Aug 082011
 

It’s 6 weeks until the wedding and so far everything went *really* smoothly. We orchestrated our wedding, defined the events, parties, locations, budget etc. The past 8 months of preparations have been also very stressful, considering that there are two different cultures, three languages and a lot of German bureaucracy involved. Jimmy being BNO citizenship didn’t help either – no embassy is taking care of him, he has to sort out everything directly in Hong Kong:

  • Bureaucracy. Most of the countries require additional documents for a bi-national marriage, such as birth certificates with apostille, certificates of no impediments (which requires a lot of additional documents and expires usually within a couple of months), if countries do not require these documents it’s most likely that the marriage will not be acknowledged by authorities:
    • In Europe Denmark allows to get married within 10 work days, it’s the easiest way for couples like us. If you happen to live in Ireland or if you are free to travel, plan for a preparation appointment ca 4 months prior the wedding with the desired registration office. In both countries a birth certificate with apostille is required – nothing else. All other EU-country’s instructions weren’t clear or involved more documents, such as the certificate of no impediment. 
    • For a marriage in Germany I got an advice to contact a lawyer as e.g. usually a 3-month marriage visa is required which wouldn’t make sense to us as we are not living in Germany. Foreseeing more “challenges” like this I didn’t bother to have a closer look.
    • In Asia Hong Kong seems to be easy to get married too, we didn’t choose the location because my parents would have not been able to attend there because of the long travel. 
    • In America Las Vegas is the obvious option… if it is your style.
    • Bahamas, Fidschi and other far distant countries allow to get married there just with a passport within a couple of days but most of these marriages are not legally acknowledged in Europe.
  • Name change is a difficult decision and it comes with a lot of bureaucracy, especially if you can’t go to your local registration office to sort it out. In Germany there is the international Standesamt (German registration institution) which can help understanding name laws, but they can’t give any legally binding advice. The German embassy neither, so we are only partially sure what name rules will apply to us. We prefer a combined name (although for Jim it would be a bit strange as he then would hold undeniably German, English and Chinese name parts). So no decision on this one yet, but as there is no time pressure we don’t care too much. Actually, as Ireland is allowing people to rename themselves as they want it it’s kind of a running gag to call Jim with his Irish name: Seamusin Mac An Teanga :)
  • Families. Our families can’t be united as the most important parts are either too old or in an unstable health shape so that we would be too worried to put them on a long haule flight. We appreciate that some of our relatives would ignore their health and just follow us whereever we’d go but concerning health and considering worst case scenarios shouldn’t be part of marriage planning. So we decided on having a private, tiny ceremony for the legalization of our marriage and giving the families local experiences matching cultures and individual wishes and traditions. We were very open in that point and left planning to the families, so in Germany e.g. we will repeat the ceremony for my parents, in Hong Kong planning is not finalized yet. So we will have four dates for our wedding: the legalization, the Irish reception, the German wedding celebration and the Hong Kong wedding banquet. All four dates will equally count as our wedding date for us (hurray – 4 times flowers a year for me :))
  • Mothers… for most probably not a surprise that it can be challenging to please them especially as in our case they won’t attend the legalization. We tried to find satisfying solutions for them but it is tricky as we have three languages involved, and can’t talk to the future in-laws and vice versa. In heinseight I would have changed a few things how we handled this, first of all I would have given us more than a year to organize the wedding to allow us an on-site chat with each mother to explain our ideas, what we want, and what we are not going to do. We faced (and sometimes are still facing) a lot of misunderstandings which are caused by a lack of proper communication. 
  • Budget. We decided to fund our wedding ourselves and set pretty early an appropriate budget. In preparation I did do a lot of reading to understand what needs to be planned for etc. Soon it was clear to us, that a traditional budget and it’s proportions would not apply to us, as we need to plan on travelling and we both aren’t the romantic couple who wants to plan on how many doves are released or what theme our wedding will have or how to punish bridesmaids with unique color schemes. So we re-invented the entire idea and setup our own budget tracker/calculation. I will release a google sheet after the wedding.
  • Expectations and traditions. Soon we recognized whatever wedding trend was currently going on, it’s not like us. Also, traditional weddings don’t apply as our legalization is separate to the celebrations and we just decided to have this day for ourselves, to celebrate with our witnesses, getting a photographer to get nice materials for the families and for us. This has two downsides: One the one hand parts of our families are having issues to accept this decision on the other hand lot of the traditional facilities and services we can’t use because we are a too small or unusual party. 
  • Travelling – remote organization. Organizing one wedding might be stressful, now imagine, you are organizing 3 in 3 different locations… and that you do most from when you are on the road – and this year I have made trips to California, Malaysia and around Europe. I remember call-backs waking me up at 3.30 AM in the morning, sorting out a few things via facebook, mail and other online communication tools. Keeping track of all the single stages requires a lot of attention. My main duty during the day is doing my full-time job – I asked a while ago for challenges at work to avoid boredom which is in the current situation a slight draw back. Having long work days when on-site with clients, travels, wedding preparations and stress with one of the reception organizations I ended by being close to a burnout mid June this year. I was tempted to cancel / postpone the wedding and for over almost a month I didn’t want to hear a word about getting married at all.
  • Clothes. What a pain! If you have never worn a dress and didn’t give much about looks at all, finding something appropriate for a wedding is the toughest challenge of all. Trust me on that one. If one looks for a dress one will find nice, reasonably priced dresses. As soon as it is prepended with ‘wedding’ prices just increase dramatically. Why would I go for a 2kEUR dress which I am going to wear one day at most? Same applies for shoes, accessories. Also, standardization of sizes might simplify production process but certainly increases the pain of the bride to be. Hence, one can get tailored dresses which then are usually insanely priced. Thankfully I was lucky and found something wonderful in California for the receptions, a creative tailor with a good reputation in Dublin and I had a lucky find for a second dress for the legalization in Dublin.

