Setting The Date When Your Passports Don’t Match

Chiang Mai, Thailand - motorbikes
Choose your course and choose it wisely.

The burning question: So when’s the big day?

The answer: We have no idea.

Jared and I got engaged three months ago. Since then, a handful of people I know have also gotten engaged. Most of them have already set dates.

We don’t even have a location in mind.

So, of course, people are asking questions. What makes it so difficult to set a venue and a date? Well, I’ll tell you why.


As you’re probably aware if you read the blog, I’m American and Jared’s Australian. That means we’ve got to figure out where we want to live. There are three options:

  • America
  • Australia
  • The World
Big Merino Australia
The Big Merino of Australia...


Launching Pad - Illinois
...or the of America? How will we ever choose?

Doesn’t really narrow things down, does it? The key factor for us is flexibility. We’re happy to be tied to each other, but not to be tied to one country on a permanent basis.

If we choose America, Jared’s got to apply for a Green Card, and that complicates things. Applying for a Green Card is basically saying that you want to be a permanent resident of the US. You intend to make your home there, you pay US taxes, and – here’s the clincher – your trips outside of the US are ‘temporary or brief.’ If we want to live in France for a year, there would be a good chance that we’d return to the US and Jared would have his Green Card revoked.

I understand where the US government is coming from (sort of), but it frightens me. It’s like those hypothetical questions where they ask which would be worse: not being allowed to leave the borders of your home country or not being allowed to return.

The regulations for a partner visa in Australia seem slightly less restricting, but the application is still time consuming. It could take up to a year before my visa is approved. And the catch here is that if I apply from within Australia, I need to be there when the visa’s approved. If I apply from outside of Australia (more likely), I need to be outside when it’s approved. So what would we do for that year?

Which leads us to the next question…

What’s Next?

Our Next Big Thing isn’t the wedding, but our impending trip to South America. This is a year of transition – on August 25th, we’ll finish 2 years in South Korea and follow it with four months of slow travel through South America. We’ve booked an apartment for six weeks in Buenos Aires, where we’ll relax and take Spanish lessons. On October 5th we’ll head to Rosario for the Pumas vs. Wallabies rugby match. After that, our schedule is completely open. My only rule is that we’ve got to be in Indiana by Christmas.

Chinggis Beer Hall - Ulanbator - Mongolia
Compromise is key.

But after that? We really don’t know. And how can you plan a destination wedding if you don’t have a home base? And, more pressing, if you don’t have a job?

Meeting In The Middle

Because it’s going to be a destination wedding for someone, regardless of where we choose to wed. And from what I understand, it’s sort of the done thing is to give your guests some notice before you ask them to fly across the world for your wedding. Especially when you’re asking them to spend $2000 on a plane ticket.


The next sensible thing is to find a spot halfway. Somewhere like…Hawaii. That’s the whole reason we vacationed there in February, because it was roughly equidistant between Australia, Indiana, and South Korea. It seems logical to do the same for our wedding, but I’m not convinced. It sounds awfully complicated to arrange when we don’t really know much about the place, especially on a budget.

In fact, talking about getting married in Hawaii sparked our first wedding-related disagreement. In a blaze of inspiration, I suggested a pineapple-flavored wedding cake (AWESOME) and Jared asked if we really needed a cake.

Asked if we needed a cake.

We’re having a cake. It’s the whole reason I go to weddings. (Uh…except my own…of course.)

Cake face, Bloomington, Indiana
But we're not doing this again. Once was enough.

I digress. The point is, the wedding is going to be costly for everyone involved, so we need steady income before we can make any of these decisions.

So Now What?

One thing is certain, this is going to be a small, casual affair. I always said I only wanted two things for sure:

1. A pretty white dress

2. My dad to walk me down the aisle

Then I realized that wasn’t all:

3. Cake

Oh, and obviously:

4. Jared

It was a given that we both want our closest friends and family there, so that makes five things. (And please note that those things are not listed in order of importance.)

But the biggest thing I want out of this is not a wedding.

It’s a marriage.

Yes, I’m excited about the wedding.  I’m excited about being married to Jared. And sometimes I think, “Screw it, let’s just elope.”

But we’ve got a lifetime, so what’s the rush?

