Us Girls, We Don’t Ask For Much This Wedding Season

us girls

by Elizabeth Jaikaran

Sometimes, as we plummet into the abyss of the Internet without any expectation of striking gold, we come across a post that speaks so deeply and truly to our hearts.

This happened to me last week when I saw my dear friend Kulsoom Ijaz had laid her heart on the social media table in terms of all the things she loves and dreads about the upcoming wedding season. It was a testament to the portions of a culture she loves and the portions she loathes. The customs she adores, and the ones that offend. In a single post, she voiced what so many of her cultural kin have been thinking and struggling with for years.

cultural weddings

Kulsoom Ijaz, 26, South Asian. Belongs to the Pakistani diaspora. She is a Muslim. Woman. Survivor. Lefty. Leftist. Housing rights attorney. Loves sweets and spicy food, and nothing in between. She’s also a Gemini. Born in Canada. Bred in Dubai and the United States. Currently, she lives in NYC and plans on never leaving. Freedom and Justice for Palestine for her is non-negotiable. She once had a dream that Arundhati Roy & Angela Davis were her parents and woke up feeling thoroughly disappointed.

Now, in the spirit of concurrent joy and sadness, we’ve assembled the voices of women from various cultures to engage in this same method of self-reflection through the lens of the impending wedding season.

Elizabeth Jaikaran- Us West Indian Girls*…

* Told from a largely Indo-Carib perspective.

Us West Indian girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to begrudgingly join the assembly line with our cousins and siblings, placing assorted sweets in brown paper bags for guests, only to find that an hour later we’re sprinkling tears of laughter over the mithai. Our hearts throbbing as we look at one another, wondering who will be the next to get married, bringing us all back to the sweets table next year. We don’t want to hear that we should only eat half of a dessert lest our hips become too wide, rendering us undesirable. We don’t want to feel uncomfortable as you implore that we have “too much” thighs but “not enough” butt. We don’t want random Aunties and Uncles ruining our bonding with their body-shaming bullshit kind of wedding.

Us West Indian girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want the wedding where we blush as you tell us we look beautiful, “just like yuh mommy,” and ask us where we bought our sarees, lenghas or evening gowns. Smiling with all of our teeth as we explain that we bought them on sale, boasting about the many dollars saved. We want our backs to stand straighter as we harness an aura of royalty built upon heritage and self-love in our super fly threads. Not the, “Oh, you’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl” regressive, complexion-obsessed, straight up racist kind of wedding.

Us West Indian girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want the wedding where we sit together and giggle affectionately as the girl on stage sings bhajans and qawaalis in a scratchy, but soothing, voice. All while we joke that the boy playing the harmonium is clearly in love with her. Eating curries and fritters from sectional plates with hands crusted in dhal. We don’t want to be hounded with probing questions about career and marriage and babies—the conversations where no answer is ever good enough. Not the “You earn too little” or “How will you ever have a family if you work so much?” kind of wedding.

Us West Indian girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to walk into wedding houses that are adorned with bright red, yellow, and marigold flowers, in our short summer dresses and our cotton salwars.  We want to tease the bride or groom as the elder aunties dab them with chunky yellow dye while joking about how they used to change their pampers. Winking at the glowing bride when we notice the onyx stain of her henna. We want to dance together with abandon to the rhythm of ceremonious drums. We want to howl with laughter between cheers as our aunties and grannies shake and roll their hips when the drums start beating. We don’t want to feel our skin crawl as older men, family friends or some other, stare at us, as though we didn’t once call him Uncle. Destroying our mirth to make way for their perverse male gaze.

Us West Indian girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to dance and drink and court whomever we want. We want to smirk sexily at a certain guy or girl across the room. We want to dance with them, first to a respectable arms-length distance Bollywood tune, then later to an intimate, put-your-hands-on-my-waist kind of Reggae track. We don’t want to restrain our sexual agency in order to avoid being branded as “loose girls” bringing tragic shame to our families, or “too wild” in the eyes of the same men who drink and smoke and date multiple women at once. Impinging on our self-confidence and autonomy as sexual beings because of your antiquated belief in feminine conservatism. We don’t want that stinging, miserable, slut-shaming kind of wedding.

