Thursday, September 16, 2010

inter-continental wedding woes

Dear ESB,

I am a midwestern girl who's been living in Ireland with my fiance for the last 5 years (he was born and raised in Dublin, all his family are here). A good chunk of our friends live here too. However, I've a big ol' family back in Michigan, plus a good few college friends who live in Boston.

Neither of our families are made of money, we're paying for the wedding ourselves so that's not a problem, but we are getting really frustrated with wedding planning, as it seems in any wedding scenario one of our families will be largely absent. We're all about having two celebrations: one in Ireland, and one in America, but then we feel guilty about making our immediate families go to both (the flights alone are pretty expensive), and again, we're bummed about the idea that each celebration will pretty much only be celebrating with one family. We briefly thought about splitting the difference, doing something in NY or something, but rather than a compromise that scenario might just eliminate people from BOTH families with the costs of flights and hotels.

I know there's no perfect solution, I just need some inspirational words.


Have a big old party in Michigan and a big old party in Dublin.

Invite everyone to both parties (stressing that they are not obligated to attend).

I know it feels like a bummer that your family and his family won't necessarily get to meet and bond and drink together the way they would at a traditional wedding, but THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR MOVING TO DUBLIN AND MARRYING AN IRISHMAN.

(Polaroid by Raymond Molinar)


  1. I'm in the situation (and he's an Irishman too, although we're living in Oxford). After much fretting, we're going the two party route...but it's really stressful for him as the first and 'real' wedding is in my hometown so he feels like his family is pressured to spend loads of money to attend more than mine. I think the answer for us was a loooong engagement (giving them plenty of time to save money) and lots of open discussions about what was realistic for our families. And we're making a huge effort to help everyone find reasonable flights, accommodation, etc. and to help them feel like it's a vacation, not just a wedding.

    Without lots of money, there's no real way around it....:(.

  2. mmm. totally worth it to marry the irishman.

  3. Yeah, short of winning the lottery (do they have a lottery in Ireland?) there is no better solution. I would start buying lottery tickets just in case.

  4. I had a friend in this situation who "solved" it by having the wedding in a totally different country which was no one's home, so every guest had to do international travel to get there. This did not go over well. Destinations weddings can be sort of OK if the hosts understand a LOT of people won't be able to make it, but in this case there was a ton of pressure and potential hurt feelings. I would have much rather they had a really cheap-but-fun party in each place, since being pressured to do their wacky plan was a huge burden on me. Good luck! I'm going to Ireland for my honeymoon!

  5. that sucks, but don't feel so guilty. no matter what you do, someone will always not be able to come. so stick to your guns, don't adjust your plans for specific people and their financial situations. i'm assuming most of the people you're worried about are adults with real jobs. if they NEED to come, they'll find a way. at least everyone could make it to it in their own country.

  6. Speaking from the perspective of having just done this, don't worry, it'll be fine! I'm an Aussie living in Melbourne with my English (now) husband. We decided that as we live here, it was only fair that we get married over there - it helped that I met him while living in the UK so had a lot of friends there as well. My parents and brother, an aunt and uncle and a few friends were the only ones who were able to travel over, my three closest girlfriends couldn't afford it. But we had an amazing day, and we're now one week out from our big party back here (low key, buffet and beer in a bowls club). People will understand. They get that you're torn, and honestly, rather than being annoyed most people on this end apologised profusely to us because they couldn't make it!

  7. have 2 parties and know that while you are stressed now, you get to marry. an. irishman.

    worth it.

  8. @Rachel, clearly you've never seen the amazing 1998 movie Ned Devine. I suggest you fix that immediately.

  9. I know exactly how you feel. I'm marrying an Irishman and lived in Ireland with him for a year before the recession hit and we moved to Australia, where I'm from. We're having a long engagement (27 months? We're at 15 months before the wedding now) so we can afford everything and other people can afford to travel. The way we're doing it is to have the legal ceremony here by a celebrant, then having a religious ceremony in Ireland. Both weddings will be so different, so nobody misses out. Our immediate families are travelling to both, but hey, it is a holiday for them and we've given them plenty of notice :)

  10. Have two parties, and stream your ceremony on the internet for those who can't make it.

    To make it a bit more affordable for your family and friends, try and schedule your wedding at an offpeak travel time like the end of January ($500 flights Michigan <-> Dublin on US airways). You can also offer your family and friends your house to stay in, and maybe you can get a hotel for that week or whatever. It might be nice to have a place to yourself anyways.

  11. we just did this this summer - had our 'official' wedding on the east coast and then had a big party back here in the UK where we live (he's English, I'm Californian). His parents and 1 bro came to the wedding and my parents and sis came here for the party. It was a little tough for both groups to travel so much but worth it for them and my mom finally got to meet all of my London friends by coming over.

    Things that helped:

    - having the wedding in the US in a place where pple wanted to go on holiday (Cape Cod) so they made a trip of it

    - having the wedding just before 'high season' started so tickets/hotels were a lot cheaper

    - trying, wherever possible, to find places for friends and family to stay to offset the airfare (1 set of my parents stayed with his parents friends and were up late drinking)

    Good luck, sounds like a few of us have been there...

