Would you like to celebrate your wedding like you have always dreamed but have little time before the big day?
Are you planning on getting married in one city but are living abroad?
Would you rather spend your money on your life together as a married couple but would still like a beautiful wedding?
You can plan a magnificently unique wedding without having to go into debt and plan everything in little time. My husband and I planned our wedding exactly as we wished, without going overboard. It was unique, memorable and perfect for us.
This article contains everything you need to know about the following topics and much more that is not listed here. Read its entirety by scrolling down or select any of the main subjects below:
Getting Married vs. Living Together: Pros/Cons + legal matters
An American Girl and an Italian “Proposal”: Culture vs. Hollywood
Easiest Place for an American to Marry a European: Europe vs. the US
Sticking to your Wedding Budget: Cutting out unnecessary spending
Beautiful Wedding Invitations: Choose what is right for you!
Trimming Your Guest List: Invite those you love.
Our International Online Bridal Registry: Multilingual + international currencies.
Useful Online Budget Wedding Planning Tools: Plan your wedding via computer.
Amazing Bridal Alterations: What to look for in a seamstress/tailor.
Finding a Caterer on a Budget: Excellent tool for finding a caterer on your budget.
Choosing Your Wedding Photographer: Great photographers within you budget.
Our Beautiful Non-Traditional Wedding Ceremony: Video
Getting Married at City Hall: Video + Steps + Legally Marrying a Foreigner
Something Always Goes Wrong…Just Improvise!: Learn how.
Making Your Own Wedding Playlist: Tools and software
DIY Wedding Dress Cleaning and Preservation: Easy steps to do it yourself.
Making the Most of Your Honeymoon: The best website to find flights + more.
Meeting Mr. Right
If you are planning your wedding then I’m certain that you have found him. If you are reading out of curiosity and are currently single, then I hope you will welcome some advice that has been passed down to me:
“If you want to meet the man of your dreams, open your eyes.”
If you are searching for the man who fulfills all your requirements, chances are that THAT man does not exist. I cannot count how many times I have set up girls with friends who are perfect on paper. They were excited to meet each guy and found him attractive on his profile page but in the end, they found that there was no spark. These guys were great guys and could not understand what had gone wrong. When you specifically date guys who fulfill a checklist, you might discover that they do not even make you happy. Marriages are made up of magical moments and multiple compromises and so are all relationships because no one is perfect, but there are people who are perfect for you. Give good people a chance to show you how great they are, open your eyes and your heart so love can feel welcome. Enjoy the search and find happiness in yourself and soon you’ll see that your Mr. Right will want to join in all the fun you’re having.
Getting Married vs. Living Together
We never planned to get married but there are situations that make you realize that a legal bond is necessary when you have a life partner. As I am American and he is European, we have different rights that we don’t share. If one of you is ever in the hospital, sometimes only family members are allowed to visit. If something ever happens to one, the other would not be considered anything at all in the eyes of the law. This is also why it is so important that all people have the right to marry the person they love. As human beings, we all deserve to have the same rights to love who we want and be together with our loved ones throughout every facet of our lives that we choose. In our hearts, we were already married, but it was time to make it legal.
An American Girl and an Italian “Proposal”
Hollywood Proposals are Part of the American Culture
As an American, I have grown up with Hollywood Romantic Comedies where there is always a romantic surprise proposal. I grew up imagining how it would happen when Prince Charming would finally propose. When I moved to Rome I began to learn that the Hollywood proposal that we were used to seeing is not done all over the world. Since Hollywood films are seen everywhere, it is beginning to happen more and more, but it is only part of some cultures.
Italians Wait How Long to get Married?!!!
I was first surprised to learn that it is common for Italians to get married only after about 10 years together. The last couple, whose wedding we attended, had been together for 17 years! They were high-school sweethearts. I understood why there was a zero-birth rate in Italy. If its population waited so long to get married, there would barely be time left to have any kids.
Where’s My Ring?
Then I learned that Italians don’t do engagement rings. My heart dropped. I really wanted an engagement ring. In fact, I would have been fine with living together forever, but I still wanted that ring on my finger. There are certain ideas that you are raised with that you just can’t shake. I asked an American friend who had gotten engaged to an Italian, how he proposed and she confirmed what I had been told. In Italy, they don’t really do proposals. Marriage is merely a discussion and a decision that you arrive at together. She told me that she had to educate her fiancé about the American tradition of an engagement ring so that he would get her one.
The Marriage Discussion
The marriage discussion is less stressful on the relationship because there is no fear of rejection. You only make the decision when both sides are ready. After eight years together, we were certainly ready. He knew that I wanted a ring, so his proposal was official when he took me to the jewellery store to get me one.
Reality vs. Fiction
While proposals are romantic, and me being the product of American consumerism that I am, I would have LOVED one indeed. But the reality is that life is not always the fairytale you’ve imagined and the most important thing is being happy with the person whom you love and celebrating that love every single day.
Easiest Place for an American to Marry a European
Considering Our International Options
My husband and I had been living together for almost nine years and were looking into getting married. Our options were to either do it in Rome, Italy, where we were living; on the Amalfi Coast, where his family owned a beach house; or in NYC where I was from. Although I have always imagined getting married in Central Park, I have to admit that the Amalfi Coast seemed like an ideal location with its glorious azure sea, amazing food and picturesque seaside villages. However, that was beginning to turn into a logistical nightmare so we decided on Rome.
We took the first step to getting it done in the spring. I went to the US Embassy for my first piece of paperwork. That is when my husband got offered a job in Luxembourg, which threw a monkey-wrench into all of our plans. He was scheduled to start his new job in the summer and since the next available appointment for our Step 2 of our wedding paperwork in Rome was not until October, we knew that a Roman wedding would not work out. That is when we decided we should just do it in Luxembourg. However, that seemed just as complicated.
Coming to America
We decided to do it in NYC during his Christmas vacation and just get hitched at City Hall. We didn’t plan to have a big celebration nor invite more than a handful of people. We certainly didn’t expect anyone from Italy to come for it. That’s what we thought, until October came around and his mother said that she would still attend even if it was only in City Hall. That’s when we realized we would have a wedding to plan.
Sticking to your Wedding Budget
In order to stick to your budget, you have to decide where you’ll draw the line. There are a million little things that can add up and blow your budget out of the water. The main thing for us was to have a wedding for the price of a nice 10-day vacation. My rule was, if I can do it or it can be done for free, choose that option.
- Invitations: There are numerous beautiful free digital invitations and wedding websites.
- Wedding Dress: The Bridal Garden, David’s Bridal and sample sales really have something for everyone’s budget. Do not choose to get a wedding dress made to order from China. Those rave reviews and the blogs they are on are all fake. If you are in NYC, the Bridal Garden is an excellent shop that sells donated designer gowns for a fraction of the price. David’s Bridal wedding gowns can be ordered online all over the world. There are also local bridal shops that make gowns for various budgets.
