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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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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

Five years

15 May

Sebastian and I began dating 5 years ago today. I can hardly believe it’s been that long. Five years. Sixty months. One thousand eight hundred and twenty-six days. And through it all, more than 4,000 miles apart.

A long-distance relationship is certainly not ideal, and I know some people think we’re crazy. Why would we choose this? To add to the complexity, we’re also from different countries, so living near each other hasn’t been an option. But the moments we do share are wonderful. Why would we trade those moments for something easier? When Sebastian is gone, I realize just how much he adds to my life.

One of these days we’ll figure it out, but for now we’re enjoying when we can be together. Because when we’re together, the world feels right.

I recently read a book with some lovely passages, and one in particular made me think of Sebastian and our relationship.

 “With you, my life felt indeed like a fantastic adventure – despite our ordinary circumstances, your love imbued everything we did with secret riches.”

www.the-wild-child.com

Happy five years, Basti. You know I wouldn’t do this with anyone else.

xoxo

Café am Neuen See

26 Dec

Guten Tag! Hope you had a lovely Christmas! As you’re reading this, I’m currently making my way to Germany for a week of exploring, restaurant hopping and relaxation. If all goes as planned I’ll be on the ground Saturday morning, giving the BF a big hug.

Today I wanted to share my favorite spot in Berlin, Café am Neuen See.

On the Lake | www.the-wild-child.com

Pizza and Beer | www.the-wild-child.com

Café am Neuen See is a restaurant and biergarten located within the Tiergarten Park. I love the biergarten, especially on a warm day. You can sit by the lake, enjoy a beer and some pizza, and take comfort in the shade.

Cafe Am Neuen See Biergarten  | www.the-wild-child.com

Cafe Am Neuen See Lake   | www.the-wild-child.com

I’ve actually never eaten at the restaurant, but we made reservations there for New Year’s Eve or Silvester. There’s an awesome menu planned with champagne and fireworks. I have a hunch I’m going to like it.

Biergarten in #Berlin  | www.the-wild-child.com

Café am Neuen See
Lichtensteinallee 2, 10787 Berlin
+49 030 2544930

Fleesensee

24 Nov

Just an hour north of Berlin is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Sebastian and I spent a night there near Fleesensee, one of the lakes in the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte district. Don’t you just love German words?

Schloss Fleesensee | www.the-wild-child.com

Castle Entrance | www.the-wild-child.com

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Resort – also known as Schloss Fleesenesee. Schloss means castle in German, and the Radisson is literally a nineteenth-century castle converted into a hotel. I thought it was super cool and kept trying to envision what each room used to be.

Schloss Fleesensee Radisson  | www.the-wild-child.com

Flowers   | www.the-wild-child.com

Unfortunately when we visited, the weather wasn’t cooperating and it was quite cold for May. We wanted to spend more time walking the grounds, and visiting a national park nearby. But we opted for an afternoon of lounging by the indoor pool instead. I know, spare me.

Schloss Fleesensee Grounds  | www.the-wild-child.com

Indoor Pool  | www.the-wild-child.com

We finished the evening with cocktails in one of the old parlors and a fantastic dinner in what probably used to be the grand ballroom. I would go back every single day to eat their tomato soup again, so unbelievably good.

Castle Interior  | www.the-wild-child.com

Dinner | www.the-wild-child.com

Tomato Soup  | www.the-wild-child.com

Good Food | www.the-wild-child.com

The following morning we tried to spend some time outside, walking around the lake and exploring. It was still pretty cold so we’ll definitely need to go back when it’s warmer. There are tons of little cottages along the lake, and I bet a week there in the summer would be awesome.

Schloss Fleesensee Outside  | www.the-wild-child.com

Selfie  | www.the-wild-child.com

Lakeside | www.the-wild-child.com

Fleesensee Lake  | www.the-wild-child.com

All in all, it was my kind of stay, one where I had plenty of time to read and relax. It’s always nice to get away, especially when you spend the night in a castle.

Schloss Fleesensee Germany | www.the-wild-child.com

Radisson Blu Resort Schloss Fleesensee
Schloßstrasse 1
Fleesensee DE-17213
Phone: +49 39932 80100

Biking in Berlin

22 Nov

Every time I visit Europe, I always get this urge to ride a bike. We don’t have many cities in the states where biking is convenient, but over there it feels more accessible. So on my latest trip to Germany, I talked Sebastian into renting bikes one morning.

Biking in #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Biking in #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

It couldn’t have been a more perfect day to ride around Berlin. The sun was shining, there was a cool breeze and the tourists were scarce. We started with a ride through Tiergarten park and then made our way through the city. It was such a fun way to check out the sites and explore different areas. Eventually we started making our way to Tempelhofer Park.

Brandenburg Gate #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Berliner Dom #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

I adore Tempelhof, and I don’t think I’m in the minority here. It is one of the coolest places in Berlin. What was once an airport has now become a public space for cycling, kite flying and picnics. We kicked off our shoes, lounged on the grass and spent the afternoon people-watching.

Tempelhofer Park #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Biking in Tempelhof #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

No shoes #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Tempelhof Biking #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

We stopped for coffee with Sebastian’s dear friend Maik on our way home and finished the trip with ice cream at a new shop that had just opened nearby. We chatted with the owners for a few minutes, and they found it hysterical that nussbaum is called walnut in English. Who knew walnut was such a funny word?

Victory Column #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

#Berlin street corner | www.the-wild-child.com

Ice Cream Shop #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Ice Cream #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

It was one of those spectacular days that you want to bottle up and keep forever. Can’t wait to go back and do it again. Have you ever biked around a city? What was your experience?

Four years

15 May

Let me tell you a story of how I fell in love.

I met Sebastian while playing on a co-ed soccer team. He was our best player, and I liked it when we were on the field together. I appreciated that he understood the sport and was good at it. That’s how it started, two people playing a game we both loved.

I remember I couldn’t really understand his accent at first, but found him incredibly charming. There was always an ease between us, like we’d known each other for years. I’d tease him about his English pronunciations, and he’d make fun of my clumsiness. I loved it when I made him laugh.

Eventually group hang outs with friends turned into outings with just the two of us. We’d play racquetball or get burritos. It was always so easy, so comfortable.

The semester was coming to a close, and it was time for him to go home. I didn’t want him to leave, but I knew he couldn’t stay. I had a million thoughts in my head. Does he know how I feel? Could we really make this work?

The night before he was heading home, he said what we both knew all along: “I think I more than like you,” and I whispered back, “I think I know.”

Four years later, I’m still madly in love and just as crazy about him. People always ask me how we do long-distance, how we make it work, and the answer is we just do. My life is so much better with him in it than without. And although it’s unconventional, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Four Years

Dearest Basti – life is so full of love and laughter because of you.
Thank you for this wonderful adventure.

Happy four years! xoxo

P.S. I think I more than like you.