Falls Church couple hopes pandemic travel ban will be lifted ahead of long-delayed wedding

Kellee Jacobsen and her fiance, Alex Karkeek.

The pandemic has prevented a couple from Falls Church, Virginia, from walking down the aisle, and now they say they’ll lose $30,000 if the U.S. travel ban on citizens from Britain and other European nations isn’t lifted soon.

“We’re just trying to get married,” Kellee Jacobsen told WTOP.

Jacobsen, 32, works at an IT staffing company. Her fiancé Alex Karkeek, 33, is a British citizen with a green card. He works for a local wealth management firm.

They met in the U.S. when they were in college, went their separate ways and reconnected a few years ago when they both moved separately to the D.C. area. They’ve been engaged for three years and have postponed their wedding twice in the hopes that the travel ban would be lifted by the time the rescheduled wedding would take place, so that Karkeek’s family and friends could attend.

Their vendors worked with them twice, but the couple said the vendors won’t let them postpone again. The couple has already paid $30,000 to the venue, caterer, photographer and the band — “just all the bells and whistles that come with a wedding, unfortunately,” said Karkeek.

And they said they won’t get that money back if they don’t go ahead with their planned Aug. 20 wedding at a winery in Charlottesville, Virginia.

They’ve tried everything they can to get permission for Karkeek’s family to come to the U.S. for the nuptials.

That includes cutting their foreign guest list down to three — Karkeek’s fully-vaccinated parents and brother — hoping that would make it easier to get an exemption from the ban. They’ve written to the president, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and others in the White House asking for a short-term exemption, but haven’t received a reply.

Jacobsen told WTOP she has “written letters to every U.S. government official in the White House that has their hand in this matter.” She also wrote to her representative in the U.S. House and to one of her senators; both said there was nothing they could do.

“It’s just very frustrating,” said Karkeek, who pointed out that American citizens can travel to and from Britain and the rest of Europe, but the U.S doesn’t give the same courtesy to European citizens who want to come to America.

It’s a big “disappointment that our … government has not said anything about the matter or given us any sort of timeline as to when we can expect it to change,” Jacobsen said. “The United States can’t seem to figure out a plan to open the borders, reunite families, refuel the airline industry and open up countless jobs. It is a real disappointment.”

Jacobsen and Karkeek are considering sending Karkeek’’s family to a country that the U.S. allows travelers to enter from, but they said that would be expensive and time-consuming. Now, they’re resigned to losing all of the money they’ve paid for the ceremony, because they said they won’t get married unless Karkeek’s family can be there.

“We both want our immediate family there,” Jacobsen said. “Those are obviously the most important people in our lives, so we do want to make sure that they’re there for the big day.”

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