- Photography: We chose to have the photographer for the ceremony and photo shoot only in order to cut costs. Yes, it would have been great to have her there all day, but we would have had to double our wedding budget. We hired her for 2 hours but ended up adding an extra hour on our wedding day. In hindsight, it was a perfect choice as our guests took more than enough photos to document every moment of our special day and our photographer took some beautiful photos that will represent that day forever.
- Caterers: We chose caterers that were fairly new to the business because we felt their excitement and energy were on high. They went out of their way to make everything perfect and their prices were reasonable. We set the budget and they worked within it and gave us several options. The caterers we chose kept it all in the family, so all the servers were invested in making the event perfect.
- Accessories, Bouquet and Decorations: Making as much as you can will cut costs. There are numerous DIY ideas available online. Ebay, Etsy and Amazon have loads of jewelry to choose from for yourself and your bridal party. There are great options for every budget and you can sometimes save on shipping by ordering from the same vendor. Even with shipping costs, you’ll find items for much less than in a shop.
- Wedding Cake: While I chose to make my own, this is not always an option for most brides. However, a tiered array of cupcakes is a budget-friendly wedding cake option.
- Hair & Make-up: I also did my own hair and make-up because I’m quite good at it. I’ve worked as a makeup artist and have done hair and make-up for a few friends’ weddings already, so it made sense to do my own. However, if you do not have this ability, you can look at beauty schools that may offer a budget option. Another thing to consider, if you are typically a low-maintenance type of girl, is to do it yourself anyway. Do you want to look like a glamorous version of yourself or do you want to recognize yourself in your wedding pictures? I’m one to always choose glamour, but not everyone is like me. If you’re the kind of woman who never wears make-up and lives in a ponytail every day, then you might look so different in salon hair and professional make-up that no one even recognizes you. There’s no wrong or right response to this. Either you love the idea of feeling like a star or you prefer to look like your real self. If it’s the latter, then perhaps you can learn how to apply a little natural-looking makeup and just do something a little special to your hair so you see your real self when you look in the mirror.
Beautiful Wedding Invitations
Printed vs. Digital
After living in Italy for so long we knew that sending printed invitations would be a mistake since Poste Italiane, the Italian postal service, is a horrendous and awful mess. We once received a wedding invitation two days after the wedding had taken place! Even though that couple had sent them out 2 months in advance, some guests didn’t get them at all. In fact, every other wedding we’ve attended have hand-delivered their invitation. Our invited guests were spread amongst 4 countries and 2 continents, but many lived in Italy and might never have received the invitation had we sent it in the mail.
Since we are a modern couple and quite computer savvy, we decided to opt for an entirely digital invitation. There are several websites that offer beautiful options for free or a minimal fee. We chose to make our own custom design on Wedding Wire and it was exactly what we wanted.
We used the custom design and added photographs, a video and all the details we wanted our guests to have. Our guests told us that they preferred the digital format especially because it included our story which made it a lot more special than printed card stock. We also felt that we would save some trees as well. While a traditional printed invitation is a beautiful keepsake to have, we especially loved the memories that our digital invitation created since it enabled us to add a brief description of our attending guests, so that they could all look forward to meeting each other. They were also able to add their top 5 songs for the playlist as well as sign the guest book. This was definitely the best option for us.
Trimming Your Guest List
The art gallery we chose had fire restrictions that put a cap on the amount of guests we could have. We also wanted enough room for dancing so we knew we couldn’t have the maximum amount either. Since most of the guests that could easily come were local and therefore, on my side of the family, we needed to find a balance as well. We decided to only invite our immediate family and our close friends. There were other close friends that we would have loved to invite, however, by inviting one we would have had to invite another ten and their spouses. We felt we also needed to exclude family members whom we hadn’t seen in over 10 years no matter how close we once were. This was very hard for me but having a balance amongst our families was important. It’s not easy to trim the list, but remember, it’s your wedding and it should represent you as a couple.
If you simply cannot trim it down to a reasonable number of guests, you can consider having a dinner for your relatives and an after-party for your friends. I once went to a wedding in Switzerland that had an apéritif right after the wedding in a garden for all the friends and family, but only the family were invited to the official dinner reception. Another friend of mine had her wedding reception at a mansion in the Hampton’s with an after-party for her friends.
Our International Online Bridal Registry
When we were looking for an online wedding registry, we found several that we considered equal, based on reviews and what they offered. We specifically chose Zankyou for their international platform. As you know, I’m American with an Italian husband, but we now live in Luxembourg, which is a country that speaks 3 languages. Add to that the fact that many of my family speak Spanish as their mother tongue and you have a recipe for confusion if you are using a single language website. Since our guests were not just English-speaking but many spoke only Italian, Spanish, French or German, we knew Zankyou would be perfect.
Our wedding website included the invitation and everything about the wedding and it was translated in several languages. I was able to add the linkable images above, which led our guests to our Zankyou profile for each specific language.
We had chosen the option that required guests to sign in with an e-mail before being able to view our wedding registry, but the link was language specific. Once you signed in you could change the language, but we felt that our older guests might get confused or overwhelmed so we included an image per language on our wedding website so that our guests could click on the specific language and be directed to Zankyou in their language. This worked perfectly. I tested it out with one of our older guests who was also not very computer savvy and she was able to do it easily on her own. So if she could do it, anyone can. It was easy for guests to use and most people used their credit cards. Please note that there is a small charge for using your credit card.
A Glitch in the Road
There was one problem that Zankyou really needs to fix right away. I don’t know if they did, because we didn’t know about the glitch until after our wedding. Guests who made a transaction on their iPads or iPhones believed the transaction had gone through and had seen the ‘transaction completed successfully’ screen, but we didn’t receive the gift. They had only realized that in reality it had not gone through only upon viewing their credit card statement.
Zankyou shows you the names of who has viewed your website and when they viewed it. We wondered how common this mistake had been because aside from the gifts received, there were also 5 views to our registry the week of our wedding, two of which were people who noticed their statements did not include the Zankyou transaction. They each said that they had seen the ‘transaction completed successfully’ screen. When we asked them how they made their transaction, they both said they had used an iPad.
We still wonder if the other three guests are people who simply have not even looked at their credit card statements because although they came to the wedding, we received no gifts from them. The fact that they each viewed our registry the day before the wedding, made us think that they may have thought to have given us a gift. We felt it was not polite to ask them specifically either, so we simply do not know.
Aside from that, the free templates are nice and the premium ones are even better. We were able to upload specific images for each of our gifts on our registry and we received all the gifts in a timely manner.
