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Wedding Planning is Travel to a Crazy Foreign Country

One of the lovely engagement photos by Krista Photography.

One of our lovely engagement photos by Krista Photography.

“What kind of wedding do you think you’ll have if you ever get married?” my roommate Meg asked me our Sophomore year in college.

“Easy,” I declared. “I’ll have a potluck in a field and wear a rainbow colored dress I make myself.”

Well, it’s a decade after that conversation, I’m getting married in five days, and my rustic wedding prediction was totally wrong.

Instead, Colin and I are going FULL OUT into Wedding World.

For our upcoming nuptials, our venue is venerable, our cake is tiered, and our menu is five-star. My dress is such a luscious white confection that we’re being featured on a TLC reality TV wedding show called “I Found the Gown.” But rather than being upset with all this tradition, I’m actually delighted.

Reenacting our dramatic double wedding proposal in Boston's Public Garden for Krista Photography.

Reenacting our dramatic double wedding proposal in Boston’s Public Garden for Krista.

Huh?! How the heck did this anti-establishment hippie gal shift so radically from what she thought her wedding would be?

Simple: I love to travel, and Wedding World is one of the most fascinating foreign lands you can visit. Once you start to drive into it, you are so shocked by what you see that you can’t help but drive a little further.

By the willows in the beautiful Boston Public Garden.

By the willows in the Boston Public Garden.

“Oh, THAT is what they were all talking about,” you murmur, realizing the facts behind what countless former brides have tried to explain to you.

“Oh, REALLY?!” you gasp as you glimpse a historic custom up close. “I’ve always wondered what that feels like!” (And by “that”, you can insert any number of cultural experiences from wearing a 15-pound dress to organizing 100 wedding invitations.)

Here are other elements of Wedding World that are tightly analogous to foreign travel.

Money: As in a distant country, currency in Wedding World differs deeply from our normal world. Cake in everyday life is a few dollars. Cake in Wedding World is hundreds. In Wedding World, flowers (innocent, sweet flowers) break the bank, and a “cheap” dress costs more than a cross-country plane ticket.

The reality TV show I’m being featured on focuses on “The Thrifty Bride” but Wedding World “Thrifty” is normal world “Insane.”

A similar but opposite effect occurred in 2009 during my year of travel. After a few weeks of living in Southeast Asia where gorgeous beach-side hotel rooms cost $10, I got so used to those prices that a $15 a night hotel room seemed like a shocking splurge. Both travel and wedding planning shift your understanding of money!

Have I mentioned that we've been working out passionately in anticipation of our stunning wedding outfits? Muscle time!

We’ve been working out passionately in anticipation of our stunning wedding outfits!

Customs: When you’re traveling, each country has “the way things are done” which you usually end up doing to be polite, and because everyone else is doing it. The gravitational pull of these traditions means it takes far more energy to resist than to go along with them. For example, in Ghana, I began eating with my hands, because that’s the polite way to ingest your food there.

It was fun to have a professional photo shoot!

It was fun to have a professional photo shoot!

Well, in Wedding World, there are more “the way things are done”-s than exist in a small continent.

Sure, in college I wanted a rainbow wedding dress, but in the reality of Wedding World, the sluuuurp of tradition towards poofy white goodness was so strong (and also so warm and comforting) that I slid easily down that path.

Sure, in college I dreamed of a Potluck Wedding, but there are actually reasons why “that’s not the way things are done.” In the words of a friend to whom I tried to sell the idea: “You expect me to travel across the country, buy a bridesmaid dress, pay for my hotel room… and then COOK for you? You must be crazy.”

You gotta respect tradition when you travel. It’s welcoming and cosy, and evolved over time for reasons.

Normally we don't have a professional photographer snapping 1,000 photos, but in Wedding World we do!

Usually we don’t have a quality photographer snapping 1,000 photos, but in Wedding World we do!

Becoming a celebrity. When I traveled to China with a group of Boston teens, the students got a HUGE kick out of how the local folks wanted to take photos with them because they didn’t look traditionally Chinese. One student with blond hair said she never felt so famous as she did in China! Likewise, Wedding World is seductive because you become the center of attention. You get to do elaborate makeup trials and foot massages because all eyes will be on you. Crazy!

Photographed in our natural habitat, like dorky bears.

Photographed in our natural habitat, like dorky bears.

If you’re going to do it, you’re going to DO it. When people travel, they are more likely to splurge or do things differently. “Well,” my brother and I said in 2010, “it’s not every day that we’re in Portugal, so it’s worth it to pay for a day tour to the castles of Sintra.” Similarly, I keep hearing, “Hopefully you only get married once, so you might as well pay for this nice thing!”

Culture Clash. Travel is fabulous, and it’s great to see traditions that are different from yours, but there always comes an instance where you refuse to let go of your native way of doing things. In Spain, I finally rebelled against eating dinner so &*$@# late because it made no sense to my soul (aka, stomach). In Wedding World, I refuse to change my last name after marriage.

Unexpected joy and the fulfillment of wants you didn’t know you had. Who knew I had a deep desire to pat a tiger until I had the opportunity during travel through the Tiger Temple in Thailand? And who knew I wanted to have a two-level “Deep Chocolate Framboise” wedding cake decorated with white icing in a lattice covered with fruits and flowers to look like a summer basket? Turns out I do.

Wedding World is the craziest place we've traveled! And it's pretty cool!

Wedding World is the craziest place we’ve traveled. But it’s fun!

Celebration of humanity. When we set aside all the pomp and madness, what is at the core of both travel and Wedding World is love of our human family.

For our wedding, we are crossing borders of biology and in-laws, collaborating to plan a 100-person event, and embracing centuries of tradition about how two people unite. In this undertaking, we are all traveling to a profound new level of human connectedness.

As crazy as this journey through Wedding World has been, I’ve loved every delirious moment!

The ribbon-cutting for the New Boston Hostel with the Mayor!
My Speech With the Mayor at the Boston Hostel Opening
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Carmen Gutierrez

Thursday 4th of October 2012

Ha ha. Weddings ARE a world of their own!

Lissa Goncalves

Sunday 9th of September 2012

Ms. Marshall these photos came out wonderful ! Wish both of you the best of Luck ! Amazing change who would of thought ? Miss you !

-Lissa

Lillie

Sunday 9th of September 2012

Thanks, Lissa!

Dalia

Tuesday 4th of September 2012

Ms. Marshall, I am so happy for you! I find the pictures very cute, and I hope you can live a happy ever after with Colin. :)

Lillie

Tuesday 4th of September 2012

Thanks! Wedding photos will be up soon!

Christine Y.

Monday 3rd of September 2012

Mrs. Marshall! It's so nice that you guys are getting married, or are married!

Lillie

Monday 3rd of September 2012

Thanks so much Christine! I will start to post wedding photos soon!

Ed Rex

Saturday 25th of August 2012

Congrats on your wedding and lovely honeymoon! Cannot wait to read about it!

Looking at this travel wedding planning makes me excited. I wanna get married now! But first need to find a nice unsuspecting girl to propose to after the first date.... :p

Lillie

Saturday 25th of August 2012

Haha! Love it! :)

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