Last updated on May 15th, 2019
You’ve already obtained your K-1 fiancé visa, bought your plane ticket and have recently arrived in the United States. It’s amazing how time flies.
This is why we have prepared this guide for you because we want your dream wedding to be nothing less than memorable. Since you only have 90 days to get married after entering the country, this period can get rather hectic.
The secret to remaining calm during this process is to be as organized as possible. Organization is key, and will help everything go a lot smoother.
With that in mind, you’ll want to keep some kind of notebook or to-do list to help you during this important time.
And even though it’s your wedding we’re talking about, you don’t want to put off or forget any important immigration deadlines. If you do, immigration law might throw a few kinks into your marriage relationship.
With those preliminary matters taken care of, it is now time for the fun stuff. We have created a handy list of to-dos for fiancé visa couples to use each week leading up to your big day.
Week 1: Reserve Your Venues
The Wedding Venue
The very first thing you want to do after you pick a date is to reserve a venue for the marriage ceremony and the reception.
This may be tricky because a lot of popular wedding venues may fill up quickly. However, the more flexible you are about the date and location, the better.
Also, keep in mind that your venue does not have to be a fancy wedding hall. You can reserve a space at a park or rent out a museum for the day. The sky is the limit.
The Reception Venue
The reception can be held at the same location if you choose or somewhere different. Most people have a reception after their wedding to give their guest a chance to eat, dance, and celebrate the union.
The reception does not have to be big and elaborate. Gathering in a friend’s backyard would do.
Now is also a good time to think about how you want to spend your honeymoon. Some couples go out of town or on a cruise while others may just have a romantic night at home.
Week 2: Send Out Your Invitations
After you have reserved your venues and services, the next big important thing on your list of to-dos is to send out your invitations.
If you choose to send out paper invitations, then you want to get them sent out as soon as possible to give people a chance to receive them and RSVP. You may even want to give your guest the option to RSVP by email.
Make sure to send your family, friends, and your immigration attorney, of course, an invitation. When the time comes, you may have to check with people you haven’t heard from in order to have an accurate idea of how many people will be coming.
If your family is still in your home country they may be able to attend your wedding by applying for a B-2 visa.
This visa make take some time to process so you want to let these individuals know the date as soon as possible so they can begin the B-2 application process.
Weeks 3-5: Book Your Vendors
After you have a wedding date and all your venues booked, it is time for you to reserve your other vendors:
It is not required that you hire a caterer for your reception but you will need some type of food to feed your guests. Some wedding receptions require guests to choose whether they want “chicken or fish” on their RSVP while others are buffet style.
If you are not expecting too many people, which may very well be the case, you can ask your family and friends to make dishes for a potluck.
No matter what you choose, you will want to have an idea of how many people you are expecting and food you want served.
If you choose to have a bar at your reception, you want to make sure you have a bartender and liquor. If you can’t find a professional bartender, you can always ask someone who is at least 21 years of age to help serve drinks.
Just make sure you are in compliance with any state alcohol laws.
DJ or Band
Wedding receptions usually have some type of music for the guest to enjoy. Not to mention, the reception is where the bride and groom have their first dance as husband and wife.
You don’t necessarily need to book a band or DJ, you can put together some of your favorite tunes on your iPod or mp3 player and hook it up to some speakers.
There is nothing more important at the reception than the wedding cake. How elaborate the cake is is up to your taste (no pun intended) and your bank account.
You can get a standard sheet cake from a bakery or grocery store or you can get a custom designed cake.
What is a wedding without a bouquet? If you don’t want the full shebang with flowers everywhere, you at least want to make sure your bouquet is special.
This can be as simple as picking up some flowers from a store or having some simple arrangements put together by an actual florist.
Whether you decide to throw your bouquet at reception or keep it for memories is your choice.
Capture the memories of your dream wedding by planning to have a photographer present. This can be anyone from a professional to a cousin that just likes to take pictures. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to have these photos to show your grandkids (and even the USCIS officer at your green card interview).
You are going to need someone to perform your wedding ceremony. People that can legally marry you and your fiancé include a pastor, a judge, an ordained minister, or the justice of the peace.
Week 6: Find Your Wedding Attire
Since you are not working with too much time, it probably won’t be possible for you to order a dress from a fancy bridal shower (because it can take several months).
Picking out your dress can still be fun.
You and a close friend should spend a day visiting formal wear shops like David’s Bridal and trying on dresses. The same day, your fiancé should pick out his tuxedo.
Whatever you do, don’t let your fiancé see you in your dress, its bad luck!
Week 7: Meet With Your Attorney
Before things get too hectic, set some time aside to meet with your immigration attorney to prep your I-485 application for permanent residency.
Even if you do get married in 90 days, you will be in the country illegally if you do not begin your green card paperwork before the deadline.
Week 8: Get Your Marriage License and Blood Tests
The last thing you don’t want to forget is your marriage license. A marriage license is a document that gives you permission to get married. You are required to have a marriage license to get married and in some states, you must wait a few days before getting married.
You can apply for a marriage license at the court closest to where you live in the U.S. Just make sure it won’t expire before your big day.
In addition to a marriage license, a few states require couples to get a blood test before getting married. The blood test is to check for certain diseases and genetic disorders. You should check to see if your state requires a blood test.
Week 9: Contact Guests That Have Not Responded
Some people just do not RSVP and if you want to make sure that you are able to accommodate everyone that shows up to your wedding and reception, you may have to hunt some people down. Contact any guests that have not yet responded to your wedding invitation so that you will know how many people to expect.
Week 10: Confirm Everything
The time is almost near. During the last weeks, you want to make sure everything is in order.
You should spend this week confirming all your wedding services or finalizing your alternative plans. You also want to pick up your wedding attire and the wedding rings.
If you have a nice honeymoon planned right after your reception, now is a good time to pack your bags because you probably won’t have any time to pack on your wedding day.
Week 11-12: Relax and Enjoy Your Last Days Of Freedom
Try not to stress out too much in these last couple of weeks. If everything is in order, you should try to get some friends together (perhaps your bridesmaids) and have some fun.
This can be in addition to your bachelorette party (if you choose to have one) or your actual bachelorette party, the day before your wedding.
Just remember that after your big day, you are stuck with your fiancé “until death do you part,” so enjoy your last days being single.
Once You Are Married
After the wedding (and honeymoon), you should focus all your energy on obtaining your green card. If you followed step 7 above, your immigration attorney should be prepared to send out your green card application.
Just make sure you send him or her a copy of your marriage license as soon as you are married and you should be good.
Once you are over this next hurdle, you and your spouse will be able to live happily in the United States.