Eleanor & Armin’s German and American Weddings


Today’s wedding is one of those beautiful international weddings that happened twice. Each with a particular sense of place, each with with a slightly different mix of loved ones. Eleanor & Armin had a civil marriage in Munich, where they live, followed by a homespun, DIY wedding in Sebastopol, California. I love these weddings because thy teach us (me, really) that there can never be an excess of love. Eleanor, today’s graduate, is not only wise, she also happens to be an APW Wedding Elf, and one of the people that helps support this site (yayyy!) She offers beautiful, printable, crazy affordable wedding invitations, and apropos of Friday’s discussion, printable affordable thank you notes (achem). I love her work, but after today I feel so invited into her life, now I want to move to Munich and hang out with her and drink Prosecco. So, for all of you couples with families bridging multiple countries or cultures, this one is for you:

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

After this year, I feel not only like a Wedding Graduate, but like I’ve just earned my post-doctoral wedding degree! My husband is German and I’m a California native. I’ve lived in Munich for over ten years and we met about four years ago at work. When we decided to get married, we went through the gamut of possibilities, should we elope? Should we get married quickly in the U.S. instead of Germany?  Do we have one wedding or two?

In the end, we decided to have a celebration in each country. We didn’t want to ask or assume our guests could just shell out a few grand to fly to Germany or California. We knew if we just had one wedding, it would by default end up being either more my wedding or my husbands. We also didn’t want to have a destination wedding in a place that held no personal meaning for us. It took me awhile to accept this, because one of the things about being an expat is that, in some ways, you live a dual life. I have my American family and friends and my German friends and family and only rarely do the two lives intersect – which saddens me sometimes. It wasn’t until we really started talking about the logistics of getting married, that I had to let go of my fantasy of having one big wedding where both of my lives finally merge in a magical, matrimonial blowout celebration.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

It being Germany and all, there was a very logical way to break down the festivities. It is standard in Germany to have both a legal ceremony at the Standesamt (sort of like city hall) followed by some sort of religious ceremony afterward (sometimes months afterward). Since neither my husband nor I are religious it made sense to have the legal ceremony in Munich and then to have some sort of home-made wedding ceremony, several months later at my parent’s place in Northern California.

I’m so glad we ended up breaking things up this way. A dual-national marriage in Germany involves a LOT of paper work; you need to provide a recent copy of your birth certificate, an ‘Apostile’ (basically an international notary) from the state of your birth, then get everything translated into German and finally, approved by a judge. This takes time and patience, but there is a pretty clear process to get it done (I don’t know how people got married internationally – or did anything for that matter – before the internets!) I found all this paperwork and our regular meetings in the government-y but friendly office of our ‘Standesbeamtin‘ (marriage office clerk) oddly reassuring and confirming.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

The process provided the space and time for me to savor and appreciate the gravity of our decision to get married.  No quick signing of a certificate after the ceremony for us – we were meeting with officials in government buildings, getting international documents approved, having the ins-and outs of marriage rights in Germany explained to us. It was all very serious and grown-up and was the antithesis of ‘it’s all about you and your special day!!!!’ It felt right to me that the sober, serious part of getting married came first. Plus, there are tender little perks to getting married in Germany, one of which is the ‘Stammbuch der Familie.’ This is given to every couple getting married – it’s a little book which contains a place to store your marriage certificate, a family tree template, each and every article of German marriage and family law(!) and a (not too subtle suggestion to get crackin’) book of German baby names.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

I also loved the Standesamt ceremony. There is pretty much a ceremony every 25 minutes, but they did a really good job of not making it feel that way. One wall of the Trausaal (room where they perform the legal ceremony) was a huge floor to ceiling window that looked out over the red tile rooftops of Munich. This was also fitting because both of our weddings were so much about place. I was not only marrying my husband, I was committing to a life residing in, as well as a lifelong connection, to a foreign country, as was he by marrying me.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

After the small intimate ceremony we went to a great little cafe in our neighborhood, which is sort of a hipster take on a kitschy Bavarian grandmother’s living room (and about the same size). We whiled away the afternoon chatting, visiting, hugging and happily drinking Prosecco with elderberry syrup, eating yummy panninis, soups, snacks and cake. It was leisurely, intimate and wonderful.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

