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.
- How to plan a wedding abroad: Advice from expats and travel bloggers (expatedna.com)
- Why foreigners love having Russian weddings (rbth.ru)
- Wedding.com Recommends Destination Weddings for Brides Looking to Have an Intimate Wedding as Demonstrated by Celebrities like Lindsay Price (prweb.com)
- Wedding day arrests rise sharply (bbc.co.uk)
- How to plan a wedding abroad: Advice from expats and travel bloggers (Part II) (expatedna.com)
- Inexpensive “Will you be my Bridesmaid?” Gifts (princessonamission.wordpress.com)
- Why agreeing to be a best man or bridesmaid will cost YOU over £600: Soaring costs of attending weddings revealed in new YouGov survey (dailymail.co.uk)
- The Dos and Don’ts of Saving on Wedding Costs (community.ally.com)
- 14 of the Most Romantic, Adorable Gay Wedding Videos Ever Made (towleroad.com)
- Successful Holiday Wedding Planning: Kiss the Planner Presents Valuable Tips to Prevent Holiday Wedding Disaster and Achieve Merry Wedding Planning Perfection (prweb.com)