Tuesday, July 25, 2017

fieldwork and wedding planning

It seems to be wedding planning season for the field folks that I know, so I've heard quite a bit about the stresses of wedding planning while in the field. I planned my own long-distance wedding at a time when I was in the field essentially non-stop, and I have a few pieces of advice:

1. Pick the very few things that are important to you, and gloss over/ignore the rest.

We had one major priority for our wedding: make things easy for our guests, many of whom were some combination of poor, far away, disabled, and/or elderly. We also wanted to have an open bar and not worry about anyone needing to drive. So that meant that we were looking for a reasonably handicapped-accessible place where we could have a ceremony, reception, and cheap hotel rooms all in the same place. Everything else was secondary.

2. Have a not-short engagement, if you can, so that you don't feel utterly pressed for time.

3. It's ok to have a non-unique wedding. If you're working a ton of erratic hours, traveling, and have lousy internet, it's far easier to find a "wedding factory" that has a standard plan to follow, rather than trying to corral a bunch of contractors who don't usually do weddings.

4. It is the era of the internet. You can easily organize 95% of the party from afar. If there are certain vendors/items that you need to buy/look at in person, you can at least cut down the list of places that you need to go.

I ended up using three vacation days to make long weekends to take care of all of my long-distance pre-wedding planning:
   a. one to test drive the hotel rooms at the venues we were considering,
   b. one after venue selection to confirm the photographer and make sure we were on the same page (I had two that I was considering), meet the DJ, and check out dresses, and
   c. close to the wedding, to do a taste-testing for the dinner/cake, pick a color scheme for the decorations that were included in my package, and do a test hairstyle with a local salon.

5. Have fun, and remember that if you have some major crisis, it will make for a great story someday. We had various wedding snafus before the wedding, during the ceremony, during the reception, and after we got back from the honeymoon, but really, we were married and that was all that mattered.

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