Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Massachusetts Wedding Venue Search: Things Are Looking Up

The wedding venue search is just not going the way I hoped.  I looked at places a YEAR ago so that I'd be ready when Adam was, but nothing is coming together.  I went to look at one in Rockport yesterday and it didn't go well.  And when I tried to tell Adam and mom they were all about starting over instead of "we'll make it work."

There's problems, but I LIKE the place.  When I started to tell them my worries, I just wanted a sounding board.  I just wanted to tell them how it went.  I didn't want to hear how it can't happen (even though I knew in my heart it couldn’t). 

I'm so frustrated that I can’t have my summer wedding like I wanted.  Cold winter weather is going to ruin everything.  It could even cause us all our vendors to cancel on us that day.  If the JP doesn’t show up there IS no wedding.  These venue troubles are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems that lie ahead, so if I can’t even work this out I feel like we’re just doomed.  

I’m still hoping to hear back from the expensive home in Marblehead (the other place in Rockport never even bothered to reply to my inquiry).  I called today, but still no answer.  Frustrating, but I'm guessing it's not meant to be.  In a way I'm happy because it's a lot of money, but of course I'm feeling slightly desperate. 

I got an Email on the 21st from the “white home” in Marblehead saying, “The house is currently available then but I am considering a long term rental.  I will get back to you over the next week.  I hope that works for your schedule.”  So I Emailed back today saying I was looking forward to a reply.

In the meantime, I feel like I have no other choice than to broaden my search.  Like it or not, the wedding MUST be this winter unless I want to start the whole visa process over once this one expires.  And I’m 100% sure that Adam would rather break up with me than start the paperwork over.  So my new priority HAS to be proximity and not fireplaces or balconies.  I just would not be able to entertain his family that week otherwise.  And although it is my wedding and I should be able to have what I like; I need to be able to do that.  They’ve never been to America, never seen my home, and they’ve always taken me in for the summer and made me feel welcome.  They deserve to see where Adam will be living. 

So I found a place right in my hometown, with the right number of bedrooms and really nice décor.  It’s not “palatial.”  It doesn’t even have a fireplace.  I don’t know where we’d have our formal photos.  But the living room is very pretty.  I can imagine having a ceremony there, even if we might be a little crowded.  The dining room might not be big enough, and I don’t know how all our vendors will park what with only one space, but I’m desperate now. 

She called me back already.  And she could not have been nicer. 

This place might not be as big, or on the coast, or have really high ceilings, but I feel this is the place for me.  I started out asking her about parking, and she told me on street is fine, the next door museum is fine, she will probably have a plow guy, plus she lives 3 houses away and could help out. 

Unlike the place in Rockport, with the woman who didn’t let me see inside, I even admitted to her that I'm having a wedding there because I've seen on her website she's hosted some (I’m always afraid to say the word “wedding” because vendors tend to jack up the prices as soon as you do).  I told her I was worried about the caterer, photographer, etc having a parking space and she told me there was street parking, a nearby lot, and a museum with free parking.  She just wanted to confirm that there will be 3 people and possibly one more couple sleeping there, and I told her 12 for the reception, mostly over the age of 50, haha. 

I asked if it was possible if I could come see it and she said she's happy to do that; she usually gives tours and can answer any wedding type questions so I could come on Saturday morning.  That even gives "white Marblehead house" this whole week to get back to me.  That is plenty of time, and if they can't then they clearly don’t want my business.  Besides, I have a pretty good feeling about this Salem one now.  Like I said, it's not the grandest looking, but there's not going to be 30 people, I guess practically speaking we need a close house more than we need a big house.  When I go, if it goes well I have to pay half the (nonrefundable) deposit and I'll sign the contract.  Yay :)

I feel so much happier :)

The woman from Rockport has been leaving me messages asking if I drove by the house and if so could I give her some feedback.  The feedback I wanted to give her was, “Since you didn’t let me look inside I don’t really want to work with you,” which is true, but not fair because it’s not the MAIN reason I couldn’t go for that house.  There’s nothing she can do to change the location (or my wedding date).  So I wrote, “I did drive by the house, thank you.  I will be touring another vacation home on Saturday, so if yours is still available then I will let you know my decision next week.”  

It's nice to have TWO options instead of hearing, "no, sorry" all the time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finding a Small Massachusetts Wedding Venue

When I found out that a third house I wanted for my small, Massachusetts wedding venue was being sold, I was crushed.