  12. hmmm. i recall 2 yrs back being in this predicament. I'm an american frm NYC and the hubs is italian. We reside in Italy. Both with big families but his is bigger (italians always are) I can relate to the flip flopping of where the wedding should be held. Bottom line, someone is going to miss out. It's happens, esp. as an international couple. Don't fret. In my opinion, the 2 wedding thing doesn't really work b/c the second celebration will not have the same excitment/magic as the first. My advice, have the first where you two truly want to have it and where you two feel most comfortable. Then a celebration feast for those who could not attend the wedding. In the end, it's your celebration, you're not going to be able to please everyone.
    We made a short, simple prioty list to help us decide and it worked.
    1. which location would allow you to have the kind of wedding you both have in mind that works with your budget?
    2. which location allows you both to have a guest list that you both feel good about (remember there will be some peeps that cannot swing it and that also might include some very important people)
    Srlsy, this is what my hubs and i had to do, otherwise, we would still be planning wedding.
    We ended up having a the real wedding in nyc followed by a small celebration lunch that spring in italy for those who could not make it to nyc. it was perfect. If that doesn't work, you can always stick to good ole fashion tradition of hosting the wedding in the brides hometown. no one will question it. good luck.

  13. we just did this as well (I'm from ny, husband from Scotland and we live in DC) In the end we decided to do the big thing in the UK as he's got the bigger family. It sucks that lots of people won't be able to come and I was worried that I would just be sad on my wedding day but the outpouring of love and excitement from the people who could attend and the people who couldn't was just amazing. No one felt obligated to spend lots of money or left out because they couldn't attend, they were just so happy that we were happy and your friends and family will be too. You're going to be married for years, theres plenty of time for more parties down the line.

  14. In the same situation - marrying a Scotsman, but we live here together in Philly where I'm originally from.

    We're having a small ceremony/reception here in Philly this December which will basically be only my siblings and one close aunt, as well as his parents (who were already planning to be here due to the holidays) and a handful of our closest friends (fortunately as well his two best mates from Scotland also live in the US now).

    Then next July we'll head over to Scotland for a similar sized party there with the Scottish relatives and friends.

    With this said, we did invite the entire Scottish crew to the Philly wedding - knowing they wouldn't be able to afford it/make it, and telling them as we invited them that yes, we're coming there too so that they didn't have to feel bad. We're coming to them, and we wish we could have them here with us for the first go around but that round 2 will be just as fun and loving as the first. And we have also told the US crew that the Scottish party is open to them as well if they so desire...

    This way both sides get to celebrate with us, and if there are people here and there that can afford both (making it a vacation for themselves) than so be it...but there's no stress on anyone (except maybe us ;)

  15. We did two parties too, and it was great. Our "proper" wedding was in Scotland where we live, and my immediate family flew over and had a great holiday within the wedding. We paid for their accommodation at the wedding venue to ease the pain. Then we went back to Tennessee for our honeymoon and had another reception there, where my huge family got to have a big gathering. We showed pictures from the Scottish wedding during the second reception, and everyone enjoyed themselves!

    (p.s. mini-bonus if you have a huge family like mine -- not having to accommodate my massive family at our scottish wedding meant that we got to have a wedding FULL of our close friends - it was a great party!)

  16. My boss got around this when at one point they realized his family and her family were all visiting at the same time and when was THAT ever going to happen again, so they got married at the courthouse and had a party right then with only a week's notice. I know that's not really a solution unless the first part happens by accident, but it's cool that it worked out that way for him!

  17. We did this (a Trinidadian married to an Englishman), and invited everyone to both, saying that people could come to whichever they could make. Although we did end up making the second party quite weddingy by having a bit of a church blessing alongside. So it really felt like 2 weddings.

    And let me tell you, that shit ROCKED.

  18. You cant win... it sucks but there will always be people who cant come to the wedding no matter what... I'm a kiwi, he's an Aussie. We live in Aus so I felt it was only fair we had the wedding in my hometown. I would not change our wedding for all the world but considering we had a long engagement (2yrs) and set dates 14months in advance I was pretty disappointed how few of his family came over. We didn't feel we needed to have a 2nd party and I dont regret that either! Sometimes you just have to be grateful for who is there and how wonderful the night is, and not worry about whos not...
    I hope it all works out and you have an amazing wedding regardless!

  19. You could elope to somewhere neutral (nyc? canary islands? i dunno) and then just hold two different reception shindigs? And slideshow amazing photies from the elopement and wear your frock repeatedly.

  20. The discance challence we face is tiny compared to the ones posted above. My man is French and we live together in Scotland (where I'm from). I have my heart set on a traditional Scottish wedding in my home town. I always thought that would be a big issue for his parents, especially since neither of them are fit to travel and he's a (very, verrrrry) loved only child. His dad surprised me when we were over there this summer by saying that we should just get married here in Scotland and then have a big party in France en route to our honeymoon. The main reasons for that were 1. our life is here, he sees Scotland as home now and will be much less out of place at a wedding here than I would be at a wedding in France 2. weddings aren't such a big deal where he comes from so not as many people would be put out by missing it and 3. he's happy they won't have to deal with the stress/finance of planning it all.

    Of course everybody across the Channel will be invited to the wedding and I'm so excited to share my country and culture with whoever does make it.