It took a year after the wedding before the bride and groom could live as husband and wife, and to be a guest at the wedding you had to bring your own camping chair and be prepared to run.
She was from Seattle and he was from Scotland, but not even the unpredictable, wild Atlantic Ocean would prevent them from being together.
Karissa and Alex met in 2012 in a small pub in Scotland while she was a student. They dated for 18 months before they went their separate ways. Three years later Karissa returned to Scotland and by the end of the trip Alex had proposed. Sometimes when you let a wild bird fly free they will return to where they are meant to be.
On May 6th 2016 the couple were married but due to the long drawn out process of visa’s, Karissa didn’t make it to Scotland to be with Alex until June 2017.
The wedding took place on Alki beach in Seattle. Karissa chose this spot, “There is something about salt water that is just so relaxing,” Karissa told me.
They decided on an intimate wedding of just close friends and family. Unsure about the rules of having a wedding on Alki beach, the wedding invitations were handed out requesting that guests bring a camping chair and be prepared to run in the event they were captured and asked to leave.
“We thought we might have to run because we didn’t get a permit to have our wedding on the beach. We found out a few days beforehand that there was a possibility that we should have had one. But I wasn’t too worried,” said the bride.
Karissa’a Aunt Melanie performed the wedding, she was certified to wed couples and this meant the wedding would remain just close family and friends.
Karissa worked at Starbucks at the time (just one of her jobs) and ended up meeting an author, who was also a pastor, who had also written a book on preforming ceremonies, who also gave her a free copy (take a breath). The bride and groom wanted a religious free ceremony and the book offered a whole section on religious free ceremonies. It was a sign.
They had themselves a little beach wedding, with inspiration drawn from travel, vintage and colours of red and blue; uniting the flags of both countries.
There were tourists walking by and a guy with his giant wind surfing kite nearby which you can see in a lot of the photos as he wouldn’t leave.
The bride and groom had a small budget as the majority of their money was needed for Karissa to be able to emigrate to Scotland. An expense far greater than what was predicted. Karissa held down three jobs at the time (what a girl) as every penny counted.
The wedding dress was purchased at a little vintage themed shop in Seattle called Diva Dolls and Alex rented his full kilt, worn the traditional way (cough, cough commando), from a shop in Scotland. Karissa also had a bird cage veil, but due to the high winds she chose not to wear it.
In total there were six bridesmaids and three groomsmen.
Karissa asked the bridesmaids to wear something red and something they felt comfortable in, “Their presence was far more important than their dresses. So I said to find a red dress that they loved and would wear again. The groomsmen were asked to wear blue. It was like a patchwork quilt, all mismatched but worked together to create a beautiful piece.”
The wedding reception took place in an Irish pub downtown in Seattle, as long as everyone ordered a meal the pub gave them the private room hire for free. In total Karissa and Alex spent $850 on their wedding (not including the cost of Alex’s flight).
One of the most expensive costs was the photographer. The couple were adamant they wanted professional photo’s to represent and remember the day. The photographer was Wildgrass Photography based in Bellingham, Washington.
How did they DIY the wedding?
“For the DIY, our invitations were postcards. I wrote out every one. I wanted to include the travel theme plus most of the attendees were from out of town, so what better than receiving an old fashioned postcard?” – Karissa.
The maid of honour brought DIY pinwheels that lined the aisle. They were fourth of July themed but looked fab.
All the bridesmaids stayed at the bride’s apartment for the week as they travelled from out of town. Karissa put together a little goodie bag. She bought canvas bags and personalised each one. Included in the goodie bag was a towel, lotion, a mirror, hair care, and a loofa so they didn’t have to worry about bringing that stuff when travelling.
The bridesmaid’s and the bride went to Pikes Place market for the flowers. They have an amazing selection. Karissa only spent $70 in total! They then took apart the bouquets and each girl made their own.
Karissa dropped in to conversation, “My mum is a professional cake maker so …. Lucky us!” Lucky indeed.
What Went Wrong?
What’s a wedding without mistakes? The bride left the wedding ring at home, I’m sure she isn’t the first to do that, so she had to borrow one on the day… and guess what? It was way too small.
The broach on her wedding dress broke and it had to be clipped back on using hair grips.
The bride forgot to write her vows on paper so hello 21st century, she had to read them from her mobile phone.
How Hard Is It To Get A Visa?
For anyone going through a visa process like Karissa and Alex, you will be able to relate to the next part of the story.
Karissa in her own word said, “We found out a few months before the wedding that Alex had to make a certain wage before we could apply. We got married in May and planned to apply in June. But he had to make the required wage for six months in order for it to count. I also had to wait for my passport to be returned in my new married name.
“Finally in February 2017 we had all the correct documents, money and paid all the relevant fees (approx. $1,300) and the healthcare surcharge fee (£200 per year the visa is valid for, which is 3 years).”
The newly wed couple were told the application would take 12 weeks to process. The decision came through in May 2017 that Karissa could move to Scotland to be with Alex after a whole year apart. “A week later my Visa arrived and I practically tackled the UPS driver when he made my delivery,” Karissa told me (lol).
Upon reading the requirements, they gave Karissa four weeks from the date to get to Scotland or they would receive a fine of £1,000.
Karissa had a car to sell, possessions to dispose of, three jobs to quit, and to say her goodbyes. This didn’t include her attending London to collect her visa.
She did it in two weeks!
Finally, she is now with her husband in Scotland, only holding down two jobs this time :).
Karissa’s parting words to me, “For other international couples, I urge you to read blogs and don’t be afraid to reach out. Alex and I made this work with scraping together pennies, so don’t use money as an excuse for not being together. Love will always win.”