At first I was looking for homes that would work for my small wedding venue on HomeAway, but this time I started looking on VRBO and actually found TONS of homes on the North Shore of Massachusetts.  I’m not sure why there's so many more on VRBO than on HomeAway.  It must be cheaper to list there because the site is nowhere near as clean and user friendly.

I found a really amazing house in Rockport.  This place has EVERYTHING I want in a wedding venue.  Something that's not just for my vision of a grand wedding, but I want somewhere that Adam’s family is going to walk in to stay for their first visit to America and say, "Wow."  Also for wedding photos I'm determined to have a fireplace in the living room, stairs somewhere (preferably on the wall opposite the fireplace for my bride-y entrance) and a dining room with decor that's just as nice and neutral as the living room.  Plus it has the bonus of a GIANT wall of windows!  The natural light coming in will be AMAZING.  And it has a view of the ocean (from the second floor, at least) with the twin lighthouses. So after I got Adam’s okay I sent an inquiry about this house and then closed the browser window.  I wasn’t letting myself fall in love with anything AGAIN since I'm a little jaded.  I created a one page list of other possible wedding venues, though I really hope I get this one.

If this place doesn’t pan out there are 2 others that I like, but if those don't work out I'll be really just scraping by with "attractive" instead of PALATIAL (I think it's the high ceilings that really do it for me).  I sent them inquiries as well because I feel like I can’t book anything else that’s wedding related until I know that a vacation home is going to let us do the Thursday arrival/Wednesday departure thing.  So I really want to try and get our wedding venue sorted out quickly.

The second house I Emailed about is in Marblehead, which is very close by.  Probably 15-20 minutes away instead of a solid 30.  The only thing I’m unsure about is it is SO white.  I couldn't live in a house like that for fear of staining everything ever, haha.  But white is pretty weddingy, has the fireplace and a nice staircase/ceremony layout so I think it could work! 

The third is in Rockport just like the first.  I was confused about the pricing and availability, but it had all of the above that I wanted plus gorgeous views outdoors and the decor is just SO pretty inside that I just had to ask.  It has a fireplace, high ceilings, an INDOOR WATERFALL.  But, well, it's blue.  Which is SO not usually me, but I dunno, it just really spoke to me!  So I’d have to rethink my wedding color scheme completely (for the third time) but hey, who’s counting?  *eyetwitch*

My number one choice got back to me, and the house IS available!

The rate IS reasonable!

They can’t let me look inside because someone is staying there, but they’ll let me drive by tomorrow afternoon since there won’t be anyone arriving until the following day.

I’m SO happy.  I’ve finally found a beautiful venue that’s completely affordable.


No I didn’t.

I started to get cold feet about this place yesterday.  At first it was little things, like could we move the sectional couches out of the “ceremony area.”  Then it was, “How will I block off the view into the loft before I descend the staircase?”  And finally, I was a little bothered by the fact that I wasn’t going to be allowed to look inside the house. 

Today did nothing to ease my concerns.

First of all, it took a lot longer to get to than I was expecting.  The drive there was NOT smooth sailing (I hate Route 128 anyway, so for it to come to a sudden end with rotaries was weird). 

Second, I got lost.  At first I didn’t even mind; it’s THAT beautiful up there.  I could see the ocean to my right, the homes were amazing, the sun was shining, it was just the sort of day that makes you feel life is GOOD.

Until a half hour of being lost went by.  And my GPS gave up.  I didn’t even get a “Turn around when possible.”  It just went quiet.  I had to stop at a Bed and Breakfast to ask for directions. 

And couldn’t help thinking that although it’s picture perfect now, that is no indication of what it’s going to look like in February.  And even worse, what was the DRIVE going to be like in February?  If it took me a solid 40 minutes to get there on dry roads, it was going to be more like an hour and a half on ice.  Every day, round trip for a week so I can pick up his family and take them out to dinner and sight-see in my hometown 40 minutes away.  While I’m working and finalizing plans for my wedding.

I couldn’t do it.

I took some pictures.  I tried to estimate indoor measurements by counting my paces around the perimeter of the house.  I wracked my brains that night trying to figure out how I could make this work.

I can’t.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Search Continues for Small Wedding Venues in Massachusetts. AGAIN.

It happened to me AGAIN.

Before going to visit Adam this summer I looked through all the vacation homes in the Northeastern Massachusetts area again, in hopes that Adam would get an interview in August.  I thought I’d be able to book the vacation home before I even left England.  There were two rental homes I really loved.  One house was in Salemand the other home was in Rockport.  