Us West Indian girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to strip ourselves of the weight of the world as we indulge in the company of one another. We want to hold hands with our mothers and aunts during the ceremony while they whisper too loudly in our ears, “When you time fah married, we go get you a dress like that.” We don’t want to watch our mothers do all the cooking and cleaning while our fathers sip rum and wait for us to serve them dinner kind of wedding. That patriarchal piety horse shit kind of wedding.

Us West Indian girls, we really don’t ask for much this wedding season.

Ijeoma Eke- Us Igbo Girls…

Us Igbo girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to happily listen to words we don’t understand as one of the elders blesses the Kola Nut in the ceremonial welcoming, in words that sound so familiar yet so foreign because we never learned the language of our parents. We want to constantly ask our mothers, or anyone sitting next to us, to translate because we know the Kola Nut doesn’t understand English so the ceremony has to be done in Igbo. We don’t want to fight the laughter with words of “what happened?” and then force a begrudging smile because the blessing of the wedding included a prayer pleading for the bride to have “many children.”

Us Igbo girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to watch in envy as the bride makes her entrance, face painted with perfection. We want to smile as she is given a glass of wine and instructed to find her groom in a room packed with laughter and happiness. We want to laugh as our uncles jokingly reach at the bride as she makes her way through the room. We want to swoon when she finally finds her groom, kneels in front of him, and takes a sip of her wine. We want to bellow in a deep “awww” as the bride hands the wine to the groom and he finishes the glass. We want to clap as she brings her groom to her parents so that the couple can kneel before them and have them bless their union. We don’t want our non-related aunties or uncles to ask us to go get them a drink when they are capable of doing it themselves. We don’t want them to give us a dirty look because they still look at us as children, and they think children shouldn’t be sitting when there are things that can be done. Never doing enough. We don’t want them to ask us to serve them throughout the night out of some elder piety, even though they hired help for the wedding.

Us Igbo girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to have meaningful conversations. We want to talk to our uncles and aunties about our travels, passions, and hobbies. We don’t want all conversations to end abruptly and coldly when they ask, “How is school?” and we provide the obligatory, “It’s good.

Us Igbo girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want the wedding where our shoes are hidden under our table, covering our purses while we dance; where we are constantly fanning ourselves with a plastic plate or using napkins to wipe the sweat formed by rhythmic gyrations. We want to spend the entire night dancing to the voice of Sonny Bobo, and Awilo, or P-Square and even Yemi Alade when the DJ wants to prove that he is still young. We want to be showered in dollar bills and hear our uncles and aunties whisper in our parents’ ears with such happiness in their voice, “Where did she learn to dance like that?” We don’t want the wedding where we are dodging our “uncles” because they just need to tell us, “You know, I have a son.” Translation: “Because you are an attractive woman, you must be interested in marriage. Why not my son?”

Us Igbo girls, we really don’t ask for much this wedding season.

Ijeoma Eke is a 24-year-old unconventional law student. When she is not in class, you can find her traveling, performing spoken word poetry at different open mic nights in New York City, playing basketball in the gym or with New York University School of Law Dean’s Cup team, on stage at a pageant, or singing her heart out at karaoke.

Esther Bernstein- Us Jewish Girls…

Us Jewish girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to feel our hearts swell with joy when the kallah walks down the aisle to her chosson waiting under the chupah. We want to huddle together over the prayer cards and think about the wonderful years ahead. We want to see the tears dripping onto the plastic-covered card and to feel the charge of emotion between all of us, emotion about this new love and enormous potential. We don’t want to look up and see tear-stained faces looking over in our direction and feel our hearts ache with the pain of knowing others are praying for us and all the ways we’ve disappointed them in our enormous potential kind of wedding.

