Posts in the 'The Groom' Category

Real Bride Kate: How to Marry a Foreigner


  1. My and Daniel’s K-1 visa has just been approved. The visa has been issued and is in his passport. Therefore, I can tell you that the process described below DID work for us.
  2. However, even though we have successfully completed the K-1 visa process, we are not experts. We are not immigration lawyers and do not work for any immigration services. I am only offering advice, and if you want professional, 100% certain advice – go to a lawyer or government official.
  3. This information is only applicable to a U.S. citizen whose foreign fiancé(e) is immigrating to the United States.

So, you have fallen in love with a foreigner. No? Just me? Well, if you have, let me offer some rudimentary advice on how and why to go through with the K-1 visa.

Visa JB Graffiti

What is the K-1 fiancé(e) visa?

In layman’s terms, K visas are “family” visas that allow for family members to join their relatives in the United States. The K-1 visa allows non-U.S. citizens (like my Australian Daniel) to join their U.S. citizen fiancé(s) (like me!) in the United States. The immigrant DOES NOT become a citizen with this visa.

Can my fiancé(e) and I get a K-1 visa?

Technically speaking, there are only three requirements for getting a K-1 visa.

  1. You must be truly engaged to the immigrant (duh).
  2. The two of you must have met in person within the last two years (of the petition filing date).
  3. You must make above the poverty line for your household size. Or, if you are a part-time worker and do not make enough annually (like me, as a college student), you must have a co-sponsor, and the two of you together must make above the poverty line for your household size. This is to ensure that the immigrant will not become a ward of the state until s/he finds employment.

Should my fiancé(e) and I get a K-1 visa?

Making the choice to immigrate to a foreign country to be with the person you love is exciting and romantic – it is also stressful and risky.

  1. First, ask yourself all the traditional “ready for marriage?” questions. Are you certain about this person? Do you truly love him/her? All that jazz.
  2. Next, are you (as an individual) ready to have your entire relationship literally examined and picked apart, not only by the government, but by your family and friends?
  3. Is one of you really and truly willing to leave your home country (and family and friends and everything you’ve ever known) for the other person WITHOUT EVER GUILTING THEM ABOUT IT OR USING IT AGAINST THEM LATER?
  4. Can you afford it? The entire visa process (counting postage and final plane ticket) costs roughly $3,000. This cost is spread out over several months, but it is still something to consider.

Is there any way to save money?

Obviously, as Broke-Ass Brides, we’re always looking to save. Unfortunately, because most of the fees are government-mandated, there are not many opportunities to save money. Here are the few (read: only) ways Daniel and I have found to save money during this process:

  1. Don’t hire a lawyer to help you. This one is a risk. On one hand, an immigration lawyer comes with a guarantee that your I-129F petition will be accepted. On the other hand, they cost at least $1,000 and honestly, you still have to provide all the same information and do most of the grunt work. We decided to skip the lawyer, and it worked out fine, but it was a risk.
  2. Do it right the first time. Seriously, quadruple check all directions before you begin your forms. Quadruple check the forms before you mail them. If you mess up, you may have to start over from square one, and then you’ve lost your entire investment.
  3. Sign up for frequent flyer points. Daniel and I have been extremely lucky in that we have had several visits together. From the second visit, Daniel has been accumulating frequent flyer points for our airline of choice. Plus, his family and friends have contributed to those points as well. Because of this, his final plane ticket will be (close to) free. This will save us about $1,200 to $1,500.
  4. Exploit the conversion rate. Right now, the U.S. dollar is stronger than the A.U. dollar. Therefore, my money goes farther than Daniel’s does, and visa expenses are “cheaper” for me. Some people may struggle with putting up cash for their significant other, but the way we see it, this is a joint venture, and in the end, what’s mine is his and his is mine anyway.

So how do you even get a K-1 visa?

There are quite a few steps and a TON of supporting documentation, but here are the bare bones:

  1. Get engaged (again, duh).
  2. The U.S. citizen completes an I-129F petition (and sends in a ton of paperwork). This says, “Hey, Government, my fiancé(e) and I love each other. He/She’s pretty cool. Will you let him/her apply for a visa to be with me?”
  3. Once the I-129F is accepted, the foreign fiancé(e) applies for the actual K-1 visa. This says, “Hey, I’m the fiancé(e). Can I come over?”
  4. Once the K-1 visa is approved, the immigrant has six months to move to the U.S.
  5. Once the immigrant arrives, the couple has 90 days to become legally married.
  6. Once married (yeah, it’s NOT over), the immigrant applies for an “Adjustment of Status,” which makes him/her a permanent resident of the U.S. and gives him/her a “temporary green card.”
  7. After two years, the immigrant receives a permanent green card.

