I had never been one for the whole ‘girliness’ of a wedding, so rather than do what was expected, I scrapped everything and done it in a way that stayed true to who I am. I’m proud of our story, the fact that we didn’t let the 4000 miles that separated us, get between us, so I almost wanted our wedding to be a celebration of that because it is such a HUGE part of our relationship. So here’s how we created our multi-national travel themed wedding.
DIY Travel Themed Wedding
Now let me explain a little about our situation. Visa restrictions kept us apart for a huge part of our relationship (even after we got married it took nearly a year for us to be able to live in the same country). As a long distance couple, that meant that leading up to the wedding, we were living in 2 different countries seperated by 6 timezones. Not going to lie, it was a nightmare. I had people in 2 different places that needed to be ‘dressed’ and a lot of the work and organisation was left up to me.
We were also on a tight budget. We were having to save money so we could actually fly and see each other and then there was the cost of the visa once we were married. We cut a lot of corners by making things ourselves and calling on favours from family and friends. There were evenings when we had set up a production line, my dad would be cutting out invitations, I would be sticking them and mum finished up by putting them in the envelopes. We very much had a DIY travel themed wedding.
1. Boarding Pass Invites
I was pretty lucky that I was able to save a lot of money on custom invitations because I know my way around Photoshop, so I found a template on Google and created Boarding Cards. I even included a scanned image of our real passport stamps from when we entered Jamaica! The idea being a flight between England and America. The boarding gate was the date of the wedding.
2. Luggage Label Gift Requests
The ‘luggage label’ was a poem requesting guests not to buy us bit items due to us being pushed for space when it came to moving everything over to America.
The Colour Theme
3. Country Flag Colours
The Groomsmen wore Green, Black & Yellow – The colour theme evolved over the planning stages. My other half wanted metallic green (the colour ‘of the new Chevy’ car!!) waistcoats/vests with black suits, then when it came to ‘flower’ colours, yellow was chosen because together, the 3 colours represents the Jamaica flag, the place where we met! Our colours were very bright, but you could use pale versions of the colours if you wanted something more subtle.
4. Music Themed Boutonnieres
I made the Groomsmen’s Boutonnieres from guitar picks to represent our love of music! As a long distance couple, music was something we could share, via Youtube videos etc. We also both play guitar/bass PLUS, to add to the extra stress, our American guests obviously wanted to SEE England (AND Ireland!) while they were over. For this reason, I didn’t want to have to worry about getting real flowers/things that could potentially die, so I found alternatives.
5. Friendship Flag Pin Badges
Family members tend to wear matching flowers at weddings, to I bought UK/USA ‘friendship flag’ pin badges and everyone wore one of those instead!
6. Custom Converse
We also had custom Converse shoes made which were black, green and yellow too. If I was going to spend money, I wanted to spend it on things that could be worn/used again and not just a one time thing. We then wore them on our honeymoon as they are sensible travel shoes! (My outfit was also shorts…yep I wore a playsuit to my wedding and could wear it again…if it still fits that is AND IT HAD POCKETS!!!!).
The Wedding Ceremony
When you’re dealing with an international long distance relationship, it comes with a lot of complications. Technically we were bought up in 2 different religions (Catholic and Christianity) so a church was out of the question, plus they would have expected us to attend meetings together leading up to the wedding, which wasn’t practical. We had to get a UK Marriage Visitor Visa just to even give notice and get married in the UK!
7. Long Distance Themed Wedding Readings
So in the end we had decided to get married in a registry office. Our wedding readings for during the ceremony were quotes about long distance relationships and
8. Music from another country/culture
we walked into our ceremony to steel drum music, again with the Jamaica connection. I actually found an album online from a steel drum band that I’d seen play at the hotel we were staying at in Ocho Rios!
Our first dance song at the wedding reception was ‘Far Away’ by Nickleback. There are soooo many songs that are about travel/distance!
The UK and USA flags were the main decoration focus for the reception. These were used as centre pieces on the tables, instead of flowers. The Top Table had an arrangement I had found on Ebay which had the two flags of our nationalities AND the Jamaica flag, which was perfect!
10. Travel Themed Centre Pieces
The Guest tables had the UK and USA flags placed in a Red Stripe Jamaican Beer bottle along with two little green paper planes. Red Stripe was the beer we were both drinking when we met!
11. Country/Place Table Names
Rather than numbers, the tables had names of places we had been together. I called the Top Table ‘the Maldives’ as that’s where we were going for our Honeymoon so it kinda represented our future (made out of the left over luggage labels from the invitations)!