Once I got back home, the one Adam liked more, the one rental home in Rockport was no longer available.  He wasn’t so bothered, but I got nervous that instead of having a plan A and plan B it was all or nothing.  I really tried to make sure I had a backup in all things, and since the wedding venue was the first thing to secure, I didn’t like having only one vacation home on my list that I really loved.

So Adam had his interview on September 8 and the visa arrived on Monday and on Tuesday he told me, “Get calling!”  So on Wednesday I sent out that Email for the vacation home. 

I had it all planned out.  This New England vacation home had the neutral décor with a fireplace in the living room, the tall ceilings, a nice little dining room that would make a good spot for cocktail hour, a big great room with ANOTHER fireplace that could become a dining room, and a game room with a pool table!  My brother plays.  I’m not great but I like to try.  And not only is this rental place beautiful, but it’s right down the street from me.  It would be so easy to go back and forth to my condo.  So so happy.  This was going to be perfect.  The limo could bring us from the venue to a hotel in Boston in less than an hour EASILY. 

Friday came and I still hadn’t received a call.  So I phoned them.  And they informed me that the house is on the market.

Deja vu :(  Same reason and everything.  Only this time I was actually ready, on paper, legally, visa in hand, ready to book this vacation home for our wedding.  “Oh, but you can call us in December to see what our situation is.”  No.  No I can’t. 

Back to the drawing board.  AGAIN. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hiring a Limo for the Wedding

I am really not sure why, of all things, the next thing I started thinking about was the limo.  Maybe it was because I noticed it’s one of the few hard copy folders I have that I didn’t also research online.  So I decided to fix that.

I have mixed feelings about the whole limo thing.  On the one hand, I didn’t have one for my prom, and always regretted it.  I think the only time I rode in a limo in my life was when I was a child and it was for a funeral.  So if I don’t ride in a limo on my wedding day, then when will I?

On the other hand, I didn’t understand the logistics.  I don’t want Adam and I to see each other the morning before the wedding.  So which one of us gets to ride in the limo to go to the venue?  And then the driver does what?  Sits there and waits 5 hours while we have the ceremony and photos and reception and then Adam and I have to leave at a certain time even if we’re enjoying ourselves and want to stay longer?  In my head, I thought it was going to have to go something like this:

Plan A

I sleep over mom’s.  I leave my car there.  She takes me to get my hair and makeup done.

The limo picks up Adam at the condo because he slept there overnight and brings him to the vacation house.

Mom brings me to my condo in her car.  My sister meets us there at the condo in her car.

My brother drives to the vacation house where the driver has just dropped Adam.  The limo driver brings my brother to pick my mom, sister and me up.  And my whole family goes together to the vacation house. That way my brother’s car stays at the vacation house.  Mom and my sister’s cars are at my condo.  My car is still at mom’s. 

After the reception, the limo brings Adam and I to Boston (after the mini-moon we take the train to mom’s so she can pick us up from the train station and I’ll drive us home.  This is a better parking solution than the last time we took the train to Boston from my house).

My brother drives my mom and sister to my condo for their cars.  Although one of them might want to go back to spend the night with Adam’s family for transportation to the airport the next day.  There’s plenty of bedrooms for that, unless they just want to drive home and back in the morning.

That…seems slightly convoluted just to make sure Adam and everyone in my family gets a ride in the limo that morning.  I mean, Adam could sleep at the vacation house overnight, and my brother could just drive from his house to the reception site and skip the limo ride entirely to make it easier, but then even fewer people get to enjoy it, and I'm paying for a full day of it just sitting there.

So I found an article online here that explained what “the done thing” is, which got me thinking about what I really want.  It’s easier to break the rules once you know the rules are.  And it seems the reason people hire limos for their wedding day is because they need to get from the ceremony site to the reception site.


Yeah, see, I’m planning on ours being in the same spot.  Now I get why that makes sense for the masses but not for our small wedding.  So I definitely need to break the mold here. Because it should really be about me and Adam on that day; I want us both to ride the limo TOGETHER.  And we’re only going to need transportation together at the end.

That’s it!

Plan B

That’s what I really want.  A limo for AFTER the reception, that can bring us straight to the hotel in Boston for our mini-moon!  Pick us up, drop us off, be able to enjoy every minute that we’re paying for that limo and not have the driver waiting around.  How could it take me so long to get to such a simple solution?! 

