Q&A: long-distance wedding planning

Wedding planning is difficult at the best of times, but when you are 1,010 miles apart like Lauren Mahony and Bernie Reyes, it is even more complicated.

Lauren, 21 and Bernie, 22, are due to get married on 27 June 2019 and are planning their big day from Dublin, Ireland and Zurich, Switzerland.


How did you meet?

Lauren: We met a few years ago at a youth conference in Brussels, Belgium. I saw how kind Bernie was and I began to like him, but thought that we would never see or talk to each other again after the conference.

The day after the conference ended, I left Belgium to go to Paris with my friends and one of my close friends suggested that I add Bernie on Facebook. I took her advice and sent him a friend request. He accepted and we talked every second on my trip to Paris. He was staying in Belgium for a few days and we told each other about our adventures and sent photos of our trips. I could talk about anything with him and he was so easy to talk to.

Eventually his trip to Belgium and my trip to Paris were over and we flew home, still talking every day. One evening we started joking about me visiting Zurich or Bernie flying to Dublin. I didn’t think he was being serious, but the next day he booked a flight to Dublin! I was happy, surprised, shocked, excited, scared, and nervous.

A week later I went to Dublin airport at 7am and picked him up. It was my grandmother’s birthday and I dragged him along to her celebration where he met my family. It was cute because he bought gifts for them all. My family loved him instantly, especially my grandmother! We spent that week together and had many great adventures in Dublin. We made our relationship official before he flew back to Switzerland and that is when our long-distance relationship adventure began.

Bernie: We met on the second day of a youth conference in Brussels, Belgium. After the conference we parted ways and lost contact, but a few days later I received a friend request from Lauren on Facebook, which I accepted. From that day we talked non-stop. She was in Paris and I was still in Brussels at that time, but it didn’t stop us from talking to each other.

We got along really well and it felt like we had known each other for ages. After a few weeks of talking I decided to book a trip to Dublin to visit Lauren, we were just friends at that time. She picked me up from the airport and toured me around in Dublin. After that trip we made it official. We were already acting like a couple when I was in Ireland and people told us we looked cute together.


How did you get engaged?

Lauren: Bernie asked me to marry him at my graduation from college in Nursing studies. At the end of the ceremony he took me to the altar of St. Patricks Cathedral in Dublin, got down on one knee and took out a ring box. I instantly said yes! There were around 1,000 people at the ceremony. It will be a day I will never forget.

Bernie: We got engaged at Lauren’s college graduation in St. Patricks Cathedral. While she was getting ready I told her parents that I wanted to marry her and asked their permission. At the graduation ceremony I spoke to the staff and told them about my plan, I asked them when I could ask her the “question of all questions”. They were pretty shocked and happy for us!

The ceremony came to an end and I asked Lauren if we could take some pictures. We walked up to the altar and while her mom was “taking a picture” (she was recording), I knelt down and I asked her to marry me… SHE SAID YES! All of her friends were shouting and screaming. I was a bit nervous, but it was worth it.

What is your vision for your wedding day?

Lauren: My vision is for our guests to enjoy the day and to have fun sharing our special day with us. I hope that the day will be full of laughter, happiness and lots of dancing. We want many photographs to keep as memories.

One of the parts that I am looking forward to the most is when my future husband watches me walk down the aisle with my Dad to become his wife. I am looking forward to Bernie smiling back at me when I walk towards him. Getting ready on the morning of the wedding may be a little stressful but it will all be worthwhile when I am waiting with my dad for the church doors to open.

Our wedding theme is Disney fairy tale and we are planning on having a Disney projection wedding cake.

What have you organised so far?

Lauren: We have narrowed down the venue to two options and have one left to view. The church we have chosen is St. Patricks. We have organised the photographer, ceremony decorations, flowers and extra decorations for the venue ballroom, such as lighting, dance floor and projection cake. We have also picked the pre-wedding photoshoot location.

How did you decide where to get married?

Lauren: We searched various churches and hotels online, all of which are around the countryside. We arranged viewings at the venues we thought were nice. We decided on St Patricks church because it is close to the two possible reception venues and we got engaged at St. Patricks Cathedral.


What difficulties have you encountered in planning a wedding long-distance? 

