So you want to marry a German

16 Jan

It was right around this time last year that we completed the paperwork for our Germany wedding. As soon as we got engaged, I spent hours googling “how to get married in Germany” and “U.S. citizen marrying a German.” There was a lot of information to dig through, and it’s good we started the process early. You definitely want to leave plenty of time for the red tape.

the-wild-child-red-tape

As a German citizen, Sebastian needed his ID card and a fresh copy of his birth certificate, which I think he was able to obtain through the mail. As an American citizen, I was required to provide a bit more information.

  • Birth certificate
  • US passport
  • Certificate of free status
  • Proof of income

We were aiming for a church wedding on July 16, and we wanted the legal ceremony to take place before then. Only marriages performed at a Standesamt (registrar’s office) are legally valid in Germany. And you can only apply up to six months before the wedding date. We decided that I should travel to Berlin the week of January 18 to ensure we had the best chance of being approved for July.

There was some prep work to complete for we applied. First, I needed my birth certificate, but I needed it to be issued within the last six months. This was easy to obtain through my county’s Vital Statistics department. I mailed a request along with payment, and my certificate arrived in about a week.

In order for my U.S. birth certificate to be accepted by German authorities, it required an Apostille. The U.S. and Germany are part of a treaty called the “Hague Convention,” which allows documents originating in one country to be recognized in all other countries as long as it bears the Apostille stamp. Luckily, I could also get this by filling out a form and sending it along with payment and my birth certificate to the Ohio Secretary of State  service center. I think this also arrived back in about a week.

The kicker was that all my English documents had to be submitted along with an official translation. I had to make sure I received everything early enough so we could hire a translator to translate everything into German. I sent all my documents to Sebastian, and he handled this on his end.

I also needed an “Ehefähigkeitszeugnis,” which is a certificate of free status stating I was legally free to marry. This document could only be obtained by appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin or the Consulate General in Frankfurt, so I made an appointment for when I would be there.

Once I arrived in Berlin, we had one week to complete everything, and it was definitely stressful at times. Our first appointment was with the Standesamt. We arrived with all our documents (minus the certificate of free status, since it could be turned in later) early Tuesday morning in hopes of getting the first appointment of the day. It all started smoothly. The registrar checked our documents while we filled out the rest of the application. However, we didn’t realize we needed an official translator for the appointment. We had assumed Sebastian could translate for me, but this was not the case. We couldn’t submit our application and began scrambling to find a translator. For a heftier fee we found a guy who was available on Thursday.

On Wednesday, I went for my appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to receive my certificate of free status. It was January, absolutely freezing, and we had to wait outside in the cold before being processed through security. There has to be a better system, people. You also can’t take anything with you, including my phone and purse. Or your Fitbit. I had to leave mine behind with security since I forgot to take it off. It worked out that Sebastian couldn’t come with me since he served as my personal locker. Once inside, I went to the appropriate office and began waiting. Even with an appointment, you still have to take a number. I sat for about 30 minutes before being called. The paperwork took another 20, and then I had to wait another 30 before paying. It was a long, boring process, but I left with my official certificate. Yay!

We went back to the Standesamt on Thursday, along with our official translator. In no time at all we completed our application and paid the fee. At the end of the appointment we were penciled in for July 15. We still needed to be approved by the high state court since I was a foreigner, but a few weeks later Sebastian received confirmation we were approved. Woohoo! We were on our way to becoming husband and wife.

In case you’re wondering what everything cost, here’s a rough breakdown:

  • U.S. Birth Certificate + Express Postal Fees: $50
  • Germany Birth Certificate: $15
  • Apostille + Express Postal Fees: $30
  • Translating Documents: $70
  • Certificate of Free Status: $50
  • Translator: $140
  • Application Fee:$75

I want to do a longer post about our Standesamt ceremony, but here’s a picture of us shortly after we were married…

the-wild-child-just-married

Totally worth the red tape.

P.S. Happy six months of wedded bliss, Sebastian! xoxo

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Prague

28 Oct

I’m curious to know about other travelers first experience in Prague. To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure I’d go back. All the sites were absolutely beautiful. And there were moments where I was truly in awe of its rich history. I can understand why so many people love exploring the city. I guess maybe I didn’t spend enough time there to fully realize it’s charm?

To be fair, we were there less than 24 hours. And two things happened that left a sour taste in my mouth. We were fined on the metro system without a good explanation, and my Fitbit was lost or stolen. Either way, it wasn’t fun. I think I was more upset that all my steps weren’t accounted for because we did a TON of walking. But enough ranting, let me tell you about the parts I did like.

the-wild-child-prague-eveningthe-wild-child-prague-town-center

We took an evening train from Berlin and arrived around 10-ish, enough time to check in to our hotel and grab a beer. I haven’t explored why, but beer is really cheap in Prague. Also, shout out to the train systems in Europe. As Sheldon Cooper would say, “Ooh, I love trains!”