Useful Online Budget Wedding Planning Tools
Choosing your Reception Space
Many couples tend to go for the all-inclusive deals at various reception halls around their desired area. In small towns, you might find an excellent deal. However, we knew that would not be the case in New York City nor the tri-state area in general. We especially wanted a chic and unique celebration that was as non-traditional as we were. For this reason, we opted to do it all à la carte.
Since his immediate family had decided to come, we decided to plan something a little big grander. We first thought about renting a loft space on Air BnB that would be large enough for about 35 people. We thought we would rent it for 2-3 nights so we could decorate and prepare the day before and have it all day the next day. We both love to cook and even considered cooking the meal ourselves and hiring a chef and a server to reheat and serve the food at the cocktail party-style celebration that we were planning. If you’re planning an intimate wedding, this is certainly a great option since the prices on Air BnB are quite accessible and there are some lovely spaces that can make a great backdrop for a wedding celebration.
Luckily, I’m originally from NYC and so my friends were able to lend a hand in checking out the spaces for me. In the end, none were ideal for what we wanted. We were willing to spend a little more and find a more ideal location, so we decided to just rent an art gallery and get a caterer that would meet our budget for the event.
Air BnB, is a great place to check if you’d like a place within a budget. Make sure to check ‘Available for Events’ during your advanced search so that you only get those spaces who are fine with you having a party. The problem we found was that some spaces had changed from their photos. They had either redecorated or the photos were several years old, so the space no longer looked that way. Other things to consider is the location, if it’s a walk-up, if there is construction nearby and if it is near public transportation or parking lots. You can have them give you a virtual tour via Skype if you are not able to go see it in person. Send them a message and explain what you want the space for. Everyone was very accommodating and helpful. We did find a few spaces that were perfect, but had been booked by the time we decided. This is a risk you run if you are planning at the last-minute as we were. Our wedding was for late December, which also coincided with all the holiday parties, so it was also considered peak season for events.
There are several sites where you can insert your requirements and find a suitable space within your budget. Each site asks for information such as budget, type of space, location, amount of guests, included amenities such as, if you want a caterer, open bar or staff included. I found my space through Punchbowl but we used several of the following websites before finding the ideal space for us.
There are other websites in addition to these and some are city specific so make sure you search online in addition to looking at these.
My Dream Wedding Dress
All my life I imagined myself getting married in a giant princess ball gown. All those Disney films had a profound effect on me. However, sometimes, dreams change. I could no longer see myself in one of those dresses. My husband was hoping I would choose a less traditional color as well. He imagined me in an Oscar-red-carpet-like gown or a chic cocktail dress. I may not be very traditional, but I still wanted it to be white. As I browsed online, I realized I wanted a trumpet silhouette for my wedding gown so I went on the hunt for it in several countries.
American Taste vs. European Taste
I noticed that the taste in wedding dresses in Europe did not match my own. We always think that things in Europe are classier or more fashion forward, but that is not always the case. If you go to Paris, London or Milan you’ll certainly find high-end designers selling amazing gowns. However, if you go to most other cities, you’ll find that the selections reflect the traditional taste of its population. Rome had mostly A-Line skirts and way too much bling which bordered on tacky. Luxembourg and the surrounding regions of France, Belgium and Germany seemed to adore poofy-princess styles, which I would have loved when I dreamed of being a Disney princess at 9 years old, but had finally outgrown. I managed to find one mermaid-style dress and confirmed that it was the ideal silhouette for my curves. However, it was covered in lace and felt overly traditional. The US is a mecca for excellent shopping deals. In fact, Europeans love to go shopping in the US, where they even find European designers on sale for less that they are in Europe.
Custom Designer Copies
I considered getting it made by one of those companies that make them from scratch to your exact measurements. I had read so many great reviews and was just about to complete my transaction when I did one more search on the company and uncovered some dirt. It turns out that most of the reviews were fake and there were hundreds of horror stories. It was not always easy uncovering the negative reviews as these companies have even started their own blogs that look like satisfied customers raving about their dresses. Although most of these companies appear to be based in the UK or US, most are actually based in China. China makes some great products such as iPads, Prada, Coach and Armani. However, these companies do not guarantee any kind of quality standard. If your dress is extremely simple, it might look OK, but it might be 2 sizes too small or the color might be off. There are so many things that can go wrong and since the delivery takes so long, there is no way you can get a refund from Ebay, Paypal or the company itself. If you are considering buying accessories from China, read this blog post for useful tips.
My wedding was about a month away and I still didn’t have my dress. I cried through the frustration but then I realized one very important thing…
“I have the man who I love and that is all that I need. Everything else will be fine, no matter what I end up wearing.”
We decided to get flights that would get us to New York 12 days before our wedding so that I could visit the Bridal Garden and David’s Bridal while I was there. The Bridal Garden in NYC has a selection of donated designer gowns for a lot less than retail. However, it is by-appointment-only and they book way in advance, so book as early as possible. I asked my friend and matron-of-honor to keep an eye out for what I wanted and I armed her with my measurements. I then looked for a bridal seamstress on Yelp and had her make an appointment for me right away, knowing full well that my dress would need alterations and they would have to be done in record time.
My friend happened to drop by David’s Bridal and took a photo of a dress and described another to me. That’s when I also got an email from David’s Bridal announcing a sale. I perused their website and fell in love with a Zac Posen trumpet gown. I measured myself and allotted a little extra space just in case, then had my friend order the gown for me. It was on sale for about a week, after which it shot back up to its original price. I then ran every day in order to make sure that I didn’t gain any weight. A large dress can be made smaller but it’s a lot more difficult to enlarge a dress.
Amazing Bridal Alterations
I researched several bridal seamstresses on Yelp for the NYC area and chose Susanna’s Bridal Boutique based on her excellent reviews. She is located in Hoboken, which can easily be reached from NYC via the path train. When searching for anything in NYC, keep the surrounding boroughs and Northern NJ area in mind, where prices will be lower.
Susanna’s Bridal Boutique – Bridal Alterations (201) 653-7315
I booked my first fitting with Susanna the day after I arrived in the states. She would have only 9 days to alter my dress. The gown came with a petticoat slip attached that also had boning and padding on the top. The first thing Susanna said when I tried on the gown was, “I don’t know why these designers insist on adding this crap to dresses. It just makes you look fat! Can I cut it out?”. “Cut it out?”, I stammered in a panic. I honestly didn’t know if this was a good thing or not. Before she did anything, she explained everything she would have to do and how much it would cost. “I’ll have to cut all this out, take it in here, here, here and here, then add a bustle. You are lucky you are tall so I don’t need to hem. A hem alone is $200.” I gasped at the price but we negotiated down to something I found reasonable. Then, she started cutting off the entire lining-slip-petticoat and I silently filled my brain with positive thoughts.