Again, the immigrant is NOT a citizen at the end of this process. S/he is only a permanent resident, which means s/he can remain in the United States permanently, but will not have all the rights of a citizen. Citizenship is a whole different barrel of monkeys.

How long does this take?

It depends. The I-129F petition can take anywhere from one month to one year to get approved. Ours took 1.5 months. After the petition is approved, it typically takes another three to six months to get an interview with the U.S. embassy/consulate in the foreign country. Daniel’s interview was only about 1.5 months after our approval date. At that interview, the immigrant will receive an approval or denial.

Where can I get more information?

  1. Always check out the official website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services first.
  2. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (U.S. Dept. of State) also has a helpful guide.
  3. Another great resource is Visa Journey, which explains the entire K-1 visa process with handy dandy step-by-step guides and timelines.

Visa Love

I know it’s overwhelming. I know it seems ridiculous and crazy. But, trust me: if you really love someone and cannot live without him/her, it’s worth it! If nothing else, now you know why this international bride-to-be has way too much on her plate to pick out flowers just yet!

And to you other international couples, best of luck!

Real Bride Jess: Registries … aka Buy Us Presents

Wedding registries are hard. Everyone’s telling you “don’t forget anything!” “register for more than you need!” “don’t forget China!” “you can always return it!”

Why can’t I just register for the things I want? Neither Michael nor I drink coffee so we really don’t need a coffee maker. My parents have used their wedding China maybe one time, so I probably don’t need wedding China, can’t I just get regular cute dishware? I do see the use of those “things most brides forget to register for” lists, I like to look at those lists! But I don’t think I’m a bad bride for ignoring the item Espresso Machine or Fondue Pot.

What I love about this day and age is you can basically do all of your registering online. The one thing I did want to do in person was register for sheets. I wanted to feel them & make sure that I wasn’t going to receive some thin sheet sized cardboard, but rather cloud-like perfection.

Now I thought this was going to be easy: go in, say you have a registry & would like to add to it, they give you a scan gun, boom. False. You have to sit down, they have to give you paperwork, they discuss your registry & why you don’t have certain things. I felt like I was being interrogated by undercover cops. And THEN (this part was actually the most scarring) someone has to go with you and scan what you want! You’re not even trusted to handle a scanner. The reason for this, I’m sure, is to make suggestions as to what else you should register for and drive up the amount of money guests will hopefully spend. I did succeed in only shopping for bed-related things, but she did win and get me to register not just for sheets but also for fancy pillows,a comforter and a quilt.

Will I be glad to possibly have these items: yes. After I recover from my bitchy resentment will I be glad I went to the store to feel the sheets: yes.

Ok, whining over.

I do have a confession: I am a registery-o-holic. I have four registries. I just like options! I registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Target and Anthropologie. You want to know something else? If four registries is wrong, I don’t want to be right!


Stadium Proposals: What it Takes to Pop the Question in a Ballpark

YOU GUYS. It’s baseball season. And I freaking LOVE baseball (go Red Sox!!). When I was younger, I always thought it would be super rad to be proposed to atop the Green Monster at Fenway … though age and my opinion of public proposals have changed that a bit. However, ballpark proposals are still a dream come true for many baseball-lovin’ brides-to-be. But, they certainly don’t come cheap. The Huffington Post ran this nifty graphic the other day which was put together by the folks at Swimmingly, breaking down the cost for each stadium. Turns out the Pittsburgh Pirates won’t loot you of all your skrilla but there’s no dodging the huge price tag at the Los Angeles Dodgers’ field. Here’s the full breakdown:

2014 ballpark proposals

Even though it certainly takes a pretty penny at some of these parks, apparently all proceeds from proposals go to charity. Swimmingly breaks down what’s included in each package here.

What’s it take to pop the question at your favorite team’s stomping grounds? How do you feel about a proposal at a major league ballpark?

Ask Heather: My MIL Has Kidnapped Our Rehearsal Dinner!

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Photo courtesy of Torley

Dear Heather,

Any advice for a bride who isn’t looking forward to the night before her wedding? My parents are paying for the wedding, so my future in-laws graciously offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner. We told them all we wanted was something relatively casual and with decent food–everything else was up to them, unless they wanted our input (they don’t live where the wedding is, so we were trying to be helpful here). They asked us for advice and we provided what we thought were a range of reasonable options.

