LONG-DISTANCE WEDDING PLANNING | UK WEDDING BLOG

facebook-profile-picture By Emily
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I’ve kept meaning to write this post, but I’ve never found the right words for it. I’ve searched high and low for some upbeat and funny way to talk about what it’s like to spend your engagement on a separate continent from your fiancé (not to mention your wedding venue). You can catch up on my story here, but to recap, I’m currently living in NYC, planning a move to join my fiancé, Ben, in London this spring (and slogging through UK immigration while I’m at it), and getting married in Oxford in August. But I’ve got nothing. The good part of all of this—well, the good part is that we’re getting married. As for the rest: it pretty much sucks.

While other couples live together, visit venues, go to tastings, and all that good stuff, Ben and I have had two measly visits in the past nine months. We’re usually only able to talk twice a week or so because of the five-hour time difference, and what time we do have has been almost entirely devoted to my immigration application lately. Our lives seem so different from the average engaged couple’s; while I try my best to focus on what I do have rather than what I don’t, I can’t deny feeling a little pang of sadness every time I see other couples doing wedding crafts or meeting with their florist—or even just going out for dinner.

And speaking of immigration—at the back of my mind every time I set my mind to doing some wedmin is the all too real thought that my visa application may be rejected. The immigration process has been massively stressful for me—it’s an anxious bureaucracy-phobe’s worst nightmare—and I’m sure it will get worse before it gets better.

Everyone talks about how your engagement is such a special time, and it is, but I can’t help feeling like I’m missing out. I think the worst was when Ben went on venue visits without me. In addition to finding it hard to make a decision based on second-hand reports (even from my most trusted person), it was sad not getting to participate in such a quintessential engaged couple activity. I’d meant to go to England for a week last fall to meet with some wedding vendors, but between our respective work schedules—we have totally opposite busy seasons and downtimes—we couldn’t find a mutually convenient time, and I never ended up going.

As I think has become pretty apparent over my last few posts, I’ve kind of lost my wedding planning mojo (though don’t you fear, I still have plenty to say on the subjects of weddings and marriage). While I’m sure part of this has to do with me not being much of a planner by nature—and with the fact that trying to negotiate with suppliers or find lesser versions of the things we really want at workable price points seems more and more like a terrible work project—I can only imagine I’d be feeling 100% more jazzed about the whole process if Ben were here doing it with me.

The only aspect of wedding planning I’ve wholeheartedly enjoyed thus far has been dress shopping—and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s also the only part I’ve been able to participate in fully. And even with that, I still feel the tiniest bit regretful that I didn’t get to shop in London like I really wanted to.

I didn’t mean for this post to sound too mopey, though I know it does. The bottom line is that I’m engaged to an amazing guy, and, for all of the extra hurdles we have to jump to be together, we’re very lucky to have each other. My long-distance engagement sadness is the ultimate in first world problems; I get that.

And I admit that, in part, I’ve brought this upon myself. We could have planned a no-frills registry office (or rabbi’s office) ceremony this summer and held the big festivities next year, which would’ve allowed us to be together for the planning phase. We did discuss this possibility initially, but neither of us liked it. If we’d already been married for many months by the time our reception rolled around, it wouldn’t feel as meaningful to us. And while I wouldn’t have minded having just a tiny handful of guests witness our actual marriage, that wasn’t what Ben wanted. Now I’m wondering if we were too quick to dismiss the possibility, but what’s done is done. And in the scheme of things, I know it doesn’t matter much anyway.

But all you brides who get to spend your engagements with your fiancé(e)s—savour it. Appreciate the small moments, like addressing your invitations together—or even just waking up in the same bed on a glorious weekend morning—as well as the big ones. And, if you’re so inclined, think good thoughts for my visa application. With a lot of work and a bit of luck, I hope I’ll be right there with you in a couple months’ time.

  • ninegrandstudent

    I can’t imagine how difficult it must be in a separate country – I struggle enough just being a couple of hundred miles away! We made the decision to wait until we are closer before planning the big things, and at the moment any actual planning isn’t being done (just wait until we finish both of our exams, I’m raring to go!), but even ‘oh, I have an idea’ is annoying as we can’t immediately share it with the other! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog

    • Emily Sacharin

      I think on some level once you’re long-distance, you’re long-distance, whether it’s a couple hundred miles or many thousands. In retrospect it seems like a really wise decision to hold off on planning until you’re together, but I feel like even without that it’s just not the same being engaged when you’re not together. Do you have long to wait until you’re in the same place?

      • ninegrandstudent

        Fingers crossed not long at all – we both graduate this summer, so all being well it’s finally time to move in and get on with our lives!

  • I’m going through exactly the same thing as you, except I’m on the UK side and trying to get my fiance over here is a nightmare. Thank you for sharing your story, it tugged my heartstrings because I feel your pain and can completely sympathise. On top of it all we have two mums with cancer, which is why we made the choice to be a part in the first place. I am struggling to find a job in London, after living in NYC and clocking up a few years of good experience, which means that the visa process can’t even begin until I get a job. We did the no frills registry office in the US in Jan, but it’s not taking away from our special day which is October, we still refer to each other as fiance as it was just a formality to make our visa case stronger. We just have to count ourselves lucky, and that this is only a temporary situation and in the long run we will get to be with our husbands in England and our weddings will be perfect. I wish you the best of luck with everything! <3 <3

    • Emily Sacharin

      Thanks so much for commenting; it’s nice knowing I’m not alone in this! As I’m sure you know, it can feel really isolating sometimes. In retrospect I think doing the registry office thing to make it official would have been a good idea for us too–we’re dealing with a lot of tricky timings between the visa, having to give notice in the UK, the wedding date etc., and it would’ve been a lot simpler if we’d made things legal here. I hope you find a job soon–we had such a hard time with the financial requirement; my fiance only became eligible to sponsor me as of last month because of it–and I hope your mums are doing okay.