When she was done, I tried it on again with the long-bra/shape-wear that she had sold me and I was in complete awe. I felt like a Hollywood star. Susanna was right and cutting out all the extra padding made all the difference. She pinned me in and pinned all the alterations in and the silhouette was simply divine! It really highlighted my curves to their best advantage. “Only a girl with you curves could wear a dress like this!”, she said. She probably says that to all the girls, but I have to admit that I was thinking, “Only Susanna’s talented skills can make my curves look this good!”
She would only have 9 days to finish all the alterations and I would not be able to go in for an additional fitting because we had decided to take a pre-wedding honeymoon in between. I went in for the last fitting when we got back from the Bahamas. It fit like a fine lambskin glove. She only needed to do the bustle and steam it and it would be ready to be picked up the following morning.
Susanna did a wonderful job for a reasonable price and I was extremely happy. Although my husband didn’t like the idea of a white gown, he completely changed his mind when he saw me that day. The wedding dress was perfection. Thank you Susanna!
How to Find a Seamstress/Tailor Near You
Read all the reviews you can find for every candidate. No one is 100%, so you will find some negative reviews as well as positive ones. Use all the information wisely. If you read that they are forgetful, then make sure you stay on top of them. If you read that they were late is finishing the alterations, then give them an earlier date than when you actually need it by.
Know how much you want to spend and negotiate your price. If your dress did not cost that much, you may end up spending more on alterations. Check seamstresses/tailors in more remote areas or inner-city urban zones for lower prices. Many bridal shops offer alterations but they can cost less and be faster elsewhere, so research and compare.
I had no choice but to look for one, since David’s Bridal does not do alterations within 9 days. Most shops take over a month for an alteration, so inform yourself on the timing involved and stay in contact with your seamstress/tailor in order to make sure it is finished on time. Get all the alterations that will be done with the negotiated price in writing so that there are no surprises. Then, relax, and know that you will look amazing on your special day. Fill your mind with positive thoughts and everything will be fine.
Weather-Proofing for Your Winter Wedding
When you plan a December wedding in New York City, you know that any kind of weather can happen. It can snow, rain, hail, thunderstorm or you can get lucky with abnormally-spring-like weather. I chose a strapless gown for my wedding dress so I decided to wear opera-length satin gloves and a fur stole to keep me warm. My bridal party planned to wear wraps.
The forecast was for snow when we checked it a week before the wedding. I imagined the pictures would look lovely with snow on the ground. Then it changed to a possibility of rain so I bought a clear umbrella with a white border and handle just in case. Some guests asked me what would we do if it snowed, rained or if there was a storm. I told them, “If it snows, wear snow-boots. If it rains, bring an umbrella. If there’s a storm, bring both.”
The day before the wedding was dry and extremely cold but it dried up all the wet streets from the rainy week we had. The day of the wedding, it was like the universe was smiling upon us. It was the end of December and yet it was so sunny and warm it felt like a beautiful day in May. The park was packed with people enjoying the beautiful day and my guests were happy for our great luck.
When we posted some of our photos on Facebook during that week, most of our Italian friends kept asking, “Wasn’t it cold?”, as if one should only get married in warm weather. Ironically, the day of our wedding, it was colder in Rome and soon after that Rome and Naples were hit with snow, which is a very rare occurrence. I’m happy it was a beautiful day but it would have been beautiful for us regardless.
How We Planned Our Wedding in Easy Steps
It was not easy to plan it from abroad in under two months but technology today offers every tool we needed. We made digital wedding invitations on Wedding Wire, which included a Youtube video of our story. We registered with ZankYou, which can be accessed in various languages. This was useful for our international guests who spoke either Italian, Spanish or French. I bought my dress online at David’s Bridal but in order to avoid heavy luggage, we got it delivered to the US. Therefore, I did not try on the dress until we got to New York, 10 days before the wedding. My friend sent me an un-boxing of the dress video so I would witness the excitement of receiving it. I found my seamstress Susanna in Hoboken on Yelp. As I mentioned previously, she was fabulous and did such an amazing job in 9 days with only two fittings.
I gave my bridal party a color scheme and they got their own dresses with matching length. Since it was winter, I didn’t want flowers so I got the girls some beautiful beaded snowflake candle-holders to carry. I gave all of my guests a color scheme, so that they would all match and make the pictures look cohesive. The color scheme included all the following tones: sepia hues, all shades of nude from deep brown to champagne, metallics, grey and neutral colors. I wanted to avoid guests clashing with each other’s fashion in any of the photos. It also made everyone feel like part of the bridal party.
Finding a Caterer on a Budget
Just like there are websites for finding an event space, there are also websites for finding all the venders you need. I found my amazing caterer, Frecklez Nik-Naks, on Thumbtack. They were superb and worked on our tight budget.
Once you visit the website, you can enter all the details that you are seeking for your event. You will then receive various offers from caterers and what they are willing to include for your budget. Frecklez Nik-Naks kept constant communication with me. They sent me photos of various plates and glasses so that I could choose the style I preferred. In the end, I realized that her taste was similar to mine, since we liked all the photos they sent us, so we trusted them to just choose themselves.
Most of our guests expected us to serve Italian food, since my husband is Italian and our life together began in Italy. However, Italian food was the last thing we wanted to serve. We wanted one of our favorite cuisines to represent us, so we chose Thai. We weren’t sure if our caterers would be able to make Thai cuisine that was up to our standards, so we asked our friend, expert Asian cuisine foodie and officiant of our wedding to go and try it. Frecklez Nik-Naks passed the test so we hired them as soon as we got his thumbs up. Our guests really enjoyed the food and so did we.
We chose to have a cocktail party celebration but we wanted our guests to have enough food to satisfy them. The food was served on modern square cocktail plates so that everyone had the same portion. We wanted there to be enough food for our guests to be able to get seconds. The amount of food they brought was perfect. Our late-comers were able to try all the dishes, even the first ones that had been previously passed out. Even after everyone having seconds, there were a few plates left for each dish. This came in handy, because my husband and I liked the crispy rolls so much that we ate a few more towards the end. We were very happy with their work and highly recommend them.
Delivery as an Option
Another option that we considered was to get food delivered from local restaurants. You can have a huge variety of food delivered at different times so that it is still warm when you have it served. You would still need a server, plates and glassware, but it is an option if you are on a budget or would like to feature a variety of food.
Selecting Your Wine
We decided to get the wine ourselves and chose Gary’s Wine & Marketplace. While they are based in New Jersey, they deliver to the 39 states where it is legal for them to do so. If you live near any of their 3 locations, delivery is free. This was very convenient for us since we had relatives near them. We ordered a Malbec from Argentina, which is our favorite red and a lovely Californian Chardonnay. Since we were abroad and couldn’t taste the specific wines, we chose to research the reviews online. This worked great. We found that the descriptions were spot on, so we were happy with our selections.