The next morning we wandered a few hours taking in the city. Because we were there such a short time, we booked a tour through Discover Prague Tours. We were given so much information by our guide, and by the end I could have done with a little less. However, the tour had a ton of value for its low price and was definitely worth it. Highlights included exploring the monasteries, a brewery stop, stunning views of the Castle District and St. Vitus Cathedral.

the-wild-child-prague-charles-bridgethe-wild-child-prague-monasterythe-wild-child-prague-monastery-squarethe-wild-child-prague-city-viewsthe-wild-child-prague-castlethe-wild-child-prague-cathedral-outdoors

We finished at the castle gate facing the city, and had enough time to grab a snack and catch the train home. So maybe I didn’t give Prague its do justice, or maybe it just wasn’t for me. I’m glad I visited there, and who knows, if enough time fades I might give it a second chance.

An afternoon in Brighton

23 Sep

This whole week has been miraculous, weather-wise. Mild temps, no rain and even some sunshine. When we woke up Sunday morning and saw rays peeking through the window, it instantly put us in the best mood. I had some pretty good suggestions for how to spend the day. Sebastian’s idea, however, was so much better.

the-wild-child-water

In no time we were on a train heading to Brighton for the day. From where we live, it’s about a 50 minute train ride, giving us just enough time to enjoy a coffee and a lemon muffin before we arrived at the station. First order was brunch, and we made our way to The Breakfast Club. We’re told there is usually a wait, but we were able to walk right in.

I ordered the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast with a side of avocado, and it was very delicious. It also went perfectly with my Bloody Mary ;-) Sebastian ordered his go-to brunch item, The Full Monty, which includes bacon, sausage, black pudding, eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, beans, a grilled tomato and toast (the Brits sure know how to do breakfast!). The Breakfast Club has multiple locations around London, and we were excited to hear there’s one opening near us in October. Yay for brunch!

After we were sufficiently full, it was time to head to the beach. We joined the other smart kids who thought an afternoon in the sun was a good idea and found a nice spot near the water. It was so relaxing to sit and watch the boats and paddle boarders float by. Brighton is rocky, not sandy, and I loved picking through the rocks and shells, looking for the pretty ones.

brighton-beach-the-wild-child

the-wild-child-paddle-boarder

the-wild-child-pier

Since it was mid-September, the pier was fairly empty, so we took a stroll to see if we could find anything exciting. It’s your typical pier though, filled with games, treats, rides and cheesy photo opps. As much as I was dying for a picture, I didn’t make Sebastian take crazy photos (this time). About three hours had passed since brunch, and of course my bottomless-pit-husband was hungry again. We decided to find oysters and wine as an afternoon snack. Side note: How cool is it that I have a husband?! #newlyweds

Earlier in the day we passed English’s, a lovely seafood spot in the city, so we made our way there. We ordered the local oysters, and oh man were they amazing. We also split a carafe of wine, and were feeling pretty good by the time we left for the train station.

the-wild-child-oysters

the-wild-child-beach

I couldn’t have picked a better way to enjoy such a beautiful day. Simply put, Brighton stole my heart, and I can’t wait to go back.

Whirlwind summer

15 Sep

So much has happened these last few months, I’m not even sure where to begin. I’m currently writing from our flat in London. That’s right folks, I’m officially an expat, officially married and officially loving this crazy, new life. Let’s go back to May, and you’ll see why this summer was an absolute whirlwind.