Like everything else we do, we’ll go with the flow. We’ll analyze our options and decide what to do after South America. And once we’ve done that, we’ll turn our attention to the wedding.

Chiang Mai, Thailand - motorbikes
Don't worry. We always reach our destination in the end.

Australia, America, or the world? What would you choose?


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  1. Tough decision….one thing I will say is that pineapple is not an ingredient and should not be put on pizzas, in hamburgers and definitely not in cakes. Just sayin.
    Anyway good luck the planning. Let me know what you decide so I can satisfy the insatiable Australian public who keep asking where and when it will be.
    Hope to talk you guys soon. Out….

    1. Word…. As i explained to Lauren at the time if we have to have a cake pineapple would certainly not be the preferred option!

    2. You two have obviously never had a decent pineapple cake. I’m thinking light and fluffy, with coconut in the icing. BUT I suppose I’m willing to compromise. It’s a good thing cake comes in all kinds of delicious flavors. And Chris, you will be one of the first to know when we decide on the details!

  2. My two good friends are an Aussie-American couple who just left Korea and are trying to figure out the same things! I can’t imagine how difficult it must be. I think you have the right mindset, though. Take it one step at a time and focus on the end result, the marriage. Good luck 🙂

    1. Thanks! That’s so funny that your friends are in the same situation. Hopefully things will be easier once we leave Korea and are on the move again.

    1. Thanks for the advice! You make it sound so simple, which, of course, it should be. I keep reminding myself not to over-complicate things!

  3. Ah dear, it can be complicated. Two friends of mine, Mexican (Catholic) and English (Jewish), got married last year in Geneva. It was important for them to include both faiths in the ceremony, but both Switzerland and France (and the Catholic church) have all sorts of different rules about what is accepted as official and what not, and what order it all needs to be done in… let alone finding a venue!! it was incredibly complex. But they made it happen and it was soooooo special!!!
    Other friends have had the same U.S green card problem. They organised a ceremony years ago, which they consider to be their wedding, but only got officially married a few months ago… As Danny says, maybe that’s an option too 😉
    Take your time, you’ll work it out and it’ll be really special!

    As for the pineapple cake, (Jared, don’t kill me), there’s a really popular cake in France called “Charlotte à l’ananas”, made with those sponge finger biscuits, thick cream cheese and PINEAPPLE!! I think you could find a recipe under “Pineapple Charlotte”. The “charlotte” part comes from the name of the special tin that’s used to make it 🙂 For pictures, google the French name 😉

    1. Yes! Thanks for the pineapple cake support, Sandra! I looked it up and am having a hard time believing Jared wouldn’t eat that if it was put right in front of him.
      Your friends’ situation sounds so much more complicated than ours. Glad they could make it work out. I’m sure we will, too. You & Danny are both right, we can get married first and worry about visas second. Just got to work out a rough plan for what we’ll do after South America and when it’s best to do it!

    1. I know. I must really love this guy to overlook such statements! And yes – at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter where we are. We’ll make it work!

  4. I agree that with you that you should enjoy your South American trip and then think about the details later on. You two obviously love each other and whether you marry next year or 10 years doesn’t seem like a big deal (at least to me) because you want to be together forever anyway! Best of luck!

    1. Thank you! It’s hard to plan beyond South America at this point, especially when we’re still teaching in South Korea! Once we hit SA, it’ll be much easier to plan the next step, including the wedding. (At least that’s what we’re hoping!)

  5. Firstly congratulations! My first time here, so needed to be said.

    I also got engaged a few weeks ago, to someone of different nationality. I’m British and my fiance is Japanese. I know that’s different to you (especially the visa situation), but we’re doing a bit of a strange way of getting out of this mess.

    Firstly we’re going to rush a marriage. Much to the shock of our parents (her Dad doesn’t even know yet, and her Mum doesn’t approve…). By rush I mean asap as my visa in Japan runs out in 6 weeks, and it’s difficult (read: too expensive in flights) to keep coming back on a tourist visa so the hope is to get a spouse visa later on.

    But what about the magic fairytale wedding? Well, it’s likely we’re going to have 2. Like the popular ‘renewing your vow’s couples seem to do these days. We’ll not be renewing them though, just saying them for the first (and second) time in both countries, so both our families can attend a ceremony each (nice hats on the ladies in England, and kimono’s for the ladies in Japan) without travel expenses to them.