So what that means is I’ll be enlisting my family to drive us there.  That’s okay, I think.  Honestly, they all have nice looking cars.  And I’m going to be arriving in regular clothes and changing on-site anyway.  Easier for the photographer that way, less chance of wrinkled dresses that way.  So really the only downside is no “bride getting out of the limo shot.”  For the money being saved, I think it’s going to be worth it.  We can bring our own champagne, ice bucket and glasses for the ride to Boston : )

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Must Have Wedding Shots List

Once I did all I could in terms of the big picture, I realized the most important thing to me right now is the photographer.  So I went through the 5 different “must have wedding photos” lists I’ve found on the internet, and a few of my own ideas that are really personal to Adam and I, and created a single list.

The list of “must have wedding shots” that seemed to have the best organization, in my mind, was organized by the timeline and then sub-categorized where warranted.  So I followed this format, took the ideas from each list that I wanted and omitted what I didn’t care about.  Then I starred the ones that are the MOST important to me, as in, I’d be upset if I didn’t get those.  I hope this is helpful for the photographer!

My Wedding Shots List

Getting Ready

-  Bride's gown hanging nicely
-  Still-life shots of the bride's jewelry, etc.
-  Groom getting ready with his groomsmen
-  Groom and groomsmen putting on boutonnieres
-  Groom's mother helping with the boutonniere
-  Groom looking into mirror adjusting tie
-  Groom's father fixing groom’s tie *
-  Candid of bride and mom getting ready
-  Candid of bride and sister getting ready
-  Putting on earrings, necklace*
-  Bride looking into mirror
-  Hairstyle
-  The shoes (meh)
-  Bride either in doorway or something else so you get a silhouette
-  Bride with bouquet  
Pre Ceremony

-  Items (at the ceremony site)
-  Wedding invitation, program, directions cards
-  Detailed shots of the bride's bouquet
-  Detailed shots of the bride's and bridesmaids' bouquets
-  Groom's boutonniere
-  “Artsy” shot of 2 wedding rings (on the invitation/program, on a flower)
-  3 rings
-  Groom’s ring in a book so the shadow makes a heart *
-  Close up of aisle runner, pomanders, arch and altar arrangement
-  Specific ceremony décor?
-  Limo ?

Spaces: (please take pictures with no one in them)
-  Groom’s dressing room
-  Brides’ dressing room
-  Reception room *
-  Candid aerial of reception (how does that even work?)
-  Exterior of the house  *
-  Picture down the aisle of aisle runner, pomanders, and altar arrangement

-  Decorations
-  Table décor
-  Close up of a table centerpiece
-  Escort cards ?
-  Wedding favors *
-  Guest book and pen set-up
-  Cake and cake table set-up *
-  Cake toppers *
-  Food set-up
-  Card Table
-  Program basket
-  Cheese and fruit table
-  Guests arriving and signing the guest book


-  Exterior and interior of the ceremony site before guests arrive
-  Mothers being seated
-  Groom entering with groomsmen
-  Musicians
-  Bridal party walking down the aisle *
-  Wedding party awaiting bride at front
-  Close-up of groom's expression while waiting for the bride *
-  Bride before walking down the aisle
-  Close-up of bride just before she makes her entrance
-  Groom's face when he first see bride walking down the aisle *
-  Bride walking down the aisle front view *
-  Bride walking down aisle, back view of train (so I’ll walk slow since it’s not a long aisle!) *
-  Bride squeezing groom’s hand at the altar
-  Bride and groom at the altar *
-  Candid during ceremony of the couple and the JP
-  Both sets of parents watching the ceremony
-  Wide shot of the altar, from the guests' point of view (windows)
-  Wide shot of the audience, from the couple's point of view
-  Readers speaking at podium
-  Long lens/long range photo of reception (is the room big enough to need this?)
-  Sweeping shot of the ceremony (us under arch plus guests’ backs)
-  Close-up of bride and groom as they recite their vows *
-  Close-up of bride and groom's hands as they exchange rings *
-  The kiss *
-  Close-up of newlyweds RIGHT after announced married *
-  Pictures of families and bridal party walking back down the aisle (bubbles) *
-  Guests exiting ceremony area

Formals after ceremony:

-          Alone *
-          With all groomsmen *
-          With each groomsman
-          With his parents (step parents if attending) *
-          With his brother
-          With his family *
-          With dad and brother *
-          With bride’s family
-          With his mother in law
-          With his father *
-          With his mother *