Us Jewish girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to gush over dress choices and hairstyles and makeup and jewelry. We want the regal atmosphere, the sensation of feeling beautiful and elegant. We don’t want “you got so thin, you look so good; your friend got so thin, is she anorexic,” wonder what crap you’re talking about our bodies behind our backs kind of wedding. Not the scrutinizing of necklines and hemlines, the reminders to think about how we appear to others, “you never know when a shadchan or your future mother-in-law will be looking at you, remember you’re on the market” selling us off to eagle-eyed mothers of eligible boys kind of wedding.

Us Jewish girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to delight in stories of each other’s babies’ first words, first steps, first teeth. We want to commiserate in each other’s babies’ sleepless nights, ear infections, diaper fiascos and toilet-training melodramas. We want the so happy right now, we just want to share more stories of happiness kind of wedding. Not the “shh, she’s coming over,” stop the conversation when a single girl or a childless married woman approaches, not the watching her face crease in pain when she realizes the awkward silence is because of her presence kind of wedding.

Us Jewish girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to lift the kallah precariously on a table as she holds the white umbrella while the men lift the chosson. We want to tease her when her face lights up as the tables both rise above the mechitza and she and her chosson are suddenly blind and deaf to everyone else, eyes locked across the expanse between the men’s and women’s sections. We want to crowd around the mechitza when they take the kallah into the men’s section for keitzad merakdim, we want to watch the crazy antics of the juggling, unicycling, fire-breathing guys. We want to laugh uproariously at the inevitable failure of an attempt to dance the kazatzka. We want to wipe away tears as the 90-year old zaida shuffles his feet in fulfillment of the mitzvah to dance for the kallah. We don’t want to hear “you shouldn’t spend so much time talking to your husband at the mechitza, can’t you even spend a few hours separate from him,” implications of sexual voraciousness and sexual impropriety with our own husbands kind of wedding.

Us Jewish girls, we don’t ask for much this wedding season.

We want to exhaust ourselves dressing up for night after night of sheva brachos dinners. We want to hear the speeches from friends, siblings, parents, lovingly teasing the newlyweds and wishing them all kinds of happiness together. We don’t want the wishes filled with subtle digs cloaked as compliments about the women who stayed home and took care of their children. Not the inspirational stories of men who sacrificed everything financially for their Torah studies amid a speech about the chosson’s thriving business. Not the praise for Jewish values that doesn’t even really try to hide the condemnation for those who don’t make the cut kind of wedding.

Us Jewish girls, we really don’t ask for much this wedding season.

Esther Bernstein grew up in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn. She studies medieval literature in the CUNY Graduate Center’s English PhD program, with a focus on representations of childhood, and she teaches at Lehman College.

Elizabeth JaikaranElizabeth Jaikaran is a freelance writer based in New York. She graduated from The City College of New York with her B.A. in 2012, and from New York University School of Law in 2016. She is interested in theories of gender politics and enjoys exploring the intersection of international law and social consciousness. When she’s not writing, she enjoys celebrating all of life’s small joys with her friends and binge watching juicy serial dramas with her husband. Her first book, “Trauma” will be published by Shanti Arts in 2017.


By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

Bold Helmets: Tina Singh’s Innovation is a Multi-Sport Solution

Image source: Tina Singh

Tina Singh, formerly known as Mombossof3 online, understands how to make her presence known in the parenting space. Seven years ago, she set out to create and share content related to motherhood, and there’s been no looking back since. Singh has mastered the idea of evolving with the times and the needs of her audience while staying true to her number one role in life — mom!

As she navigated her personal and professional life through the lens of a parent, she came across a void that just wasn’t being filled. So, in typical Singh style, this mom of three put her entrepreneurial hat on and got down to creating a solution for Sikh kids who struggled to find a helmet that fits over their patkas (a small cloth head covering).

The problem was personal — all three of Singh’s sons wear patkas and just couldn’t find the right helmet for their safety — and so the solution had to be homegrown. Enter, the Bold Helmets.

Singh gave Brown Girl Magazine an exclusive interview in which she talked about the Bold Helmets, the change in her journey since she’s become a public figure, and what it was like to innovate her very first product!