12. ‘In-fight’ Entertainment
I had also created ‘on table entertainment’ (a play on in-flight entertainment) for each table. Explaining why each table had been given what appeared to be a random place name, a photo of us together in that location and then various infomation about the evening: I had signed up to an app that was for wedding photo sharing, so told people how they could download it. The all important WiFi password, considering that some of the overseas guests didn’t have working phones they’d be able to get on Facebook etc and share the day with those that couldn’t fly over. I explained our unusual unique guestbooks (keep reading) and the wedding flavours (which were glowsticks and I didn’t want them to ‘run out of juice’ before it got dark!).
13. ‘World’ Map Table Seating Chart
For want of a better word, I had wanted to prove that we had had a normal relationship, some of the guests had only spoken to my other half through video chat and others hadn’t met him at all before our wedding day! So I used the seating plan board as a way to display silly photos we’ve taken together while visiting each other and from when we met, to show just how hard we’ve both worked to make our relationship a success! The board also had an outline of Jamaica, the UK and the States and a text box saying:
Taking 22 flights
Spending 129+ hours in the sky
Travelling more than 64000 miles, backwards & forwards across 6 times zones…
Just to be able to spend a weekend together
Distance means so little, when someone means so much
14. Card Box ‘Suitcase’
The card/gift box was an amazing cheap cardboard box that looked like an old fashioned suitcase, covered in world maps! At the end of the night, we could simply shut it up and take it away, and when it was time to go State-side, it could just be chucked in a suitcase and flew over…ready made packing cube!
Travel Themed Wedding Guestbooks
15. Flag Guestbook
I bought a combined UK and USA flag that we used during our photos and then we then got our guests to sign it in the evening (lightweight travel friendly guest book)!
16. ‘Security’ Thumb Print Board
My FAVOURITE ‘decoration’ was our ‘second’ guestbook. I didn’t want a normal book (I planned on binding the cards together to create a bit of a make-shift book), I wanted something that’d be easy to transport back to the States and something I could frame and put on a wall. So again, sticking to the travel theme, I played on the fact that every time we fly to visit each other, we have our finger prints taken at the airport, so we made every guest turn their thumb print into a little cartoon character doodle! It’s also like a have a piece of all my family with me in America to now. Not only do I have them in character form, but it’s drawn on their unique thumbprint!
The result was AWESOME and our guests enjoyed doing it!
17. Flag Cake Design
We went for the combination of a large Top Cake and then chocolate Guinness flavour cupcakes just to make up the numbers. The Chocolate Guinness cupcakes were easy to turn ‘travel’, they had rice paper UK flags and USA flags on the tops. The inside of the Top Cake, I had a little surprise, even my other half didn’t know until it was cut. It was an American flag! Based on Betty Crocker recipe (found HERE). We simplified the original by just using food colour in a plain sponge mix and adding more, thinner layers to make the 13 stripes that make up the USA flag!
(Photo by Stephanie Humphries Photography)
18. Flag Cake Topper/Decorations
I had ordered monkey wedding toppers off eBay (because I love monkeys) and then made tiny little flags for the groom monkey to hold. The USA flag had a tiny UK flag in the middle and vice versa! I also made the bunting myself. My lovely aunt made all the cakes as her gift to us.
19. A Country’s Traditional Dish – British Roast
I wanted something typically English as my other half had said he wanted the wedding in the UK, so we had a Roast Dinner! Plus as the cake was a giant American flag, I felt that we needed to include some British food inspiration! Yorkshire Puddings were a MUST…but they did confuse a lot of the American guests!
20. Themed ‘Cuisine’ Snacks
In the evening we had a buffet of Scones with cream and jam (and a fruit salad)! It was different from regular snack/party food and stayed in with the country/travel theme! You could choose a country and base snacks around what you’d find there.
Ebay was my best friend during my wedding preparations. I got a lot of the things I needed on there and it was all very reasonably priced! Put it this way…we ended up spending more on the honeymoon in the Maldives, than what we did on the wedding, yet everyone had said it was one of the most FUN weddings they had been to! WIN!
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Please note that I found some of these ideas on Pinterest and Google and adapted them to suit my situation. I am not claiming that I ‘invented’ them, this blog is purely to show all the ideas I combined to make our day perfect 🙂 If it was your idea originally, I thank you! Some of the photos used in this post were take by Stephanie Humphries Photography as her wedding gift to us and I may have stolen some of the others from various wedding guests…thanks!