Tuesday, February 8

The Best Reader Request EVER

Last night, I received the following comment from a reader named Lauren:
Hi, kinda random comment... but would you mind doing a post about how you're planning a wedding from across the ocean? I'm planning a wedding less then a hour from where I live and I think it's hard; how are you handling it!?

Ummmm...are you asking if I want to talk about my wedding plans? Does a bear shit in the woods? Heck yes I would.

I've been avoiding discussing my wedding woes on here for fear of alienating my audience. But if a reader requests it, well goshdarnit, I guess I better do it. (For all the naysayers: Would I jump off a bridge if someone told me to? Yep! Yes indeed I would if the bridge allowed me to brag about my wedding plans first. Thankyouverymuch)

When it comes to planning from abroad, I think your degree of success (and sanity) comes from your personality. Are you decisive? Do you stress out easily? Is Google your BFF?

I'm incredibly decisive - I never second guess myself and I know what I want when I want how I want (*cough* qualities of a bridezilla to be? *cough*) - so decision making thus far has been easy for me, especially these days. In today's technologically advanced society, you can pretty much find anything online. I'm Facebook friends with our photographer and have tweeted my reception venue. I also made sure to set up a wedding website and a Facebook group that I keep up to date with hotel deals, flight rates, and other important info for my potential guests!

My steps for wedding planning from abroad success are simple:

1. Stalk my prey via the internet
2. Decide what I like
3. Ask Sean if he likes it
4. Convince Sean he likes it
5. Call/email the necessary person to set it up
6. Obsessively stare at whatever it is website

I think the other key element to your level of stress is time management. We did a lot of things in the first few months and have since hit a lull which I'm thoroughly enjoying! Come spring, I know it'll be time to pick up the craziness again!

Before doing ANYTHING, sit down with your fiance and whoever is paying for the wedding and talk about what everyone envisions for the day. Keep that vision in mind as you go through the process...and when it gets too hectic remember: The entire building could set on fire, your hair could turn out horribly, the food could taste like crap, but at the end of the day you'll be married to the person you love and that's all that really matters. (Well that, and an open bar. Priorities people. Priorities.)

Here's what I've done so far (accompanied with my completely unprofessional, unsolicited advice)

By far the #1 thing to figure out first. Champagne taste on a beer budget only leads to disappointment. What things are important to you? Sean and I each picked a couple key things we labeled as our "big ticket items". For him? Food and alcohol. For me? Chiavari chairs.

Worth. Every. Extra. Penny.

Destination for Ceremony and Reception
This should definitely be the other first thing you decide. It sets the tone for the entire wedding, not to mention places can fill up insanely fast...like 2 years in advance?!?! Some brides are just straight up crazy, yo.

We're getting married on Hilton Head Island, SC. We chose HHI because we wanted a laid-back beach vibe without it being too far away for our guests convenience. This seemed like the perfect solution.

We picked the place without actually visiting it, but only because my family has vacationed in Hilton Head for many years and my parents lived in Savannah so we were familiar with the resort and the territory surrounding it. Sean had some hesitation because he's never been there, but he trusted my instincts on this one (Reason #3948039842 why he rocks).

Save The Dates
This was one of the things I really needed to get done before we left for London. So despite the fact the wedding was still a YEAR away, I sent out the Save the Dates (which, by the way, are usually known as STDs. Couldn't we create a better acronym?) after Labor Day this past year. (Also, because it is a destination wedding, we wanted to give people more notice so they could hopefully save money and find the best deals on flights and hotels!)

I created these postcards on Zazzle.com and was going to mail them as is, but quickly realized they were too small to have postage stamps and address labels put onto them.

Instead, I ordered Tiffany blue envelopes and my dad and I spent several hours hand feeding them through our printer at home to put pretty addresses on them. (Ohhh the things a dad will do for his only daughter)

My advice? Don't spend a ridiculous amount of time or money on things like this...especially the envelope and address labels. I even made a special trip to the post office to buy stamps with wedding rings on them. In retrospect, I feel silly because people just threw the envelopes away.


One of the best things to do when you first start planning is to figure out what aspects of the wedding are the most important to you and your fiance. Sean and I both ranked photography as one of our top budget busters. We jumped into the search for the right photographer immediately after securing the venue. Luckily, we instantly fell in love with Michael Moss.

I could gush about his work all day. Fran-freaking-tastic. We are SO excited!

Photography is one of those things I am confident you can choose over the internet. Any good photographer will have a strong online portfolio or blog for you to browse through. I think the most important thing if finding someone who matches your style (and budget of course!)

First off, you are straight up CRAZY if you think I'm showing you a photo of my dress on here. Not gonna happen. Not even a little sliver of the bottom train. Nada.