Here’s how it went:

Let’s start from the beginning. How did this idea come to mind?

This idea has been in my head for many, many years — over five years. I had issues with my kids and having helmets fit them after they turned age four or five.

I worked as an Occupational Therapist, in the head injury space, so I was always the one saying, ‘Okay kids, you’re gonna have to tie your hair in the back, do braids, or something in order to put on a helmet properly because I’m not gonna let you go down these bike ramps without a helmet!’ That’s just not okay for me.

So I talked to my husband and said, ‘there’s gotta be another way this works.’ So we did all the things that parents in situations like these do — they hollow out the helmets, some people go as far as cutting holes at the top of the helmet — you do what works. But I had in my mind an idea of what I think the helmet should look like based on what a patka looks like, and what my kids look like. I then found an engineer to draw it out for me to bring [my idea] to a place where I can actually take it somewhere and say, ‘Okay, how do I make this?’

But, yes, it started mainly with my kids and facing that struggle myself.

You mention that this idea had been brewing in your mind for over five years. How long did it take you to actually bring it to life?

To this point, it’s been about two and a half to three years. I let it sit in my mind for a while. Winters come here in Canada and then we forget about it again until we have to go skiing, and then there’s another problem, right?! I did let it lay dormant for a bit for sure, but once I made the commitment to do it, I made up my mind to see it all the way through.

You recently pivoted and changed the name of the product to the Bold Helmets. Can you talk me through how you came up with the new name?

Bold Helmets became the name because they’re designed to be bold, to be different and who you are. I also think that the way the helmet is made, even though it’s made with Sikh kids in mind, there are other applications to it. I do think that taking the Bold Helmets approach embodies its [the product’s] uniqueness and really focuses on being bold and who you are.

And the Bold Helmet is multi-sport, correct?

This helmet is certified for bicycles, kick scooters, skateboards, and inline skating. It is not a ski helmet. So every helmet you use for a different sport has a different safety certification or testing that it has to go through. So, this helmet is called ‘multi-sport’ because it covers those four sports but I wouldn’t take this helmet and use it for skiing. I’d have to make sure that this helmet, or a helmet like this, gets certified for various other standards for other sports.

Makes sense! I want to change the course of the conversation here a bit and talk more about how you pivoted from Mombossof3 to innovating your very first product. How was that experience?

So what I did throughout this journey was that I went from marketing myself as ‘mombossof3’ to ‘Tina Singh’ because I was sharing more of my life’s journey as my kids were getting older and in an effort to respect my children’s space as well, and letting them decide how much — or how little — they want to be involved with what I was doing online. And part of that was about the journey of what I was doing next, and the transition came naturally to me.

I think right now, truthfully, I’m struggling in the space where I kind of have a shift in audience and so my usual, everyday self that I share on social seems like it doesn’t work. I feel like I need to find a new balance; I will always be true to who I am, and I will never present myself as something that I’m not. But, just finding a space for me to continue creating content while also taking on this new endeavor with Bold Helmets, is important right now.

Aside from this struggle of finding that new balance, what is that one challenge that really sticks out to you from this journey?

I think my biggest challenge being an entrepreneur is finding that balance between my responsibilities as a parent, which is my number one role in my life and there’s no one that can take that role for me — my husband and I are the only parents — and passions outside of that.

Do you think it helped that you were creating a helmet for Sikh children so it allowed you to pursue your passion but also work with your kids in some capacity since they inspired the whole idea?

I never thought of it that way, but yes actually, it did! So all my entrepreneurial projects have involved my kids. Even now they were involved in picking the colors, all the sample tests we did they tried the helmets on! They’re probably sick of it since they’re constantly trying on helmets, but I get their opinion on them. Even as we pivoted with the name, we involved them and got their feedback on it also. So, they were involved in very large parts of this project.

And my husband is also a huge part of this project. He’s been heavily involved in this process, too!

You have a huge online presence, and I know that you’re probably not new to trolling and bullying that comes with being on social media. More recently, Bold Helmets was subject to a lot of backlashes. Is there something that you took away from this recent experience? Was it different this time around?