-          Alone *
-          With bouquet near face
-          With maid of honor *
-          With her mom *
-          With her siblings
-          With groom's family
-          With her family *
-          With her mother in law
-          With mom and sister

Just the 2 moms

Just all the siblings

Bride & Groom
-          With entire Wedding Party *
-          With each set of parents *
-          With both sets of parents *
-          With both groups of siblings *
-          With both immediate families *
-          Signing the marriage license *

Bride & Groom:  Different location?  The first or last of the formals?
-          Alone together *
-          A couple tender "Just the 2 of us" pictures
-          Groom dips bride as if dancing
-          Hands displaying rings shot *
-          Bride kissing groom on the cheek *
-          Under arch *
-          Photos of bride and groom near the ???
-          Outside if weather permits

Go to:  Candids of guests enjoying cocktail hour, leave Adam and I behind
Gather all of us and our guests for a group photo (only about 15 people!) then we’ll go to reception for dinner


-          Plate of dinner *
-          Group pictures of guests at each table
-          Lots of candids of people mingling and enjoying food *
-          Slideshow, with bride and groom watching (This is actually a lot more ME than mingling.  I think it’s very Adam, too.  Maybe we should do this with our trip photos. In fact, I think Adam might enjoy this project. 
-          Bride and groom cutting the cake *
-          Group photo of our hardworking professionals

Too much?  Anything I missed?  Readers, what do you think?  What are YOUR favorite must-have wedding shots?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Planning My Wedding FOR REAL Finally: Getting Organized

Since Adam needed a break from visa/wedding stuff, I started to get myself organized.  No messing around now.  Very soon we'll set a date and I will be actually making appointments, making real choices (as opposed to just getting inspiration) and paying deposits.  So first, I went through my computer files and made sure everything was sorted correctly into folders: 

  • Cake
  • Catering, venues, and reception
  • Ceremony
  • Dress, hair, makeup, veil, shoes and jewelry
  • Flowers, colors, and decorations
  • Invitations and other paper
  • Legal, financial, and clerical
  • Music
  • Photography and video
  • Winter wedding ideas
  • Reception tablescapes

Then I went through all the junk…I mean, information, I’ve received from 2 years worth of bridal shows.  I already have a folder of my top choices for most everything, along with receipts and contracts.  And for the rest, I actually did sort it once before, but subsequent shows needed resorting.  I threw out repeats, labeled the files similar to above, and weeded out things that I really don’t think I’m going to need to look at, like up-lighting and DJs.  I bought a file box dedicated to all the wedding information as opposed to keeping it in the shopping bags they came in at the bridal shows.  It’s a lot more manageable to look at than it was.

I know some people swear by “wedding planning books.”  I haven’t looked at one.  I don’t see the point.  Writing in a binder?  In this day in age?  No way; everything is on the computer for me.  The hard copy information I get can be filed, but I’m not writing anything.  Any hard copies that I want to pursue go onto the computer.  In each of the above folder categories I save pictures of visuals that I like.  I create a word documents containing links to websites that are annotated (such as excerpts with key info, location, prices, specifics I want from each, and my emotional response to items: lots of capitals is good, “meh” is not).  And finally, when I have some prices to compare I create an excel spreadsheet. 

Once Adam talks to his family about flights in February, my next step will be to call the venue and photographer.  So far, he’s the only pro that I have my heart set on, so I am willing to move the wedding a day or two if it means he’ll be available. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Guest Blog: Interview at the American Embassy in London

Finally had my K1 fiancé(e) interview in London, and I got through unscathed, phew!

I knew the appointments were really done by the 'block', so even though it was for 9am I went on the train early in the morning and ended up at the embassy at 7. There was a queue of people even then! After getting something to eat and coming back at about 7:45 they were starting to let people in, so I joined the queue and got in the building not long later (it was scary seeing the police patrolling with guns. Living in a rural area we just don't see that). I was given my number, which started with I. I've read on these forums before how much more frequent N ones seem to be, and it's true - for every one I there were about twenty-five Ns called out. Not sure what that's about... Maybe I is for K1 rather than spouse, or maybe it's luck of the draw. Considering I'm kicking myself I didn't get married and then applied for a spouse visa, I hope that's not the reason .

