I met hubby in Turkey, my mate said he wanted a visa but I know it’s love

FOR these three women, a chance meeting was the start of something special.

Kirsty Firat, 28, is a support worker and lives in Edinburgh with her husband Ismail, 28, who works in hospitality.

Kirsty and Ismail on their wedding day in August 2020


Kirsty and Ismail on their wedding day in August 2020
Kirsty first met Ismail when he was a waiter at a restaurant she went to on the last night of her stay in Marmaris, Turkey


Kirsty first met Ismail when he was a waiter at a restaurant she went to on the last night of her stay in Marmaris, Turkey

“Dancing in my husband’s arms at our wedding, I felt so proud of us both. Against the odds and in the face of scepticism, our holiday romance had blossomed into a marriage.

It was on the last night of my stay in Marmaris, Turkey, in April 2018 with my mum Catriona, 56, that I first laid eyes on Ismail.

He was a waiter in a restaurant we were dining in.

We kept looking at one another and smiling.

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I thought he was really handsome, but because he was busy working, there was no opportunity for us to speak.

On the flight home the next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about this guy whose name I didn’t even know.

A few days later, I saw a post of his on a Marmaris Facebook page and recognised him from his profile picture.

Nervously, I messaged him saying hello and asking if he remembered me, wondering if he would even reply. To my delight, he did. 

We started messaging – I spoke some Turkish, he spoke some English and we relied on Google Translate a lot!

Within weeks, we were speaking on the phone, then video calls, and the more we got to know one another, the more I liked Ismail and was desperate to see him again.

After a few months, I told friends and family that I had strong feelings for Ismail and was planning to visit him.

My mum was supportive and wanted whatever made me happy, but my dad was worried and didn’t want me to get hurt.  

In October 2018, I returned to Turkey with my parents and a friend. Sitting on the plane, my heart was racing with excitement.

I spent 10 days in Turkey and that was when Ismail and I became a proper couple, going for meals, talking on the beach for hours and finally being able to be intimate, six months after meeting.

I was on cloud nine, completely in love with him by the end of the holiday, but my friend who’d come to Turkey with me was very sceptical.

She told me she thought he was using me to be able to move to the UK.

She flew home early in a huff after I told her that I loved Ismail and she had to trust my judgement and accept him.

Dad still had reservations and told me he didn’t think it would last, but I knew he was wrong.

For the next 11 months, we had a long-distance relationship, with me flying to Turkey every few months for up to a month at a time, at first staying in a hotel and then at Ismail’s mum’s house.

As time went on, friends and family began to accept this wasn’t just a holiday romance.

In September 2019, Ismail and I had a small civil wedding in Marmaris with just his family there.

Mine couldn’t get time off work, but we planned a bigger ceremony and reception for the following April.

I planned to move to Turkey and we were going to run a beach bar together.

I flew back out twice, making plans for our big wedding and our joint business.

Then in March 2020, Covid restrictions hit and Ismail and I were forced to spend five months apart, which was so hard.

Reunited in August 2020, we had a second wedding in Marmaris that combined both our cultures and his Muslim faith, and both our families and our friends were able to make it. 

By then, I’d changed my mind about moving to Turkey. The pandemic had made me realise I didn’t want to live so far from my family, so in September 2020, Ismail moved to Scotland.

We lived with my parents for a year, which gave them the chance to get to know their son-in-law.

Now, they’re both very fond of him and my dad sees how committed Ismail is to me.

Last October, Ismail and I rented our own home and he’s found work in hospitality.

One day we hope to have a family, but for now we’re enjoying being a married couple and living in the same country after all the months we spent apart. 

I couldn’t be happier to have proved our doubters wrong – they thought it wouldn’t last, but our love is forever.”

Kirsty with husband Ismail and his family


Kirsty with husband Ismail and his family

‘I met my husband on a budget flight to Prague – it was a life-changing holiday’

Lucy Wilson, 42, is a health entrepreneur and lives in Oakley, Hampshire, with her husband Ryland, 37, a commercial manager, and their two children Sebastian, five, and Bertie, two.

Sitting at the departure gate at Heathrow in August 2008, waiting  to board a flight to Prague for a weekend with friends, a good-looking guy caught my eye.

Lucy Wilson with her husband Ryland and their two children Sebastian, five, and Bertie, two


Lucy Wilson with her husband Ryland and their two children Sebastian, five, and Bertie, two
Lucy and Ryland met in Prague after first noticing him in the airport


Lucy and Ryland met in Prague after first noticing him in the airport

He was with a stag party on the same flight, and I couldn’t stop staring at him as we boarded.

I’d been happily single for a year, and although I wasn’t looking for love, I kept stealing glances at him on the plane.

That night, I walked into a bar in Prague and there he was with his mates. I couldn’t believe it.

I made a beeline for him, discovering his name was Ryland and he worked in construction.

We kissed that evening, and the following night my friends and I went clubbing with the stag party.

Ryland told me that although he was originally from Reading, just half an hour from my hometown of Basingstoke, he actually lived in Canada.

