At Brides, we believe it is important to talk about both the wonderful and difficult aspects that come with marriage in the United States. In a new series, we explore the ways in which President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban affects our notions of family. From issues with parents attending weddings to the impact on childbirth, here we’ll talk about real lives being affected by the executive order.
In our first installment covering Trump’s travel ban, we introduced you to Mina Jafari and her fiancé Hesam Mostafavi—because Mostafavi’s mother and brother were refused visas to enter the U.S., the couple has been forced to scrap their wedding plans and relocate the wedding to Iran. Unfortunately, because of her political work, Jafari’s sister will not be able to attend.
Jafari isn’t the only person forced to make devastating choices—the ban affects millions of Americans with family abroad. But as of Monday, July 17, the State Department has modified the ban in order to comply with the ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii who found that the Trump administration's definition of "close family" was too narrow. While most of the extended family has now been brought under the “close family” umbrella, many have already had to adjust or cancel their wedding plans—leaving lots of Americans scrambling and feeling confused about the current status of their relatives abroad, forcing them to either relocate the wedding to one of the countries affected, or hold the wedding in the U.S. without much of their family present. For those who have decided to move the wedding abroad, the planning required is no small feat.
The Practical Issues
Planning a wedding may always be stressful, but planning a wedding on a different continent halfway around the world is especially difficult. “Given that we are thousands of miles away from Iran, we obviously had to give up a lot of control,” Jafari says. “The wedding planning has been done almost entirely over the Telegram app. Hesam's mom and other members of our family sent photos of potential venues and we responded with suggestions and photos of what we liked in return. We know the food will be authentic Iranian, and delicious.”
It’s difficult to imagine not seeing key elements of your wedding until days before, but that’s exactly what has to happen when you’re planning a wedding from abroad. “The rest of the details will be finalized when we arrive in Iran about 10 days before the wedding, which is on August 3rd this summer,” she explains. But though the practical side of planning a wedding abroad may be daunting, the emotional cost of having to move your wedding due to the travel ban is far greater.
The Emotional Side
“Of course, my older sister's absence will be felt by everyone—my family in Iran haven't seen her in over seven years,” Jafari says. “It has been very hard on her, since she was born in Iran, while my younger sister and I were born in the United States.” She emphasizes that her sister played a huge role in raising her and shaping her as a person, so choosing to have a wedding that she will not be able to attend is deeply saddening.
And it’s not just her sister who will not be attending. “I have cousins here in the United States on visas who also can't make it to the wedding in Iran because they are worried about losing their status in the U.S. given all the confusion around the ban,” Jafari adds. While there has been some clarification in recent weeks, the ban has caused so much confusion that many are afraid to travel. So Jafari and others must make a devastating choice to have a wedding knowing that some of their family will not be able to attend. Not only is it disheartening and cruel to feel like the country you live in doesn’t respect your family, you then have to decide which group of family members will be there for your wedding—and which group won’t.
Letting Things Go
One of the side effects of having to move your wedding and plan it abroad: perspective on what really matters. “The details used to seem so important,” Jafari says. “But after going through the experience of the ban, it's clear the most important thing is that our families are together and smiling on that day—we're trying hard to make sure the experience of planning the wedding is as stress-free as possible, given the traumatic experience of the ban that forced us to change our plans.” It’s a small consolation, but there seems to be an increased ability to let the small stuff go.
The ban keeps changing and confusion continues—but already, so much damage has been done.