As my friend Elyse said afterward,  “I mean, Dayenu, right?” knowing that this was the first of three wedding celebrations. In many ways she was totally right. That simple, happy day would have been enough. Because of our spread-out life, I’m deeply glad we had our multiple wedding parties, but I also saw that you really don’t need much to have a wonderful, happy, lovely and meaningful wedding.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

A day later we had a dinner for about 80 in the banquet room at a traditional Bavarian Wirtshaus (sort of like a tavern) around the corner from our apartment. It was a warm and happy dinner full of tender toasts and followed by fun and dancing and hangin’ at the bar. There was a lot of love floating through the evening (which our photographer captured beautifully) We also loved that the events were all at our ‘neighborhood places’ and that we worked with small and/or family-owned local vendors to get everything done. One more way that getting married in Munich helped connect us even more to the city we love and call home.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

As I’m sure many of the other wedding graduates have experienced, we were in a blissful haze in the days following. There was a physical feeling to it. I truly believe that some sort of physiological alchemy takes place when you are with everyone you love and they are sending loving vibes your way.

Eight months later. Sebastopol, California…

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

“Seriously, why are we are doing this twice!?!?!” I would grumble to my husband when I was feeling stressed or frustrated. He didn’t like it when I voiced this feeling as it was not exactly joyful or motivating. However that’s how I felt in the month leading up to our California wedding ceremony (complete with the dress, exchanging of vows, etc.) Our celebrations in Munich were so wonderful, we were already legally married, and yes most of my family or friends from America weren’t there – but we were married. Everyone knew we’re married. It was done. I could have been spending the summer doing nothing but getting up to speed on ‘Mad Men’ and starting my cocktail hour early, but no – I had a head full of wedding decisions, DIY projects, dress cleanings, managing guest issues, etc. (Would you like some cheese with that whine?) but sometimes it just seemed superfluous and decadent.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

That all changed when everyone started to arrive. Happily, most of my husband’s family decided to turn our ceremony into an excuse to have a summer vacation in Kalifornien. As all of my family poured in along with all of my lifelong friends, we started to finally and beautifully see our two lives merge. In the days leading up to the wedding there was a lot of DIT, mostly from family, which worked like a sort of festivity enhancer – We were all pitching in for ‘the big event!’

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

I don’t feel that a wedding is all about the bride and groom, I think the celebration is partly for everyone else to celebrate your people, their place in your lives and vice versa. One of the best DIY things I did was frame and hang pictures of all of our loved ones on the trees. In this way the wedding became about all of us. It was also a really great way to get our guests to get to know one another better. Everyone loved it.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

My best friend was my maid of honor and my husbands best friend was his best man, other than that we had no wedding party and kept it all in the family. My cousin officiated our simple ceremony; one of my two sisters read a poem. My youngest sister and my husband’s only sister sang a song together. It was all more beautiful and heartfelt and emotional than I had anticipated. In his very moving toast, our best man mused on the Leonard Cohen quote:

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”

This is true about both life and about weddings.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

One of the best moments in the ceremony was when our sisters started to sing their acapella song. They used an ipad to give them their first note. My sister accidentally hit the icon for ‘Jambox’ an app that spits out hip hop beats. My husband looked out at our guests and joked: ‘Wrong app!’ everyone cracked up. The ceremony became so relaxed and light-hearted after that. It was one of those ‘imperfections’ that made the ceremony uniquely ours and even more heartfelt.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

In her toast, my best friend mentioned a text she received from shortly after I met my husband: “Dude! – I kind of have a boyfriend” I had completely forgotten about it, and hearing it go full circle from my giddy thumbs, to out of her mouth at our wedding years later is just one more reason it was worth it to have the two celebrations.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

We had just spent the bulk of the summer in Sebastopol, and in those short months this corner of California, and our time spent there had become very meaningful to us. A transformation had occurred that had made this place ‘home’ just as much as Munich is. Spending three days together with our families and seeing our people from both lives ‘cross pollinate’ had much more of an impact than I could have ever anticipated. The fact that it was on my parent’s property, made it all the more special. We were at ‘home’ where we could celebrate, eat, drink, laugh, dance and sit around a campfire until the wee hours of the morning.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

Wedding #2 definitively answered the question “Why are we doing this twice?” Both weddings were a celebration not just of our wedding, but of our life, the people in both countries that make our life sweet and wonderful, and the places that surround and give context to our life.

