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After all this, marriage is going to be EASY.

June 25, 2010

(Part 1 of the “Wedding and Other Happy Disasters” series…)

June 18th, 2010 dawns in Belgium. Morning light filters through antique stained glass windows and falls on the sleeping bride. As the lavender and cerulean blue rays graze her cheek, she awakens. With nary a hint of the excitement about to ensue, our bride pauses to cherish the moment. She is well rested, the weather is idyllic, every detail is in order. The months of careful planning and years of blissful dating have reached their crescendo… the wedding day is here.

As those of you who know me will have already guessed, that is exactly how the morning of the wedding went.

For some other bride.

My morning? My morning was a little different. There were stained glass windows. And morning light. (It was punctuated with a few more clouds than I would have preferred, but at least it was there.)

But… details in order? Perfect weather? Lots of rest?

Heavens, no!

Frankly, what fun would that be? Do you really want to hear about cohesive themes and perfectly executed plans? Not only would that be boring, it wouldn’t be Belgian. And it most certainly wouldn’t be us.

So. Where to begin??? To fully comprehend the ridiculousness that was our wedding day, to appreciate the fact that it happened at all, to understand why I spent the day saying “ah well, add it to the list!”… well, we will have to rewind a few weeks.

Do you recall my previous post regarding birth certificates and red tape? I left you in April with a lovely story about apostilles and uber helpful Belgian office workers. To the shock of no one, that rigamaroll of bureaucratic stupidness was not resolved in the 2 easy steps promised. Instead it was a stressful, heartburn-inducing, 18 step process:

1. My dad takes a day off of work and makes the 4 and a half hour drive to Harrisburg with my mom. There, they navigate the maze of government offices to pick up a brand spanking new birth certificate.

2. My parents take this fresh certificate (that looks irritatingly similar to my original birth certificate) to the apostille and get it stamped, signed, sealed and kissed.

3. They hop in the car for their 4 and a half hour drive back to Cranberry.

4. They send me a pdf copy of the certificates and drop the originals in the mail for express delivery to Belgium.

5. I send the pdf copy to the planner who sends it to the translator (yes – they have to be reviewed by an “official” translator) who says it all “looks good.”

6. BF gives his mom explicit directions on how to get him a new birth certificate. She graciously embarks on the 3 hour drive to Columbus (each way!) and gets him new documents and has them apostilled. Makes a pdf copy, sends it to me and I send it to our planner. Again, it all “looks good.”

7. With 5 weeks to spare before the wedding we head back to the U.S. for my gorgeous cousin’s nuptials. We dance, we laugh, we cry, we drink and fun is had by all. Far too much fun. In a post-wedding-fun haze, BF heads back to Belgium. Without his apostilled birth certificate.

No big deal. My original is sitting on the kitchen table in Belgium and we have an excellent copy of BF’s. Plus the original of the original birth certificate. What more could a translator need?

8. The day I get back to Belgium I give MY original apostilled birth certificate plus a full color copy of BF’s to the wedding planner to deliver to the translator. She hands everything off to him and apparently it still “looks good.”

9. THREE DAYS later the translator calls, “You gave me a copy. I need the original.” Me: “!#%%FLIBBERTYGIBIT#@%A%A^.   OKAY.”

10. It’s now  May 18th. One month before the wedding. We MUST, must, MUST get all the documents to the commune 14 days before the wedding for “posting of the banns” otherwise we can’t get married on June 18th.

That gives us 2 weeks-ish to get the stuff. Should be fine. BF calls his mom and sends her specific instructions on how to send it priority global express 2-day shipping to Belgium.

11. It’s now Friday. The certificate is nowhere to be found. Turns out this is because his mom hasn’t sent it yet. Right.

He resends the global mailing instructions. She drops it in the mail.

12. It’s the following Wednesday. Just over a week until the deadline. Certificate is no where to be found. BF calls his mom to find out the tracking number.

Turns out she sent it normal mail. It should arrive within 6-10 business days. Even if it comes within 6 business days it will be past the deadline.

I lose it.

13. BF’s explains the situation to her and she makes the ultimate mom move – agrees to drive to Columbus AGAIN, get a new certificate, new apostille and send it super fast global priority mail.

14. She gets it, sends it and I track it.

15. Certificate arrives on Monday, May 31. We take it to translator.

16. Translator translates the documents and gets them notarized by the Belgian somebody or others.

17. With ONE day to spare take documents to the commune.

18. Everything “looks good” and we are about to officially reserve our date when the commune says…

“There is a problem. The date is wrong.”

BF was born November 1, 1981. In the U.S. you would write that as “11/1/81.” In Europe you write that as “1/11/81.”

The OFFICIAL, Leuven-approved translator wrote it wrong. He did it the American way. Not the European way.

A conversation ensues in Flemish between our [amazing] planner and the worker.

And… documents DENIED.

Which means wedding DENIED.

Which means… um…. heart attack?

A few moments and several Flemish sentences later, we were party to a miracle: the person doing our paperwork is willing to overlook this detail provided we get it fixed over the next few days.


Wedding was finally, officially ON.

Walking home from the commune that evening, BF and I were on top of the world. Convinced that all of our problems were solved, we relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Oh how silly and naive we were. How silly and naive, you ask? Well, stay tuned for Part 2…

“How do you feel about birth certificates, apostilles and the Belgian red tape?”
One Comment leave one →
  1. June 27, 2010 3:39 am

    geeeeeez what a nightmare! I’m totally in suspense now to find out whether you got married after all on the 18th!?

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