Are you engaged and planning a wedding in the United States from another continent? Long-distance wedding planning comes with a unique set of challenges and time zones. But don't be discouraged – I’m here to teach you what I learned as a current Singapore-based expat and former bride who brought her big American wedding to life while living in the Red Dot. Here are my top tips for planning your perfect day… from half a world away.
1. Decide what’s important to you, then delegate everything else.
Inhale deeply… exhale fully. This one can be hard, but it’s essential. The biggest key to success (and sanity) is prioritising what’s most important to you and giving up control of the rest. For me, I was dead set on making decisions about the flowers, photographer, invitations and cake in person. I was okay being virtually involved in the rest. Assuming you can make one trip back to the States before the big day, schedule a flurry of appointments and rest easy by having control over what matters the most to you. Finally, accept that there may be a few on-the-day 'surprises'!
2. Get creative with your registry.
A mountain of new kitchen appliances is great, but not so much when you're schlepping the boxes across the globe. Nowadays, there are plenty of alternatives to the standard fine china and tupperware registries. Honeyfund, (no relation) for example, is a site where guests can give you money specifically for things like flights to the US, your honeymoon, charities and more. Friends will enjoy gifting you a memorable experience much more than a toaster. For cash gifts, don’t forget about fees and the exchange rate when changing from USD to SGD. If asked, Visa or Amazon gift cards are a great solution.
3. Create a shared photo album on your smartphone.
From big things – like the venue – to the smallest details, your eyes and ears on the ground (hello, mom and sisters!) will be sending you heaps of photos through texts. Organisational tools such as Pinterest and Google Docs are great, but aren't as easily accessible for your novice 'wedding planners' with varying levels of tech-savviness. Creating a handy shared photo album on your smartphone is a quick and easy way for everyone on your team to stay up to date and organised.
4. Hire a US-based wedding planner.
With a 12-hour time difference, you're going to need someone on the ground making phone calls and meeting with vendors on your behalf. Don’t let an initial quote freak you out – most planners offer less-than-full-service packages that can be tailored to your needs. Also, don't be afraid to negotiate. Working with an international bride is a great resume builder for a professional event planner! Make sure to fix a standing bi-weekly or monthly time to speak on Skype or FaceTime. Friday night in Singapore time is ideal – coffee for them, wine for you.
5. Keep a positive attitude.
“Ugh, this would be SO much easier if I lived closer!”, you say. When you get bogged down, think of all the positives and ways to take advantage of planning a wedding from Singapore (there are plenty). Go taste-test biscuits in Chinatown for favour ideas. Buy silk kimonos for your bridesmaids. Find inspiration for table names at a hawker. Browse the drink menu at your favourite bar for flavours to include in your own Singapore-themed signature cocktail. Don’t think of planning a wedding from a distance as a disadvantage; instead, get creative and have fun with it!
This story was written by Cassidy Duvall, an American-born expat living in Singapore. Keep up with her travel and adventures on her blog, Let's Go East.