Thursday, August 5, 2010

Word to the Wise, or, A Cautionary Tale of European Elopement

A note of caution to all young American couples with the seemingly brilliant and romantic idea of running away to Europe to be married:  Don't do it. Not the getting married part, of course, because that part may very well be brilliant; but the running away to Europe part is not such a great plan.  It's not as simple as it sounds, thereby dashing out a good chunk of the romance.

Eloping in Germany is something that is simply not done.  The legal process (which is just as difficult for German nationals, I am told) is quite lengthy and by no means practically priced.  Aside from the ridiculous air fare for a trip from Louisville to Frankfurt (which is a four digit number, f.y.i.) one must also take into consideration the fees for certified translators (ranging from 40-100 euro per hour), fees for the marriage itself (approximately 200 euro), and the fee for the marriage documents (a whopping 60 euro).

The process goes something like this:  You show up at the registry office in the city where you would like to be married with all appropriate documentation of your birth, identity, marriage status, and monthly salary.  (This took us almost an entire month of my stay to procure because all documents must be notarized originals.)  You must bring a certified translator along to translate all documents.  With the help of the translator and registrar, you fill out a marriage application stating that you are single, over eighteen years of age, and are in no way related to your partner, and you decide what the family name will be.  (That was a particularly nice detail.  We had the option of choosing either of our last names for the new family name.  Not that there was ever a thought of us taking mine.  It was just nice to feel as though my old name had some credit.)  Then you pay a large sum that is determined by your combined monthly salaries, and are informed that you will not be married for another two to three weeks when your marriage certificates arrive in the mail.

You go home to wait anxiously by the phone for a nerve-wrackingly long time.  When the registrar finally calls to inform you that your certificates have arrived, you go back to the office to set a date for the wedding.  (For some reason, in Germany, no one understands why a young American couple would want to be married immediately and without a proper ceremony.  Apparently having a delayed ceremony back home with friends and family is unheard of.)  In most cases the date must be set at least eight to ten days away, and sometimes even further out if you're expecting many guests. (Fortunately, we were not.)  And then, that's that.  On the day of the ceremony you and a translator show up at the office to be legally married.

Now if I were you, my wonderful reader, I'd be wondering why on Earth anyone would choose such a difficult and time-consuming marriage.  Mostly it was just impatience.  And stubbornness.  I always wanted to have a summer wedding, and I had my heart set on being married on our dating anniversary.  When Kyle found out about the issues with his leave (and that he'd only be able to be home for five days in September, which is not enough time to have a wedding and still spend some quality time with family) we knew that our plans had to change.  It worked out for us.  We got to be married on our anniversary (out of sheer dumb luck), we'll be home for three weeks (hopefully) next summer, and I'll get to have the ceremony I really want (surrounded by summer flowers and greenery).

Still.  I wouldn't recommend a German elopement unless the couple in question has unique circumstances, as we did.  However, I hear that getting married in Denmark is much less complicated, and takes only two or three days, as opposed to the weeks of waiting elsewhere in Europe.

Anyhow, here's the fun stuff:  more photos!

The first ones were taken at the water tower (Wasserturm) in downtown Mannheim.  The last few were random shots from a drive through the countryside.  There is absolutely no way to describe how beautiful Germany is.  Sometimes I feel as though I've jumped into a storybook full of magical things.  I am beyond excited to be living in a place like this, but there's still quite a bit of work to be done before the "big move."

At some point this month (when we're no longer flat broke from those ridiculous fees, and hopefully in housing of our own) I'm going back home to do all kinds of crazy post-marriage stuff.  Like have my name changed on my social security card, drivers license, bank account, etc.  And to pack.  And to say some goodbyes that are actually meant for a trip of more than two and a half weeks.  And then, after Thanksgiving, I'll be back.

It's going to fly by, isn't it?


  1. Oh my gosh, I'm still just so tickled that you're married!! You said you were gonna marry the boy, and you did. Enjoy your newlywed status!!

  2. :) Me too. I love getting introduced as the wife instead of the fiancee now. It still feels a little strange, but in a good way.

  3. I thought my marriage was last minute. I'm pretty sure you beat me! Enjoy the newlywed life. It's rough at first, but it's worth it in the end!

  4. Yeah. After hearing horror stories from my English friends about how hard it is to get a job in the EU, I would expect the marriage process to be much the same. Here's hoping everything works out, and you get your dream ceremony. Life's sure unpredictable, ain't it?

    By the way, LOVELY photos. If you don't mind answering a question, how'd you get the last six so big? What's the HTML code for that? I'd love to lavish some of my photos on my readers full-sized...

  5. Postman: If you're using blogger's newest version of the post editor, after uploading the photo, scroll over it. There are options to make the photos small, medium, large or extra large. The big ones on mine are extra large.

    To tell if you're using the new editor: From your dashboard, go to "settings," then choose the "basic" tab. The second option from the bottom is the choice of post editor. The newer one (called "Updated Editor") really is more convenient than the old one.

  6. Carrie,
    It was so good to finally hear from your married self! I missed reading about your daily life and adventures as you waited to be with the love of your life. You have truly lived your fairy tale dream. Enjoy your remaining time in Deutschland with your new hubby. Sending you hugs across the big pond. Keep the pics coming!

  7. So glad all that worked out and in the end the only thing that matters is that you're married!

  8. Yay! I'm glad it all worked out so well!!! Congrats again!!!

  9. I am so happy for you! I actually gave a little squeal when I read that you're married, which gave my husband quite a fright lol

    Congratulations! I hope you're life together are truly blessed in every way :)

  10. Carrie...I have followed your journey overseas and enjoy your plotos. You seem to be having the time of your life. We as a family lived on an air force station for a few years and it takes some adjusting.You seem to have escaped. Eloping is fun but risky. I eloped myself and disappointed many folks but made on little lady very happy. Good luck and keep up the interesting Blog. Polar Bear


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