All this trouble will end soon, our wedding is just 6 weeks ahead. Despite all the challenges from the past months I know it’s going to be awesome. It’s well prepared and there have been so many occasions where we just felt lucky as things occurred and events happened exactly when we needed it:

  • Jacq was awesome to help me on the entire clothes issue. Without her I would be still desperate and would not know what to wear. 
  • Jose and his dad: we do not only get perfect rings (which we saw initially in a Jewelery) but we will have rings with a story :)
  • Jim’s friend’s friend’s photo shoot trial with make up and some nice pics which allowed me to understand how I want to look at my wedding day and what is important for us when hiring a photographer. Also we got a few nice shots for our wedding stationary.
  • My work which happen to organize my last 5 weeks prior wedding as remote or on-site in Dublin engagements which allow me to have an almost daily life and opportunity to organize the last bits and pieces from Dublin with Jimmy.
  • A personal shopper service in a shopping mall I usually never go to. I just spotted it on the way, walked in, made an appointment and met a few days later a personal shopper who was able to ignore everything what I had said and selected something nice and sweet to wear for our legalization.
  • We have had support all the time from our friends and most of our families. I learned in the past months that my parents rock, that my brother is fantastic and probably the best brother/friend one could wish for.

Finally I want to share a really good advice I got a few months ago: “Remember, it’s not the most important day of your life”. This helps a lot when it comes to negotiating with venues and vendors as well as when trying to meet family’s expectations. 

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Jun 262011
 

We had quite some fun with the lensebaby kit we got a while ago. Since then we were considering getting the aperture kit with shaped disks. It never happened, but recently Jim found a blog post similar to this one giving instructions how to do custom shapes yourself. We created hearts and stars and started for a nightly walk through Dublin. I am quite impressed by the results. 

IMG_8897IMG_8904IMG_8907IMG_8918IMG_8926IMG_8932IMG_8933

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Jun 102011
 

 

we have a new vacuum cleaner
as it is a device which has a power cord
i couldn’t resist
unboxed it
assembled it
and tested it
I fucking cleaned the entire apartment. on a friday evening. a time when I shouldn’t be sober *or* at home at all.

 

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Apr 242011
 

I joined Flattr when the first beta accounts came out. Back then I did not activate my account simply because there wasn’t much coverage. This has changed in the past year. It’s not the average joe’s like me or thoms who make this concept of micropayment so successful, but the fact that many tier 1 blogs are there too. So feel free to register and share your love.

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Apr 072011
 

Who would have guessed that getting married is so much bureaucratic hassle? Our situation might not be the easiest one, as we both have a different nationalities; one from EU and some sort of non-EU-ish. BNO nationality is pretty much a mess, as I learned. Probably it would be a bit easier if we both lived in Germany or in Hong Kong. But we don’t.

When we started looking up for getting married we knew that we have some sort of complicated situation. Organizing a wedding in 3 countries with family on 3 continents is rather challenging, especially if you can’t fly in everyone from everywhere and when the major attendees such as parents and grand parents are not able to do long distance flights anymore. So there was only one logic decision we could do: running away and declare the wedding as secret and announcing big parties instead.

I read a bit about getting married in Germany, asked per mail somebody about our special situation and got as answer that I would need a lawyer to sort this out. So Germany is not an option.

Then we looked and got tempted by Tuvalu. It looks awesome is very remote and certainly unique. Unfortunately flying there and back is a hassle we do not want to have in our one week and a bit time we have. So this option got cancelled too.

Next idea was Iceland. Sounded pretty neat, getting there having honeymoon and wedding in one go and discovering a beautiful isle. We kinda liked the idea, but then I talked to a travel agency who told me that we would need to stay most of the time in Reykjavik as we would be required to wait for documents. For that we needed a international birth certificate and a certificate of impediment which states that we both are able to get married. As Jim failed finding an authority who could issue this document we had a closer look to wedding conditions in Ireland. Apparently you need to get an appointment with the marriage office, announce your wedding in a newspaper, wait for a couple of months and then it’s ok to get married. Sounds great, but since 3 weeks we are calling the registration office to get an appointment and we had no luck so far. We both get set on the call back list but never heard anything back. Today I spoke with the operator who told me that the earliest date now is September.

Frustrated about that we revisited the Iceland idea and called up the German and British embassy to learn more about the damned certificate we need. Now, apparently the German embassy doesn’t issue them so I needed to call up my last place where I had been registered in Germany. I got told that I need to pick up this certificate in person and I need a registration document from the place where I am living, unfortunately there is no obligation for registration in Ireland. So I do need to make another call on Monday with another person to learn if and how I could get this certificate w/o being in Germany. I also called the British embassy which hung up in the first place, and later forwarded me to a mailbox. Another task for Monday morning.

Frustrated about all that I checked out places where you can get married with just the birth certificate and no other requirements, apparently there are a few:

  • Denmark which requires birth certificates and a 2 weeks stay there.
  • The Caribbean which requires per island different things
  • Las Vegas which does not seem to require anything

I am quite sure there more places like that out there. Next thing will be to learn which other places are there, and which of them issue marriage certificate which are legally accepted in Germany, Hong Kong and Ireland.

The entire year was meant to be the year of our wedding, getting married in summer and then doing parties in Ireland in August, in Germany in November and in Hong Kong in December. As we fail on even knowing if our marriage happens this year at all I cannot organize any party at all which does not allow to book time, travels, places, notify guests etc.

That all is very frustrating. I do not want to be future Mrs Tang. I want to get married. Without bureaucracy.

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