Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey, but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, "Love Looks Like This." Below, Taylor Kay Phillips tells her story from Harlem, New York.
Felipe and I met in an improv class. On our first date, we shared calamari, talked for three hours, and walked twenty blocks in the December cold where he kissed me on my doorstep. As we lingered outside my apartment, not quite ready to say goodbye, I asked if he was going home to Bogota, Colombia for Christmas. He said he wasn’t for two reasons: One, his family was actually spending Christmas in Paris, and, two, he wasn’t allowed to leave the country until his work visa got approved.
As an immigrant, Felipe’s life and livelihood in the U.S. are subject to rules, exceptions, and bureaucratic nonsense that I as a citizen had never had to contend with. By the time I went home to spend Christmas with my family, he still hadn’t heard back. We texted every day, and he confided his anxieties while I tried my best to support him. I was also privately freaking out. After twenty-three years of not knowing jack about the U.S. immigration system, I was reading everything I could about his chances and what would happen if he did or didn’t get approved for his visa. We had been on *checks notes* two dates.
I got the text on a walk with my family. Approved.
When he got back, I arrived at his apartment with cupcakes and he met me at the door with a kiss and a gift. During the days that followed, we fell easily into dating. The intensity of the immigration experience gave our early relationship a level of intimacy that let us move quickly through the more nerve-wracking parts of new love.
Within two weeks, I’d enrolled in Spanish classes. “I love you” took a month. And by March, we were talking about moving in together. After four months, the company he was working for lost a client. His visa was tied to his employer; losing his job meant losing his legal status. We were right back into the all-consuming fear and uncertainty that we’d just left behind. His company laid off almost 20 percent of its employees. Thankfully, Felipe was not one of them.
It took me a while to realize that these types of situations and fears never go away for immigrants. Everything—from looking for new jobs to planning travel to moving homes—requires an extra layer of consideration. Good news and big moments always come with caveats and paperwork.
Many of our big steps as a couple were taken in love but because of logistics. As a freelancer, I didn’t have access to quality healthcare, so we got a domestic partnership to put me on Felipe’s insurance. Banks make it hard for immigrants to get savings accounts, so we opened one together. We have never tried to make our relationship “fair.” It’s not. So as we began to build a life together, if we had the power to make each other's lives easier by doing a little paperwork, signing our names was a no-brainer.
We have never tried to make our relationship 'fair.' It’s not. So as we began to build a life together, if we had the power to make each other's lives easier by doing a little paperwork, signing our names was a no-brainer.
I don’t remember when we decided to get married, but I know we decided together—joyfully and confidently. The first person we told was our immigration lawyer. Felipe had successfully gotten multiple work visas and renewals, but if we did decide to apply for a marriage green card, we wanted to be sure that we understood the process. It was a good thing we asked because the application is…involved. After filing, we wouldn’t be able to leave the country for at least six months, and we would need to prove to the government that we were in a real marriage. It would also cost up to $7,000.
We told our parents the news and everything that getting a green card would entail, should we decide to apply. Then we went ring shopping. Even though we talked through everything together, and I was perfectly happy to slap a ring on my finger and go on with our lives, Felipe still wanted to propose. So we picked a ring, and he started making a secret plan.
Then, I got cancer. Seriously. The month after we picked the ring, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and thyroid cancer. We went right back into love and logistics mode. Felipe took over scheduling my doctor’s appointments, filling my prescriptions, and planning for my recovery. People did start asking “do you guys have a date yet” but they were talking about surgery to remove my thyroid. Which I scheduled, unintentionally, on the day Felipe planned to propose.
He obviously didn’t propose that day, but he did use it as an opportunity to officially “ask” my family who had come up to NYC for the surgery. They gave the okay, the surgery was successful, and about a month later, on the balcony of the Met, he pulled out the ring and asked if I would like to get married. I said, “yes, please.”
Even before COVID-19, we knew our first wedding would be at city hall. The green card application process demands that we document and send the entire history of our relationship to the government (along with a lot of hefty fees) while also requiring us to stay in the country until Felipe gets a document that allows him to travel (which is not the green card) and one that allows him to work once his current Visa expires (also not the green card). So we wanted to get the process started as soon as possible. Also, Felipe’s current job only gives health insurance to spouses, and even though my cancer is gone, life without a thyroid requires consistent medication and frequent appointments.
Though we certainly didn’t take our wedding day lightly, our relationship has forced us to appreciate and revel in the romance of semantics. We had planned to go to the New York Clerk’s Office in April of 2020, but like the rest of New York, they were closed. When ProjectCupid finally let us apply for a marriage license online, we got carry-out from the restaurant where we’d split calamari three-and-a-half years before, and Facetimed our parents from our shared Harlem apartment.
Though we certainly didn’t take our wedding day lightly, our relationship has forced us to appreciate and revel in the romance of semantics.
We got married on June 27, 2020, in Central Park with Felipe’s two cousins as our witnesses, our dear friend Mike performing the bilingual ceremony, our dear friend Kelly providing me with some much needed "girl love," and our incredible photographer Natalia safely capturing the most bittersweet day of our lives. Our families and friends joined via Twitch livestream and watched us read two poems and exchange our self-written vows before finally signing our marriage license and legally joining our lives together in a way that would make them both actively better.
It doesn’t sound romantic to say we got married when and how we did for logistical reasons. And spending such an objectively momentous day without most of our family was certainly not what we wanted or envisioned. But for us, getting married was not the “beginning of our lives together” but the confirmation of the commitment we already made and continue to make every single day.
We’ve been stuck in the United States since we filed our green card application at the end of September (our marriage certificate got lost in the mail, and we had to request a copy). And while COVID would have kept us from traveling anyway, it’s frustrating and isolating to be actively prevented from seeing Felipe’s family for the foreseeable future. We spend a lot of time reminding ourselves to count our blessings. We are healthy. We are together. And we have pretty decent WiFi for all the family Zooms. We’re also taking comfort in the fact that this is the real last time that immigration logistics will be such prominent, uncertain roadblocks.
We’ve been through five job changes, four visas, three apartments, two cancers, and a global pandemic all with mutual love, respect, hope, support, and honesty.
In earlier days, marriage was a promise made looking toward the future. The first step on the way to a shared life. But we already share a home and a bank account. I speak decent Spanish, and he has a favorite barbecue place in my hometown. Our moms are friends and our friends include us both on emails and group chats. We’ve been through five job changes, four visas, three apartments, two cancers, and a global pandemic all with mutual love, respect, hope, support, and honesty. So if all it takes is a few more forms for us to continue, preserve, and grow the life we’re building together—just show us where to sign.