I believe nobody can answer my problem better than you two, so I decided to give it a shot.
The love of my life comes from another country. We just got engaged and now we need to decide: where do we marry?
The thing is, his family is huge, he has a lot of cousins and uncles and aunts that he constantly keeps in touch with. On my side, the family is way smaller. (He's French, I am Polish, by the way.)
And here comes the problem. We think it is impossible to transport his family to Poland for the wedding because it is just a lot of people who would need accommodation (and here comes the money part - I am not sure we can support them all). On the other hand, my Polish family would not afford completely to go anywhere else for the wedding and I don't want to allow getting married without my family being present.
That being said, we totally struggle about the time and the place, because we are unable to gather everyone together. Not even mentioning our international friends, what is another story.
Do you have any tips on how and where to marry an international?
on your decision to get married. You have definitely come to the right place, we do have quite a lot of experience in that department! We have both married internationally and have plenty of friends who have committed the same mistake, sometimes even twice ;)
We have decided to share with you the “5 Wedding Models for an international marriage”. You still can’t avoid the decision-making process, but we hope that looking into those 5 models will help you gain the right perspective.
What's the main purpose of getting married?
Getting engaged and agreeing to spend your life with another human being is an exciting circumstance. However, when it comes to getting that big event arranged, if you don’t have the right approach, you can find yourself facing the reality that is not necessarily all that fun. You both may have different visions and expectations as of how, where and when it should happen. An even larger amount of expectations comes if you have families that like to have a say.
It is a great thing to have our close people with us when we say YES, yet, when the requirements and logistics become overwhelming, it’s helpful to keep in mind what is the main purpose of getting married
It’s a special day when the two of you share your vowels and unite for better and for worse. Some people get so stressed over the whole arrangement that they completely forget what is it all about and what are their real priorities. Arranging your wedding is also a great way to verify your communication skills and how good you are as a team. You’ll need to discuss many aspects, plan, compromise and make decisions together.
Answer these 3 Important Questions
Therefore, before we’ll present the models and also in order to ease the decision-making process itself, we’ll encourage you to sit down together and answer a few questions:
1. Why are you getting married? What do you REALLY need the wedding for?
2. How would yours and your partner’s perfect wedding look like?
3. What are yours and your partner’s priorities when it comes to the wedding and what are you able to let go of in order to keep your priorities?
The first question is crucial, it’s the mother of all questions as we call it here in You’ve got 5 options. You may discover that neither of you actually wants to get married and you are doing this because of the families’ pressure, or you may be doing this because of the fact that “papers” will ease your international situation. Or maybe you do want to get married because you both believe that only a union before God constitutes your relationship.
Whatever your reasons REALLY are, it’s important to identify and write them down. You may find out that the reasons are quite different, that’s also ok, the key is that you bring them to the common table.
The second question is about making your wedding visions and comparing them to see how similar/ different they are. You may find out that your visions are aligned or you may see that one of you wants a “big fat Greek wedding”, whilst the other prefers the “let’s get married alone on the beach”. It’s important to have those visions clear to be able to compare them and to use them during your decision-making process.
The third question will help you point out your guiding stars when selecting the right wedding model for you. If your visions are very different, now is the time to discuss what are the most important aspects and which parts of your vision are you able to let go of.
It may be that in your relationship one of you has a vision but is completely fine with letting go of that vision and following the other one's wishes. Other couples may need to discuss and negotiate every single aspect. Based on your description, it is key to discuss here how big of a priority it is for the families to participate in the wedding and how important it is that it’s all the family members. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wishing for everyone to be there- we have a model for that too. The number one thing is to have your priorities straight.
Answering those simple questions should help you “keep sane” when it comes to taking the decision. It will also support you when other people are coming with their tips & tricks and advice.
5 Wedding Models for an international marriage
But let us get down to business! Based on our experience these are the top 5 wedding types selected by the international couples. Most of the models are pretty obvious, but we’ll walk through them analyzing some of the pros and cons and taking into consideration the details that you have provided in the challenge description.
We encourage you and your partner to continue this game and add on your pros and cons. We hope that below considerations plus the answers to the 3 questions will help you select the right model.
Model 1: Wedding in her country
Each couple has to go through the pros and cons for themselves, but since we’re Polish and our best friend is going to get married soon with a French guy, we actually have some inside knowledge to be able to come with concrete arguments, just to give you a few examples.
1. You come from Poland and traditionally in Poland, the wedding should take place in future wife’s church.
2. It is cheaper to organize a wedding in Poland than in France
3. It is also a relatively a smaller expense for French people to travel to Poland than the other way around
4. Your family can’t afford traveling and is small, even if only half of your husband’s family can travel, he’ll have plenty of close people.