Well, the rehearsal dinner is less than a month away, and I’m dreading it. My FMIL has rejected every single place of input we provided–every restaurant (around 50 of them over 6 months!), every idea, and every menu item. Planning this rehearsal dinner has taken more time and mental energy than the wedding itself, and it isn’t even the rehearsal dinner we want! Eventually the FILs decided they wanted something formal but not expensive, so it’s at a place that is kind of weirdly formal but with famously not-so-great food. And it is going to be a long, formal, multi-course affair, which is the opposite of what we wanted.

FMIL won’t even let us know what the menu is—in fact, she won’t send us the final menu, guest list, or even the dress code–which is now pissing my family off. The invites haven’t even gone out yet, and it’s in less than a month. I know my FMIL is fairly disorganized and tends to plan things last minute, but she has rejected every offer of help. Distressingly, she has also hinted that we will “find out when we get there” to several questions. I’m very concerned that she is planning some kind of surprise or series of surprises. I cannot stress this enough–I hate surprises, which she knows–but she is a fan of them.

I know most of my concerns are pretty petty, but I’m bummed out. I know that FILs are paying and that they get final say, which I have no problem with, but I had really hoped that at least one thing in the evening would be representative of SO and I as a couple. Instead it is going to be, according to FMIL, “their family’s party.” I’m also really concerned about possible surprises–SO has told his mother repeatedly that we do not want this, and her reaction is to tell him that “he doesn’t know how to plan things anyways” and then to act hurt that he doesn’t trust her. Any advice for getting through the evening? So far my plan is “grin and bear it.”

Oh, and as of last week, FMIL has also indicated that she would like to throw us another party 3 weeks after the wedding in her hometown so that their family and friends can have a party too. She was planning on telling us “later,” when things were already planned. I can’t even.

My Rehearsal Dinner Isn’t Really Mine

Dear Dinner,

I will never quite understand why weddings tend to bring out the crazy, and I suspect there are plenty of BABs out there who feel your pain. I’m so, so sorry your rehearsal dinner isn’t turning out to be what you hoped it would be. Unfortunately, at this point, I don’t think there’s a whole lot you can do about it, other than adopt a zen attitude and just go with it. Normally, I would suggest having your fiance talk to his mother, but you’ve already done that. I’d also suggest trying to compromise, but that doesn’t seem to be something that’s in your FMIL’s bag of tricks. If there happens to be a family member of FMIL who is on your side, you could ask that person to talk to her and hopefully make things at least a little bit better. Perhaps that person could mention that the venue she’s chosen isn’t exactly known for its fine cuisine, or that you’re serious about not liking surprises. But it sounds like FMIL has her plan and she’s sticking to it.

With that in mind, rather than discussing the details, which FMIL clearly doesn’t want to talk about, focus on the logistics. There are certain pieces of information that you absolutely have to have. Don’t offer to help her with any of this. Simply state that you need the following questions answered or tasks completed. Period. At some point (really, really soon), guests need to receive their invitation. You need to know the menu, just in case there are food allergy issues. And you need to know the dress code, so you don’t show up in something totally inappropriate. When it comes to the various surprises FMIL likely has in store for you, just view them as the price of admission to marrying your fiance. Once the two of you are married, you become family, and every family has their own weirdness. Trust me.

Now, in regards to the rehearsal dinner you truly wanted – while it wasn’t exactly the same, my MIL wasn’t thrilled that we weren’t inviting her entire side of the family to our Friday rehearsal dinner. My husband and I made this decision because we were paying for everything ourselves and inviting all of her family would have literally doubled our guest list, and we just couldn’t do it. We ended up having a “no-host” dinner on Thursday with just his family, which was a win-win. We got to see everyone, but didn’t have to break our budget. Perhaps you could do something like this on the day before your FIL’s dinner. It could be super-casual, maybe even a potluck, and only minimally financially impact you and your fiance. I’m envisioning something like a small gathering at your house/apartment, or a BBQ at a local park. If your FMIL questions why you’re doing it, simply explain that you wanted a more casual setting to chat with your guests, and leave it at that.

As for that after-the-wedding gathering – I’m with you. “I can’t even.” I don’t know how far away your FMIL’s hometown is from where you live right now, so I don’t even know if your attendance is feasible. Either way, planning an event without notifying the guests of honor in advance is ill-advised, as you obviously know. Let your FMIL know that you appreciate the sentiment, but based on your schedules as a couple, you and your fiance have to know when this party is going to happen, to ensure you can even attend. Try to get her to talk over the logistics of this party. And then, go home and have a glass of wine/bottle of beer/Xanax with your fiance.

