I met my partner at a conference in Berlin, Germany, in October 2010. He was smart and funny. And taken. Also, he was American, and an Atlantic Ocean apart, we lived separate lives with nothing but a distant memory of each other for more than two years during which I lived in 3 different countries and had started working as a freelancer. It felt like a lifetime had passed when we eventually reconnected in March 2013. And have been inseparable ever since.
We spent 16 months dating across continents, skyping daily and organizing visits as often as our schedule would allow. During my stay in the US during Christmas/New Years 2013, we decided that we wanted to try “the real thing” of living together to see where this would take us. After a few months of planning and sleepless nights (“What am I doing???”), I resigned from my job in Hamburg, packed up my apartment and flew to the US. He had just bought a house (house hunting via skype is one of those fun skype experiences for long-distance couples) and we settled in nicely. I renovated the house from smokey eggshell to antique white, I networked to make connections as a freelancer and started working on a project that I had put off for half a year. We had talked about marriage, in the abstract. He had been married before and to me, it was the big unknown. One that I wanted, no doubt. But still unknown. At some point I had decided that he would know when the right time was and anyway, we had so much going on: the new house, contractors going in and out, a dog, his son who lived with us half the time etc.
After 2 months in the States we flew back to Berlin to the very same conference we had first met at 4 years prior, and he popped the question. I said yes straight away. We returned to the US in mid-October, the question of what would happen after my tourist visa ran out forever looming over our heads. As my planned departure date drew closer I started panicking – naturally. We spoke to friends and lawyers about fiancee visas (a whooping 8 to 10 months process), re-entering as a tourist in 6 months or so, and marriage.
I remember that very Monday morning at Panera. He looked at my over the table while I fought back panic tears – naturally – and said “Let’s just do it!” A crazy idea at first, I was game. Besides, i had had my eye on a dress at a shop down the road for weeks and was missing an occasion to wear a cream-white knee-length dress in January on the East Coast… I called the courthouse and within 10 minutes, we were scheduled to receive our marriage license and get married that Friday.I had previously looked into getting hitched in Germany where my folks live and we abandoned the idea quickly once figuring out all the documents you need to marry a foreigner in Germany:
•proof of residency
•proof of income
•certificate of no impediment to marriage
•partner’s authorization to organize the wedding
All of these were to be in English, accompanied by an official German translation, and notarized. Talk about taking the romance out of a wedding…
We had looked at rings the Saturday before and I had found just the one. Came. Saw. And fell in love. So by Monday afternoon, I had the dress, the rings and some shoes (easy for an experienced shoe-shopper). We were good to go.
Contrary to German legislation, all you need to get married in the US is valid photo id, and in case this is not your first wedding, your proof of divorce. By the time Friday came around, I had stocked up on some old, new, blue and borrowed accessories and met my husband-to-be and his son at the courthouse. We each filled in the one-page-questionnaire to obtain the marriage license and 20 minutes later we met our celebrant in a car park. Yes, car park. We were going to have the ceremony outside. 6 degrees Celsius and sunshine – perfect.
Afternoon tea at the old Jefferson hotel was followed by dinner at a French restaurant that I had been meaning to try out. We were home by 9 and got out the playing cards. Happy wedding day to us! I loved it.
Two days later I was on a plane back to Europe where I will be organizing our European “real” wedding. I hope you come back and check in with my wedding planning over the next 6 months!