Woman carries on with wedding celebration alone after groom was stranded abroad

Every bride’s wedding day is important, and the event is usually planned in meticulous detail so nothing is missed.

But Hazel Taylor’s wedding was missing one essential detail: the groom.

Hazel, 38, was forced to celebrate the marriage without her new husband Kareem Kowaitly because of Home Office backlogs.

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She put on a brave face and drowned her sorrows on the day with pints and shots of tequila, managing to 'only cry twice’.

Hazel and Kareem actually wed in April, but had been planning a big family celebration, with guests from all over Europe and Hazel’s dad flying all the way from Australia.

The couple met when Hazel travelled to Abu Dhabi to work in 2019.

She said: "I went as a nurse, because a nurse's salary isn't great in the UK.

"I love the NHS but it doesn't pay enough.

"My plan was to work in Abu Dhabi for a year and save for a house deposit.

"Then Covid happened, and it was bad from a travel point of view.

"All of our leave got cancelled, we couldn't travel and we got hit with mandatory overtime, but the one good thing was I met my husband."

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When the couple came to the UK for a holiday in Norfolk last year, Kareem proposed, and they decided to aim for a future in the UK.

She was not allowed to marry Kareem, 34, in the UAE because she is not a Muslim.

She was also blocked from marrying him back home because she had not been living in Britain in the past six months.

They decided to head to Georgia to formally tie the knot- only for Putin to throw a spanner in the works

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Hazel explained: "We planned to get married and do the paperwork in Georgia and then have a wedding party in the UK very shortly after, but when everything kicked off in Ukraine we did the paperwork and got married early."

Kareem made his Spouse Visa application in May, and they looked all looked set for a dream wedding on September 3 at Commissioner's House at Chatham Historic Dockyard.

She said: "When we applied for a visa decision, the waiting time was 12 weeks.

"Our plan was that even if he got rejected, he would be able to get a tourist visa for the wedding, but we didn't even get a decision.

"The visa didn't get processed in time – nothing happened at all.

"My dad had flown over from Australia and other people had travelled from Europe, so we just had a party.

"I made the wedding cake into cup cakes and turned the flower bouquet into a flower arch, and I drank lots of tequila.

"I tried not to cry and think I only cried twice."

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She has blasted the delays- saying he has proof of savings, no criminal record and a multinational employer which is happy to relocate him to the UK, which should lead to a decision being made quickly.

She added: "If it was a complex situation I would understand. It just seems unfair.

"Ultimately I would love him to be in this country, but I know I'm not the only person in this predicament. It doesn't seem right.

"It was supposed to be a 12-week decision – to double that mid-way through the application seems really unfair. You're so powerless.

"I had to relocate two dogs into a different county. I had to leave my husband with no possessions, no wife and no family.

"We speak every evening, but he's not here and life is at a standstill."

She says she has not received any information about when they might be reunited and has just been told she needs to wait 24 weeks.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "All visa applications are carefully considered on their own merits and we endeavour to consider them as quickly as possible.”

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