The extent to which things got was different this time around and that’s not something I have faced in the past. But I have been in the online space for about seven years now, and I’m accustomed to it. I think what I learned this time around is that sometimes silence and reflection is the best thing you can do. Sometimes reflecting and not being defensive on feedback that you get — and this may be something that comes with age as well as experience — is best.

But, I’m happy with the pivots we made, the feedback we’ve gotten, and the way we’re moving forward.

You mentioned that this isn’t your first entrepreneurial venture. But each experience teaches you something different. What did you learn while working on Bold Helmets?

I learned to be okay with taking things slow. I’ve never been that person; I’ve always jumped the gun on lots of things. It’s understanding that it’s ok to slow down and recognize that things have to just run their course.

And while the interview wraps up there, there is more to come with Singh on her journey! Catch Lifestyle Editor Sandeep on Instagram LIVE this Saturday, January 28, at 10 a.m. EST, as she has a more in-depth conversation with Singh on Bold Helmets and more!

In the meantime, Bold Helmets are available for pre-order now, and as a small token of appreciation, Canadian pre-orders will get $10 off their purchase until the end of January 2023!

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

‘About the Author’ – A Short Story

In celebration of Kirthana Ramisetthi’s second novel “Advika and the Hollywood Wives,” BGM literary editor Nimarta Narang is publishing this short story by the acclaimed author. This piece chronicles the evolution of a writer’s life through their ever-changing author’s bio. In the details, from the change in last name to the new address, we observe how Gigi grows into Genevieve and the life events that make her into the writer she becomes. 

“My Picnic,” published in the Oakwood Elementary Storytime Scrapbook

Gigi Maguire loves strawberries, “Smurfs,” and being a first grader. Her favorite word is ‘hooray.’ This is her first short story. 

“Sunshine Day,” published in Oakwood Elementary KidTale

Gigi Maguire is a fifth grader in Ms. Troll’s class. She loves writing stories more than anything in the whole world, except for peanut butter. 

“What Rhymes with Witch?,” published in

Gigi Maguire is a high school junior living in the Bay Area. Her favorite writers are Sylvia Plath and J.K. Rowling. If she can’t attend Hogwarts, she’ll settle for Sarah Lawrence or NYU.

“On Her 21st Birthday,” published in LitEnds

Gigi Laurene Maguire is a writer and recent graduate from Sarah Lawrence College. Her favorite writers are Sylvia Plath, Alice Munro, and Mahatma Gandhi. She is making her big move to New York City in the fall.

“Valentine’s Day in a Can,” published in Writerly

Gigi Laurene Maguire is a freelance writer who loves the written word, Ireland in springtime, and “La Vie En Rose.” She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

“Unspoken Ballads of Literal Heartbreak,” published in Weau Dunque Review

Gigi Laurene Maguire is an assistant editor at Her work has appeared in Writerly and is forthcoming in Pancake House and Schooner’s Weekly. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. 

“The Mistress of Self-Loathing,” published in Story Day 

Gigi L. Maguire is the editor-in-chief of Small Business Weekly. Her work has appeared Writerly, Story Day, Pancake House, and Schooner’s Weekly. She’s currently working on a novel about witches. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her tabby cat Sabrina. 

“The Distance in Your Eyes,” published in The Canton Review

Gigi L. Maguire is a freelance writer and digital marketing specialist. Her work has appeared in Writerly, Story Day, and is forthcoming in Idaho Centennial. She’s working on a novel and a short story collection. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

“Auspicious,” published in BookWorks 

Genevieve L. Maguire’s work appears or will appear in The Canton Review, Mark’s End, Bishop Quarterly, and Idaho Centennial. A second runner-up for the Imelda Granteaux Award for Fiction, she is writing a novel and a memoir. Genevieve lives in Brooklyn. 

“Meditate, Mediate,” published in Ripcord

Genevieve L. Maguire’s fiction appears or will appear in BookWorks, The Canton Review, Berkeley Standard, and elsewhere. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she is an MFA candidate at New York University. She lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend and their two cats.

