Whenever I tell people we’re planning a wedding from abroad they all get the same confused, concerned look about them. Inevitably they ask us why we would be doing that to ourselves? Then they ask if we have a wedding planner doing everything for us, and the look of horror deepens when I tell them no, actually we’re doing it all ourselves. People from Hong Kong want to know why we’re not just getting married in Thailand, the way a lot of expat couples here do. Granted, this option has seemed rather tempting of late: a small wedding on a beach, no preparation, less money and the added bonus of a holiday in the sun while we’re at it. The next time someone smugly tells me how much money they saved by eloping I might just scream!
I’ve also been asked dozens of times why I’m not ordering my dress from China. True, dresses cost a fraction of the price, but you can never really be sure what you’re getting and, frankly, some of the incredibly blingy, excessively poufy creations that I’ve seen coming out of China terrify me! I was reassured that sorting my dress out in the UK was the right thing to do, as recently a fellow Hong Kong girl (who is also getting married in the summer) ordered a dress from China, and when the eagerly awaited package arrived it turned out to be bright orange – I somehow think that won’t be the dress she wears for her big day!
The truth is though it’s not actually too bad planning a very English Country Garden wedding from Asia. With most things being done by email anyway, nothing is too different from how we were talking to suppliers before we left the UK. I get occasionally frustrated when I want to get stuck into wedding crafts, but I know I have to wait until we’re back in England. Turns out 80 odd hand decorated jam jars won’t fit in your standard economy luggage allowance. It begs the question why airlines have a special allowance for winter sports equipment, but not for over keen brides-to-be?! British Airways, take note. I may also have had a minor meltdown when we started to make our invitations (more on that next time!), and we couldn’t get the right paper over here for love nor money. Sometimes I’m amazed at Andy’s never ending supply of patience! Those things aside though, long distance wedding planning has all been relatively smooth and pain free so far.
There are a few things, though, which really can only be done in person. In February, the Chinese New Year holiday gave me a week to whizz back to England to get some of them ticked off. Andy wasn’t able to get the week off to come back with me, so it became a very girly week. As well as getting lots of ‘wedmin’ done, my Mum and two of my bridesmaids escaped for a night at a spa hotel. We had such a nice time that I’m now trying to work out if we’ll have time and money to squeeze in a little spa trip in the week before the wedding!
One of the first things I planned as soon as I booked my ticket back was my hair and make-up trial. I mentioned when I talked about booking my make-up that I was worried about not getting a trial in, so I was really happy to have the chance to. Harriet, my hair and make up artist, was lovely, and I really liked what she did. She listened to my probably-annoyingly-vague-and-indecisive description of what I wanted, and somehow managed to achieve it. We chatted hair extensions and hair colour, and she gave me some tips for getting my skin looking its best for August. Ladies, turns out cleansing wipes aren’t actually that great for skin – who knew!?
I took the chance to see our florist again, and left so excited to see what she is going to do. Bex is one of those lovely warm people, who is genuinely excited to hear your plans. She showed me mood boards of how she had developed our ideas, and I was able to see more of her recent work.
The final very important achievement, accomplished far more quickly than anticipated, was the purchase of my Mum’s all-important Mother Of The Bride outfit. After months of scouring magazines, and dozens of conversations about what might look good, in the end all it took was a girl’s day up in London. We went prepared; going up on a week day for quieter changing rooms, and book-ending what we thought would be a stressful shopping experience with a fancy breakfast, and an afternoon tea at Sketch. Once we hit Oxford Street, our first port of call was Coast. They had some lovely things, but nothing quite right. We started to get a little down hearted when both House of Fraser and John Lewis didn’t have anything like what Mum was after. Luckily Debenhams came to the rescue and an hour and dozens of trips to the changing room later, Mum emerged with not one, but three wedding outfits! We toasted our shopping success with a glass of bubbles over quite possibly the best afternoon tea I’ve ever had. Next on her list is the thing I think she is most excited about – the hat!
The only downside of the trip was I didn’t manage to touch base with our caterer. We had arranged to meet so he could see the house, and make sure the kitchen was suitable, but his car broke down and there wasn’t another day to reschedule. We won’t meet again until July so if anything’s not right it’ll be too late to change it. I’m trying not to let it worry me….!
Next time I’m back home will be when we fly back for the summer – just 10 weeks to go!