Eleanor & Armins German and American Weddings | A Practical Wedding

Photo Credits: In Munich, Christoph Mukherjee and in Northern California, Charlie Gesell

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  • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

    Ahhh– even just from the writing I can feel the love! What a beautiful celebration(s)! And having never come across that quote before, I might have to write it out and frame it today.

  • http://Averyhappyaccident.blogspot.com Alice

    “The process provided the space and time for me to savor and appreciate the gravity of our decision to get married”

    The above quote and the entire post honestly really touches home for me. I too have the international wedding dilemma… as we live in Argentina and I’m from the United States. The process of getting legally married in another country is quite long and frustrating (especially in a country that presumably is significantly less organized than Germany!) and this really changed my perspective on things. There have been so many frustrations along the way (from my birth certificate being to “old” to the State of California switching the cover pages on two documents with Apostille stamps and thus rendering both invalid) but… I realize now that all these bumps in the road have made us really consider our marriage and our decision to spend our lives together. It’s a sort of gift really. And if anything, I want to marry my fiance even more now.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      My partner is Spanish, and Spain also counts as a country that’s not quite as organized as Germany! We started doing all of the (mountains of) paperwork to get married legally in Spain first, and then actually ended up getting married in the U.S. and just legalizing it in Spain. The Spanish consulate in Chicago was so much easier to deal with than all of the government offices we had encountered in Spain!
      I was also told that my original birth certificate was “expired”, which seems so silly, since I’m still here!

      • http://avaluablewedding.blogspot.com/ Pamela

        We’re doing the international thing too. He’s Indian and I’m the US. It’s all very complicated. We’ve decided to have two weddings, but still haven’t decided which country to legally get married in. There’s downside either way. It’ll probably come down to money.
        Except the paperwork though, I’m majorly looking forward to it. It’ll be really great.

  • http://townhousetohome.blogspot.com adria

    beautiful. it always fills my heart to see two different backgrounds join together for a celebration(s) that combine their lives and their history into one.

    and, might I add, that I would love to get a Stammbuch der Familie, as I’m all about organization!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Spain has those, too! I was so excited to get one! I laughed and thought, “How nice to have official government recognition of our baby family!”

  • http://etsy.com/shop/CorrineONeill Corrine O’Neill

    I love that photo tree; what an awesome way to get people talking and interested in eachother!

  • Someone

    Did the two families talk much? I wonder if ours will camp out on either side of the room like at a school disco.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      I see Eleanor’s reply below, but I wanted to let you know that they did talk at our celebration as well. Some of my American family members came over to Spain for the second party. None of them speak Spanish, and very few of my partner’s family members speak English, but those that do were acting as interpreters, those who only speak a little bit of English were trying their hardest, and even some of those who don’t speak any English were attempting to communicate with lots of hand gestures. Happily, they were all surprisingly successful!

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny

        Our families mingled too. I was worried about the language barriers too, but it has been fun to look back on the photos and see who was talking with who while we weren’t around. :)

        • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

          Yes, definitely. I was surprised by some of the combinations! It was also nice to hear my mom comment that they had a lovely time chatting with my husband’s sister… I didn’t actually expect her to make such a big effort (especially since she was wearing a long, not-quite-white dress–just like me, *ahem*), but I’m really glad that she, and lots of others, went out of her way to make my family feel included and welcomed in their country!

  • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

    Hi All – Thanks so much Meg & co. for doing such a great job with the post, and for all the nice comments.

    @Someone: YES our families talked a LOT despite not everyone on the German side being able to speak perfect English. The photo tree helped a lot, but we also had a family dinner and a BBQ in the two days leading up to wedding. I highly recommend trying to do as much stuff like that together, we were really all one big family by the end of it. It was beautiful.

    • Someone

      Thanks, maybe I should have more faith in our peeps :)
      And thank you for sharing your wedding(s) with us.

  • http://www.stofnsara.com saartjie

    Beautiful and warm. As someone who stretched her own wedding out over 4 days (albeit in the same weekend), I completely understand how the warmth of your community grows with each ‘event’. It must have been a joy for your guests to have attended any one of your celebrations!

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny

    “I was not only marrying my husband, I was committing to a life residing in, as well as a lifelong connection, to a foreign country, as was he by marrying me.”

    Yes. So true!!! I am also in an international marriage, and it means that at least one of us will always be living in a “foreign” country and speaking a non-native language, no matter where we decide to live. Sometimes that’s hard and sometimes, like last night in the car on the way home, I look up at the stars and wonder how, considering the vastness of the universe, my spouse and I ended up being in the same country, in the same room, at the same time to even meet each other in the first place. And yet, here we are (after some years of long-distance) sharing our lives together in the same place. Pretty mind-blowing and beautiful.