We didn’t get Champagne at Gary’s, but we picked some up at a local wine shop the day before the wedding. Yes, we almost forgot completely. We could have simply called a local shop to deliver it to the location. If you forget anything, delivery is always an option. You can get just about anything delivered.
Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
I found my wonderful photographer Upasana Mainali on Thumbtack as well. We were looking for a photographer for the ceremony and post-ceremony photo shoot only. Upasana was easy to work with, she responded quickly and catered to our taste. Her prices were reasonable, which was crucial since we were on a tight budget.
It just happened to be a very sunny, spring-like day, which was great because my bridal party and I were all in strapless gowns, so we had little need for our wraps. Upasana was waiting for me at the entrance to the park when I arrived and even had an assistant photographer with her. She captured all the right moments.
She conducted the photo shoot well and knew exactly where to go and the quickest way to get there, which was important since the park was fully packed with people due to the gorgeous sunny weather. Upasana always does her homework and will check out the location beforehand.
She has a great eye and a good memory of the types of shots that I had in mind. She posted about 15 shots on her blog within the week and I was able to download all the photos that she prepared within 3 weeks. I had requested them all in color and she obliged.
I posted them on Facebook and my friends loved the shots. There were some candid shots that were so perfect and I hadn’t even realized she was there at those moments. I really enjoyed having her and we’re so glad we hired her.
Although we found ours on Thumbtack, we also searched other places as well. We placed an ad on Craigslist. We contacted universities that had classes on photography. We joined photography groups on Facebook and placed a post on their timelines. We asked friends for recommendations as well. In the end, our top 4 choices were from Thumbtack, mainly because they fit our budget and were specifically wedding photographers with experience.
Use all these options and make sure you look at the photographers’ work. There are wonderful established photographers who cost a lot of money to hire. There are also superb photographers who are not yet known and are still building their future empire. Make sure you find one of these. The quality of their work is obvious when you compare it so look at everyone’s work back to back.
If you are having a wedding that a photographer would really want to shoot, you might even find one that would normally charge more but give you a discount. One photographer I knew gave a large discount when they found an Indian couple having a traditional Hindu ceremony. Others might do so if you happen to be a professional model, are having a unique wedding or have something interesting that makes them want to shoot you.
Once you find your wedding photographer, create a Pinterest board or Facebook album of the types of wedding photos that you would like and send it to them. this way they will get a better idea of the result you want. I also sent her a list of all the photos we wanted with our guests so that she would know how much time to allot for it.
Choosing Wedding Accessories & Your Perfect Bridal Bouquet
Since I didn’t want flowers, I searched online for an alternative idea for a bouquet. I knew I had found it when I saw several wedding brooch bouquet tutorials on Youtube. I researched all the tutorials and looked for supplies online and in local shops.
I made my brooch bouquet with gorgeous sparkling brooches that I purchased from Etsy. I loved the look of it but planned to add some tulle in between as well as cover the stem with ribbon. However, my husband really liked the modern sculpture look that the metal base had and asked me to leave the tulle and ribbon off, so I did.
I got all of my jewellery, wedding party’s jewellery, materials for my veil and photo props from Ebay. You really cannot beat the prices on Ebay. Since I was on a tight schedule, I only chose vendors where I could purchase items immediately and only chose those in Europe. They all happened to come from the UK. If you are in the US, I would only choose those in North America. The only exception was for the brooches. I needed 100 brooches and only one vendor in California offered what I was looking for at a decent price. I found them on Etsy. They arrived in about 12 days. The bouquet used 95 brooches. I only left off 5 because I wore one on my fur stole and the other 4 were too small to balance well next to the others. I used 2 different widths of floral wire to put it together. The base was made by wrapping the thicker floral wire around a flat foam circle. Once I had the wire wrapped around it like a cage, I cut the foam out so only the wire could be seen. I then inserted the brooches that were each attached to a wire stem. I used thin wire to set the distance from one to the other.
There are vendors in China that offer extremely low prices, however they are hit or miss. You might feel it’s worth the risk if you are buying something under $10 + free shipping. Just keep in mind that it will take 15-30 days for delivery and you might not get it at all. If you don’t get it in 30 days, you must make sure you notify Ebay before your 45 days are up so that you can get a refund. Once 45 days pass, your rights to a refund expire.
A Most Unique Wedding Cake
The hardest thing I decided to do myself was the wedding cake. I made a three-tiered white-chocolate covered, passion-fruit cheesecake with coconut-macaroon crust as the wedding cake. It had a few imperfections, which I covered up with rhinestone ribbon. I used a cake topper that has been in the family for 50 years and has always had great results. According to my brother-in-law, who usually hates cake, especially wedding cake, the cake was “Ssssick”! Everyone kept telling me that I should freeze the top layer and eat it for our anniversary. However, there’s no way that customs was going to let us through with it and I can always just whip one up every year!
In fact, when my husband’s colleagues wanted to celebrate our wedding with an informal office cocktail hour, I whipped up the bottom tier and it was perfection. My husband’s family has told us that they would like to get together in Italy this summer so I’ll whip up a tier for them as well, especially for those relatives who didn’t make it to our wedding.
Making Your Own Wedding Cake
If you are considering making your own cake, make sure it is a type of cake you have made several times. I love to make cheesecakes, so I knew I could easily make three. I bought a set of 3 spring-form molds on Amazon, which came in 3 different sizes. I got cake dowels, pure white melting chocolate, rhinestone ribbon, a silver cake base and three cake boxes for easy transportation at NY Cake.
Making the cheesecakes was the easy part. I cut the dowels and inserted them into the bottom two layers. This would keep each layer standing on top of the layer below it, without crushing the bottom layers from the heavy weight. The difficult part was in covering the cheesecakes in melted white chocolate and making it look good. I first tried painting the chocolate on parchment paper, but I didn’t like the look of it. I suggest you use plastic cake collars instead. I happened to have one left over from our holiday dinner that I reused for every cake. Then I poured the melted chocolate on top with the collar still on and stuck it in the freezer until the chocolate hardened. This made the chocolate a little too think for easy slicing, but boy was it delicious! I froze each chocolate covered cake for easy handling.
The freezing made the chocolate sides crack a little, so I covered the sides with the rhinestone ribbon. I then wrapped the frozen-chocolate-covered cheesecakes in plastic wrap and placed them in separate cake boxes, which then returned to the freezer. Since I had made them a few days in advance, I didn’t want them to go stale in the refrigerator, so freezing was the only option. Then, I let them thaw out in the refrigerator the morning of the wedding. We had previously tested the thawing time with other cheesecakes and it had taken about 3-4 hours to thaw out completely. The caterers we hired also have experience in cake making. In fact, they were the ones who gave me pointers on how many dowels to use for each layer. They un-boxed the cakes and easily placed one on top of the other.
