Background: Mr and I are a transatlantic long-distance couple. I live in Scotland; he lives in the USA. We made the decision a long time ago that we would get married in the UK, and that I will eventually move to the USA. The wedding destination was ultimately my decision, and it was an incredibly hard decision to make. It means that the number of guests on his side will be smaller because fewer people can travel across to the UK and it also means that after the wedding we will be apart for longer as my spouse visa is being processed. It was not the cheapest and easiest option, but amongst all the choices, none of which were particularly cheap or easy, it was the one that allowed me to have a wedding in the UK with my family and friends (and especially my grandparents who are in their late 70s) and gain some great experience in my current job (which I feel I was lucky to get during this job market). Mr has been incredibly gracious and understanding, considering that this was not his first choice and it involves two visas instead of one.
Special Marriage Visit Visa: Anyone not from the UK but getting married in the UK needs to get a visa called the Special Visit Visa: Marriage in order to be able to get married (unless they are immigrating to the UK, that's a different visa. This is for visits of less than 6 months). So because Mr is from the USA, he needs this visa for us to be able to get married. He won't be allowed in the country without it and we won't be able to get a marriage licence without it.
Marriage license in Scotland: Anyone getting married in Scotland needs to go through the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). This must be done between 3 months and 15 days of the wedding: No more; no less. It states that anyone not from the UK must get a certificate of no impediment to register their marriage, but in the case of the USA this is not true; they are not available in the USA, and the GROS does not require them from US citizens (I called up and checked, in a mild panic). What they do need instead is a copy of the Special Visit Visa.
Waiting Game #1: Mr has sent off his visa application, so now we start waiting game number one, waiting for this to be processed and returned in enough time to then register the marriage. I've heard from my local MP and from our registrar (and from long extended grapevines) that couples can and do leave this too late, leaving them with a big expensive party and no wedding. We hope that we've time it correctly and that it'll all turn out fine, and the processing times on the UKBA website seem reasonable, but I can't help feeling nervous and very, very twitchy.
International paperwork part two: So the visa is one aspect of paperwork. Mr got the invites I designed (using a 30 day free trial of Adobe Illustrator) printed and I have heard that they are super. He was going to send them out, but instead sent them to me in a big box as most of the guests are in the UK. I want to get these invites sent out as soon as possible, but I'm waiting at the mercy of both our postal services for them, and it's likely they are delayed in customs while they stick a huge tax charge on for me to pay before I can get my mitts on them.
So we've checked a couple more things off the wedding checklist:
1. Visit visa application sent off.
2. Invites printed, guestlist drawn up (with most of our guest's addresses entered in a spreadsheet ready to be filled with RSVP and menu requests).
3. Accommodation and flights booked for Mr and his parents.