    • http://whenhoyametsaxa.blogspot.com/ Kathleen

      What a beautiful perspective!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      I’m regularly amazed, as well, by the fact that we found each other, coming from different continents!

      After living in his country for 4 years and before moving to mine (hopefully permanently), we’ve moved to a third country for 2 years. We did this in part to experience another culture & language, but also in part so that we’d both have experience–together–being “the foreigner”. When we were in his country, he sometimes didn’t understand why I would get frustrated over certain things, and I really think this experience has helped us remember to take things as they come, that not everything is as “perfect” as it was in your country (ha!), and that it’s ok to be frustrated by some aspects of the other place & that doesn’t mean that you don’t like your partner (and/or their country as a whole).

      • ElfPuddle

        That’s a brilliant idea!

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny

        Kahlia, very interesting that you got to both experience being the foreigner at the same time. I imagine that has been soooo helpful in understanding each other’s feeling living in the other’s culture.

        • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

          It really has.
          And it’s nice, also, to be able to tell him, “If you can handle Italian bureaucracy & different official people telling you different things every time you ask which papers you need, the super-specific American rules & regulations will seem easy by comparison!” It’s helped in that it’s shown us that if we can do it here (adjust to the cultural differences, etc.), we can do it anywhere… and that the other person is a good person to do it with! We make a good team, and we’re lucky to have had this experience to prove it before he’s all kinds of culture-shocked upon arriving in America!

          And thanks, ElfPuddle! :)

      • http://www.twitter.com/yomemoi Cynthia

        Hi Kahlia, your relationship sounds *so* much like mine, especially this:

        “We did this in part to experience another culture & language, but also in part so that we’d both have experience–together–being “the foreigner”.”

        My fiancé and I are currently living in Mexico, which is neither his country of origin nor mine (I’m American and he’s French). We’ve been here for two years, and I’ll admit, it’s not always easy. Sometimes I have to pause and remind myself why we’re here, as it’s not always easy to explain why you’re in a country where you have neither family (aside from your s.o.), nor the intention to stay forever.

        Good luck to you, and p.s. I’ve requested to follow you on twitter (I’m @yomemoi)

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny

    Oh, and I also wanted to say I am glad you got the time to celebrate with all your communities and got to experience the joy of seeing our families overlap and get to know each other! :)

  • ddayporter

    oh wow. congratulations on two amazing weddings! you two look so freakin happy in all of the photos. I had never heard the word Dayenu before but I have to agree it seems completely apt. and of course Germany would have something like the Stammbuch der Familie.. I would love something like that for our American marriage.

  • Carreg

    I like the quotation — I’ll try to remember that when everything goes t-ts up :-) And I love the Stammbuch der Familie. How cute of the government. I’m glad the legal aspects were an meaningful part of it for you, not an encumberance. Congratulations!

  • http://eyesopenfeetfirst.blogspot.com Suzanne

    We, as an international marriage, will also have two celebrations as well … or possibly three depending how and what you count. And trust me, I have definitely caught myself wondering every once and awhile “um, why are we doing this two (or three) times?!” But reading this reminds me why – Because we didn’t want any one celebration to be overly “me” or “overly” him. As well, we are both tied and linked to family and friends in two different places now, and want to share in all of this with ALL of them.

    fortunately, there will be a small representation of both sides at both…and just for those people to have the fortune to meet “The other side” gets me so excited…to know that our lives will be blending (when it almost never happens with communities on either side of an ocean)…It makes me so excited for every little piece of it.

    Thank you for sharing!! This was so dead on for me and just what I needed with only 50 some days from celebration number 1!

    • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

      Well, I’m glad it helped. I was a little hesitant to share that sentiment (annoyance that we were doing it twice) because I was worried that it seems obnoxious to complain about something that’s really a privilege, but it there are moments where it really was exhausting. You get to a point when you just look forward to a time when you aren’t planning or coordinating anything. But yes, when it finally happens it’s wonderful. I guess it’s similar to how they say you don’t remember all the pain of childbirth once the child gets there.

  • http://abouttobe.wordpress.com Mary

    I think one of the wedding things I’m most excited for is bringing together all of our family and friends who otherwise would never have met each other. Although the disconnect between our families is on a much smaller scale than yours, Eleanor, your post just made me super excited about it!