Was your rehearsal dinner planned by your FILs? Did you have any input? How did it go? Let us know in the comments, or just commiserate with your crazy family stories and help Dinner feel less alone!

Do you have a burning question for Heather about your wedding day? Email info@brokeassbride to submit your quandary.

Ask Heather: Day-Of Transportation and Seating the Little Ones Separately

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Photo courtesy of Fleet Transportation

Dear Heather,

Is there a good way for saving on transportation for the wedding party to get to the venue? Our ceremony and reception are all in the same spot, and we just need pick up and drop off, really, but it looks like limo services don’t typically offer pick-up/drop off. It would be a waste (and super expensive) to have the drive wait in the parking lot for 4 hours. Any tips for unconventional ways to get everyone where they need to go?


The limo has failed me

Dear Limo,

There are several transportation options available to you. Alas, I don’t know where you live, so I can’t really tailor this to your geographic area. However, hopefully this will help regardless. The easiest option is to simply have the wedding party drive themselves. Obviously, though, this requires that there be designated drivers and eliminates the possibility of hanging out with one another on the way to and fro. Next up: Some form of public transit. This can range from a subway to a taxi to a trolley car. Get creative! This could lead to some really fantastic photo opportunities, and no one has to be sober enough to drive home. Or, if you’re in a city with either Lyft or Uber, that could also be a possibility. (Hey, you said I could be unconventional!) The final option – If you’re staying at a hotel, find out whether they have some sort of shuttle service. If you reserved a block of rooms, odds are you’ve brought them a decent amount of income, so they might be more likely to help you out.

Dear Heather,

I have a question regarding invites. I am getting married at a historical mansion in September. Dinner will be held in the main ballroom that seats just 70. When we first booked the venue we were planning on having a wedding under 70, but with the input of both sets of parents the number soon grew. The venue manager suggested that we move the kids into another room which we are planning on doing along with providing a babysitter. Kids will not have the option of sitting in the main ballroom as we now have 70 adults. My question is how do I word this on invitations that a babysitter will be provided and if you chose to bring your child they must eat dinner in the separate room? (The separate room will be immediately off the ballroom.) I’m worried that guests will bring their child and just plop them down in a chair next to them taking up another guests chair. Any advice will help! I love your column and thank you so much for your time!


Dear Chelsea,

I’m honestly not sure there is a good way to word this on your invitation, but there are other ways to communicate this information. If you’re having a wedding website, make sure to mention it there. Inform all of the VIPs (wedding party, parents, other immediate family) of the plan and ask them to spread the word. Or, if there aren’t too many of them on your guest list, just call each family with children and let them know that the size of the venue has dictated that this happen, and that you completely trust the babysitter you’ve hired. Also, stress that this is just for the dinner portion of the reception, and that their kids will be free to hit the dance floor when it opens up. And on the day of your wedding, make sure the kids have their own escort cards (which I’m betting they’ll absolutely love), directing them to the kids-only room. And for what it’s worth, I think this is a wonderful plan. The parents get to participate in an adult conversation, and the kids get to avoid being bored out of their minds and enjoy themselves, too.

What wedding-day transportation option did you utilize? And did you have a separate seating area for children at your wedding? Let us know in the comments how it worked out!

Real Bride Jess: What Do I Expect From My Groom?

Just the other day Michael and I were talking about wedding stuff and he said (word for word), “I always saw on tv those guys who didn’t help out with their wedding and I was like ‘I’d never be one of those guys’, but I feel like I am. Should I be doing anything?”

I thought about it, and my honest answer was no. It’s not that I think I’m a one-woman show who can do this wedding all by myself, but I also don’t need him manning the front lines right now.  After all, he is already working 70 hours a week, so I feel like asking anything more of him at this point might be unreasonable. I still want him to be involved; I ask him what his opinions are about the number of people in our wedding party and what he wants his groomsmen to wear, but we’re not at the stage where I need action from him.

Not to mention, let’s be honest, I have a vision and I know that 90% of that vision is stuff that he hasn’t even thought about, nor does he specifically care and that doesn’t bother me.

I know you’re all wondering about this photo: Michael and I did a styled shoot with SheWanders Photography and they took this gem. Michael would like you to know that this was all my idea and he participated for my benefit.

Maybe I’ll need more from him in the future, but right now, as long as he brings this handsome face on the big day, I’m good to go!



Get Fun for Your Wedding with SimpleRegistry

Brought to you by our friends at Simple Registry.


I dunno about y’all, but I like to make sure that if people are going to give me something, it’s something I want and will really, truly use. Because: Guilt. I have this amazing problem of feeling guilty for not necessarily loving a gift, but hanging on to it nonetheless, which just results in clutter and hoarding and anxiety and … damnit, where’s my whiskey?