“Chaat & Chew,” published in The Carnegie Review

Genevieve L. Maguire’s fiction appears in Ploughshares, Ripcord, The Cambridge Review, and elsewhere. She received her master’s in creative writing from New York University. Her short story “Meditate, Mediate” has been optioned by Academy Award nominee Janet De La Mer’s production company, Femme! Productions. She lives in Brooklyn with her fiancé, their three cats, and a non-singing canary.

“Urdhva Hastasana Under a Banyan Tree” published in The Paris Review

Genevieve Maguire-Mehta’s fiction has been hailed as “breathtakingly lyrical” by Margaret Atwood. She is the recipient of the Whiting Prize for Short Fiction and an Ivy Fellow. Her fiction has appeared in The Carnegie Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband Manoj in Park Slope, Brooklyn. 

“Reaching New (Jackson) Heights,” performed by Lana Del Rey on NPR’s “Shorts” series

Genevieve Maguire-Mehta’s fiction has been hailed as “effervescent” by Alice Munro and “breathtakingly lyrical” by Margaret Atwood. She is the recipient of the Whiting Prize for Short Fiction and an Ivy Fellow. Her work appears or has appeared in The Paris Review, Elle, The Carnegie Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband in Park Slope, Brooklyn with their feisty menagerie of animals.

“The Bhagavad Gina,” published in The New Yorker

Genevieve Maguire-Mehta is the recipient of the Whiting Prize of Short Fiction and is a McClennen Arts Colony scholar. Her work appears or has appeared in The Paris Review, Elle, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a novel. She lives with her husband and daughter in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“When Two Becomes None,” published in American Quarterly 

Genevieve Maguire’s writing has received dozens of accolades, most recently the Luciana Vowel Prize for Female Fiction. Praised by Alice Munro as “effervescent,” her work has appeared in more than twenty publications, including The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. She lives with her daughter Priyanka in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path,” published by Capricorn Rising Press

Genevieve Maguire is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in more than thirty publications, including The New Yorker and The Paris Review. She lives with her daughter in a 100-year-old farmhouse in Woodstock, New York. “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path” is her first novel. Visit her website at

“Hairy Arms and Coconut Oil,” published in MotherReader

Genevieve Maguire Dunblatt is a novelist, homeopath, and part-time yoga instructor. She has seen her critically-acclaimed short stories published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband Benji and daughter Priyanka in Jacksonville, Florida.  

“Priya Pinker’s Mother Gets a Life,” published by Capricorn Rising Press

Genevieve M. Dunblatt is the author of two novels, including “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path.” An aura reader, faith healer, and yoga instructor, she has seen her critically-acclaimed short stories published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit to learn more about her writing, and for her wellness services. 

“Comma, Coma,” published in Read-A-Day Journal

Genevieve Maguire is the author of “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path” and “Priya Pinker’s Mother Gets a Life.” She has seen her critically-acclaimed short stories published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Alice Munro has called her writing “effervescent.” She lives in Jacksonville, Florida.  

“Next Stop New York,” published in The Lunar Reader

Genevieve Maguire is the author of “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path” and “Priya Pinker’s Mother Gets a Life.” She lives in New Jersey.  

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By Kirthana Ramisetti

Kirthana Ramisetti is the author of Dava Shastri’s Last Day, a Good Morning America Book Club selection which is in … Read more ›

The Family Immigration Process That’s Meant to Reunite, Keeps us Apart

These days, the phrase, “love knows no bounds” doesn’t seem to hold true. For many couples, specifically, those in long-distance relationships, the lengthy and complicated immigration process can keep lovers apart for six to 24 months. Well, aside from the thousands and thousands of miles of the deep ocean in between. I’ve been there; I have been an immigration attorney for 10 years and I found love abroad (my wife was living in the UK when we met).

I was flying across the Atlantic every few months so, as you can imagine, dating was quite expensive (though she quite liked the fact that for our first intentional visit, I paid several thousand pounds for a global migration conference as an excuse for flying over).