Our Beautiful Non-Traditional Wedding Ceremony
A Dream Wedding Come True
My dream of getting married in Central Park came true and was fairly easy to plan as well. We applied for a permit as soon as the reception location was booked, just to make sure the date wouldn’t change. My first choice was to have it in Bethesda Terrace, however, they have a maximum limit of 25 guests and we were expecting at least 35. In the end we chose Cherry Hill and our permit was approved within a month.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because on the day of our wedding, Bethesda Terrace was overly packed with tourists, buskers and some kind of demonstration. We did manage to get some lovely photos taken there after our ceremony, but it would only have been an ideal location had it rained or snowed. Luckily for us, it was a warm and sunny spring-like day at the end of December.
Getting Married in Central Park
If you choose to have your wedding ceremony in Central Park or any park in NYC, you can apply for a permit at the NYC Parks Department. There is a non-refundable $25 processing fee. Please make sure you choose the exact location and check that the amount of guests you plan to have is allowed. Most Central Park areas allow a maximum of 20-25 guests. Make sure you apply for your permit at least 1-2 months in advance. The earlier, the better since permits for your choice of location and time slot are given on a first-come-fist-served basis. Also keep in mind that permits are not given for any holiday.
If you want to get married in the Central Park Conservatory Garden, which is located on 5th Ave. & E.105th St., the fee is $400 and the cancellation fee is $200 with an additional $100 fee for photography. There is a maximum of 100 guests permitted.
Our Unique Ceremony
We wanted the ceremony to be in Central Park and since we are both Humanists, we wanted it to be about our love and not anyone’s particular religious beliefs. Every individual guest has their own thoughts and ideas, but one thing we all have in common is that we love and care about each other. Whether you believe in Jesus, Allah, Thor, Osiris or Zeus, you can have your wedding as you wish. Your ceremony can be tailor-made to your desires. We had a very specific theme in mind and that was what we based our ceremony on, love. Like the Beatles said, “Love is all we need.”, and we agreed.
Every single guest present, took part in it by reading a secular quote, reciting a poem, song lyrics or doing a monologue that were all based on our theme, love. This took our guests’ spouses by surprise, since they hadn’t realized they would be reading something until they read their name in the program. Others simply told a story about us. One of the highlights for me was when our wedding godparents, who are like a second set of parents, recited a love poem by Neruda in Spanish. The love they felt for each other was tangible. You didn’t need to understand the words. All you needed was to feel the passion with which they spoke and see the love they transmitted as they gazed at each other.
Since our guests spoke English, Spanish or Italian, we had each of them speak in the language of their choice and the program contained the translated text side-by-side to what was being said. This allowed my husband’s mother to be able to follow every word without someone having to translate on the spot. Our officiant and friend surprised us by saying a few words in Italian as well and the best man did the same when he spoke in English. The ceremony itself was mostly made up of all of our guests taking part in it. This made it extremely unique but also kept everyone’s interest. There were many other people who stopped and listened in because they felt the energy of the love that everyone exuded at that moment.
We decided that we wanted it to be a wedding for adults, so the only children were those in our wedding party. We took liberties with their traditional roles as well. There were two flower girls, but they blew bubbles instead. The ring bearer was a teenager, so we had him carry a metal briefcase with the rings inside. I had two junior bridesmaids and a matron of honor but no groomsmen, since his closest friends were not able to attend at such short notice. We also included the groom in the procession and had him walk down the aisle with his mother. Your wedding should be as you want it. Make the changes you like and adapt it to your desires.
My friend Anderson Lim, who is an actor and a professional singer as well, officiated the ceremony. The ceremony was a symbolic one, since he isn’t an official officiant. I wanted his personality and his love for us to shine through and that is exactly what made it even more special. We did the civil union at City Hall the previous day and it was surprisingly very beautiful and moving.
Music From the Heart
I’m a professional singer, so I wanted some music included in the ceremony. My close friend, Catrice Joseph, who has performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Broadway shows and is my favorite singer ever, sang the opening song, A Thousand Years. We met years ago when we toured Europe with Hair – The Musical and she’s been my favorite singer ever since. I prefer her voice to that of Whitney, Mariah or anyone else. Her voice is superbly beautiful and her singing our opening song was simply magical. Her voice makes my heart melt every time I hear her sing.
The final song at my ceremony was ‘Rather Be’ and I surprised my husband with it by singing it myself. With so many singers amongst our guests, I had them all join in at the chorus. We were accompanied by a great guitarist, Marcelo Gimenez whose artistry was felt in the music. Before finding Marcelo through a fellow previous cast-mate, also from Hair, I had searched for musicians on Craigslist, Gig Masters and Gig Salad. If you are seeking musicians, you can either write a free ad on Craigslist or search by inserting your budget and details on the other sites.
If you are seeking a superb singer and/or a wonderful guitarist in the US, or specifically the NY tri-state area, contact Catrice Joseph and Marcelo Gimenez or call him at (201) 772-9080.
For a Jazz band, Gospel choir, R&B singer and more in Europe: http://www.glenysvargas.com/booking-info/
Getting Married at City Hall in New York City
My husband was worried that we were overlooking something. “It can’t possibly be that easy. Are you sure that’s all we need to do?”, he asked numerous times. Well, it really is THAT easy! I suggest you fill out the form online but you can do it on one of the available computers at the City Clerk’s Office as well. Keep in mind that you will get your number only after your form is filled out and all your paperwork, IDs and witness IDs have been confirmed.
- Go to the City Clerk’s office near City Hall in downtown Manhattan and apply for your marriage permit. We each brought our passports and the online form number. We paid the $35 fee with a credit card. The waiting time was about an hour. We got there around 11am. I suggest getting there first thing in the morning so you can finish faster. While there is a lesser wait in other boroughs, the Manhattan City Clerk’s office is a lot more beautiful than any of the others. So I, personally, think it’s better to go to the Manhattan branch.
- Wait 24 hours to get married: If you get your permit issued at 11am, then you can get married as of the following day after 11:01am. If you cannot wait the 24 hours, you can request a judicial waiver.
- Return to the City Clerk’s Office after 24 hours but within 60 days. Bring your IDs and 1 witness with ID. You can add an additional witness, which we did. Please keep in mind that your witnesses need a proper ID that is recognized internationally. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law only brought her national ID from Italy, which basically looks like a folded piece of photocopied paper. This was not acceptable in the eyes of US law, so my brother-in-law stepped in with his passport.
- The waiting time was minimal and I almost didn’t have time to get changed. If you have an elaborate gown or need lots of time to get dressed, get your number after doing so. Numbers are only given when all your witnesses are present and all the paperwork has been confirmed to be valid. If you want a bouquet, there are some available at the vendor stand outside or at the little shop inside near the restrooms.