  • May 16 – Sebastian moves to London to start his new job at an airline in the UK. It’s such an exciting opportunity, and I’m so proud of my husband for landing this gig.
  • May 28 – I travel to Colorado Springs with my whole family to celebrate my brother’s graduation from the United States Air Force Academy. It was an awesome week, and we are incredibly proud of my little brother.
  • June 10 – I left my job at Smucker’s in order to join Sebastian in London. It was bittersweet to leave, but I’m looking forward to finding work here – let me know if you hear of anything, friends!
  • June 13 – I pack my life onto a pallet (10 boxes, if you’re curious) and moved out of my apartment in Wadsworth. I should probably do a post on the whole international moving experience.
  • June 18 – I unofficially move to London to settle in before all the wedding madness.
  • July 9 – I meet my sister in Berlin to kick off the Germany wedding week.
  • July 11 – Travel to Prague for a quick overnight trip with my parents, Grandma and sister. I’ll update with a blog post soon.
  • July 15 – Sebastian and I are legally married at a Standesamt in Berlin, a requirement of all couples who are married in Germany.
  • July 16 – We’re married! It was an absolute perfect day, and I promise to share more from all our weddings soon.
  • July 17 – Sebastian heads back to London, and I kick off a familymoon with my parents, Grandma, sister, brother and his girlfriend. We traveled to Salzburg and Munich. Posts coming soon!
  • July 24 – Sebastian and I fly to Detroit. The next day he flew to LA for work, and I drove back to Ohio to finish wedding plans and begin my UK visa application.
  • August 10 – All the visa paperwork, including my biometrics appointment data, are submitted for processing.
  • August 16 – We’re married (again)! This time we celebrated with family and friends in Ohio, and again, it was an absolutely perfect day.
  • August 18 – My visa is approved and arrives… but with the wrong dates, so I send it back.
  • August 25 – My visa is approved and arrives with the correct dates… but I’m not allowed to enter the country until September 10. I should probably also post about the visa application experience.
  • August 26-September 9 – I patiently wait until I can see my husband again. The days are filled with lunch dates, dinner plans, trips to county fairs, bonfires, and enjoying the extra time with family and friends.
  • September 10 – I land at Heathrow Airport with two suitcases and a heart full of pure joy. My visa is stamped, and I excitedly join my husband in our new country.

As you can see, it’s been a little insane around here. But I’m starting to settle in, look for jobs and explore with Sebastian. I can’t wait to share this adventure.

Lukas Papierak Photography | www.the-wild-child.com

Six years

15 May

I’ll never forget the moment when Sebastian whispered, “I think I more than like you.” It was the beginning of our relationship, and maybe we didn’t know it at the time, but the beginning of our life together.

I won’t deny that these past six years have been challenging. Normally I’d be writing a post today about our long-distance relationship and why we continue to make it work. But I’m not going to do that. Today, I just want to say that I can’t wait to marry Sebastian and start our life together.

Image via Allison Ewing Photography | www.the-wild-child.com
Six years was worth the wait, but a lifetime with you won’t be nearly enough.

Love you, Basti

xoxo

image via Allison Ewing Photography

Epic news

5 May

Prior to this little post, I haven’t thought about blogging for months. Oops. Between wedding planning, life planning and trying to getting rockin’ arms at the gym, blogging dropped pretty low on the priority list.

But I’m back, and I have some seriously exciting news to share. Drumroll please… WE’RE MOVING TO LONDON!!!

Wait, you’re moving? Yes, Sebastian accepted a new job, and we’ll be starting our life together in the UK. Woah! When? I officially move in June, eek! Aren’t you also planning two weddings this summer? We sure are! Our Germany wedding is in July and our Ohio wedding is in August. Are you freaking out? Only a little.

Some days all the moving plans, wedding plans and life in general can feel overwhelming, but most of the time I’m just super excited to start this new adventure with Sebastian. And how brilliant will it be to live in London?! I can’t wait to explore my future home and kick off this next stage of our life.

And with that, all I can say is… cheers! Look, I’m sounding British already.

London | www.the-wild-child.com

image via

What I’ve been doing other than blogging

22 Dec

Oh, hey there friends! It’s been a long time. I don’t have any excuses other than life got in the way. If you follow me on Instagram (@MJSpletzer), you might have noticed my biggest news: I’m engaged! Sebastian popped the question exactly one month ago today, and we’re as happy as clams.

Ring | www.the-wild-child.com

So what else have I been up to these past four months? In August, my parents treated me to a US Women’s soccer game for my birthday, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Then at the end of the month, I traveled to Massachusetts to celebrate my cousin Alli’s wedding. We had a blast, and I died laughing when the shuttle to the reception turned out to be a school bus.

Heinz Field | www.the-wild-child.comSchool Bus | www.the-wild-child.com

In September, I jetted off to Colorado for the US Air Force Academy family weekend. We spent four glorious days laughing, eating and just being together. I also traveled to Westfield, NY, for a little hiking and relaxation.

Family | www.the-wild-child.comTrain | www.the-wild-child.comHammock | www.the-wild-child.comWaterfall | www.the-wild-child.com

In October, the BF (now fiancé) was in town with his friend Maik. We took him to my beloved West Side Market and a freezing, cold Indians game. Later in the month, Sebastian and I spent a week of vacation hiking in Hocking Hills and then exploring and eating our way through Boston. We loved the city so much we’re heading back there for NYE.