  • Emily

    Thank you for this post. I needed to read this today. We are also having a second wedding party, but not internationally. Honestly, there are moments when I have no interest in having the second party in Michigan for family that can’t make it to California. Hearing someone have similar thoughts and realize it was all worth it helps me realize it is worth it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      It really is.
      I admit that my first reaction to the idea of having a second party (international), was “I’m already throwing one wedding, they can all come to that one.” Which is really unfair, because a lot of people couldn’t actually come to it. But, of course, we realized that we did very much want to celebrate with those people who wouldn’t be able to make it (due to money, old age, not-used-to-travelling-ness, or whatever), and that really the way to do it was to bring the party to them. And it was totally worth it to see them all excited for us!
      (Except that people attending just the second party, which was just a reception 1.5 months after the ceremony + first reception, kept asking us if we were nervous leading up to it… treating it like a “real” wedding. We were like, “um, no? We’re already married, silly!”)

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      PS- where in Michigan are you from, and where in California are you? I’m from Union Lake (Detroit suburbs), and am moving to San Francisco next year. Email me (kahliabear at gmail)!

  • Rachel

    What an amazing, beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing! I especially love reading about that text you sent your friend… Reading that made me think back to things when we first met and it is so great looking back now that we are married… It is almost surreal in a way.
    Thanks again for sharing.. The love felt on your special days is palpable.

  • Faith

    “It wasn’t until we really started talking about the logistics of getting married, that I had to let go of my fantasy of having one big wedding where both of my lives finally merge in a magical, matrimonial blowout celebration.”

    I feel like getting ready to be married, having a wedding, and relationships in general are all about letting go of our own ideas/expectations of how things “should” be. The earlier I can learn that and then truly roll with whatever comes our way, I think it makes everything more joyful and natural anyway. And I seem to enjoy tings much more when they are not exactly the way i wanted or planned:)

    • Faith

      Yes, I do realize my grammar, spelling, and plain wording died at the end of that comment. I am truly sorry!

      • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

        “I feel like getting ready to be married, having a wedding, and relationships in general are all about letting go of our own ideas/expectations of how things “should” be.”

        Semantics aside Faith, this neatly summed up one of the Big Lessons I’ve been learning from the planning process. I could rephrase that quote of Eleanor’s for me as, “When we really started talking about the logistics of getting married, I had to let go of my fantasy wedding.” I’m hoping getting this early on will mean it’s all downhill from here. :)

        Congratulations Eleanor! This post was magical, as clearly your 3 celebrations were. (Also, I <3 the photo tree and your classic white suit!)

        • anon

          That’s a big thing to have learned early. Good on you! After that, it really does get easier to accept changes or things that are different from what you had previously wanted or expected. Or you’ll find ways to make it happen, or adapt & approximate what you _can_ do to your ideal.
          For example, we wanted awesome photography, but couldn’t really afford it. So we went with a friend of my mom’s (who is a professional wedding photographer, just not really our style), since she was willing to give us a huge discount. The pictures we got were perfectly adequate, but they weren’t super awesome.
          So, trade-offs. Sometimes they’re worth it, and that means different things, at different levels, for different people.
          (Sorry for being anon, but I do plan on writing a grad post, and then you’d all see who my photographer was and I would feel bad.)

  • http://kristythecoffeegirl.blogspot.com Kristy

    As the product of an international marriage, and being part of a pseudo-international marriage myself (since I have dual citizenship and travel to see my family in Brasil fairly often), this really hit home for me. And then the best man quotes Leonard Cohen, and I’m a weepy mess.

    What beautiful, beautiful celebrations. Congratulations to you both!

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    That tree! With the photos! I love that tree!

    I also love that you said it wasn’t a celebration of your wedding but of your life. I love that perspective.

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    “The process provided the space and time for me to savor and appreciate the gravity of our decision to get married.”

    I find this notion of space and time for savoring and appreciating the decision really compelling. I didn’t want to rush things when I got engaged, not because I thought it would take a long time to plan, but I wanted to experience honest reflections about marriage with my partner before we took the plunge.

    Thanks for sharing your weddings with us Eleanor!

  • http://www.montereyweddingofficiants.com/elope_monterey.html Maureen Thomson

    Wow! So many things to love about this post–not the least of which is the opportunity to wear THREE fabulous dresses, if one so chooses.

