I Want To Marry Your Au Pair. Do You Mind?

by cv harquail on November 29, 2016

I love, love, love romantic stories.

Especially when I have some inside scoop.

Though I have no idea who the fellow is who emailed with this question, I’m only posting it on the condition that we get THE REST OF THE STORY and at least a photo of the happy couple.

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But first, Romeo needs our advice.

My girlfriend is currently an au pair. I want to marry her, and I’d like to propose to her soon.

However, I want to be sensitive to her situation as an Au Pair. I don’t want my proposal (and — I hope — our engagement) to have any negative effect on her Host Family. We of course would not get married until her contract is up.

What’s your advice for proposing, in a way that is sensitive to her Host Family situation?
What should I consider, so that I have her Host Family’s support?

Happy Engagement Banner, available from SusysSentiments on Etsy

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna November 30, 2016 at 3:34 pm

this is very nice of you. I had three au pairs who got engaged and married while here.

The first one was about to get engaged at the end of her year with us, and I encouraged her to go to another (easier) family for her extension year when she would be preparing for her wedding because I knew it would affect her, take a lot of her time, and our situation was getting harder (I was expecting a third baby in what would be her second year).

Our second one who got engaged basically dropped us – eloped – 10 days before I was due with another child. She did it in a very sneaky way – told us she wanted a rematch (even though I begged her to wait for after I give birth), then pretended for two weeks to talk with other families, and eloped – got married to her new fiancé – the day after her rematch period was over. She was with us for about three months.

The third au pair who got married was a great girl and we had a good relationship. She extended with us for 6 months, but at the end, after her boyfriend proposed and moved to another state for a job, she was so impatient to marry him (or he pressured her, or she told us it was his idea to avoid blame for her own impatience) that she left us almost a month before her extension was supposed to end. It put us in an expensive and difficult situation – our new au pair wasn’t able to arrive earlier and I had to pay through my nose for full time childcare for four kids when they were already out of school for the summer.

So if you want her host family to feel confident, you have to find a way to reassure them that it will not affect the quality of work of the au pair, that she will still live with them after the engagement and not move out to live with you, and that she will finish her term with them. A good way to do it is to set up a firm wedding date for her “travel month” after her term is up with her host family.

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NJ Mom November 30, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Setting a wedding date at the end of her travel month and keeping the wedding simple would go a long way to show that you’re serious about having the engagement/wedding not negatively impact her work as an AP.

We haven’t experienced this with an AP, so this is general wedding advice. Typically the last month (and especially the last week) of wedding planning is insane so I can see how a HF would not be thrilled at their AP being distracted from duties. Also, a lot of this will be up to your girlfriend. Is she going to do wedding planning and research while on duty? Is she going to be taking wedding related calls while on duty? How is the stress of working and wedding planning going to affect her? When things go wrong (and they certainly will) , how will she handle it? When family/friend drama comes up, how will she handle it? When the two of you are fighting, how will she handle it? These are all typical things that come with planning and executing a wedding.

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TexasHM November 30, 2016 at 4:54 pm

I love, love, love that you are being empathetic to not only your future fiance, but also her host family! That is one lucky AP/fiance!

We had an AP surprise us with an engagement ring in her extension year with 5 months left and my response was literally “who are you marrying?” :/ So the idea of having her suitor approach us first from the perspective of win/win and mutual benefit would have been HUGE. Less stress, more understanding, smoother transition, all goodness!

Ok back to your actual question. :) First as I probably already insinuated I would encourage you to have a conversation with the host family if you can. Ask them to keep it in confidence, explain that you aren’t looking to cause chaos and disruption and didn’t want it to come as a surprise and if there is anything you can potentially do to ease their minds and get their support (not permission – support).

For me personally, if this happened I would thank you so much for reaching out. I would explain how the AP program works, when my APs term is finished and what interviewing with and getting a new AP actually entails so that ideally you would understand that eloping or allowing AP to rush the date would cause major angst/problems and would not be insignificant impact to our family and relationship with the AP. Now, with that being said, I would like to think I would also say that I am happy for you and would understand if her end of term was too long to wait (you don’t mention how long she has or what her/your relationship is like with her host family). I would then say that we would be ok with considering her ending early as long as we came up with a plan together (assuming the agency would work with us but that is less and less likely each year).

If I was being completely candid, I would ask you to wait to propose until the end of her term. Assuming her real family is unlikely to make the ceremony, you were planning on eloping, going to courthouse etc (almost all the AP weddings I have known) I would think that waiting until as close as possible to her end date would lessen the distraction factor for the AP, stress level for the host family and make the “wait” to marry more palatable (for everyone but you! ;). My husband got my family’s ring and permission and Thanksgiving but did not propose until Valentine’s Day. Made my family CRAZY but made complete sense (I had some major work stuff going on with year end and then a rough January). Have you all talked about marriage already? If so, you could just continue the future talk as long as possible and reassure her you are getting ducks in a row until you propose.

Secondary to that would be to do as above poster mentioned and set a firm wedding date for during her travel month (preferably as late in travel month as possible so that she has that month to go to wedding appointments that might interfere with her working for the host family) and just encouraging AP to end her term on a high note and do a good job and that you aren’t going anywhere and that (assuming she has a good relationship with her host family) her host family if she plays her cards right can be her American family/support system and continue the relationship in the future.

