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ajklepac

International Predicament--Please help!

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My fiance and I met when we were both backpacking around Central America. We fell in love instantly, reading each other's minds and finishing the other's sentences from day one. There was only one problem: I live in the US, and he lives in France. We were determined to make this work, and we have--but only being able to see each other 3 months at a time until a visa runs out is so hard on both of us, and our finances! All we want is to be able to wake up on the same continent every day, and really start our life together. So we're getting married! 

 

One problem: I live in the US, and he lives in France. 

 

After hours of exhaustive research, we've determined that it will be easiest to get married in the country where we intend to stay for at least the next 2 years, for immigration purposes. In our case, this means France; however, that just means that we need to be legally married in France, and doesn't quite settle the issue of where to hold a ceremony. We both have big families and lots of friends that we'd like to be there. We don't need an extravagant wedding--all that really matters to either of us is that everyone is there, together, celebrating with us and having a good time. Unfortunately in our case that's the extravagant part! 

 

It seems more sensible to have the wedding in one or the other's home towns so that only half of the guests need to travel rather than absolutely everyone. But how do we choose? Either way, we're being unfair to my side of the family or his. Neither of our grandparents can fly on planes. None of our friends are particularly wealthy, and regardless it's a lot to ask of anyone to spend $800-900 on airfare, then accommodations and food....

 

So what should we do? Run away and get married, then throw a big party in each country? One wedding and two receptions? Two weddings? Save up for plane tickets ourselves? How do we choose? What are some things that we should keep in mind while making these decisions? Any help would be appreciated! 

 

Thank you all so much in advance.

 

AJ

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   Everyone's situation is different so only you will know what the right steps are for you and your FI.  My husband moved to the US from South Africa and we found it easiest to get married at city hall.  It took almost 6 months to get his VISA sorted out and the US VISA process is expensive and stressful.   

 

   Now that we are settled, we are having a wedding to celebrate our marriage with family and friends.  Everyone is just as excited for us and we don't have the stress or extra money concerns since we are done with the VISA process.  My roommate from college married a man and moved to the UK to be with him. They went the same route and have put off  a wedding until the are completely settled. I don't know about the French VISA process  but consider that planning a wedding while dealing with moving countries, one of you possibily not working for an extended period of time and the stress of the VISA process could be a lot to deal with at once.  

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Maybe you could do a tropical wedding in the caribbean (reasonably cheap for U.S. family & friends), and then a casual wedding reception back in France.

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I'm not sure about France but if they wanted to live together in the US and had a legal wedding in the caribbean, her husband would not be allowed into the country on a marriage VISA until all their paperwork was approved. I've heard this could take up to a year. They should get legally married in whatever country they plan to live in to avoid any legal issues. They could have a ceremony in the caribbean but not have it be legal. 

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HI! My bff actually went through your exact situation a couple years ago.  She is from the U.S. her now husband is from Luxembourg.  She moved to Lux to be with him and they had a civil ceremony there so they would be legally married so she could stay in the country.  Then they planned a  DW, they threw around the ideas of the US and Europe and ultimately decided to hold their wedding in a completely 'neutral' country that way regardless of who was going was going to be traveling.  They held an engagement party in the states for everyone here that wouldn't be going to the wedding, and a post-wedding BBQ in Lux for everyone there that didn't attend.  They held their actual wedding 9 months after their legal one in Thailand. 

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Oh my gosh, that's absolutely dizzying! Forgive my ignorance, but what is a DW?

I'm going to France this coming May and staying for 3 months. My fiance suggested we get legally married then, and then have the ceremony in the US in October. Since my parents are paying for it, they think it would be fair to have it here--if his parents help to buy plane tickets for the family, they still won't have spent as much as the wedding will cost...what do you think? I just don't want to have everyone traveling because I know we're already excluding so many people already by having it in one or the other of our home countries. 

I like the idea of having everyone at the house, cooking together every day and all of that fun stuff. It's really important that our families get to know each other (despite the various language barriers), which is why we're trying so hard to get everyone in the same place. 

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Originally Posted by L&J View Post

 

   Everyone's situation is different so only you will know what the right steps are for you and your FI.  My husband moved to the US from South Africa and we found it easiest to get married at city hall.  It took almost 6 months to get his VISA sorted out and the US VISA process is expensive and stressful.   

 

   Now that we are settled, we are having a wedding to celebrate our marriage with family and friends.  Everyone is just as excited for us and we don't have the stress or extra money concerns since we are done with the VISA process.  My roommate from college married a man and moved to the UK to be with him. They went the same route and have put off  a wedding until the are completely settled. I don't know about the French VISA process  but consider that planning a wedding while dealing with moving countries, one of you possibily not working for an extended period of time and the stress of the VISA process could be a lot to deal with at once.  

 

The immigration process as a whole is much simpler in France than it is in the US, but we still don't know everything that we need to about the US visas. If we get legally married in France, I'm eligible to work there right away, and I think we can start the paperwork for Jon's visa at the same time. I'm not sure that he needs to be in the country while it's being processed, though--I don't think he does. But regardless he wouldn't be able to work in the US until it was finalized, and we'd like to stay in France for a couple of years. 

Did you use a lawyer? Would you be comfortable sharing what the fees were like? 

 

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I'd say the lawyer and VISA fees totaled a little over $3k.  The whole process was more complicated than I expected and I would recommend a lawyer if you can afford one. There are a few online forums with good advice from people applying on their own if you decide to go that route.  It sounds like France is much easier and if you'd like to live there for a while, it's probably the best decision to marry there. Who wouldn't want to live in France!?

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It's a very hard choice to make, but in the end I'm sure you'll come to a solution.  It seems like the most logical solution would be to have your legal wedding in France (purely for the paperwork) to ensure that your VISA ect gets sorted, and then save up to plan a wedding that you'll be truly happy with.  I'm sure you could have a small party in France (to go with the legal wedding) but then have a wedding either in the states or somewhere in between?

 

I myself am Canadian and my husband-to-be is Australian. I all ready have my Aussie visa sorted (that's where we plan to live) so luckily I don't have to worry about that. We decided to have our wedding in Hawaii because that makes all our guests travel the same amount of time. Saying this, neither of our grandmothers can go (which we're sad about) and not all of our family members can afford it. As a couple we determined that what mattered most was having our parents and best friends there, all of whom ARE coming to Hawaii.

 

In the end we decided to have an engagement party in Canada and the at home reception in Australia, that way we will be able to celebrate with almost everyone we who can't come.

 

The key thing to remember is that in the end, YOU have to be happy with what happens. Good Luck!

 

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