How to Effectively Plan A Wedding Half A World Away

 In Advice, Bridesmaids Confess!

Your best friend asks you to be in their wedding. Hooray! A bridesmaid role is one you are ready for and you’re excited to help plan a wedding for your friend. So what if the wedding you are planning is halfway around the world? Just ask wedding blogger Michelle of Weddings on a Sixpence for her tips!

Tips for Wedding Planning While Living Abroad.

Maid of Honour Role

I was Maid of Honour to my best friend, Robyn. She had two bridesmaids, one was my sister, Amy. The other was a mutual friend, Dee. We’ve been by Robyn’s side for a large portion of her relationship leading up to her engagement. It’s fair to say that we are a close-knit group of friends.

As Maid of Honour, I was heavily involved in helping the bride plan the day. We were both based in the UK, with her wedding taking place in South Africa. Most of the time I was there for emotional support as it can be quite stressful planning across the world. First I helped in sourcing the bridesmaid dresses, choosing wedding day hair and make-up, and planning the Bridal Shower. Then on the wedding day, all the bridesmaids made sure the wedding went as smoothly as possible.

Bridesmaid Helps Plan a Wedding. Walking the Aisle.

Challenges When You Plan A Wedding

I thought I was ready for the role but I was wrong. The bride and I had been planning her wedding for years before she became officially engaged. She also had a relatively long engagement. When the date was set, I felt relaxed and ready for anything. We had been dreaming of the day for so long, it did not occur to me it might be overwhelming.

Now as the day drew closer and closer, anxiety began to set it. Robyn is more like a sister to me, therefore I wanted so badly to make all her dreams come true. It suddenly occurred to me that I was in a position to potentially seriously disappoint someone I love very much. Thankfully I feel in the end, I was able to help plan a wedding that was lovely.

Bridesmaid Helps Plan a Wedding. Maid of Honour and Bride.

Communication Is Key

A lot of emphases is placed on the bride’s nerves and fears, which is exactly right. It is often overlooked that the bridesmaids might be feeling some anxiety too. I don’t think it is something that brides should worry about. The bridesmaids need to check-in with one another throughout the planning. Make sure your fellow crew members are okay and not in the need of some extra emotional support.

If I could do it all over again, I would have more regular check-ins with the bridesmaids. Having open communication between all parties is key. The bride and I spoke every day but I think we could have spoken about her expectations more. Ask questions! You can’t go back and do it again so don’t be afraid to communicate for clarity.

Bridesmaid Helps Plan a Wedding. Dress Duty.

Bridal Party Numbers

In South Africa, the average number of bridesmaids is four. Some people have less and some have a few more. I have never seen a wedding with as many 10 plus ladies like there are in the US.

Financially speaking, there is no set standard of what the bridesmaids pay for. Each bride is different and it depends on the budget of the wedding. If a bride is financially able, she will pay for everything except the bridal shower or bachelorette. Otherwise, the bride will let the bridesmaids know what is expected.

As a basic guideline, the bride will pay for the bridesmaid’s dresses and wedding day hair and makeup. It is normal, but not expected, for the bride to give the bridesmaids a small gift. It is a way of saying thank you for their help and support.

Bridesmaid Helps Plan a Wedding. Bridal Party.

Kitchen Tea Tradition

In South Africa, Bridal Showers are common and are mostly called ‘Kitchen Teas’. Quite literally, all the ladies close to the bride get together to have tea and gift her homeware, kitchenware, and lingerie. The bride usually does not have a gift registry for her Kitchen Tea. The bridesmaids will advise guests on what the bride would like or need.

At the tea, games are sometimes played. Anything from guests making toilet paper wedding dresses to playing bridal bingo-type games. Sometimes the games and activities can become quite risque. It depends on who is in attendance.

Bridesmaid Helps Plan a Wedding. Bridal Bouquet.

Bachelorette / Hen Party

The tea is usually on the same day as a bachelorette and the younger ladies go out afterward. The bachelorette usually consists of going to a nightclub or bar. Sometimes the group will dress up in fun party outfits! It’s all very similar to the US.

In the UK, Bridal Showers are not common. Most British people do not know what they are or understand why you would have one! In the UK, the bride’s close friends and younger family have a Hen Night. These nights can range from going out locally for one night or a whole weekend away! A Hen Do is usually extremely high spirited with a lot of emphasis on dressing up and drinking games. The Hen Nights do not typically include the bride’s mother or mother-in-law.