5. You give your partner’s family an opportunity to get to know your culture
1. You’d be organizing the wedding in the country where the number of family members is smaller
2. The situation is strongly in favor of “her” and “her family”
3. Your family doesn’t get the opportunity to get to know your partner’s culture
You get the point of how it works, right? It’s, of course, a good idea to continue noting down your pros and cons.
Model 2: Wedding in his country
Here the advantages of the model above become the disadvantages and the other way around. However, there are probably more aspects that only you know of, e.g. your partner is much closer to his aunts and uncles than you are. It is therefore still worthwhile writing down all pros and cons, especially if you’d like to be able to prioritize them later.
Model 3: Two weddings: one in her country one in his country
The solution may seem a bit extreme and expensive at the beginning, but it may be a valid option for you to consider since you both seem to be very close to your families and neither of the families is able to travel to the other country easily.
This model has a few variants which depend on your visions, priorities, and religions. For example, if both of you are Catholics, you, of course, can’t have two Catholic weddings, but you could take the “legal wedding” in his country and the “church wedding” in her country (or the other way around). You may also choose to get married in one country only and have the reception in both countries.
1. You get two awesome parties
2. You get to have all the family members to be there with you on your special days
3. You give your international friends two different opportunities for being there with you
1. You have to plan two weddings
2. Your families don’t get to meet
Continue with your pros and cons.
When it comes to expenses, you can, of course, do it in a way that it will cost you twice as much as one wedding, or you can do it in a smart way and ensure that you plan two weddings within the budget that you have decided on beforehand.
You can’t avoid though having to plan two events. If you don’t enjoy planning, that solution is probably not a perfect one for you. An idea could be to have a good amount of time in between the two receptions, for example, you could organize the second one on the anniversary of the first one.
Model 4: Wedding in the neutral country
This model is good for the couples that are unable to choose between either of the countries, for example, because they don’t want to put one of the partners and their family in a much more favorable position. It’s also recommendable when you don’t want to struggle with planning two separate weddings and, for example, you want the families to meet. Or if you have dreamt of getting married in an exotic scenery.
1. You are on “equal terms”, neither of you gets a “better deal”
2. You don’t favor any of the families and friends
1. You may need to be ready to accept the fact that many of the family members will not be able to afford to come
2. Neither of the families gets to know the culture and cuisine of your country
Continue with your pros and cons
Model 5: Las Vegas-style wedding
This model is a valid one if you have totally different visions and priorities and none of you is willing to give in. Or if you have realized that it’s too much struggle and logistics and that the stress is taking over the fun, and you just want to go to Vegas or get married on the beach.
1. You get to have undivided attention to just the two of you and your love
2. It’s probably cheaper and easier to organize than the options above
3. You don’t have to deal with anybody’s expectations
1. You risk having some of the family members feeling offended
2. You don’t get to celebrate your love with your families and friends
Planning your wedding and getting married can be a great adventure or a very stressful experience. The good news is that the choice is always yours! You have the power to decide to approach and plan your wedding the way you’d like it to be. It’s quite certain that you won’t be able to satisfy all the expectations of the two of you and your families. It’s simply impossible, so you may just as well quit trying. Get your priorities straight and stick with them!
We hope that answering the questions and considering pros and cons of the 5 wedding models has been helpful for you. It’s such a great idea to keep “the reason why” you are getting married close to you, to remind you of the purpose of getting married when you start stressing about all the practicalities.
If you’re still unsure which model to choose, we could recommend a few additional tools:
Marie Forleo’s: Four simple tests to help you make the right decision every time
Another thing that may be very useful to help you deal with all that wedding frenzy could be to approach the whole situation with gratitude. Gratitude is that amazing emotion where you feel deeply thankful for what you have. The idea here is to shift your attention from feeling stressed about all the logistics to feeling grateful for having found your life partner. Writing down what you are grateful for, what you appreciate about getting married to your partner, what are the things about the wedding that are easy and work will work wonders in changing your approach.
Marta’s two weddings story
My husband and I come from two different continents, my husband has a huge family and me a much smaller one, but still, the distance and cost were so big that it was just too difficult to get them over.
We’re both close to our families so we wanted to celebrate that special day with our close people. We have decided to first get married in his country legally, where we threw a small reception, inviting only the closest family and friends (which meant 80 people). Nearly two years later, we threw the big church wedding in Poland, where everyone was invited (about 60 people). We ended up spending less money than the majority of our friends having one wedding, simply because we set our budget on that level. We loved the solution and we’d gladly get married again. Probably we will one day!
We hope that you’ll listen to our radio shows on Monday and Wednesday at 11 30 CET or to our podcast to get more insights on your solution.
All the best luck to you Anna. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a beautiful wedding ceremony, where you’ll have lots of fun! We’d love to hear back, which model have you chosen!