Eventually my number came up on the screen and I went to the booth. The man was English but really hard to understand, what with the general hubbub and other factors. Asking him to repeat things four times was embarrassing and I ended up pretending I was a little deaf! Anyway he asked to see my embassy receipt and passport, and took the latter away for a few moments. When he came back he did a quick scan of some of my forms, asked if I'd ever been in the military, taken drugs, etc. I didn't hear him properly on a couple but he didn't question anything that I said so I guess I 'passed' that bit. He got me to do my fingerprints though it took a few attempts as apparently I had to push my fingers down with the other hand. He also wanted to see my police certificate, birth certificate, the affidavit of support, W2s and the latest IRS paperwork (just the one year). I brought SO MUCH in my folders but I barely needed 10% of it. I'm glad I did though, because it's better to be safe than sorry. Still, when I first went into the building I knew I'd overkilled based on everyone else, heh.

I'm really surprised he never questioned the online DS-156 duplicates. Mine had 'expired' in the top right corner even before the interview (I had no choice since it hadn't been updated until a month ago). Now, I knew that it didn't mean they were no good, but even so people on this forum have said before they were told they could re-write them out there and then with newer editions. Not one word was said with mine though, so I didn't need the re-done ones I had in my folder as back-up.

He handed me my fiancée's birth certificate. When she did the petition originally for some reason she sent the original [Amber:  the reason being Adam told me he read somewhere they would not accept copies so I HAD to.] and then complained she never got it back. Well, I've got it now! He also gave me an open white envelope which later I saw just contained a CD from my medical. I didn't hear him properly so am not exactly sure why I've got it or what's on it. He said it could be used as part of my US medical records or something, I'm not sure. Maybe it has a copy of the x-ray scans on? I've read before people are given back the actual scans when entering America, so maybe they're in the brown envelope you're given. Eh, whatever. Crossed fingers they weren't meant to be in the envelope I have now!

The man said to fill out the pink courier form and then wait for my number again, for the interview part. He wished me luck and I went back and did so and then waited... and waited. That took the longest - about forty-five minutes. Finally I went back up and this time had an American guy who was REALLY friendly. Seriously, I mean obviously as long as I didn't say anything out of place he was happy enough! He got me to sign that form you leave until a consular officer observes you (as you can tell I can't currently remember which one it is) and then asked how I met my fiancée. I thought he'd want dates and specifics, but nope. He then sifted through the forms and paperwork and smiled at the photos my fiancée had sent - one of them had us either side of a (fake) dolphin at the Boston aquarium, and he joked anybody that's in a photo with a dolphin gets free entry into the US. He even then went and showed his colleague it! Nice guy . After that I had more fingerprints taken, and then after handing back my original birth/police certificates (but obviously not my passport) he said the process was done and I'd passed or been accepted (whatever the term is) and to take my pink form to the courier desk to pay for it. He told me the passport would come in a white, plastic-y material but not to open the brown envelope as that's to take to America, which I knew.

The main waiting area was really busy by now (at a guess I'd say it was 11:20am) so I was pleased I was practically done and dusted. I went to the courier desk and she said it would take 7-10 days, and I'd need proof of identity like a bank statement, since I don't drive. I paid £36 for the early 6-8am time slot (there's also 8am-10am, and at a guess 10am-12 noon? Each is cheaper than the next) and was told they'd text me when it was going through.

That was it! I walked out feeling happy that for once there were no issues, and proud that I handled such a busy, bustling place with my Aspergers. Also exhausted since I'd slept little the night before and knowing my train wasn't going back home until 7pm, eek. I ended up sleeping in a pub, hah. Probably looked drunk!

Anyway, I came home from work tonight and saw on my phone a text was sent to me at 3:50pm. It was from the courier and it said I can expect the package at the specified time this Monday! Wow, I really didn't expect it so soon! I'm also pleased because it means there's no issue as the passport will have already been stamped and the brown envelope sealed.

Hope that was useful for anybody about to go through it. I know it's complete luck which people interview you but really if you have all the relevant forms and they're correct then you'll be fine - it's just all the waiting. When I left the building my parents were there to greet me and they said some guy that went in before me came out and told his partner he didn't get accepted "again" (!) because he lied on his form. Huh!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The K-1 Visa Application Process is Finally Complete

When I called the Department of Immigration in April, 6 months after I sent them the visa petition for Adam and learned that they weren’t even going to LOOK at it for another 3 months, it was devastating. 