Our AP1 (surprise engagement) still lives close, spends at least half her holidays here and we are the godparents to her daughter and she just announced at Thanksgiving she is expecting another!

Congrats again and bravo for being this considerate. Wishing nothing but the best your way!

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DMMom December 1, 2016 at 11:59 am

We have also had a few Au Pairs get married while with us. First and formost, make sure that the family knows that the Au Pair is committed to completing her contract and nothing will change OR is open and honest and willing to work with the family to secure childcare.

It poses a lot of drama and uncertainty to the host family/ Au Pair relationship if the engagement is mid-year. We had one Au Pair that “needed” to marry immediately, like withing 2 weeks!!! She did watch the children, but did not live with us until the next Au Pair arrived. Another Au Pair, stayed and was waiting to get married, but would make demands on the host family, ie. “I will no longer be doing the children’s laundry” with the implication that if the demand was not accepted she would leave and get married. She was asked to leave. And the last Au Pair, her boyfriend asked her the last day of her year with us and they got married 4 days later.

So I am with all of the previous advice. Make sure you communicate openly with the host family. Commit that the Au Pair will continue to work and maintain the same relationship with the family thoughout this year. Set a wedding date for after she has completed her year and congratulations!

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WestMom December 2, 2016 at 1:10 pm

I have not been confronted with this situation, but having gone through a full blown wedding myself, I would worry about the wedding preparation taking a lot of time and energy from the bride to be and potentially affecting the relationship with the host family.

May I suggest a non-traditional approach like the one I took with my own wedding. I am Canadian and my husband is American. First, get married simply at town hall shortly after AP’s term expires to get the immigration requirements out of the way. Doesn’t have to be a huge deal or a big ceremony. It’s still a memorable moment, but it really is to take care of the logistics.

Then, you are free to do all the planning your little hearts desire: pick a date, have a big fat wedding, a religious ceremony if you so desire, guests from abroad, planes, trains, automobiles, hotels rooms, honeymoons, etc. Move in together, go to Ikea, paint, do all the things you will love to do together then, after your fiancée has honored her commitment to her host family.

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WarmStateMomma December 3, 2016 at 10:47 am

Congratulations!!

If you want to minimize the impact on the host family, propose close to the end of her year. The impacts on the host family can be tough if she loses interest in her job or bails early, leaving them in the lurch for childcare, etc. It’s really nice that you’re aware of this and trying to help her maintain a good relationship with the host family. After the wedding, the host family may be the only “family” on the AP’s side that she has in the US or in your area, so they can be a special source of support for her for years to come.

I wish you many years of wedded bliss!

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Taking a Computer Lunch December 5, 2016 at 11:41 pm

First, congratulations – you sound like a thoughtful person and I’m sure both your bride-to-be and her host family are/will be thrilled. However, I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here. Switching visas is not a piece of cake, so when the woman of your dreams says “Yes,” hire an immigration lawyer so that you keep her status above board. While she has the right to work now, she may not have the right to work when she marries, so figure out if your salary is sufficient or what she might be able to do while she waits for her status to change. Check and make sure how many years it might take before marriage to you connotes sufficient status to work. What is she going to do with her “free” time? While you might not care now about keeping her status above board – you both might care in the future.

Do not take our advice about the best timing for your nuptials. We’re host parents – we want the convenience of an au pair finishing out her contracted year without distractions. For us, the last day of the travel month is a perfect time. An immigration lawyer, on the other hand, might give you another date as ideal.

And I agree with the others – if your fiancee is alone in the United States, then her Host Family is going to be her enduring support (she might think it’s her au pair friends now, but they’re going home soon). If she doesn’t have a lot of friends from her country who are legal (or undocumented long-term) residents of the United States, now is the time to form new friendships. She’s going to need more than her HF to see her through for her life with you. If she’s become great friends with people in your network of friends, then wonderful.

Best of luck to a long and happy life together!

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Batmum December 8, 2016 at 9:18 am

Sorry OP, I’m no help. The idea of aupairs getting married is completely alien to me. Here people don’t tend to get married until they are in their late 20s or 30s and marrying someone you have only known for a year or so would be really really unusual.
Maybe its partly because we live in Europe, so its mostly other western European girls that come so if they met someone and fell in love they wouldn’t have to marry them to stay in the country. Or maybe we are just less romantic than our American Cousins!!
I did meet someone wonderful while on my J1 summer in the states long ago – who knows if I had been there for longer I might have done it too. I hadn’t a spark of sense at 21!
Very best of luck to you both

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HRHM December 8, 2016 at 3:03 pm

I think it’s important to note, the second she marries you, she is no longer here on a valid J-1 visa. I agree with the above poster who urged you to speak with an immigration attorney. I’ve known several APs who have gotten married, one during her travel month, and one actually returned to Germany, waited for her fiancée visa while her boyfriend was deployed and then returned to the US 5 months later and got married then. Each situation is different but one thing never changes, you can’t be married and be an Au Pair. (it’s also a violation of their contract)

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ChiHostMom December 27, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Exactly what HRHM said.

Also you need to wait until the year is up with the host family if the AP wants to get their completion certificate. The health insurance also stops working when married, etc.

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Aupair Lauren December 13, 2016 at 3:22 am

Hope you’re ok CV!

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cv harquail December 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Just super overwhelmed. Thanks for missing me ;-)

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