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I bought my veil this weekend. (For $10 at a discount craft store – thank you very much, Larissa!) That in itself might not be so momentous as to be blogworthy, but a comment that one of James’ friends made to him about my wearing a veil seeming awfully traditional has got me thinking about traditions, particularly when it comes to weddings.

I think one of the reasons that wedding planning with James has been so fun is that each of us is equally willing to toss tradition if it doesn’t suit us. We don’t see the need to have an equal number of attendants standing up with each of us, neither do we feel it’s necessary for me to have all female attendants (although I am) and James to have all male attendants (he’s not). We want to have stand up for us who we want to have stand up for us. And so we will.

I happen to like the look of a veil. I like how it makes me feel all… bridey. I’m not going to pull it down over my face when I walk down the aisle. Far be it from me to tell anyone else they shouldn’t though. It’s just not for me.

We’re going to have the music we want to have at our wedding. Some of it you may have heard at other weddings. I bet much of it you won’t have. (We’ve yet to iron out all those details.)

Some of the traditions that I want to keep are specifially American traditions (or North American traditions? don’t remember exactly what my friends from Canada have done in their weddings), and I want to keep them because they are very meaningful to me – like having James walk our grandparents and his parents down the aisle. (I want both of my parents to walk me down.) This is not generally done in Britain, however, and James was rather taken aback when I suggested it to him. He’s still not too sure about it.

Okay, partly I want to include this tradition because it’s meaningful but also just because it’s one thing (one of a very few things) I do actually want to do for tradition’s sake. Also, I know how my Oma would cluck if James didn’t walk her down the aisle

And who knows – maybe our wedding would end up looking rather different if it were taking place in the UK? I think that in the end it would be fairly similar because when it comes down to it, most of all we want our wedding to be a reflection of who we are. The best weddings I’ve been to are those where the personalities of the bride and groom – individually and as a couple – shine through.

(By the way, in case you didn’t grow up singing showtunes all the time like I did, the title of this entry is a lyric from the song “Tradition” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.)


A week ago, the Nebraska Service Center’s website said they were processing I-129f (fiance) visa applications that they received on July 24. It had said July 24 since at least January 26 which is the last time we checked. Today it says that they are now processing applications received on September 30. Ours was received on December 17. While we are not putting all of our trust in the NSC’s website, we are hoping that this at least represents some progress and are taking it – albeit cautiously – as a good sign.

Go, Lincoln, go!! (that’s my inner cheerleader coming out)

*positive vibes being sent toward Lincoln, Nebraska*

I’ve been getting asked a lot lately how things are going with this fiance visa and immigration process. So for those of you playing along at home, here’s an update…

We’ve submitted the fiance visa application to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (which is part of the Dept. of Homeland Security). All we can do right now is wait.

In this regard, I have the great misfortune of living in Michigan. The Vermont Service Center takes about 15-20 days to process fiance visa applications. No one really knows why the NSC takes so long, but they do, and since I live in Michigan, this is the way it is, no doing much about it. The communication from the NSC states that this type of visa application takes 150-180 days to process (about 5-6 months) but it seems that the current timeline is closer to 7-8 months. Since we submitted our application on December 17, eight months would bring us to August which would be cutting things close, but still okay. We’d prefer to get approval in June or July.

What happens once we get approval from the NSC, they send everything over to the US Embassy in London. We get notified that London has received our paperwork and they give us a list of documents that we need to gather together to present to them. Once we have that list completed, we let them know and give them the date by which we would like to have James enter the country. Based on that, they assign us an interview date.

At least that’s the process currently (as we understand it). Things can easily change.

James will be coming here mid-May and staying until the end of July. He’ll be going back to England for the month of August to do his Embassy interview and get the fiance visa, spend time with friends and family before moving over, and participate in Greenbelt. As soon as the US Embassy lets him (we’re hoping it will be by the end of the first week of September), he’ll enter the country on the fiance visa. From that point he won’t be able to leave again until he gets his green card which, if things stay as they are currenlty, will happen about 3 months after our wedding.

And just a bit of trivia. Green card holders are no longer called Resident Aliens. The new official term is Lawful Permanent Resident. No more martian jokes. Sorry.

It has been fascinating for me over the past several months to examine the differences between US and UK culture, particularly as they relate to the whole wedding thing.

Interestingly, for a country seemingly so enamoured of pomp and circumstance, England certainly seems to be lacking in traditions and expectations when it comes to weddings. Hmm. Perhaps I should rephrase. “Lacking in…” makes it sound like it’s a bad thing, and I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. James would most certainly object to that characterization. So let me put it this way: it has been my observation that in the U.S. there is a whole heck of a lot more flapping and fuss surrounding weddings and many more traditions for every part of the process from announcements and showers to the actual ceremony itself. They don’t even really do ‘bridal’ showers as such, one factor which led to a very curious UK registry experience.

James and I decided that it would be helpful especially for our non-web savvy UK wedding guests if we registered at a UK department store. We selected John Lewis since it’s a nice store and there’s a very large one within easy walking distance of James’ house. They also happened to be advertising their Gift List services in their display windows. So on a Wednesday afternoon 45 minutes before we were scheduled to be somewhere else (which we figured would give us plenty of time to get a registry set up and scan a few gifts), we moseyed over to John Lewis, took the escalator to the top floor, and asked about setting up a gift list. We were asked to wait for the next available associate and were seated at a registry station to wait for her. Within a few moments of her joining us and starting the process, several realizations dawned on us: a) she typed verrrry slowly + b) she was not very efficient or knowledgeable of their computer system = c) this was going to take a long time. The set-up process did, in fact, eat up all of our available time and we had to dash before we had a chance to actually scan any gifts into our registry.

Throughout the process, several things struck me as very strange. First of all, the default option for when guests make purchases from the gift list is to have John Lewis collect all of the gifts at one of their locations and then a week before the wedding, ship all of the gifts to the bride and groom. We actually had to request that a pop-up note be added to our registry so that when our guests make purchases the sales associates can see that we would prefer that guests take their purchases with them. Gifts purchased online, however, apparently cannot be shipped to the buyer but will be sent to the bride and groom’s registered address one week before the wedding. (We gave them James’ parents’ address since we’ll both be here by then.)

Secondly, the gift list is only available to the guests from six weeks before the wedding through two weeks after the wedding. This will seem very strange indeed to any Americans who have done a registry and are used to it being available to the general public as soon as the registry is set up. It’s kind of annoying for us, but I guess if you don’t have showers, why would guests want to purchase a gift more than six weeks before the wedding anyway? Oh well, not much we can do there. But don’t go to expecting to be able to look up our registry before September 10. (If you’re really curious, you can look up our registries on Amazon, Crate and Barrel, or Bed, Bath and Beyond.)

Finally, if a guest attempts to purchase an item that is no longer available, John Lewis will not inform the guest that the item is, in fact, no longer available but instead will issue us a voucher for the value of that gift. That just seems kind of rude to the guests if you ask me. But that’s how they do things.

Anyway, we went back the next afternoon and registered for our bed and bath linens along with some other cool stuff that we really liked there – placemats, whiskey tumblers, teaspoons, a mortar & pestle, and Emile Henry pie plates which seem to be cheaper to buy in the UK than in the US. If you’re coming to our wedding, feel free to shop there. But not before 10th September.