Lauren: The biggest difficulty in planning a wedding long-distance is trying to view churches and venues. We organise visits when Bernie is in Dublin, but sometimes the venue has another event on or the planner wasn’t there on that day. Viewing the church was difficult because we saw it just before Bernie had to go to the airport and catch his flight home. We don’t want to pick a venue when only I have seen it because it is an important event for both of us.

Another difficulty is looking for decorations and other things which we would like. Our visits are usually every two months so we have to send pictures of flowers, decorations, or wedding cars etc. through Facebook messenger or we video-call.

Have there been any advantages to planning long-distance?

Lauren: There aren’t too many advantages to wedding planning long-distance. Although one of the advantages is that we have the benefit of being able to look in different stores to find little things to decorate the church and reception venue. I found lots of stores in Dublin and Bernie has found some small stores in Zurich too.

We can also look at websites faster because we can both look at the same time, rather than being together and using one laptop. I can look for flowers or cars, while he looks at other things such as suits, so we get more done which is good for our busy schedules.

How are you managing the wedding budget and to do list?

Lauren: We have set our budget at about 16,000 Euros. My parents are helping with my dress and the flowers and Bernie’s parents are helping with other things for the day.

Our to do list gets bigger each time we plan the day. Wedding planners have been a great help for writing all the information and what we have planned so far. We also get a wedding planner with the hotel package so that will help us a lot. Getting through the to do list might be difficult because as well as being 1,010 miles apart, I am a full-time student nurse and he works full time too.

Are there any helpful apps or other technology that have helped?

Lauren: I have joined groups on Facebook about weddings in Ireland including one called “help I’m getting married” and a page where people sell wedding items.

When we book the wedding, the venue gives us access to a wedding planning site called Moposa. This gives has a database of the table plans for every venue so you can make your seating plan which will automatically be sent to your venue. They can print it and display it on the day. You can also make your own website where your guests can view information or pictures from engagement shoots. It gives you 3D view of the venue, inside and out, you can view the rooms such as the bridal suite. We can also receive online RSVPs from the guests instead of them posting them back to us.

I think this website will be useful in helping us plan this special day and keep things organised. Most venues in Ireland offer access to this website so if you’re possibly getting married here be sure to check it out.

Lauren’s long-distance wedding planning top tips

  1. If possible close the distance between you before the wedding day. We plan to close it a month or two before our wedding date. If you are still in a long-distance relationship after you get married it may be even harder than before.
  2. If you are from different cultures and have different wedding traditions, try to incorporate some of each into the wedding day. This is also a good way to please the in-laws!
  3. Before you plan the wedding day, either during a visit or video-call, discuss your visions for your day. You should discuss elements of the day such as whether a religious ceremony is an option or you would prefer a civil ceremony. This will help you to establish expectations and help you to have the best day ever!
  4. Setting a budget is important for all weddings, but weddings can cost different amounts in different countries, so it is helpful to research the typical price of a wedding in the country in which you want to get married. You should also consider the impact of currency on the budget and consider the costs involved in exchanging the currency. You may want to use a specific card or bank transfer method, with zero or low commission rates. It is important that the budget be realistic in what you both can afford to do, the best weddings don’t always have to be expensive.
  5. If you need a visa to get married and to move then start researching this process early, particularly how long it may take. Be sure to leave plenty of time in case of possible complications during the visa process.
  6. Guests are most likely to be travelling to your wedding from different countries, for example we have friends and family flying to Dublin from Canada, Switzerland, the Philippines and Austria. It may help to arrange for someone meet guests at the airport and to organise a bus or another form of transportation for the wedding day. This will reduce the cost for your guests and reduce the risk of them getting lost!
  7. The most important advice we can give is to not give up on each other. Planning a wedding is stressful but when you are miles apart that stress can get increase. Don’t forget what this day will mean to both of you or how much you love and mean to one another. I know that you may not have had many days together but when you reach this day you can say “we did It!” You worked through all the nights of sleeping alone, the thousands of miles between you two and all the sad airport “see you soons”. So always remember that one day, the miles will turn to 0 and that distance isn’t forever because after all love lasts and distance doesn’t ❤

For those of you who are engaged and in a long-distance relationship, Congratulations from us and we wish you guys the most happiness and the best in your upcoming adventures as husband and wife.

Tell us your long-distance wedding planning journey in the comments below or by email to perfectlypersonalwedding@hotmail.com x

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