    We’ll be spacing this out as and when we can afford it basically. I’ve got study commitments in England I need to finish, and my lady has a full time job in Japan she needs to stick with. So we’ll spend the first half year of marriage in a long distance skype relationship unfortunately. But this does mean we get to be together sooner rather than later as I can come back on a spouse visa rather than look for a job remotely and try to get a company to sponsor me on a work visa.

    All these barriers to love just makes a relationship stronger though. Good luck to you. Hope you work out what is best for you 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, and congratulations to you too. You’ve got a much tougher road than I have, especially with that kind of distance, language, and cultural differences to face! It might seem rushed to everyone else, but as long as you’re doing what’s right for you it’s all good. Good luck to you both and I hope you get both fairytale weddings!

  6. congrats again 🙂

    here are my thoughts. weddings are always complicated because there are so many preconceptions and opinions on how it should be handled. the biggest thing to keep in mind is the marriage – weddings should be fun events to kick it off, but it’s YOUR day, YOUR choice, etc. think about what you and jared really want and who is most important to you to be there, and go from there. maybe everyone meets up in hawaii for a huge celebration. maybe you do a small ceremony with big parties in indiana and australia for those who can’t make a destination wedding. regardless, it will be wonderful and special because it marks the commitment you two share 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Great advice, Gina. Your wedding was beautiful – one of the best I’ve been to & you made it look easy! I’m lucky because no one’s putting any pressure on us, which will make whatever we decide much easier. Every time I wipe my mind of what we ‘should’ do, it seems so simple – that’s what I need to remember.

      1. thanks! i loved our wedding – such an amazingly fun party with so many people who are important in our lives. you can totally recapture that, regardless of how large or small it is. i’m glad that it seems simple when you forget “should” – there is no “should” 🙂

  7. Our stories are so similar! Again, I couldn’t agree more with this post. My fiance’s English, I’m American, but I have family in China, and all our mutual friends are in Singapore. So we have no clue where to hold it that would be fair for everyone — and the wedding really is for them, we could elope tomorrow and be perfectly happy. In the end it’s about the marriage, not the wedding. Good luck with the planning (and choosing a cake)!!

    1. I know – as I read your blog, I keep going, “me too!” I know exactly where you’re coming from with the where to get married thing. Since we got engaged, so many people have done the same, and I think most of them will be married off before we’ve even picked a venue. Eloping sounds more and more appealing. I can’t cop spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a wedding, but I would like some sort of celebration. Jared’s vote is for a backyard barbecue and I’m considering it – as long as there’s a cake.

  8. Hi Lauren! I am Amanda’s friend that she was talking about in her post- I’m American (from Ann Arbor. Michigan!) and my bf’s Australian (he says he’s from Sydney but he was actually born in Wagga Wagga). We are living in Sydney for the time being trying to find jobs, after about 2 years of living in Korea and traveling SE Asia and some parts of America. Not engaged yet, but the reason we haven’t is because of all these dilemmas- once we get engaged our families will bombard us with questions like this.
    First things first: pineapple cake is AMAZING! Maybe your fiance hasn’t tried a good one yet..
    But really, I know how you feel in everything you’re saying here, just like you said about Edna. We’re asking ourselves if we want to settle down in America or Australia or ANYWHERE and we would rather just keep traveling! The thing is, you can’t save money for a wedding or plan it while traveling. But we love each other and WANT to get married. It sucks.
    The “where will you guys live”question will be easier AFTER you get married- well at least for America. It does take a while, with a lot of questioning, but at least it’s permanent residency and he could leave if you guys wanted. Australia you actually have the same visa for a partner or a spouse! We are stuck right now in Australia because we were told the partner visa wouldn’t take that long, but like you said its up to a year, so I’ll just get a work/holiday visa while we’re processing- thats the good thing about Australia, he can WORK, while in America he wouldn’t be able to.
    What we are planning (yea we’re trying to PLAN first, and get engaged LATER) is a wedding in America. Then having another small reception here in Australia for his cousins and friends who can’t make it. At a friend’s wedding in the Dominican Republic (she’s American and he’s Swiss), most of both sides of her family couldn’t go- it wasn’t home turf for either family.
    Anyways, wrote enough! Can’t wait to hear what you guys decide and have fun in South America!!