    Okay, not really the point…just saying…

    I’ve always felt that there are two aspects to every wedding ceremony–the legal part and the celebration part. And many couples choose to separate the two (for example by having a courthouse legal wedding followed by a non-legal friends and family bash). But how wonderful that even your legal ceremony contained elements of celebration as well. And the idea of the token “folder” that they presented has me thinking. What a great gift to the bride and groom! (Okay, I might leave out the list of baby names, but the rest of it is fabulous!)

  • peanut

    I am in awe that you had the emotional stamina to do two weddings! We had an international wedding, with the original intention that we would have a second one here in CA….and then ditched that idea early in the planning stages. Both your weddings look wonderful! Cheers to you both.

  • http://made-of-sun.tumblr.com/ Trisha

    This is the first wedding grad post to make me tear up in a while. Everything is so full of love and joy. Like Meg, I wish that I could fly to Germany and be friends with Eleanor. By the time we got to the second California wedding I was already so emotionally vested that my heart filled with joy that both families where there. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing with us!

    And that quote? Amazing. I think that I’ll be mentally chewing on that for a few days.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

    Congratulations, and thank you for sharing! It’s really nice to hear about other international couples, especially those who got to do two celebrations! All of your celebrations look like they were properly full of revelling.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      I also love the “Stammbuch der Familie”. We got one, too (a “Libro de Familia”), when we registered our U.S. marriage in Spain.

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

    i will always bow to the mastery of anyone who can pull off two weddings.

    but holy crap, is that THREE cute white ensembles i see??

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    LOVE the photo tree- it’s so thoughtful & brilliant!

  • Amanda

    Thanks for sharing ! I could relate so much. My husband is dutch and I am mexican. We also had first the city hall wedding only with our closest families and best friends (16 people in all) and after that we went for coffee and cake at one of our favorite places.
    Then, just now in September we had the religious ceremony, where some of my family from Switzerland and Mexico (only parents plus brother and sister) could come. It was nice to have his and my family mingle together.
    Of course, a huge amount of people from Mexico could not be here, so we are going in January and we are planning on hosting a lunch or something with friends and family. We want to keep it simple though, so maybe we will just go to a restaurant together.
    I liked reading the part about “living a dual life ” , with families and friends in different ends of the world and sometimes it can be hard .. but at the same time I feel so incredibly lucky and happy. There is a famous mexican song that kind of summarizes the feeling “no soy de aqui, ni soy de alla ” (I am not from here , and not from there).
    Congratulations Eleanor and Armin !

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    “Both weddings were a celebration not just of our wedding, but of our life, the people in both countries that make our life sweet and wonderful”

    THIS. So much this. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Eleanor! I’ll be forwarding this grad post to a friend who has also had to grapple with the fact that hers will be an international marriage.

  • margiemive

    I LOVE that last picture, where you just look like you’re glowing and basking in all the love. Congratulations!

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jolynn

    Oh yeah, totally teared up. Love the photo tree, the writing, and the love in this post.

  • Alexandra

    Ahhh, so beautiful! I’ve pondered having a second celebration, since most of his east coast relatives won’t be able to come to Cali for our wedding…we’ll see! ;p

    Congratulations!!!

  • Marchelle

    Ah, weddings after my own heart. Love it.

    Also, how ridiculously beautiful is Eleanor? Not to be all shallow and everything, but it had to be said.

  • Seraina

    That sounds all just exactly right…

    I could definitely relate to: “Seriously, why are we are doing this twice!?!?!”

    I’m in the same situation. I’m Swiss, my husband is from New Zealand.
    We just recently got married in Switzerland, both legally (also at the Standesamt : ) )
    and in the Church. We had 9 people who came over from New Zealand to celebrate with us, which was just amazing to have them there.
    The ideal situation to have everyone from both sides in one place was just never an option for us… Switzerland and New Zealand are just about as far apart as it get, so even meeting in the middle means a 10 hour flight for everyone…
    Well, the wedding here was amazing, rather small, lots of DIY and lots and lots of love!

    Now we are planning the wedding celebration in New Zealand which will be in January with all of my husbands family and friends. And, lucky me, my family will also travel all the way down under with us to celebrate once more.

    It is exhausting and a lot of money but the love and all the happy faces on the day of are definitely worth it!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      That’s a great solution. How nice that so many people will be able to make it to both!
      You’re right that it’s a lot more money (even just the plane tickets to get you both there!), but it’s also totally worth it.