- When your number is called, you go to the window and you are issued your marriage license. The witnesses IDs are rechecked as well. Make sure all of the information on it is correct. Reread it twice.
- Your number will be called again and you will enter one of two rooms where the civil ceremony will take place. It takes about 5 minutes and you can enter with up to 20 people or so. There is even some time to take a few photos.
- I didn’t expect the civil ceremony to be so moving but it was. The Justice of the Peace tells you to look into your fiancé’s eyes as they ask you all the questions. This makes it very emotional because you are confirming everything as you get lost in the gaze of the person you love.
Getting an Apostille
If you live or plan to live in another country or one of you is a foreign national, you will need an Apostille. Go to the information counter and let them know so they can direct you to the correct window. I suggest you get 2 additional copies of your marriage certificate instead of just one. It costs about $35 per copy. You take your copies to the address that you are given. They even give you a map. It is about 5 minutes away on foot. You get it signed and pay $3 per copy. Then you get it validated at the next location, which is about a 10-minute walk. You must have a $10 money-order for each Apostille. This takes bout an hour or two to wait, depending on how many people are there. There is a drug store on the corner that sells money orders.
Italians: Registering your Marriage in Italy
If one spouse is Italian, you need to translate your marriage certificate into Italian. For Italy, it can be translated by anyone who can do it correctly. I can supply you with a translator if you need one. Then, you must fill out the online form located on the Italian Consulate website. Once you print and sign the form, you take it, your marriage certificate with the Apostille and the translation of your marriage certificate to the Italian Consulate in order to register your marriage in Italy. This is necessary in order to make your marriage valid in Italy.
Foreign Nationals Marrying an American
If you are American and are marrying a foreign national who does not legally reside in the US, you need to apply for a Fiancé Visa (K-1 Visa) in order to get married. However, this is mainly if you plan to stay in the US beyond the 3 months length of a tourist visa. If you and your partner do not live in the US, nor plan to stay in the US after the wedding, then you shouldn’t really encounter any problems. However, you must take precautions to make sure the US government doesn’t believe you plan to stay.
The US government always fears that people will stay after marrying an American national. For this reason, it would be a good idea not to mention your wedding at the airport as you are flying in, as this fear might make them prevent the foreign national’s entry. I have heard that they might prevent entry if they even think you might be coming just to get married. They may even check your luggage for a wedding dress. If you absolutely have no intention of staying in the US after the wedding, I suggest you carry absolute proof, on your person, that you have a life abroad that you would not immediately drop. You can scan a copy of your work contract, apartment lease or proof of home ownership and upload them to your phone. Any documents and photos that show that you have an established life where you live would certainly be useful if you are questioned.
If you plan to stay in the US after your wedding, you must get the fiancé Visa 3-6 months before planning your wedding and before your fiancé books a flight to the US. If the foreign national is already in the US legally or illegally and plans to stay in the US after the wedding, you should absolutely consult a lawyer. You may be forced to live in the foreign national’s country for a certain amount of years, usually 3-5 years. Please note that you will encounter great difficulty in attaining legal status for your spouse if you decide to get married without the Fiancé Visa and then, subsequently remain in the US afterwards.Please consult a lawyer and research your situation thoroughly in order to know how to proceed.
Although I am American, neither I nor my husband were planning to live in the US again. In fact, after just having moved to Luxembourg, we were hoping to avoid any kind of move for at least a few years. If you’ve ever moved from one house to another, or worse, from one country to another, you know how stressful it is. It isn’t something you choose to do immediately after having just done it.
Something Always Goes Wrong…Just Improvise!
As an artist, I have many creative outlets, so I am also an expert makeup artist. I wanted to look like me and not someone else’s idea of me. Since I knew I was completely capable, I did my own hair and makeup. It was the night before my civil ceremony and everything was ready to go. Then it happened. Something always goes wrong. I had been up until 3am working on little wedding details and I was so exhausted. My soon-to-be-husband was fast asleep and so were my friends that we were staying with. The tiredness was making me feel almost drunk and I knew I had to get to sleep so I straggled to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I walked out into the pitch-black darkness and smacked right into a wall. “Ouch!”
It immediately swelled up and I was in tears. My fiancé woke up and ran to my side when he heard me sobbing. “Did you change your mind?”, he joked. I put ice on it as well as Arnica gel all night long. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a wink. When I got up and looked in the mirror, one black eye gazed back at me.
The Bright Side
On the morning of our civil wedding ceremony and a day before our lovely ceremony in central Park, the biggest problem that I had, was that I had a black eye. However, since it was only the top part of my eye socket that hit the wall, the bruise was only on the lid. While the swelling had gone down tremendously, it was, unfortunately, still swollen. However, I tend to wear my hair parted at the side with long wispy bangs brushed over one eye, so you don’t always see both eyes well and couldn’t really compare my swollen eye to my normal eye. Once I finished my makeup, the entire bruise was covered and the swollen eye just looked like I had gotten Botox.
The swelling had reduced almost completely for my big day in Central Park. The bruise now looked like smoky eye makeup. I still managed to cover it all up, but I did notice a few pictures where it had worn off, such as the one above, but it looked like eye shadow, so I didn’t mind. Something will always go wrong for your wedding, but you have to adapt and be flexible.
We also had a bump in the road on our first day in the city. None of our credit cards would work. Not only did we have quite a few vendors to pay and things to buy for the wedding, but we were also going to the Bahamas the following day. It turned out that although we had enabled our cards online for use abroad, our banks required a personal phone call as well. In the meantime, we opened a US account at Bank of America and our European cards were enabled for the US and the Bahamas by the following day. Whew!
The Wedding Celebration
We looked online for event spaces where we could celebrate our wedding with our closest friends and family. We didn’t want to call it a reception so as not to have people imagine it would be anything like a traditional reception, where you eat so much that you wobble around on the dance-floor all night in the hopes of working it off. We wanted it to be a party where you ate enough to be satisfied, and drank enough to be merry, but still had your energy and wits about you in order to enjoy the company. For this reason, we chose an art gallery and felt that The Barsky Gallery was the perfect space for us.
The artwork was the perfect backdrop for our celebration and we decided that no decorations were needed. It was elegant, chic and above all, modern. The Barsky Gallery was large enough for dancing and had lovely cocktail tables placed around it. The artwork was just to our taste so it represented us well. Al Barsky was also very accommodating and made sure everything ran smoothly.
Whimsical Wedding Decor with Love Tacs
We didn’t do any bridal decor whatsoever since we loved the art gallery as a backdrop. However, we wanted to add some details so we decorated the champagne bottles with LoveTacs, featuring the photo that appeared on our wedding invitations and placed whimsical photo props on all the tables. Guests used them to take fun photos throughout the night.
