The question should actually read as follows: how does a Peruvian-American plan a wedding in Germany?
The answer: with much difficulty
Just kidding (only slightly). I am on the latter end of a long list of friends who have already gotten married over the last several years. So I have already learned a lot of dos and don’ts and have also heard the slew of horror stories that is known as wedding planning. A few have even been bi-cultural…..
But I am reconciling three VERY different cultures for a day-long event (In case you are wondering which ones: Peruvian, American, and German). It is not easy – but not impossible. It has required long talks between T, myself, and my mother (the Peruvian) to make sure that bases are covered, toes are not stepped on, and we get through it with the minimum amount of stress as possible. For the record, I am sure that I had a collective groan from my audience when I mentioned my mother. No, she is not one of those crazy moms who literally tell their daughters how the wedding will be. She has made some (strong) suggestions but has also managed to make it crystal clear that T and I make the final decision. I go to her because she has spent the greater part of my life doing a lot of event planning – she knows her stuff. This means that she knows how to herd cats (so to speak) as well as talking me off the ledge when I start to really stress out.
It’s a long path between engagement to the altar and it is riddled with stress factors. But organizing your wedding in a land that is different form where you grew is not something you should take on alone (no matter how much of a control freak you may be). In case it hasn’t been made obvious yet – the wedding will be in Germany. Why? Besides the fact that weddings are CONSIDERABLY cheaper here in Germany than the States – I have been told numerous times during T and my courtship that if we didn’t have the wedding in Germany then my friends and family wouldn’t be coming. True story.
So with the HUGE help of T and my MOH (Nicola), we have been able to compile a list of florists, DJs, photographers, venues, and dress designers. I did find it rather refreshing having to start over while here in Germany. In the states, I had some idea of who I wanted in terms of photographers and venues (which almost led to me having planned a typically lavish American wedding before T and I talked about where we were going to live) but here in Germany I had nothing – no preferences. I was like a blank slate.
With the New Year quickly approaching, the countdown begins. Soon the invites will be sent out and we will begin the next phase of our wedding planning.
For those of you living abroad and wanting to plan a wedding – here’s some advice:
- The Language
When it comes to invitations, wedding websites, and perhaps even the ceremony – try to not have everything in one language. When possible – do both. Obviously it is not possible for everything – but I have been invited to weddings where the entire invite was in one language – and one I didn’t understand. It was a little annoying.
Our invitations and wedding website are in English and in German (we couldn’t really fit Spanish but to be frank, most Spanish speakers in my family speak either English or German (or related to some who speaks either) so they are still able to get the necessary info). But one thing I have learned is that the format between writing an invitation in formal English vs formal German is quite different so good luck reconciling the two! 😛
- Out of Town Guests
For all of your out of town guests – try to keep them clustered together. A lot of them may not have much experience with international travel so keeping things simple will make it easier for everyone involved. Also, if your reception cannot fit everyone then organize for transportation and have the rest in a nearby city with more to offer. This works whether you are having Americans (and Peruvians) visiting Germany or having Germans visiting America. What do I mean?
We have chosen the gorgeous Colmberg castle for our venue and like most European castles – it’s pretty remote and usually in a village that boasts few hotels. I did try my luck at seeing if I could fit at least my guests in the village of Colmberg. It was a logistical nightmare. I came across another wedding website that had a similar conundrum. They had chosen Langenburg castle (which was one of the places we looked into). There are even less hotels there. They had their guests stay at a group of hotels in the city of Swäbisch Hall which wasn’t far (as well as gorgeous and touristy). We then decided that we will have our guests stay in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Why?
I mean look at that photo! It’s gorgeous! Most of the old city looks like that….all…the…time! It’s only fifteen minutes away from Colmberg but they get more tourists, which means they are more likely to speak English! Also, for those not feel to adventurous (for some guests, just getting to Rothenburg will push them well passed their comfort zone) – there’s still plenty to see just by walking around!
3. The Website
Wedding websites are definitely more popular in the states than in Germany. It is certainly cheaper than the more formal way of sending an invite in the states….
But what do I mean?
In the US, a normal invitation includes the Save the Date, Invitation, RSVP card, self-addressed/pre-paid envelope for said RSVP card, map of venue, as well as whatever piece of info you think your guests needs. This can get expensive very quickly…..and even more so when you are mailing them halfway a crossed the world. In Germany…..no. Just no. RSVP is done by calling. They may include info concerning the venue and hotels – incorporating it into the invitation in some way and keeping it short and concise.
This is why a Wedding Website is sooooo useful! You can put more info than possibly necessary and it doesn’t cost you extra! In fact, most you can have made for free!
But I have learned some things the hard way: The Wedding Wire is useless because Germany is not even an option. FYI. The Knot is ok; their templates for their free sites are quite lovely (if a little repetitive). We found an awesome bilingual website from them – but it became clear that they paid someone to do it.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
As you may have noticed by the photo that I ended up using the darling WordPress! I love it. I know exactly how it works (since it is what I use for this site), it’s free, and everything can be custom made. Through this site, we have our RSVP, maps, flight info, hotel info, how to drive in Germany info, wedding program, you name it – we likely have it on there. It’s not perfect since WordPress was not made to be like other well known wedding websites – but it gets the job done.
Anyway, as I said before – I still have a long way to go. But until my next epiphany on what I am learning while planning a wedding, here are some pictures from our venue: Castle Colmberg
Bis naechste Woche!