Wedding Planning Away From Home: Tips for OFW Brides & Grooms

Another wave of engaged couples has been popping in my feed lately. It is indeed my generation’s settling season! It’s kind of nostalgic that I was like them few months ago – madly pinning wedding-related items on Pinterest, scouring the world wide web for suppliers, reading bridal blogs, searching for reviews. Ahhh, the list of to-do of a bride/groom is endless!

I’ve said it time and again that being an overseas bride is extra challenging. The wedding day becomes a two-celebration – one for the union and two for your prep graduation! So, I’ve listed down a few things that have helped us and hopefully would work with every overseas bride/groom as well.

  1. As with any tips I’m sure you’d be reading online, the first thing you should do is set your priorities / budget (read: realistic!) / non-negotiables AND STICK TO IT UNTIL THE END.
  2. Make a new e-mail address solely for wedding-related correspondences. Living abroad, our personal e-mail addresses are, for sure, full to the brim – bills, memberships and other personal/business stuff. A separate email makes organizing your e-mail exchanges with your suppliers easier.
  3. If you’re not in a hurry to get married, consider having a long engagement. A year and a half or two should be fine. It lengthens your preparation time enabling you to shop around for suppliers. It also buys you time to save more for the wedding of your dreams (and honeymoon, of course)!

    Pont des Arts Paris-1
    We were engaged in April 2014 and got married in December 2015. More than a year of engagement allowed us to save both for the wedding and honeymoon. Because, really, nobody wants to start their married life in debt!
  4. Schedule a trip or two home, if you can. On your first trip, you can meet up with your prospect suppliers prior to booking them (because meeting face to face is much more different from mail exchanges/phone calls). If you can, go home during the bridal fair season (usually during off-peak bridal months – August to November). The second trip could be 3 months before the wedding day. This can be for marriage license application (validity is 120 days/4 months before the wedding), gown fitting, food tasting, finalizing your wedding program, etc.

RELATED POSTS: Wedding Errands Week Part 1 and Part 2

  1. Should you decide to go home, you can schedule it during UAE holidays, especially on Eid holidays when we have longer weekends. Remember you want to save as much paid leaves as you can so you still have enough for your honeymoon.

    Hallstatt Austria honeymoon-1
    We managed to squeeze a week and a half trip to Austria for our honeymoon!
  2. Since you’re away from home, it’s difficult to get information about suppliers. Look for brides’ suppliers’ reviews – it helps a lot deciding on who to book. Browse forums or be active in online communities if you can. Female Network’s Girl Talk helped me tons!

RELATED POSTS: Wedding Suppliers’ Review Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

  1. Do not let big supplier names scare you! It doesn’t hurt to send them an inquiry. Sometimes, we think they’re out of our budget when in fact they’re really not.

    Madre de Dios Chapel Tagaytay Highlands-1
    At first, we’re not interested with Tagaytay Highlands because we thought it would be very costly. But it turned out to be cheaper than Manila wedding venues we’re eyeing!
  1. Always ask for a contract from your suppliers. Read them and fully understand before signing. This will be your saving grace should something goes wrong *knocks on wood*
  2. Keep tab with your suppliers via e-mail or WhatsApp. If you prefer calls, then maybe it’s a good idea to enroll on a postpaid plan during the prep year. Etisalat offers 150AED/month for 200 minutes of international calls + 6GB data. We saved a lot of dirhams from calls with this.
  3. Every time you make a payment to your suppliers, make sure you get a receipt/proof of payment from them – whether it was done by remittances or personal. Keep a record of these until the last payment.
  4. Consider opening a joint account specifically for the wedding. This way you won’t be tempted to use your wedding budget for anything else.
  5. Take advantage of good exchange rate! Enough said.
  6. Finish whatever you can accomplish while overseas such as conversion to Catholic church (if needed), Marriage Preparation Course and engagement shoots.

RELATED POST: Marriage Preparation Course at St. Mary’s Church Dubai

  1. Do not overdo your Pinterest boards. Seriously, don’t. Everytime you’re overpinning, refer to no. 1 of this list.
  2. Before planning to DIY something, consider the availability of raw materials and shipping first. You might end up saving more by renting items than doing them yourself. Plus, you won’t worry about how to dispose them after the wedding.

    Tips for OFW brides and grooms-1
    Among the few things we DIY-ed were reception stationery like menu cards, name cards and food tags.
  3. One item worth DIY-ing is a dessert table/sweets buffet. Chocolates and candies are usually cheaper here compared in the Philippines. Watch out for promotions on your favorite local supermarket.
  4. Take advantage of Dubai’s shopping season for small things such as bridal shoes, token for sponsors and wedding rings (you can follow gold rates if you’re really keen to get a good bargain. Diamonds are usually cheaper during April).
  1. Delegate tasks! You (and your groom) don’t have to carry all the burden. Share your load to your entourage/family members/friends. Most of the time, they are happy to help.

    Tips for OFW brides and grooms-2
    Second to the last procedure in completing the long list of Catholic wedding requirements: interview with the Chancery of Lipa! Our parents played a major role to help us finish all the required documents. They collected and submitted paper works in our behalf that by the time we went home a week and a half before the wedding, we only did the ones that needed personal appearance. 
  2. Finally, have fun and enjoy the process! You only get to plan your dream wedding once so live every moment of it.

There you go! I don’t think my wedding-related posts will end anytime soon. I’m obviously still not over being a bride. The wedding preps season is a beautiful time to get to know your partner more. I hope this short list helps you in one way or another. Happy preps!

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