If your wedding is taking place near your home, you can find numerous DIY ideas for wedding decor online. You can stock up on white lights when they go on sale after the holidays or love-themed items when they go on sale after Valentine’s day and use them as decor or in DIY projects.
Making Your Own Wedding Playlist
A professional DJ knows exactly how to get the crowd going and can set the mood that you want. A professional band can also achieve this with the added excitement of live performers. As a professional singer and music professional, I felt I could handle making a playlist, mixing it together on DJ software and making sure that it would build throughout the night.
- Virtual DJ Pro: $19/monthly or $299 one time fee.
- Mixxx: Free
- DJ Software for Windows: all available software description, reviews and downloads
- DJ Software for Mac: all available software description, reviews and downloads
If you choose this route, make sure you backup your playlist, have it all set on several platforms and that they are set to overlap. You DO NOT want any dead moments in between each song. Do not rely on an internet connection and make sure you test it out at the location.
- Dropbox: upload all your songs to Dropbox in case of an emergency.
- iTunes: upload your entire playlist to iTunes as well.
- Flash drive: upload all your songs to a flash drive, just in case.
Keep the bpm (beats per minute) in mind for each song. The music should gradually build in rhythm throughout the night. Since we had the space for a specific amount of time, I timed the song we wanted for the cake cutting to happen at a specific time. The caterers were cued by the music as well.
I also considered the kind of music I wanted for the end of the event. You can either have it end with a great upbeat song that you love or have a last romantic dance for everyone. You choose, but make sure you time it right.
Wedding Thank You
In keeping with the digital format of our wedding, we decided that instead of sending a printed ‘Thank You’ note, we would do it digitally as well. We chose SmileBox, which has several beautiful templates to choose from. We used a wedding invitation template for the Thank You card because we liked it more than their suggested choices. You can even upload a video onto your template as well as your choice of music.
SmileBox is a free software that you download onto your computer and send to your guests from there. You are also notified every time your card is viewed.
DIY Wedding Dress Cleaning and Preservation
If your dress is made of silk, lace or a delicate fabric, you should take your dress to be professionally cleaned at a dry cleaner’s that specializes in bridal gowns and who does their own in-house cleaning. If they outsource it, it will be out of their control and things can go wrong. Let your cleaner know where anything spilled on your dress, especially anything that contains sugar such as wedding cake or any beverage.
If your dress is made of polyester or a synthetic fabric, like most of today’s dresses are, you can clean it yourself. I used Oxiclean and laundry detergent when I soaked it in the bathtub for over 3 hours. My dress had a filthy hem since we had not only walked through Central Park, in the mud and grass but also through the NYC streets. I used a white cotton sock to rub the hem clean, but there were still lots of traces of dirt. I didn’t think it would come out but I had one more thing to try.
I threw it into the washing machine. DO NOT throw it in directly. Place it in a white duvet cover. I didn’t have a white one, so I put it inside a satin sheet and tied the ends with ribbon so the dress was bagged inside. I used the gentle cycle and made sure it would skip the spin cycle. Check your settings. You MUST SKIP the spin cycle. I used Oxiclean and laundry detergent again and when it was done, I ran it through an additional time.
After the tub dip + 2 washing machine cycles, I placed the dress on a drying rack and was shocked to see that all the stains had come out. It was like new. It dried in a day and then it was ready for its preservation.
There are several box options to choose from that you can find on Ebay, Amazon or online in general. My top choice is what the Metropolitan Opera uses for their costumes and what the Metropolitan Museum of Art uses for its costume collection, which are fluted-polypropylene textile storage boxes with acid-free paper. The fluted-polypropylene textile storage boxes seem to be what is most recommended for long-term storage and you can find a few companies online.
Another option is to get a PH neutral or acid-free box and acid-free tissue paper from Ebay or Amazon. There were several options for about $30-$40. The size of the box and the amount of tissue paper you’ll need depends on how big your dress is. Put on some white cotton gloves to do this so that the natural oils from your skin don’t get on your gown.You’ll need to roll tissue paper into snakelike tubes and place them at each fold in order to avoid deep creases. You’ll also need a sheet in between each layer and enough to fill the bust. The only downside of getting acid-free or PH neutral cardboard boxes is that they will develop acid after about 5 years. If you choose this route, you should replace the box after 5 years.
There are many online tutorials on how to wash and preserve the dress yourself. I suggest you read a few of them in order to get a better idea on how to do it. By reading them you can confirm what they all have in common and take the right steps to ensure that your dress is cleaned and preserved as you prefer.
DO NOT store your dress in a cellar. The best place for your gown is a dry dark place. If you have any silica gel packs, place them around the dress, making sure that they are wrapped in acid-free tissue paper as well. Nothing by acid-free tissue paper should ever touch the dress.
Take the dress out once a year and re-pack it so that the folds change each time. This prevents the dress from getting deep creases. It also gives you an opportunity to view your beautiful gown.
Making the Most of Your Honeymoon
We took a pre-wedding-mini honeymoon to the Bahamas a few days before the wedding. Our friends and family thought we were insane because not only did we plan this wedding in little time but we were taking some crucial days to go to the Bahamas and relax BEFORE the wedding. However, it turned out to be a great idea, because it gave us a sun-kissed glow, allowed us to relax physically and mentally and also gave us some great memories.
I suggest you book your flights yourself using ITA Matrix. By using this website you can choose your currency, choose from the calendar for prices, book round-trip flights that depart from one city and arrive in another, book multiple-city flights and chose your sales county in order to get cheaper prices.
When we were booking a place to stay on the Bahamas, we noticed that many hotels had lots of negative reviews regardless of the price. We couldn’t fathom spending so much money on a resort just to get a mediocre experience. We also wanted to have an authentic experience so we decided to look on AirBnb. It was the best decision we made.
We chose a lovely guesthouse in an authentic neighborhood in the Bahamas. The hosts were a local family that have 4 listings on the property. The guesthouse was located in Fox Hill, Bahamas, which is definitely not along the tourist route. The neighborhood is mainly composed of the host family’s relatives. However, the host provided free transportation to and from the local bus or into the center for an additional fee that was cheaper than a taxi. They booked you on tours at your request and gave excellent advice that only the locals would know. We ate the best food where few tourists go or ever even hear about and ended up having a real authentic Bahamian experience that we’ll always remember.
We are currently booking our real honeymoon and we are really looking forward to it.
Your Wedding Will Be Perfect
You can plan your wedding in as much or as little time as you have. You just adjust to your liking. The main thing you need to remember is what got me through those two months of planning. Every single time someone would say, “What if there’s a snowstorm?”, “What if your dress doesn’t fit?”, “What if your flight is canceled?”, “What if his family doesn’t make it from Italy due to a storm?”.