So 2 weeks later when we got a letter saying that the petition was approved, we were pretty surprised.  And PSYCHED.  It was Friday April 22, Adam’s last full day of vacation here before he had to go back home.  We couldn’t have asked for a nicer consolation (well, maybe a volcanic eruption delaying his flight, but it was a nice second).  Form I-797, Notice of Action that accompanied the letter was dated April 9.  That’s 3 days after I phoned (coincidence?  I think not : )).  They basically said that Adam should start looking for a packet in the mail, and gave the address of the embassy in London where he’d have his interview! 

At this point, it was up to Adam.  Once he got home and got his letter, he had to get together:
  • A background check by the police
  • Vaccinations
  • A medical appointment with an embassy doctor in London (2 hour train ride for him)
  • 2 copies of Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • Form DS-156K, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • Form DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
  • A copy of his passport
  • Up to date vaccinations
  • 2 2x2 passport style photos
  • And I don’t even know what fees were involved but I’m sure it a couple hundred 
And I had to mail him:
  • Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support)
  • Another letter of intent, notarized (luckily a friend of a friend did it for me free, AND came to the school!
  • A letter from the bank with my current savings and checking account totals
  • My bank statements (to show proof of savings and income stream) from the last 12 months
  • My tax transcripts from the IRS from the past 3 years
  • A copy of my driver’s license
  • My W-2s from the past year
  • My last 3 paycheck stubs
  • Photos of us together looking couple-y (to show proof of a relationship)
  • A letter from my employer stating that my job is permanent and my salary
  • 2 2x2 inch passport style photos
Amidst problems with forums expiring, issues with the timing of the vaccinations, and fears of missing one little thing and having the process delayed by months.  Not to mention the general anxiety of moving to a new country.  He’s a lot greyer now than he was before he started. 

Overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork, we seriously looked into eloping this past summer.  It was going to be less paperwork, and it would have been less money if we had done it in the first place.  However the catch is that after the wedding, he’d have needed to go back to England for a year.  Which seems, in my humble opinion, unnecessarily cruel.  So I’m glad we didn’t pick THAT route.  Who wants to spend their first year of marriage apart!? 

He sent in his fiancé visa application materials on June 9.

His medical appointment was on June 14.

At that point it was time to wait for them to schedule an interview at the embassy.  We started to wonder if he’d have his interview with the embassy while I was there!  How cool would THAT be?  We could take the train in the night before, spend a sleepless night freaking out (but at least we’d have each other, haha) and not have to worry about a long trip the morning of.  Then we could spend a few extra days in London together again, like the first year I went to see him, and celebrate how well he did.

On July 8 he phoned the day before I was scheduled to arrive, hoping to surprise me with an interview date.  Instead he got jerked around a little that they didn’t have all the forms, so he called another office right away who said they did, so he immediately sent them a strongly worded Email.  He got a reply on the July 11 that everything IS all set, but since he said we want to get married in January they’ll schedule it closer to that time, so he said he’d really prefer an interview ASAP. 

On July 15 he finally got an Email with an interview date.  September 8.

So…we didn’t get to do London together.  Oh well.  At least we avoided the London Riots!

The week leading up to his interview, he was a LOT calmer than I expected : ) Then the night before his interview we planned on not chatting that night because he wanted to go to bed just as I was getting home from work.  But since he didn’t sleep a wink he ended up coming on at night to chat with me, and also just before he left <3. 

The next morning at 8:15 am (1:15 pm his time) the phone rang.  Telemarketer, or Adam, I wondered.  It was…Adam’s step father, haha!  “I can’t talk long, but I just wanted to tell you.  HE PASSED!  Adam passed his interview!  He’s going to America and the two of you are getting married!  It’s so beautiful!”  :)

After much rejoicing with him, (I was a LITTLE disappointed in him for spoiling Adam’s news for him.  But I quickly realized that since Adam was with his parents, his mum must have called him and he was just so overcome that he had to share the joyous news with somebody :) ) and going to work and much rejoicing with my coworkers, I got home and got to hear all about the visa interview.  Other than struggling to get a decent fingerprint taken and having a mumble-y clerical guy who he could hardly understand, the actual interview sounded like it was a breeze.  He didn’t need half of the things he brought in his binder (he brought SO much stuff “just in case.”) and the guy joked with him about a photo he brought as "proof of an ongoing relationship" that happened to be taken at the New England Aquarium, “This is a cute photo of the two of you with a dolphin statue!  That cinches it, anyone with a dolphin statue automatically goes through to America.”  They let him know that his visa would be mailed to him in about 7 to 14 days.  He left the embassy to celebrate at a pub with his parents.

And slept through most of it.

