Our guest blogger Jessica, a former US expat who recently returned from a prolonged stay in Europe to Washington, DC, describes the difficulties of planning a wedding when the romance in question involves a transatlantic relationship. You can read more about Jessica’s life in DC on her private blog, Adventures of the Repatriate.
This past February, I shared with the InterNations blog my international romance with the “Dutchman”. While many long-distance relationships tend to dissolve rather quickly, this one has stood the test of time.
As of today, the Dutchman and I have traveled a combined 64,000 miles this past year. We have met in Washington, DC and The Hague (our respective homes) and traveled as far as Australia, Spain, and France to be together. We’ve spent many hours in front of the iPad and many euros on plane tickets. On a warm Washington, DC night, at the head of the reflecting pool of the National Mall, he proposed to me as President Lincoln looked on.
Although the formal proposal was a lovely romantic surprise, the talk about marriage for an international couple can be less romantic. It’s filled with paperwork and coordination. After speaking to a friend who practices/teaches immigration law in the United States and another friend who works for the US Customs and Immigration office, we decided the fiancé visa was the best course of action for us.
The process of obtaining such a fiancé visa is time-consuming, costly, and tedious. We started with a lengthy application process which covers everything from nationality, employment, and income to proof of relationship.
For the proof of relationship, we made a PowerPoint printout of all of our pictures and enclosed receipts of all the trips we booked during our courtship. Once the package was finished, we both reviewed it several times to ensure all the information was accurate and complete. An incomplete application means a new application must be filed, which means paying the $340 application fee all over again.
After the application was approved, the Dutchman received a notice from the US Consulate for an interview. He needed to bring his police/medical/birth certificates to the interview, another costly and time-consuming process.
Aside from the expenses and time, the procedure went quite quickly. He received his visa the day after the interview. The timing of the process varies dramatically from country to country. We were fortunate that the whole process (from filing the petition to the issuance of the visa) took “only” around four months.
Now we get to the fun part: the wedding. We decided to have two ceremonies: one for my family in upstate New York and another one for his family and our European friends in Barcelona, Spain. The ceremony in New York will take place in the wintertime in a snowy forest; our European festivities will be on the sands of Barceloneta in Spain.
We’re equally excited about both ceremonies, and we are very grateful that we have the time and resources for all of our loved ones to share this moment together. We plan to live stream the wedding in New York so his parents will be able to witness the festivities from Rotterdam. The perks of modern technology!
The Dutchman chose the reflecting pool of the National Mall as the site of his proposal because one of his favorite speeches is Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”. I could not think of a more appropriate place or a more appropriate reason.
We both believed in one another, and both of us have made financial and personal sacrifices to be together. The fact that he is willing to move to the US and change his lifestyle (and give up his right to six weeks of annual vacation) completely shows his amazing commitment to me.
Now, here were are: a Puerto Rican woman and a Dutch man, who randomly met in Brussels, have endured the transatlantic distance, time changes, and cultural differences, and are now getting married.
Have you ever arranged an international wedding? What was your experience like?
(Photo credit: Jessica D.)