      • Seraina

        It is really worth it!
        Money-wise we decided to set up honeymoon registries, so people could contribute towards our honeymoons (tickets, suitcases, activities…).
        We had a 6 day honeymoon to italy just after our wedding in Switzerland and will go travelling in New Zealand for two weeks when we are there.

        To Eleanor: i also have to say it is very nice to see that we are not the only ones in this situation!
        Greetings from Zürich to Munich!

  • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

    Wow!!! Waking up this morning to all this love is amazing! It’s so great to hear about so many others also living dual-national lives and figuring out ways to celebrate that make sense.

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments…I didn’t expect, nor did I have any idea how wonderful it would be to share our wedding here, I guess I should have known!

  • http://www.icookwithwine.com Melinda

    Eleanor, gorgeous! I loved the photo tree and Leonard Cohen quote. Very inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing.

    p.s. We had little slip-ups in our wedding ceremony too – isn’t it great how non-perfection makes it seem so much more perfect? :)

  • http://as-food-to-life.blogspot.com meredythbyrd

    Your 2 weddings both sound lovely. I found the not so subtle suggestion to get cracking (and name your baby something GERMAN!) hilarious. But what I really wanted to comment on is the picture of the reception with the large family table and lights strung across it. I saw it and instantly said “THAT is what I envision for our wedding.” And then I showed it to my boyfriend who agreed. He said it’s very “Austin-viby”. I’ve been imagining small tables and those lights but the big table fits my family and my vibe way more. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Cynthia

    Just, wow. Thank you Eleanor for sharing what was such an intimate and important day for you and your guy.

    My fiancé and I are just now going through the “red tape” stage of a “mixed” marriage, as they call them in France

  • Cynthia

    Just, wow. Thank you, Eleanor for sharing what was such an intimate and important day for you and your guy.

    My fiancé and I are just now going through the “red tape” stage of a “mixed” marriage, as they call them in France— I am Mexican-American and he is French-Swiss. I can’t wait for the day that I can look back on this part and say in a very wise way “The process provided the space and time for me to savor and appreciate the gravity of our decision to get married.”

    But for now, we are just kind of tearing our hair out over the complications…

    Best of luck to you both, and thanks again for being such an inspiration!

  • Robin

    am I allowed to whine here? It’s 1:30 in the morning in germany and I am crying about my international everything-go-wrong wedding (except the husband). at least I have german beer. I’m from the US and my husband is from Germany. Axel and I were sort of forced to marry last september when i failed at my job and my job failed me, pulling me into unemployment and a little bit of depression… and then with not having a job, germany told me I had to leave the country within 8 weeks or be arressted or marry. We decided to marry – we wanted to some day, had been together many years, our relationship is great, but we had always expected to decide on our own when exactly that would be. the paperwork stress was incredible and we recieved the okay to marry exactly 1 day before I had to leave the country. none of my family was there. the guilt on my part was and still is horrific. SO we are trying so hard to plan two happy, family, friends, relaxed weddings for next year – one in the US, one in Germany, to celebrate our really wonderful love for eachother.

    But dang, it really sucks. I’ve been trying so hard to motivate myself out of the guilt and enjoy the planning, but things just keep going wrong. And i just get consumed by the guilt of the whole thing. I lost my wedding ring from our civil ceremony and we dove in the lake for a week with a metal detector – and found it. But I got so unmotivated from it – like investing all the energy to make a nice wedding (and I am really laid back about the whole thing) will just blow up in my face. And it really does keep blowing up in my face. We found out today that our invitations have been destroyed by the mail – really ruined and people are embarssed to comment that they recieved our invites. And also my mother informed me today that she is not sure she wants to come, even though we are close, because my father will be there. Everything really is just not working out – the whole wedding process is absolutely a nightmare for me. I feel like I am planning a disaster, not a wedding. I’ve even begun seeing a therapist. bleh. who wants to pick out my dress? i surely am not.

  • emmylou

    Wow.Your story really hits home because i’m in a similar dilemma. My fiance is from St. Maarten and I;ve always dreamed of a destination wedding, but especially in this economy I feel that it isn’t fair to ask my friends and family to trek out there. But I also want to have his family from back home celebrate with us. So I think we are going to have spread the love and thats a good thing. Thank you for sharing our story.

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