“So now we finally get to set a date!”  <-- me

“(…) Tomorrow.”  <-- Adam

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Planning a Winter Wedding

Having our wedding in the wintertime was not my first choice.  Okay, it's my LAST choice in terms of “seasons I want to be married in.”  But when you’re at the mercy of immigration, you just have to try to look at the silver lining and pray that you don’t end up with a blizzard on your scheduled wedding day.

The pros of having a winter wedding:

  1. I kind of like winter colors better.  Not as much as fall colors, but more than summer colors.  I had a hard time choosing colors for a summer wedding, since I like dark, rich colors not the bright pinks and yellows like I associate with summer. 
  1. I do have a week of school vacation in February.  So hopefully his parents can have a full week’s visit for their first time in America. 
  1. We won’t be as sweaty.  I was worried about putting Adam in a wool suit in 100 degree weather.  He didn’t say as much, but he probably would have left the wedding before we were actually married.  Or disrobed mid-ceremony. 
  1. I don’t have to worry about the wedding cake melting into a puddle.  I don’t like sugar paste; I like butter cream frosting.  No problem now.
  1. I like fire.  Candles and fireplaces don’t have much place in the summertime, but in the winter they are a nice touch.  Cozy, warm, intimate, romantic. 
  1. GLOVES!  Oh wow, how often do you get to wear elbow length long white satin gloves!  At first I was really upset that I was going to be cold in my dress, or else have to invest in some sort of shrug that covers up all the pretty detailing in the top (I purposely chose a dress with a top that’s fancier than the bottom to accentuate my assets).  But once the idea of gloves popped into my head I am all over the idea.
  1. The possibility of nice snowy photos.  It’s a long shot, but you never know.  I think the bright, crisp blue skies of winter are more in December and the grey, disgusting, slushy days are more in February.  But I COULD luck out with a bright sunny day with some new fallen snow.  I won’t count on it, but weather can be bad or good in ANY season.
No season is perfect.  There are some pretty obvious negatives when it comes to having a wedding in the winter in New England.  But as long as I don’t have to share my anniversary date with my brother’s birthday (the 20th) or Valentine’s Day (separate presents please and thank you) I’ll just have to focus on the positives and move forward. It's better than waiting ANOTHER whole year.

Readers, can you think of any other pros to having a winter wedding?  Cheer me up a little and leave a comment, haha. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And We’re Back: Applying for the K-1 Fiance Visa

It’s been a while since I've posted!

When I started this wedding blog, I was wishing with all my heart that Adam and I would be married on August 15, 2011.  Two years after he proposed.  (Which was a compromise, since I really wanted to be married on August 15, 2010 but Adam didn’t feel ready to start applying for a visa right away). 

Well, it's September 2011, and we're not married.  Yet.  Here’s what’s happened:

When I was getting ready to head back home to America back in August 2010, Adam promised we could start the visa application process.  I told him that for the first few weeks I would be too busy; it’s the start of a new school year.

So after getting together...
  • From 1-129F, Petition for Alien (eek?) fiancé
  • Form G-325A, Biographic Information
  • My birth certificate
  • A passport style photo
  • Writing a Letter of Intent to Marry within 90 days of my fiancé entering the US
  • Photos of us looking couple-y
  • Plane ticket stubs
  • Engagement and wedding ring receipts
  • Excerpted copies of letters (this and the above 3 are used for “proof of an ongoing relationship”)
  • And $455
And Adam sent me:
  • Form G-325A, Biographic Information
  • A copy of his wage slip
  • A passport style photo
  • Writing a Letter of Intent to Marry
...on October 30, I was ready to send out a packet to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

On November 1, I received a receipt called the I-797C, Notice of Action.

On December 18, Adam’s flight to visit me for Christmas vacation was cancelled due to weather.

Not that that has anything to do with applying for his visa or planning our wedding.  It just sucked that I wanted to be married by now and I couldn’t even seem him at Christmas.

Adam got a last minute flight so even though we didn’t get our full two weeks together we at least got Christmas Eve, Christmas, and his birthday, all in just the one week.  Which we totally made the most of and had an amazing time. 

In April, it had been 6 months since we received the Notice of Action.  It’s really not supposed to take longer than that.  Adam was going to visit for my April vacation for the first time, so I decided not only was it time to call up and ask about it, but it would be nice to surprise him with a little good news when he arrived. 

I was told that there was such a backlog, it would be another 3 months before they even looked at it.

I was a little bit devastated.  No summer wedding for me.

Readers, what is your relationship status?