I can tell you it does NOT look like this:

I will give you a hint though. It's white. And pretty. Really really ridiculously pretty. (You can read about the day I bought it here)

Don't waste time before looking for a dress because a) it's like playing the best version of dress up EVER and b) most dresses take 6 to 8 months to be ready and then you still have several fittings to schedule before the big day.

Also, set a budget and stick to it. It's one day folks. ONE DAY. I gave myself a reasonable guideline to stick within and was very firm with all the sales associates at the boutiques I went to: do NOT give me a dress over my price budget, I won't bother trying it on.

Bridesmaid dresses:
I knew I wouldn't be able to go with my girls while living in London, so I took the opportunity to get it done quickly. We all went together and tried on a bunch. Luckily, one dress fit everyone nicely and it was exactly what I had envisioned. Bingo! Bango! Done!

(My dresses are NOT orange. They are a bright blue. So close your eyes and imagine all the ugly away)

Motif just sounds SO much classier than the word Theme doesn't it? Sean and I decided to incorporate a "travel" motif throughout our wedding to highlight something that is such a big part of us. These accents will be weaved throughout different parts of the ceremony and reception. For example, our escort cards will be hand-made luggage tags and people will be seated at countries we've traveled to together instead of table numbers.

Instead of having a traditional guest book, Sean and I have been collecting postcards from all over the world and are planning to have people sign the backs of those instead.

EDIT: This is why I LOVE blogging. Someone just caught a typo in my sign above. Thank goodness for you guys!!!!

This is perhaps my favorite part of the planning process. Being a huge font snob and a teensy bit anal retentive, I knew immediately I'd design all my own paper products for the wedding. We're doing pocketfold invitations with inserts and all sorts of other magic goodies, but I don't want to give those away yet. (I am planning on doing a massive post on it once they are completed this spring so hold tight!) I'm also designing the ceremony program, luggage tags, menus, and other assorted items. (Like this fab little sign that will accompany the candy buffet we are serving with dessert)

This part of the planning can be extremely stressful and time consuming if you don't enjoy graphic design or arts and crafts. If you don't have a DIY bone in your body, then go to The Paper Source and order some bitchin' invites through them. You won't be sorry! They are equally beautiful (if not more so) for a fraction of the stress (but perhaps not the cost).

In terms of time, I know most invitations go out around 6 weeks before the wedding. Because ours is a destination, we are sending them out much earlier and asking for an RSVP earlier as well.

Miscellaneous items:
Over the past several months we've also hammered out a number of other details including the officiant, cocktail napkins (Yes. I specially designed cocktail napkins. I AM that girl. They are freaking awesome though. Just wait and see!), flip flops for my bridesmaids, and the accommodations for our wedding party.

Typically with a destination wedding, it is the responsibility of the bride and groom to provide accommodations for their wedding party (they pay for their own flights). Sean and I rented this beach house right near the ceremony site. It was a large chunk of our budget, but it's serving as our rehearsal dinner location and a myriad of other things as well. To us, this was one of the big ticket items we wanted to focus on because it sets the tone for the entire weekend! We want our friends and family to relax, enjoy themselves, and look at this as an opportunity to have fun.

Still left to tackle on The List (aka the Excel spreadsheet I created that haunts me in my sleep):
  • flowers - You can definitely find a florist on the internet. I found one based off reviews from The Knot. Because I'm not doing flower centerpieces, this item hasn't caused me a lot of concern. The vendor I'm working with just requested that I email a bunch of pictures of my ideas and when I get down for a visit in April we'll figure it out then!

  • music - This has been the trickiest to organize from afar. We found two bands we enjoyed and both are already booked! So the search continues...

  • cake - While I could technically do this online, it's just not the same. You can't taste it or feel that sugar high through Google unfortunately. Another thing I'll do in person this spring.

  • hair - I've found a few hair salons I liked, but I am holding out until April when I can get a hair trial done

  • details - I have 3948203947324 items that need to be completed by September, but they are all things that need to be done Stateside so for now, I wait!
I feel like there are a million other things that I'm leaving out, but wedding buzz is one of those things that is only contagious for certain people. If you want to chat all things girly, gushy, and wedding-y, I'd love to exchange ideas and share other things I'm incorporating into the wedding, but let's do it privately. (or in a big group g-chat if you're into that sort of thing. ohhh yeahhhhh.)

Email me or tweet me and we can talk about colors, honeymoons, and veil lengths until the cows come home! Otherwise I fear the sights and sounds of eye-rolling and gagging will be heard throughout the blogosphere. I wouldn't want to lose any of my valuable readers...

...I'm counting on them to pitch in and buy me the Kitchen-Aid mixer of my dreams as a wedding present. (I'm not kidding either.)

(Okay, yes I am)

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