All this and the pressure of wedding planning? OOF. Nope. I’d like to have fun, please.

So make things easier on yourself and on your guests and set up a registry that allows you to steer your loved ones toward items or experiences that you’d really like and therefore use. “But Christen,” you say, “Wherever shall I find such a glorious unicorn of registries?”

YOU GUYS. I got this! SimpleRegistry.

Not only is SimpleRegistry super easy to use (I signed up myself. So, for realz.), but you can add pretty much anything: Need a toaster, like classic-style? BOOM. How ’bout tickets for the first Red Sox-Yankees face-off of the season? NAILED IT. Feeling more philanthropic and want to donate your dollaz to the ASPCA (one of the BAB’s charities of choice)? YEAH, THAT TOO.

And you know how that girlfriend of yours is always suggesting different activities or restaurants, just insisting that you’ll loooovvveee it? Well, she can take those ideas and add them as ideas on your SimpleRegistry list and your whole damn bridal party — you know, the ones who have the most fun? — can split that experience to make it one for the ages. Yup, birds, stones, etc. Doesn’t matter. You get to go biking through a vineyard!

Go get your fun on and set up your SimpleRegistry!


Enough with the Toasters! Get the Gift of Stability with a Present Value Registry

Hey there, newbie BABs! Welcome to the party! Amid the piles of tulle and yummy cake tastings lies the golden nugget of fun that is your wedding registry. For some of you, this will be the chance for you and your honey to start your cohabitation off on a shiny new foot. For others, those of you who are already well-familiar with bodily functions, smelly socks, and morning cups of coffee in bed, building your bridal registry can be tough, since you are fairly stocked when it comes to household goodies.

Regardless of which camp you fall in, Present Value is a wedding registry you’ll definitely want to set up. Beyond standard cash registries that can go toward vacations or experiences, Present Value registries focus on your financial future. From house downpayments to debt reduction, college funds to investment portfolios, your wedding guests can give you a little peace of mind.

While scanning for new fine china or that killer KitchenAid stand mixer (in turquoise!) is always fun, Present Value knows the real value of planning for your new life together. The registry site has a clear and concise interface that you can personalize with a welcoming note and a photo of you and your other half and the whole experience is completely free – for both you and your guests. No fees are incurred and there is no charge to set up your Present Value registry.

While new goodies are great, a little financial freedom and stability go a long way. So whether you’re decking out your casa or planning a honeymoon of a lifetime, give your guests the opportunity to help you plan for your future. Because as any BAB knows: Every cent counts.

Note: This post was brought to you by our friends at Present Value.

{Real Bride: Carrie} Veggie Tales: A Vegetarian Bride’s Revenge!

I’m about to tell you something you might find shocking.  But hold onto your hats, because our wedding is going to be a….MEAT FREE ZONE!

That’s right folks!  I am a longtime vegetarian and Zach rarely eats meat nowadays.  So we won’t be serving anything that used to breathe and have eyeballs at our wedding.  I think a lot of our non-vegetarian friends and family members are surprised we’re doing this.  But really, even if we were hiring a caterer, I wouldn’t want to pay for people to eat in a way I don’t believe in.  Because we’re cooking all the food ourselves, of course we’re not going to serve meat.  I don’t even know how to cook it!

I hope that people aren’t upset about not eating meat and I really hope they enjoy our food.  If it forces them to try something new, then good!  Maybe some will realize that it is possible to eat a satisfying and delicious meal without meat.  Maybe some will freak out and slam burgers before they come.  I don’t really care.  At least we’ll be showing off our values (and our mad cooking skills, hopefully) on our wedding day!As a side note, I have been to several weddings at which vegetarian options were not even offered!  Both times the couple knew that a few guests were veggie, but I don’t know if it slipped their minds or they just didn’t care.  Last time my friend and I (the only two vegetarians) couldn’t even eat the salad or pasta salad because both had bacon in them!  We ate only bread and potatoes and thus got extra drunk and rowdy with no food in our stomachs.

Vegetarian taco bar! (Photo source:

Maybe I have a slight vendetta, but after not being able to eat at weddings I’ve been invited to, I am super pumped to turn the tables on everyone and not serve any meat!  I promise that the food will be delicious and that there will still be lots of protein (beans, guacamole) and cheese (we’re not vegan).

Is it crazy to have a totally-veggie reception?  Do you think people will freak out or enjoy the food?  Have you ever been invited to a wedding you couldn’t eat at?