(Or, Because Why Shouldn’t We Make Three Different Plans and Change Them?)
I’ve been planning a wedding. Gerry and I got engaged in 2008, six years after we met, and then endured years of questions about when we were going to get married. Well, we were waiting for Gerry to retire, because, you know, we’d actually like to live together when we’re married. (And because, interestingly, Uncle Sam frowns on married couples living apart when one of them is a foreign national. We might be up to no good, you see.)
But the time got close, and we started talking about how we wanted to do this thing. I can show you the exact spot in the backyard where we were standing when Gerry said, “I want to get married in our backyard,” and I, like a fool, said, “OK, honey!” (Because who wouldn’t want to be a bride and hostess of a party in her own home? Doesn’t that sound like just. So. Much. Fun?)
So this was the plan: in 2015, we’d throw a little wedding-slash-backyard barbeque for a hundred or so of our closest friends, then get on a plane and fly to Dublin, where, one week later, we’d throw a second reception at a nice hotel for Gerry’s friends and family and any Yanks who cared to follow us across the Pond.
Then I started working on the wedding planning. And OMG. It was a lot of work. (Not to mention a lot of expense.) So after much discussion, we decided to have, instead, a courthouse wedding. We’d let people know, if anyone wanted to come, and we’d go out to dinner afterwards. The rest of the plan would remain the same: we’d fly to Ireland for the reception. Gerry and I would have a little honeymoon in Ireland, and then we’d come home, Gerry on a one-way flight, because he’d be staying.
This past spring (2014), we visited with our immigration attorney, the wonderful and lovely Katja Hedding. And … well, she laughed at us. 🙂 He wouldn’t be able to come home with me at all, she said. That one-way ticket was part of the problem, and he’d have to have a different visa. All his immigration paperwork would have to be completed and processed in order for him to enter and stay.
After much discussion (there was more than one way to approach the issue, none of them inexpensive) we learned the best way for us to have our party in Dublin—because of the way the marriage industry works in Ireland, wedding venues get booked a couple years in advance, so six months earlier we’d booked a location I’d fallen in love with—would be to get married about a year out. Once married, we’d petition the government to get permanent status for Gerry on the basis of his having married an American. This would give us plenty of time for the paperwork and approvals to come through, with no nail-biting and worrying up to the last minute about whether he’s be admitted to the country on that one-way ticket.
The plan was for us to “elope” on Gerry’s fall 2014 visit. In the meantime, I created the “immigration scrapbook,” documenting twelve years of our relationship with photos of us together, emails exchanged, travel itineraries documenting visits, and so on … while keeping the elopement plan on the down-low.
This has been a difficult proposition for a woman who has two blogs and loves Facebook. (As you can imagine, this is killing me.) But I have some good stories to tell, so stick around. 🙂