My husband and I have both left Germany and France, our respective countries over 10 years ago. So when we decided to get married earlier this year, it was rather obvious to us to tie the knot in the city we met and call home: Brooklyn. Besides, between our two countries, picking one over the other would have been a fairly political decision that would not have been fair on any family.
Then the timeframe: considering my parents and siblings associated with their respective offsprings, we are 14 of us (counting in myself and husband). Finding a date was a matter of working around everyone's holiday schedule, which would have likely pushed the date to the summer time when the New York weather can get humid and really hot - not the ideal holiday for a lot of people. On top of this, they would have had to take time off, pay for flights, accommodation and so on - some would have made it and some others not. And neither my husband nor I really wanted a wedding with only partial attendance due to a bad or selfish decision on our part.
So we went for the snobbish version of a wedding: just the two of us: an 'elopement' in the city we live in. And since we were not tied to a date/season or any dates to be convenient to any guests, we picked a Tuesday (hoping the Court House would be empty but we were awfully wrong), and got married on March 24th this year.
The advantage of having chosen a low-key-wedding was the little stress that was upon us on our Big Day (or even before for that matter). The downside is: nobody is around to remind you of what you should be doing or help you with tiny decisions you may have to make. A few observations/recos though for anyone thinking about tying the knot away from everyone:
- Make a list: even if you are going to have a small wedding. Go online and take one to-do list for a more traditional wedding: remove all tasks that are not relevant to you and assign a few tasks to your groom (I picked booking a restaurant and getting bridal underwear - two things he is excellent at).
- Pick a theme, a color, a font - and scope what you want to do for your wedding. Even if your wedding will be a private and small event, this is no reason to overlook details. You will surely hear comments such as 'why do you need a photographer as it will be only the 2 of you?' (hello mum!). It does not matter - if all goes well, you will marry only once in your life, so make it special, romantic or even cheesy if you want.
- If like me, you are an expat: consider how your marriage will be recognized in your home country (if at all) and start doing the paperwork. If you plan on staying in your adoptive country for the rest of your life, it might not matter but if for any reasons you may want to move back, better doing it earlier rather than later. The law in your home country might be slightly different from where you are getting married so make sure it will be acceptable ahead of time (for instance, 1 witness in the USA is enough while getting married in France requires 2 but it seems to be ok). For France, getting your paperwork before your wedding makes it slightly simpler than after - FYI.
- If you want to get a pre-nup - also do it ASAP so it is out of the way.
- Don't be scared by others' points of view. Especially the family. Super liberal, open-minded parents may all of the sudden be very attached to the tradition of the bride's parents' hosting the wedding. Keep in mind that in these circumstances, whatever the choice you will make, someone will criticize - even if your decision prevents everyone from getting bankrupt.
- Even if friends and family will not be around that day, and there will be no invites, think of how you want to communicate about your wedding. We were pretty straight forward about our choice with family and friends and everyone was very happy for us regardless as a wedding remains a celebration of love. We picked very nice cards with flower seeds in and sent 'Thank you' cards along with a little picture of our wedding day. The feedback we received was very positive (and our card even got exhibited in Estonia!). It is very nice to know that now, flowers are blossoming across the world for us (yeah, that's really cheesy!)
- Budget it: in America, like anywhere else, some brides have an unlimited budget and some have a small budget. If you belong to the latter, stick to your guns and keep in mind: as soon as the adjective 'bridal' is attached to any words, it doubles/triples the price - especially in New York City. Allocate the amount you think is fair to spend and stick to it (FYI - my budget was $200 max for the dress and with hair, make up, jewelry etc, I ended up with $600 all together. So you can do it!)
- Don't be intimidated by other brides' fans - AKA it is totally ok to go on your own to try dresses on and say that you will NOT have any bridesmaids. But please note, it will not be the norm. One reco: do NOT go on weekends when armies of mothers, godmothers, grandmothers, brides maids, sisters, cousins etc will join the bride to make this experience a nightmare for everyone around (laughters, tears, loud music and worst of all - Facetime with other women of the family who could not make it). Even if my family would have been around, I think I would have still gone alone - as after all, the dress should be for yourself and your groom. Nobody else. And from my experience of asking people's point of view around (friends, colleagues etc), everyone has an opinion mostly based on what they would pick for themselves. Not you.
- Go online: After several attempts in bridal stores, I actually ended up ordering several dresses online and tried them at home. I took pictures (I felt like a 15-year-old taking selfies) and sent them to a dear friend of mine (only 1) who works in fashion. His choice was immediate and clear - and it helped me feeling confident I was keeping the right dress.
- Try: trials are for 'trying' - set aside a little budget for things you know you can be sensitive about and pay for a trial. For me it was make up. I did pay for a trial and when seing the result, I decided I would be super stressed out by having this person take care of my face. So I politely told him I had decided to do my own make up. It is not an easy one but after all, not only it saved me money but also time (one less thing to fit into my schedule and I did my make up once I was feeling ready for it).
- Photographer: pick one, even if you are getting married at the Court House wearing jeans! On good and bad days, for years and hopefully decades to come, it will be the day you will remember as your wedding day - so get a professional photographer to capture that special moment.
- Through all the decisions you may have to make alone, and your future husband sometimes not seing the point of all this fuss, you may feel a little shaky and regret your family is not around to support you - and that's ok. In the meantime, remember that as much of an emotional support your family may be, you may need emotional support BECAUSE they are around and not having to entertain anyone the day before your wedding day is priceless. If you are scared of feeling gloomy a few days before your wedding, ask a bunch of great girlfriend to organize you a bachelorette party (and mine was memorable!). You will feel loved and special and have great sets of ears to listen to your bridal stories.
- Lastly, the days goes so fast, do what you really like to do. I got myself a private yoga class with my favorite teacher and that helped me start the day the best way possible. I felt relaxed, happy and more than anything... ready to get married.
List of vendors:
Photographer: Agaton Strom - http://agatonstrom.com/
Dress: Asos - us.asos.com
Jacket: my-tribe.net at Century 21
Shoes: Alfani for Macy's - www1.macys.com
Earrings: Everli - http://www.everlijewelry.com/
Bracelet: Tiffany & Co
Hair: Shannon for Foxy Salon - http://www.foxysalonnyc.com/
Wedding ring: custom made Cobalt and Bog Oak rings by Wedgewood ring - http://www.wedgewoodrings.com/