Market Hall | www.the-wild-child.comFriends | www.the-wild-child.comRose Lake | www.the-wild-child.comCave | www.the-wild-child.comDoughnuts | www.the-wild-child.comBoston | www.the-wild-child.comOysters | www.the-wild-child.com

November found me in Germany where I was asked the most important question of my life (I said yes!). We spent the week visiting Christmas markets, preparing a Thanksgiving feast and enjoying being engaged.

engaged | www.the-wild-child.comWine | www.the-wild-child.comVeggies | www.the-wild-child.comTurkey | www.the-wild-child.comTreats | www.the-wild-child.com

And now it’s the end of December – hard to believe another year is almost over. I want to slow down time and soak in all the little moments these next few days: snuggling on the couch with my siblings, being in the kitchen with my Mom and cracking jokes with my Dad. There is nothing better than the holidays and being together with my family.

Tree | www.the-wild-child.com

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a fantastic start to the New Year! 2016 is sure to be another wild ride. Cheers! xoxo

Twenty-seven

6 Aug

Birthday Cake | www.the-wild-child.com

Since it’s my birthday today (yay!), I decided to take a cue from Karlie Kloss and share 27 things I’ve learned in the past 27 years.

  1. Celery will always taste disgusting to me no matter how many times I try it. But don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know what you might enjoy.
  2. I believe true love exists, but there is definitely a conscious choice involved. You choose to love someone and make it work.
  3. Sometimes it’s OK to spend the day on the couch, watching Netflix and eating your weight in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
  4. Be with someone who can make you laugh.
  5. Your parents are smart. Really guys. Listen to them. But don’t be afraid to make decisions for yourself.
  6. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s alright. Just don’t forget to learn something from them.
  7. Protect your skin. It’s not OK to go outside without sunscreen.
  8. Travel as often as you’re able to. There is so much to see in this world. Adventure is out there!
  9. Stop fretting about what others think. It’s your life. Do you.
  10. Start saving now, even if it’s just a little. You never know when you’re going to need that safety net.
  11. Family first. Always. Make time for the important people in your life.
  12. Get outside. Fresh air and sunshine are my cure for just about anything.
  13. Never stop reading.
  14. It’s completely appropriate for a 27-year-old to know almost every Disney song by heart.
  15. Stop looking down at your phone all the time.
  16. Take care of yourself. Get off the couch and move. Your health is important.
  17. Remove the toxic people from your life. Trust me when I say I prefer my handful of close friends versus an army of people.
  18. It’s OK to have emotions. And even more OK to show them.
  19. Sometimes people just aren’t going to like you.
  20. Your taste in music doesn’t define you, and it doesn’t make you better than others. 1D is my jam y’all.
  21. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s not cool to be judgmental all the time.
  22. The golden rule is a good rule of thumb. Treat others how you would want to be treated.
  23. Money is better spent on experiences rather than possessions. You can’t take all those things to the grave with you.
  24. Sleep is important.
  25. Be direct about what you want and need.
  26. Growing up on a farm was hard work, but it also turned me into a hard worker.
  27. Life is beautiful, even the really messy parts.

Bye July, a recap

4 Aug

July Recap | www.the-wild-child.com

Traveled to: My cousins’ cabin in Westfield, New York (near Lake Chautauqua) for the loveliest 4th of July weekend. Think hiking, canoeing and the most incredible ribs.

Read: I unfortunately didn’t read much in July. At the end of the month I started The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens, and I’m really into it so far.

Watched: Trainwreck, which was crazy funny, and Ant-Man, which was better than I expected. I’ll also willingly admit I went with some girlfriends to see Magic Mike XXL. I laughed way more than I thought I would.

 Activities: Spent several weekends outside boating, swimming and enjoying the gorgeous weather with my family. There was much time on the water, and I loved it. Lake life is the life for me.  

Ate: Copious amounts of sushi with my BFF Lindsay and her boo Keshav. I love unassuming places with really good food, and Sakura never disappoints.

Purchased: It’s my birthday in a couple of days, so I decided to treat myself. Scored these shoes and this sweater at the Nordstrom anniversary sale and bought my favorite scent from J.Crew.

Worked Out: I started taking classes at the newly opened office gym. I’ve surprised myself with how much I enjoy spinning and the group workout programs. My goal is to get up to 5 days a week. I’m at about 3 right now.

Cooked: My parents always have a kick-ass garden, and since I have limited space for my own garden, I love when they gift me with fresh produce. I used the zucchini they gave me to make zucchini pancakes.

I’m loving summer and all it brings. Welcome, August!

Anatomy of a summer weekend

13 Jul

Friday night: Indians game

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Saturday: Family picnic and fireworks

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Sunday: Cedar Point with your best friend

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

Progressive Field | www.the-wild-child.com

This has probably been one of the fullest summers I’ve had in a while, with every weekend busting at the seams. I love having plans and spending time with family and friends, but it’s making the days fly by at an alarming rate. Before we know it the season will be over. I’m doing my best to squeeze in as much as possible before it ends.