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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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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

Dealing with loss

8 May

loss

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, and while I have much to share from recent travels, today all I have to share is some very sad news. My Grandma’s twin died Sunday night after a long battle with cancer.

My Great Aunt Georgi was one of a kind. She always had spunk in her step and a smile on her face. And her laugh was one of the best I’ve ever known. She was a true joy in all our lives and will be greatly missed.

I remember going to her house as a kid and hanging out in her kitchen. We’d spend summer days with my Grandma at her cottage on Lake Erie. I love all those memories. She sent me a card for every holiday, and was usually the first to comment on my Facebook pictures. She always told me how she enjoyed reading my blog and how awesome it was that I traveled. I know she loved my family, and I can only hope she knew how much we all loved her.

Here is the obituary describing her beautiful life. Please keep my family, especially my Grandma, in your prayers as we say goodbye and do our best to heal.

Three years

15 May

Another year spent apart, but another year together. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Many people don’t understand our relationship, and why we choose to make it work, but I’m OK with that. What’s important is he gets me, and I get him. It doesn’t matter if people don’t get us.

I’m reminded every day that we’re 4,206 miles apart, yet he’s the closest person to me. He knows all my secrets, my hopes and my dreams. He knows what makes me laugh and how to push my buttons. He knows my favorite color and my silly routines. He’s seen me at my best, and he’s seen me at my worst. He knows it all, and still chooses to love me for me. I never have to pretend who I am with Sebastian.

So today we celebrate our crazy relationship – the relationship no one else truly gets, but the one we do, and that’s all that really matters.

Basti and Me

Dear Sebastian – you bring more joy to my life than you’ll ever know. Thank you for the most wonderful three years.

Happy Anniversary, love.

xoxo

Wallowing

8 Apr

I can’t deny it; I’ve been having an extra tough time since Sebastian went back to Germany. So much so that I let it take over my life this past weekend. I’m embarrassed to say I spent 80 percent of the time in bed and may or may not have finished an entire season of Mad Men. So many questions were running through my head and overwhelming me. How long are we going to do this? Are we ever going to end up in the same place? Why does long-distance have to be so hard? And then on Sunday I broke down.

But luckily, I broke down in front of Sebastian on Skype. He is such an incredibly understanding guy. I was a blubbering, snotty mess, and he stayed there with me, letting me cry it out. And then something really good happened. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I remembered, despite the ups and downs, long-distance is worth it. I remembered he’s worth it. So after we hung up the call, I picked myself up out of bed, pulled it together and stopped wallowing in self-pity. I know it won’t always be like this, and if I’m patient, everything will work out some day.

So here’s to feeling better. Here’s to feeling normal. And here’s to all the long-distance lovers out there. This one’s for you.

dance in the rain

images via 1, 2

You’re my sweetheart

14 Feb

Even though I can’t spend Valentine’s Day with my sweetheart, it doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate the holiday. I spent the evening going through old photos of me and Sebastian. It was nice reminiscing on all the trips we’ve taken and memories we’ve made. Looking forward to many more to come.

mjandseb

card2

mjandseb2

We may be a thousand miles apart, but I’ll be with you, wherever you are.

Happy Valentine’s Day

xoxo

Love notes

4 Feb

Sometimes I think Valentine’s Day is bit overdone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of presents (or a surprise visit) just as much as the next girl, but you shouldn’t need a holiday to let someone know you care.

Maybe all you need is a simple note to say you love them. I love the cards from Rifle Paper Co. I first saw them on A Cup of Jo and became a fast fan. They’re cheeky and whimsical (and made in the U.S.). Sebastian shouldn’t be surprised if he gets one in the mail this year.

catspajamas

overthemoon

What do you think? Is a love note too simple for Valentine’s Day?

P.S. Hope your week is off to a great start!

images 1, 2

Here’s to February

1 Feb

Every time February arrives, I think of the time my brother said this:

“It’s pretty unfair that February gets less days than all the other months.”

It still makes me laugh out loud, but in all honesty, he had a good point. Poor February really gets gypped. At least it has some unique celebrations like Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl. Plus one of my favorites – Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s a cheesy holiday that you either love or hate, but I can appreciate a day that celebrates love. And doesn’t everyone need more of it in their life?

As the song goes:



So here’s to February, the month that celebrates love and football and a little, furry rodent.

Have a lovely weekend! xoxo

Snail mail

28 Jan

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? In a world of email and text messages, it’s pretty rare to send and receive letters these days. It’s definitely old school, but there is something to be said about taking the time to send a note to those you love.

I don’t write as often as I should, but I’m trying to improve. It’s so thoughtful to hand write a note and let others know you’re thinking of them. Plus, I know how happy I feel when I find a letter or postcard in the mail.

A few people in my life will be getting letters soon, and I hope it brings a smile to their faces.

letters

Hope your week is off to a great start. Happy Monday!

P.S. If you’re looking to catch up on nominees for Best Picture, I saw Zero Dark Thirty this weekend and definitely recommend it. I’ll be seeing Silver Linings Playbook tonight. Cheers to Oscar season!