Pro: His sexy accent. Con: So. Much. Paperwork.
Falling in love is an indescribable experience. Planning a wedding while navigating our country’s immigration process is an experience met with a few select four-letter words. It’s effing stressful and a lot for a bride-to-be to handle.
It should go without saying that, of course, I love my fiancé and I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else. But — and there is a but — I really had no idea what was ahead for us when we met at a NYC bar while I was on a business trip almost three years ago.
For anyone who has a thing for accents, let me share the honest truths to what you’ll experience marrying someone from another country.
1. The added costs. Weddings ain't cheap. In fact, new data states the typical wedding costs more than $31K. That's more than I made at my first job in NYC seven years ago. Scary, right? Well, be sure to add another $2K to cover the immigration fees. And another $2K if you're planning to hire a lawyer to help you through the process, which I highly recommend. It's definitely worth the money, makes the process move faster, and significantly cuts down the likelihood of errors with your application.
2. Every aspect of our relationship will be analyzed during the immigration interview. Sample questions: About what did you last fight? Who cooks and cleans? Who sleeps on what side of the bed? After the first time you met, when did you speak to each other again? What are the colors of your toothbrushes? Answers: Ordering pizza for delivery and which coupon to use. I do most of the time. Him to my left, I'm on his right. We texted each other four days after we first met. His is blue, mine is pink.
3. Someone has to deem our love to be real. For normal couples, you say you love someone and everyone believes and congratulates you. In our case, that's not enough. In fact, too much over-stating of our love might look suspicious. We need to have supporting evidence — photos, emails, texts, flight itineraries from visiting each other, communications with each other's families, wedding plans/photographs, taxes, joint bank accounts, bills and contracts, etc. Real romantic.
4. Beyond that, the biggest hurdle is communication. Sure, it can be a challenge for most couples to communication honestly and openly. It's even harder with a language barrier. Sometimes we have to pause because he doesn't know the word he wants to say or he doesn't understand something I've said. In a weird way, it's just the pause we need to communicate better.
5. We also get to experience and share each other's cultures. My fiancé has only experienced two Christmases with my family, but it's certainly one of his favorite holidays now. In Turkish culture, New Year's is a big celebration that also includes gifts. Plus, Turkish food? Delish. No complaints here!
6. And with that, there are also cultural misunderstandings. I'm not opposed to people leaving their shoes on when they come into our home, but it is something he'd prefer. While it makes me feel weird to ask someone to take off their shoes, I still do it because I respect what's important to him.
7. You may need to learn another language. Most of the communication I've had with my future mother-in-law has been through translators — apps or people. Since I'd like our future kids to speak both languages and I'd like to communicate confidently while visiting Turkey, I need to learn his language. Never in my life did I ever think I would fluently speak any language other than English. And here I am having just completed my first 8-week session of Turkish lessons. I think I learned more in those eight weeks than I did with four years of Spanish. When you're dedicated and motivated, you can do anything.
8. Some of our vacations will be dedicated to visiting family. Fortunately, both Turkey and California are beautiful places to visit with many wonderful destinations worth checking out.
9. I'm always asked if we'll move to Turkey. First, it's an annoying question. Second, I can honestly say I don't know the answer. It's not in our immediate plans for the future. We hope to buy a house and set up our home here shortly. But life tends to throw you curveballs and I'm the type of gal that rolls with the punches. I'm not sure we'd move there permanently, but if we need to be there for extended visits, so be it.
10. Neither of us has family nearby. And I'm so incredibly envious of anyone who has family close by and who are willing to help with childcare. Though we're just about to get hitched, I'm also kind of a planner and I want to know what we're going to do when we have kids. The costs of childcare are frightening. But I like working full-time (and freelancing in my free time!) and so does he. And it's just us on the East coast. We don’t have family support that can be here to help out any faster than a 6-hour flight. I have to have faith in us, knowing that we'll make it work. We always do.