    1. YES! Another vote for the pineapple cake. That’s exactly what I said, that he hasn’t tried a good one. He has a problem with “fruit in things.” Sigh.
      Your situation is so like ours…it’s just impractical to plan a wedding while traveling, especially when there’s not a location that jumps out at us. I’ve been thinking about the Dominican Republic or something ‘neutral’ like that, but it just seems so random! Before we got engaged, I always thought I’d want to get married in Australia, but now I’m not so sure. My parents are deaf, so I want to get an ASL interpreter…that might be difficult out of the States!
      Agh, so many factors to consider! The Australian de facto/spouse visa is a better option for us because of the work thing. I’ve already used my WHV for Oz, but at least Jared could work and I could (try to) freelance while we waited. In the US, he’d be stuck. We’re still not any closer to a decision, but it’s been good to have the time to sort things out – when it feels right, we’ll know what we want to do!
      Thanks so much for your comment – I love hearing from people who are in similar situations & understand the issues that come with an international relationship!

  9. Wow, these are some really complicated decisions. It never occurs to us “ordinary” people who stay in one country for most of their lives! I’m tending towards the “have two weddings” idea – that might make things easier, and the hardcore wedding afficionados can come to both *g*

    Well, you’re definitely right about the cake. A wedding without a cake is not a wedding. And a marriage without cake is also not good *g* Luckily, my husband and I agree on that. I get to choose the flavors, though, but on most occasions I have to make the cake, too *g*
    xo Anja

    1. Ha ha, we are ordinary, too! Just with some not-so-ordinary decisions to make, I guess. Even after several months, the only progress we’ve made is that there will definitely be a cake. Two weddings is still a possibility, though thinking about it makes my head hurt! Thanks for the comment!

  10. Thanks for sharing your story, it seems to me that sometimes people need to hear the certainty of when the wedding is instead of allowing you to live in the unknown of what your life is. So! Pick where and when works for you two.

    Secondly I applied and got a green card in the US and subsequently traveled to live in other countries and now realize some issues with doing this. You might want to be aware that green card holders (and US citizens) are required to file and pay US taxes with the IRS every year no matter where in the world that they live. No other country (including Australia) requires this. Additionally there is all sorts of new paperwork starting last year for expats for bank accounts, property abroad, foreign companies you start there etc. I understand these may not be on your mind right now and you might want to think twice before getting a green card or applying for US citizenship unless you plan to live in the US long term.

    (PS some countries including I think Australia have double taxation treaties with US so hopefully you would not have to pay extra taxes but you sure would have to do two sets of tax paperwork.)

    1. Thanks for your comment – very insightful! That information about the green card pretty much sums up why we’re really wary to go that route. The IRS business really puts us off, as do the travel restrictions. Have you had any trouble with traveling and retaining your green card? I didn’t know about the new extra paperwork, either, but can’t say it surprises me. On top of that, neither of us would receive any health benefits in the US, so we’re really leaning towards Australia, at least initially.

      No further along on the planning, but it really clicked with me when you said that it’s other people who need that fixed date, not us! How true.

      1. After I got my green card I applied and got US citizenship and did my traveling then so I didn’t run into the travel restrictions on green card holders.

        If you are both traveling for the next few years then I am not sure why either of you need to get a new residency. If you decide you want to settle in one place for a few years then you can always apply in that country then whether it is US, Australia or some other place.

        Have fun in your travels, I am traveling in Peru right now, having been in South America for the past 20 months. I love it here – relaxed pace of life, good food and I get to learn Spanish every day 🙂

        1. That makes sense. I think we’d be a long way off from considering citizenship. We’re not actually sure what we’ll do over the next few years, but the main thing is figuring out a way for both of us to live and work in the same country. Heading to South America on Saturday for four months, followed by a month in the States – things after that are up in the air, whether we’ll return to South America or do something else. The visa applications are kind of a backup plan at the moment, but I think Australia is more likely than the US.

          Glad to hear you’ve been loving South America! I’m so excited to get there.

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