the Pre-marriage minute
Bridal 201: How to Survive the Long Distance Engagement
By Lori D'Augostine
CBN.com Associate Producer
CBN.com Planning for a wedding is hard enough, but throw into the mix hundreds of miles and you can expect some added challenges. A few decades ago, I would have called it impossible, but in our fast-paced, techno-advanced age, many are doing it and achieving pre-marital bliss too.
Since many young couples meet while attending college or living away from home, long distance weddings are common. Planning a long distance wedding can be a bit tricky, but with a little extra effort and creative planning, you'll be able to get through it without a hitch.
Trust me, I know. For the past six months, I have been busy planning a wedding that is four states away (where my parents live) with a fiancée that lives a few hundred miles away. Needless to say, I have become quite adept in the fine art of maximizing my time and resources.
The Adventures of Louise and Clark
It begins with your perspective. Think of it as an adventure. You and your fiancée are like explorers. Think Louise and Clark. Together (because you'll need to be more of a team than ever before), you are reclaiming foreign territory (reception hall, church, DJ, caterer, etc.). First, you'll need to scope out the land. Research all the popular venue locations and ask around. If you are getting married in your hometown, you'll find your family to be a trustworthy resource. But, do not embark on your search for vendors without a schedule and maps. Your weekend wedding planning adventures will be action-packed. One weekend, I met with seven photographers and DJ's. I had a schedule printed out, my questions listed so no time was wasted, and ample driving time figured.
On-the Go Wedding Planning
Thankfully, I have been blessed to live close enough to my wedding locale, that I can drive. Many a time, I have used my road trips as opportunities to return phone calls and touch base with my wedding party. Also, I have chosen most of my wedding music, by tuning into love songs with radio show host, Delilah and flipping through dozens of burned CD's. I'm even writing this article from my car right now (just kidding).
It's all in your perspective. Complaining about hundreds of miles of driving, will only exhaust you more. Instead, use that time productively. Most brides carry around their wedding planner, but as a long-distance driver, you may need more than just your book. I have kept my suitcase stocked for emergency trips, along with make-up and toiletries constantly in an on-call status. In addition, you can never take enough vitamin C and Airborne during this time. It is imperative to keep your immune system strong, as the days leading up to the wedding will only get more intense.
You don't have to book all your vendors in the state you are getting married. I interviewed some photographers who were willing to travel. After adding travel and accommodation, I discovered a photographer who was the same cost of the one I was considering in my wedding location. My flowers ended up being less expensive where I live now. I'm going with a wholesale flower shop, and one of my bridesmaids agreed to drive them up the day before the wedding. Not all types of flowers can survive a long distance car trip, so make sure you choose ones that do. Of course, I ended up buying a wedding gown in the area I live now too. I highly recommend this, since you will visit the bridal salon on many occasions for fittings and alterations.
Wedding Party Help
It was important for me to choose bridesmaids who were in both locations. Some are in the town I am going to get married in, and some live where I am now. Delegation is crucial! My bridesmaids who are in the town I am getting married in have saved me many a trip, by scouting out locations and going on errands. One of my favorite parts about having bridesmaids in both locations, is that I get to have two bridal showers!
My Wedding Coordinator: The Internet
You should see my personal email inbox. I have folders designated for anything and everything that is wedding. There is a folder for links for invitation materials, guest books, flower girl baskets, music, saved emails to family/friends, copies of online payments for wedding supplies, emails of all wedding guests in address book, and more.
Consider the Internet your one-stop, dream shop of all your fantasy wedding needs. Seriously, you can find almost anything online. I know of one bride who bought her wedding gown on eBay, and another who bought a beautiful gown imported from Italy. Most items you buy online can be returned within a specific number of days. I wouldn't buy any item that has no return policy. Personally, I discovered that my time was significantly cut by shopping online versus in-person. Being the comparative, bargain shopper that I am, it often takes me several stores before I can make a decision.
My fiancée and I didn't do all of our registry shopping virtually. You must have some real-life experience. We decided to register for some items in person and the rest on-line. Armed with ammunition, you aim the scanner for the products, and like Louise and Clark build a new land, a homestead made of cookware, electronics, bathroom towels, linens, and the Star Wars trilogy box-set. That's right! My fiancee and I felt like two kids at Christmas.
My fiancée and I mainly connect via phone. We do have the privilege of visiting each other a few times a month, but for those couples who don't have this opportunity... the phone becomes a life line.
Just because you are long distance, does not mean you should forfeit pre-marital counseling. Many pastors require couples to undergo a designated amount of hours of counseling. Even if you have to do it over the phone, it is much better to discuss these things before versus after marriage.
If you are not just days away, but miles and miles away from your wedding, it's tough. I agree with you. I have experienced the pressures. I have felt the loneliness. And, I have wished that it could be simpler. But, I cannot and will not look back on this time in regret! God has strengthened my fiancée and I as a couple. Our dependence on the Lord is greater than our dependence on people to help us. His heart is not for us to be exhausted or overwhelmed, He wants us to rest in Him.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:2, NIV)
So, pace yourself with frequent breaks with your Savior. He will recharge you! He will inspire you! He will guide you through an adventure that will lead you through the rest of your lives!
"Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
Comments? Email me
More articles by Lori D'Augostine
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.