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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