Monday, November 7, 2011

Getting Married: The circus is coming to town

Naturally, whenever we share the news that we are engaged and going to be married people ask us when and where. I wish it were a simple question to answer, because they look so disappointed when we say we don't know yet. Honestly, we're still kind of enjoying the excitement of the proposal and buying the rings. (side note: we don't actually have the rings yet. It's entirely possible that they are mining the gold before they make our rings. And holidays like All Saints Day slow the process too.) I hate the disappointed look but there's more to this than simply choosing a date.

Not that I haven't started thinking about these things. I have. In fact, being the totally organized American woman that I am, just last week I went to the dollar store (I am also a frugal woman) and bought a folder and a notebook so that everything would stay in one place. If you care to know, a lime green folder and a notebook with flowers on it. The selection of notebooks at the dollar store is not large. There were Japanese anime notebooks and dirt bike notebooks. At one point I almost got a Hannah Montana notebook, because that was the only one I could find without swords or engines on it. Well, she was wearing a motorcycle jacket, so I guess an engine was implied, but I didn't have to actually see it. I wasn't really looking forward to sitting in some official office and saying "wait, I have to get out my totally awesome Hannah Montana notebook to write down these important notes about the most romantic day of my life." Soooo, I dug down to the bottom of the stack and found a few kind of neutral covers and chose one with white flowers tranquilly floating on water. So assuming I ever have details to organize I'm ready. If I don't have details I can stare at the cover and feel calm as I wait for details to arrive.

As of last week, we knew exactly what we wanted. We wanted to get married in Florence. We had our witnesses chosen, we knew where it would happen, we even had a date in mind. Our visit to the marriage office in the town hall changed our minds significantly. The requirements for getting married in Italy are pretty large. Every public record about your life beginning with the day you were born, translated into Italian and stamped by numerous authorities have to be produced before they will even give a couple a civil service appointment. I would have to swear in front of two separate authorities that I can legally marry, with the accompanying fees and stamps. It is impossible to get married quickly In Italy. I don't know how anyone does it. Actually, I do. They hire a wedding planner. I think there's a conspiracy at work here. We were hoping to be married before December 15 so that I could return to Italy any time after my visit to Minnesota for the holidays. If we aren't married by then I have to wait three months to come back to Italy.

This was pretty hard on Leif. For him the proposal was the equivalent of standing at the altar saying "I do," without the luxury of the year long wait for the actual ceremony like American men get. In his mind (and his cultural upbringing) the proposal really means that as of now we are married, committed to each other for the rest of our lives. I feel the same way. We are doing the ritual because it is the only way to make our relationship legal outside of Sweden and allow me to stay with him. To have all these requirements and half-answers and flat-out noes from the various offices we visited was discouraging and emotional for us both.

We went home and sat around kind of shell-shocked for a bit. And started talking about options. We agreed that it wasn't the kind of decision we wanted to make quickly and that we should wait till Sunday night to talk about it again. We spent the weekend thinking about what we personally wanted from the experience and how flexible we felt we could be on the details.

Fast forward to Sunday night, because it was a very quiet and thoughtful weekend  for both of us. Lots of online research into requirements and costs. Lots of wishing the world were a friendlier place. There may have been a discussion about forming our own country and abolishing paperwork completely. (Still kinda kicking that one around but I don't expect anything to happen on that front any time soon.)

We talked a bit more about the pros and cons (OK, mostly cons) of Italy, Sweden and the USA. After looking carefully at all our options and practicing a little calm acceptance we are happy to announce that we will be married somewhere in Minnesota sometime in January. I can return to Italy whenever I want to as long as I hold in my hand a certified, translated into Italian and stamped by third party authorities marriage certificate. That's all we really wanted to begin with. And so, having run away with the circus, I am now bringing the circus to Minnesota. That's as detailed as it gets right now.

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