Attack of the weddings back home

It seems like getting married is still sort of the ‘done thing’. At least it is if you’re young and in love, but not too young, and not too in love (no teenage dreams, please), have a steady job to justify all the debt you’ll inevitably get into, and potentially already have at least one of the starter-home / first baby / his ‘n hers cars / giant dog boxes ticked off.

I, of course, have none of the above. Forget getting married, I wouldn’t say no to a date! A fun flirtation? A sneaky pash? Jees, don’t all storm the gates at once people.

But this is part of why I moved to London – because if you’re not ticking any of those boxes by your mid-twenties, it’s time to move to the other side of the world. At least according to the mass consensus of quarter-life-crisis sufferers in New Zealand who’ve joined the exodus to land of Tier 5.

Most of us who come here accept that we won’t be able to go home during our two-year stint, barring financial disorder, or (touch wood) familial disaster. Londoners who ask if we’re going home for Christmas are met with a twitchy eyebrow and furious judgement of their ignorance of geography and airline prices.

24 hours minimum of actual flight-time alone often adds up to 40-some hours of traveling. Because you may have to transfer several times, much of this may be spent awake… Squeezed into a tin can full of elbows and crying babies… Served teeeeny tiny glasses of so-called-Sav that just barely wet the whistle, and most certainly don’t perform the desired K-O. Chances are, your flight will arrive at 6am, meaning that you have to stay up ALL DAY in an attempt to beat the jetlag, and will still wake up at 3am for the next three days.

Considering this debacle will recur on return (but this time you’ll also have work the following day), not to mention the NZ$2000 fare (that’s a lotta wines right there), and the need to save all holidays from work for long weekends in Mallorca and Amsterdam, it’s no wonder that we generally stay in the vicinity of the UK for the full two years, often with a visit from the parentals part way to assuage the threat of homesickness.

But a strange phenomenon keeps occurring in my Kiwi-friends-in-London group. Despite the fact that some have never witnessed nuptials before, or didn’t know anyone who was even engaged when we left, suddenly everyone seems to have to go home for a wedding. As happy as the news might be, it poses many difficulties for us émigrés, and I’ve seen my friends make all different decisions.

LD just got back from a two-week trip home for her bro’s wedding, in which she was the bridesmaid, and therefore somewhat obligated to a) turn up and b) wear a frock – both fairly arduous tasks for this woman-of-many-jeans. Most frustratingly for her, the wedding was scheduled for six weeks before the end of her two year visa. FFS right? All assumed she would just go-home-stay-home, but LD is perhaps the greatest lover of London I know, and made the controversial decision to return for that brief window before the British Home Office imposes exile. Because her job was held for her two weeks’ break, the money she’ll earn in that last chunk of visa basically makes up for her flights, and the travel planned at the end makes it just as worth it as if she’d paid for a month’s trip over from NZ.

Another intended bridesmaid had to make a different decision. KJM wanted desperately to be in the wedding of one of her best friends, and to be there to support her and share in the planning, dress-buying, cold feet, and hen’s night. But the Wedding moved dates several times before it fell finally to rest smack bang 6 months after we settled in London. This meant that it was at the most expensive time of year to fly, the time she was most required at her job, and she would miss her New Years travel plans. It was also not long enough into her time here that she’d actually want to go home for other reasons. I wonder if it would be a different story if it was the following year – long enough to really miss home, but enough visa left to justify coming back?

The other consideration of course is that KJM was not the only kiwi in London pal who couldn’t go to that wedding, and so all had the guilts that they were forming a rather large ‘absentee’ table at the wedding reception. It’s not just those left behind that this affects though. Where do you get married if you’re a Kiwi living in London? Family may be back home but many friends, flatmates, and colleagues will be here. If you have it in London, close family will surely fly out, but will Nanna be fit for the journey? If you have it at home, Mum will be happy, but the median age of the wedding party will skyrocket as only the VERY best (and richest) of friends will make it home.

Either way, the already-stressful planning of such a big life event is on a whole new level. New pals RQ and MW are kiwis living in London indefinitely and getting married in a year. Their decision to have the wedding back home seemed fairly simple, but the execution of such a task long-distance is much less straightforward. Plans are already well-laid for trips back home, online ordering, and trusted friends in key places, but I’m just imagining the logistics of Bridezilla-by-Skype!

Perhaps luckily for me, my prolonged singledom seems to be catching, and I don’t see any weddings on the horizon for me to attend, unless they’re some fairly shot-gun affairs. But I hate to think what I’d do if faced with the decision. Of course it would depend when it was (can I get time off? Have I already booked holidays?), who it was (sorry friend from High School I only see on Facebook, I’ll have to decline), where it was (can I see my fam and friends in the same trip?), the state of my bank balance (’nuff said on that), and the remaining time on my visa.

Once again, so much of my current life-planning comes down to the bloody British Home Office.

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8 thoughts on “Attack of the weddings back home

  1. Angela

    Yeah the whole missing weddings thing really sucks. In the two years that I have/will be away from NZ I will have missed 6 weddings at last count. FFS people!! Unfortunately finances don’t allow me to fly back for them sadly 😦

    Reply
  2. JKTJ

    Yes to people asking you if you’re going home for Christmas! Especially if it’s your boss who should know better how little you get paid!

    Reply
    1. shapelle Post author

      Oh dear, I just worked out how long it would take me to save for a flight home outa my pay after just rent/bills/travel taken out, and it made me want to cry. If I didn’t eat/drink/do anything other than work, it would still take a couple of months!

      Reply
    1. shapelle Post author

      Haha yes those ‘damn Brits’ have a lot to account for don’t they – I have written extensively on this subject! Wasn’t quite sure how to title a post about damn annoying (but of course still lovely and heart-warming and blah-blah) weddings so cheers 🙂

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Breaking News: The MOST important story for Kiwis right now | 1in12million

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