ahead of time. Gown steaming is actually pretty simple, just time consuming as hell. They'll charge you for it, but there aren't a lot of gowns out there that won't arrive worse for wear no matter how they travel.
Thanks so much for the blog kudos! I just checked yours out and almost spit coffee on my keyboard laughing. :D