Author Bio

I’m Michelle van den Houten. I love planning weddings, talking about weddings, being in weddings, anything related to weddings really. In life, I love a bargain and helping my friends and family plan events. It’s no surprise that I fell in love with wedding hacks when I was planning my own wedding. Now, I blog about weddings and dedicate my spare time to helping brides and their tribes plan their dream days, no matter their budget.

Bridesmaid Helps Plan a Wedding. Speech.

Follow me: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

What do you think of Michelle’s tips to plan a wedding? Share with us in the comments.

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Showing 34 comments
  • Kristina
    Reply

    Love this. I found it so hard planning my wedding in the same country! My BM’s were always there by my side although 200 miles away. Their regular calls of support kept me sane!

    • Reply

      I had two bridesmaids 300 miles away and one all the way overseas. I know how that goes!

    • Michelle
      Reply

      Calls and texts are life savers when distance is an issue!

  • Lane Patten
    Reply

    It’s funny how the traditions are different between the countries (ie what the bride pays for versus what the the bridesmaids pay for). Having been married for almost 20 years now, I sure wish I had put more emphasis on the marriage and less on the actual wedding. If I was to do it again I would do a destination wedding on a beach, low stress very casual, not the 350+ guest church wedding I did.

    • Reply

      Wow 350 guests! That is a very large wedding. I think most brides have an alternate version of their wedding day in their head. Regardless of how nice theirs was.

    • Michelle
      Reply

      Oh my goodness! 350 + guests is eye watering 😳 I’m sure you had a fabulous day though 👰🏻

  • Mimi
    Reply

    So nice when you get support from someone even when she’s far away, planning a wedding is already stressful in the same country

    • Reply

      So true Mimi. Wedding planning always has it’s stressful moments. Good support is necessary.

    • Michelle
      Reply

      Support is everything when wedding planning. It takes a village!

  • Claire Ady
    Reply

    I love the gowns! They all got to pick one that suited them!

    • Reply

      They are so lovely. That shade of pink is almost nude and the sparkles really are a lovely accent.

    • Michelle
      Reply

      It was fun to help pick them out 😊 and each gown suited the lady 👗

  • Autumn Murray
    Reply

    I am a former wedding planner and I can honestly say this is great information!

  • Reply

    Omg! You’re so brave! My wedding was just one state over and I felt like I needed a bazillion lists just not to forget anything! Wonderful job

  • Parul
    Reply

    I loved reading your post because culture wise, the Hindu tradition hasn’t got the concept of bridesmaids. Of course, close friends help shopping etc and organising the bachelorette but that’s not the expectation. Reading this made me realise it would be stressful at times. But sure a good and love filled experience.

    • Reply

      Thank you for sharing about the Hindu tradition Parul. I love learning about different cultures and how they celebrate weddings.

    • Michelle
      Reply

      It’s true, wedding planning is stressful at times! But, if you surround yourself with people who love and care about you, it can definitely help!

  • afternoonofsundries
    Reply

    The pictures are absolutely stunning. I can feel the joy through the images! I wish this post had been around for my wedding… my maid of honor did none of these things… in fact she told me she was too tired from doing a friend’s Wedding (some one she’s known for 5 years) that she simply couldn’t do anything for mine (her best friend of 15 years). Our relationship went downhill from there. I think that another good thing your post says is there were expectations. I bet if you didn’t feel up to it, you were able to communicate that. I wish we had been more honest with one another for my wedding. After admitting that to me, she doggedly said she had to be my maid of honor and I couldn’t pick anyone else and anytime I tried to get help, she would throw a fit. Great post!

    • Reply

      Wow that is a sucky situation. I’m sorry you had to deal with that! It isn’t the norm obviously, but I have seen a few friendships ruined over weddings. It really shows you who is willing to help and those that are in it for themselves.

    • Michelle
      Reply

      Oh wow, that does sound incredibly hard! Sometimes weddings can bring out a nasty side to people, which is so unfortunate. I think communication is really the only way to avoid disappointment and to ensure everyone is on the same page. Hopefully, your experience can help others in the future.

  • Ritu Bhathal
    Reply

    How awesome! Good job well done!!!

  • Reply

    Love the kitchen tea idea! What a fun tradition!

    • Reply

      I thought that’s a sweet way of looking at it. Always depends on who is there how risque the gifts get. LOL

    • Michelle
      Reply

      It’s so traditional in South Africa it’s almost weird to see that it’s unusual to others 😊

  • Madeline
    Reply

    What a lovely and helpful story! So practical. And I love the idea of a Kitchen tea. I just went to a bachelorette party that included an English-style High Tea but that is definitely not the norm!

  • Misty Eilar
    Reply

    I bet planning was hard, but it sounds like a great experience. Loved the color of the bridesmaid dresses. Very Cute.

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