He’d moved in 2006 for work and because he had family there, and he was only in Europe for a couple of weeks for his friend’s stag and wedding.

I was gutted, as we got on so well. We kissed again that night and he asked if I would like to go out on a date when we were back in the UK.

It felt futile agreeing to go out for dinner, as he lived so far away, but I liked him so much I said yes.

A week later, we met in Basingstoke for dinner, and I felt sad as we kissed goodbye at the end of our date, thinking I’d never see him again.

He returned to Canada five days later, and for the next four months we were in constant contact. He was funny and sensitive, and I knew it was something special. 

My friends and family were concerned, though.

I talked non-stop about Ryland and they suggested I should accept it wasn’t going anywhere because of the distance, but I couldn’t get him out of my head. 

On Christmas Day 2008, I opened the present he’d sent me and gasped. 

It was a calendar, and under February 7, 2009, he’d written: ‘The day I’m coming home.’ I phoned him and he told me he was moving back to the UK and wanted us to have a proper relationship. I was overjoyed.

I got mixed reactions from loved ones – they were happy to see me so excited, but were worried I could end up disappointed. What if I realised there wasn’t a strong enough attraction to forge a lasting relationship?

As the date for Ryland’s return grew closer, I felt nervous.

We’d only spent a matter of hours together – did we really know we were right for one another, and would he regret uprooting his life?

The day he landed, we met at a hotel in Ascot and spent the weekend together. My nerves faded as I realised the spark was still there. 

In 2010, I visited Canada with Ryland to meet his mum and friends. It made me appreciate all he’d given up for me.

After that, we moved in with my parents for two years to save up for our own home, and in August 2014 we married in front of 200 guests, including his family and friends from Canada.

Eight years on, we have two sons together and are so happy.

Whenever people ask me how I met my husband and I reply: ‘On a budget flight to Prague,’ it never fails to raise eyebrows. It really was a life-changing holiday.”

‘I went on one online date while travelling and I fell in love’ 

Adrienne Treeby, 39, is a chef and entrepreneur and lives in south London with her husband Jamin, 45, who works in finance, and their daughter Abigail, five.

“As I looked at my boyfriend, who was down on one knee, I couldn’t believe this was happening.

Adrienne Treeby wiith her husband Jamin and daughter Abigail


Adrienne Treeby wiith her husband Jamin and daughter Abigail
Adrienne met Jamin  after signing up to Lovestruck.com


Adrienne met Jamin after signing up to Lovestruck.com

Seven months previously, I’d gone on what I’d thought was just a casual date,  a bit of fun while I was travelling.

Now that date was asking me to be his wife and I was saying yes.

I’m originally from Canada, and after training as a chef in the summer of 2012, I arrived in London on a temporary visa.

I was planning to see the UK, work and travel around Europe.

Single after a bad break-up, and feeling low after the split, I was persuaded by a friend to try online dating.

That November, after joining Lovestruck.com, I arranged to meet a man called Jamin for a drink.

I had no idea as I left my rented bedsit that I was on my way to meet my future husband.

Jamin and I got on incredibly well and that first date turned into a second and a third, and before I knew it, things between us were becoming serious.

Funny, sensitive and caring, Jamin ‘got’ me in a way I’d never experienced before. 

In January 2013, eight weeks after our first date, he asked me to move in with him.

It was fast, but with my visa due to expire in June, we agreed we needed to find out if we wanted to be together. 

A month later, he flew to Canada with me to visit my family in Montreal.

They could see how happy he made me, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. 

I had no idea how we were going to make it work, but I believed we would.

That May, Jamin proposed. Marriage wasn’t something we’d discussed, but I said yes, without hesitation.

However, I didn’t want us to rush into a wedding and be seen as a ‘visa bride’.

It was also important to me to finish my travels before settling down, and Jamin understood that.

The next month, I kissed him goodbye and boarded a flight to Vermont in the US, having made some changes to my travel plans. 

It was hard leaving him, but I firmly believed that if we were meant to be, our relationship could withstand the separation.

Over the next six months, we saw each other twice – once when he flew to Vermont where I was working, and again when we met for a holiday in Italy.

The time apart made me certain we were meant to be together.

In January 2014, we had a civil marriage ceremony in Montreal, with just our parents there, so we could apply for my spouse visa to settle in the UK, which was where we’d decided to live.

We then spent a further eight months in a long-distance marriage, until August 2014  when we had our ‘proper’ wedding in Montreal, and friends and family from both sides were there. 

Sadly, after the wedding, I ended a friendship with an old friend because she’d been negative about how fast my relationship had progressed and my decision to emigrate to live with Jamin.

She just couldn’t accept that something that had started when I was travelling could become forever. I was hurt and felt she was jealous.

We were on honeymoon in Puerto Rico when I got the news my visa had been granted, and in October 2014, I moved to the UK. 

It felt surreal that the country I’d visited for a working holiday was now my home, but I couldn’t have been happier and have gone on to set up a culinary business. 

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Our daughter was born two years later and we’re expecting our second child this month.

Going on that date with Jamin turned my UK travels into permanent happiness here.” 

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