Marriage immigration is complex and costly. The eligibility and procedural requirements are confusing and require multiple long and complicated application forms over the course of six to eight years: from fiancé(e) or spouse visa through adjustment of status process, the Removal of Conditions Application, and thereafter applying for U.S. citizenship.

To put it in perspective, many immigration applications end up being 200-300 pages long. For you to know exactly what you need can be either extremely expensive — using an attorney, who typically charges $2,000-$12,000 per application (not including government-filing fees) — or time-consuming learning how to DIY. If you opt for the latter, it is quite scary to have to figure out the requirements and procedures and follow up with case status checks in hopes of finally getting some peace of mind that your case is progressing as it should. 

[Read Related: Tug of war: Brown Women and the Feat of Marriage]

The worst part? The grueling wait. Waiting while not knowing how long until you can bring love home; waiting to start a family — the next chapter of your life. You keep hearing people say, “life is short!” and you thought that you finally found a partner you want to spend it with. Unfortunately, life (bureaucratic procedures) get in the way. 

The combination of distance and long immigration processing times puts our next chapter ‘on pause’ while we do everything we can to bridge the gap — the gap that effectively challenges our ability to build a ‘real’ relationship. Or did it? Is there a test for this kind of thing? I mean, apparently, the U.S. Immigration Service (USCIS) seems to know what a “real” relationship is and tests ours against some “standard” to determine if it is genuine enough to grant a fiancé(e) visa or spousal green card. What makes a strong Fiancé(e) or Spouse visa application? I’ve experienced love; I am human. What do they want from me to bring my partner home?

I have been a U.S. immigration lawyer for over 10 years and I myself found love abroad and firsthand had to go through the process of bringing my spouse home to the United States. My wife is an NRI who grew up in the Philippines and lived in London where we met (more on how our meddlesome Indian families instigated our “meet-cute” in a future article). Having recently gone through this journey, and having helped hundreds of immigrant couples over the years, it became obvious that there had to be a better way. It should not be expensive, unaffordable, or overly complicated for you to bring your loved one home to become a family. 

[Read Related: How to Follow Your Heart, Even When it’s Hard]

When we were apart, we did everything from waking each other up in the middle of our respective nights, with the time difference, to one partner falling asleep with the other on the phone. We watched movies together on Netflix. We made travel plans and talked about what the future would look like. We craved each other and expressed our love daily, maybe even hourly.

The future can be uncertain for any couple, but perhaps even more so for those in a long-distance relationship. When one partner is waiting for a spousal visa or fiancé visa, there can be a lot of anxiety and stress about the process and wait times. Even one mistake can set the whole process back months or even years and, if you are not familiar with the process, there’s always the overhanging uncertainty of whether or not the visa will be approved altogether. 

In today’s globalized world where borders are becoming less relevant than ever before, largely thanks to technological advances which allow individuals across countries via Facetime, WhatsApp, and Skype chats without having left home, there is more of a need for a streamlined immigration tech platform that helps “modern” couples who are dating long-distance with the help of technology.

The number one reason Fiancé(e) visa or Spouse visa applications are denied is lack of documentation evidencing your relationship/intent to marry. This article shows what evidence you can provide USCIS to prove you have a genuine relationship and thereby strengthen your visa application. is an immigration attorney-designed platform that provides free tools and features to help couples going through the U.S. K-1 or marriage visa process plan, manage, and track their immigration journey. Many couples going through the K-1 fiancé visa process, or CR-1/IR-1 spouse visa process, have found its relationship timeline tool, which is as easy to use as Instagram, helpful in building their application. The best part: it’s free to use. The platform was built so you can focus on what is truly important, your relationship!

The long, unreasonable immigration processing/wait times are definitely another topic for discussion and, as time goes on, I will continue to share and elaborate on my and my wife’s joint and individual journeys through marriage, immigration, and closing the gap from our long-distance relationship. In the meantime, I hope the information provided will bring value to you and your journey.

By Kunal Tewani

Kunal Tewani is a US immigration lawyer who grew up in New York with his extended family under one roof. … Read more ›