By Jackie Eager
Last year, my now husband proposed to me on Savo Island during a weekend break from Honiara. There was a waterfall, a gorgeous beach, and delicious food – it was all very romantic. While we travelled over there on a banana boat, we definitely floated back on cloud 9.
After a few days of excitement, I then realised (with shock/concern/fear) that timing meant that we would be organising our wedding from afar: we were living in Honiara and the church, our family and friends, were in Australia. I normally like to do everything myself, but this was a situation where I would have to compromise and rely on others.
With the wedding now over, I thought I would pass along the key bits of info that helped us along the inter-country wedding planning journey. Following these tips reduced our stress and helped us have such a special day. I hope they are useful to you too for any event you are planning remotely.
1. Use email invites
I decided to avoid the snail mail postal system as I wanted to know that invites had definitely been received, have the RSVPs instantly in my mailbox and be able to chase up those who were late in responding.
I can not more highly recommend Paperless Post (www.paperlesspost.com). You can send gorgeous invites and track them as they are opened and responded to. You can personalise with your chosen envelope, stamp and you can add in extra pages including where your guests can leave you messages. The cards are beautiful and choices include designs by my fashion favourite Kate Spade New York. You can also order hard copy versions for people that don’t use email.
Since discovering Paperless Post, I have been using the website to send my family their birthday cards in Australia. There are numerous free card options as well as the paid ones. So many pretty designs to choose from!
2. Get a dress with a lace up back
The food, and Solbrew, in Honiara is a potential threat to fitting in your dress on the day. Any bride will know that getting your dress to fit right can take months. There are often three or more fittings for a wedding dress, to make it just the right size. Unfortunately, this was not an option for me. I was not able to pop back and forth to Melbourne in the months before the wedding. Fearful of not fitting into my dress, I had a lace up back put in. This meant the dress could be tightened or let out as needed to suit me on the day. Given all of Honiara’s temptations I’m glad I made this decision!
3. Get a support team (aka accept that there are some things you cannot do)
Face it – you are in another country and so there are just some things you are going to have to miss out on. Living away from home has many benefits but there are also downsides and being unable to attend your venue’s food tasting night is one of them. Being annoyed about this, or seeing it as a barrier to wedding day happiness, will just drive you crazy and upset your fiancée so accept it early and run with it.
There are some things we were able to organise on the net, such as the DJ (who had music samples online), photography, cake, design and printing. But others, like flowers, food, bridesmaid dresses were more personal and generous helpers needed to be found. Having these kinds of jobs to dish out can help maintain mother and mother-in-law involvement – they may be a little frustrated by not being able to have this ‘wedding organisation’ experience with their children. Choose bridesmaids and groomsmen wisely, warning them at the start that, as you are overseas, the job may require a bit more effort than usual.
One helpful thing that we did was to have a wedding base: a lovely person who doesn’t mind housing all the wedding paraphernalia we collected. This included sending them things we bought online (Etsy was great www.etsy.com), our printing and all the nick nacks for our center pieces.
4. Make a Pinterest page
Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) is a brilliant tool to help communicate what is in your head with other people, especially from far away. On Pinterest, you can find pictures from all over the internet and then stick them all on one page. I wanted a ‘tropical vintage’ wedding and, while I knew exactly what that meant to me, it was hard to communicate to others with words alone. By sending people the link, they could see the style, décor, clothing, atmosphere that I was after.
5. Include your temporary home in your wedding
Being away from home should not stop you from shopping! I bought some of my wedding vases at Lels, the bale shop near Lime Lounge. There was 14 of them in a box at the back of the shop and they couldn’t have fitted in more perfectly with my ‘tropical vintage’ theme.
If you are arriving back home only a few days before the wedding, timing will be tight and so get your wedding pampering done in your temporary home. I was lucky that manicures, pedicures, stress relieving massages could all be done locally.
Perhaps an overall tip is to ‘keep it real’. Remember that (apparently) you are meant to enjoy organising your wedding. At times this did not ring true for me, and so I had to stop myself and re-calibrate about what was actually important and what was just fluff around the edges. And remember, be nice to your fiancée as them being happy is the most important part of the whole wedding and they are the only thing that you can’t replace on the day!