Saturday, January 22, 2005

Getting married in Germany

Getting married in Germany may be a bit unlike what you are used to. In Germany, many couples have both a civil and a church ceremony. You can't just get married in a church, you must do a civil ceremony too. A friend of mine figures it's to restrict the power of the church versus the state, which is an interesting theory and very possibly true. You can also only have a church wedding if you pay church tax. This is an extra tax of around 9% that you "voluntarily" pay to the church that comes off your paycheck. I say voluntarily because you don't have to pay it, but a lot of expats don't realise this when they move to Germany. They put down their religion on their work forms, not realising that it means they will be paying an extra tax. If you want to give to the church, all fine and good, but a lot of people I know find it a bit bothersome that they are taxed 9% for their faith. Once you are on, you have to it's of course a big hoopla to get off. Not too big, but it might make you a bit uncomfortable if you are religious but want to tithe the money somewhere else. Don't worry, no one I know has been struck down by lightning for removing themselves from this tax.

ZeeGroom and I will be having only a civil ceremony.

I was looking through some of the online information about marriage in Munich from the Munich webpage, and as I don't have all the details, I won't write exactly what is needed. I have to go down in person to get all the goods. But I have to share with you this one tidbit. They have a list of songs that they can play for your wedding. Most are just your normal standard stuff, but some of the song they have go a ways in helping blowing away the stereotype of Germans as conformists. But perhaps go a ways to giving you the idea they have no taste.

How Deep is Your Love - BeeGees - To me, this song always had more to do with "getting it on" than getting the ring on, but perhaps that's just me.
My Way - Frank Sinatra - "And now, the end is near, And so I face the final curtain" What a nice sentiment to start your married life with. And does this mean that whoever chose the song is going to get his or her way for the rest of the marriage?
Que' sera' - "Hitchcock" Doris Day - Okay, this song isn't so bad really, but the fact that they list it as a song from Hitchcock is really a bit weird. It was in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much but still, I think Doris Day would have been enough.

But saving the best for last:
Hells Bells - ACDC!!! I really really would like to see the couple who get married to this song. They must be extremely cool or extremely clueless. Hah! It made my afternoon.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Telling People

I'm enjoying telling people that I'm engaged. It's always nice to be able to tell people good news and everyone I know would think that this is good news. As G and I already live together, it hardly comes as a shock to anyone, so no good expressions of amazement on people's faces, simply a 'bing' type look, a smile and an immediate "Congratulations!" Makes me feel good, the exact opposite of shoot-the-messenger.

But one thing I'm not enjoying so much is not being able to give any details. Most people have not immediately followed their congratulations with "So when's the wedding", but it usually comes within the next few minutes of conversation. We are vague, thinking probably January next year for the actual paperwork, then a party in February or March in Australia, then another party in June or July in Canada. Everyone in Munich is now asking themselves "And what about us young lady?" Yes, definitely another party here in Munich at some as-yet undetermined time.

But know I'm thinking about it, and June/July next year is when the World Cup is taking place. Here in Germany. It would be really really inopportune to go away for all of that excitement, when it's happening right here. Hmm. More thinking required...

The rest of the review of InStyle Weddings Issue

Things I like.
I like the fact the articles finish in order in the magazine. I hate it when you have to go searching around the back of the magazine to find the last one and a half pages of an article.
I like that the articles are well-written and seem to respect the reader. It seems to be a style that says "We understand you are really happy, but we also know you have a lot of decisions to make." Nothing too frothy and lovey-dovey.
As you would expect from a bridal magazine, the photography is excellent and the clothes that are displayed are tasteful. Not necessarily my taste - there's a doozy on page 159 that you would have to pay me the 6,990 bucks it costs just to wear it - but no red latex jumpsuits for you to show off in in front of the vicar. Hey, maybe by the time things roll around to the day, I might be interested in that look. But that wasn't what I looking for when I bought the magazine and that's happily not what is in it.
Being from InStyle, there are some clever stylistic things to do with your hair and the location you choose. Other things too that are perhaps a bit more fashion than just bridal. But I might just being saying that because it's my first one. I guess I'll have to buy another and compare. :)

Things I don't like.
The pages and pages and pages of ads. I'm not surprised, but when I pay $6.50 Cdn for a magazine, I would hope to get a bit more meaty substance than was provided.
I'm sure many brides probably appreciate that there are so many ads for ideas they can see pasted in front of them. But I would appreciate if some of them listed the price of the outfit the model is wearing. You (you being the advertiser) may feel that's a bad idea, listing the price, as people will just flick through, either shocked at the prices or simply looking for the cheapest dress. Well, I have two things to say to this. One, they list the prices of the dresses used in the articles, so I think most women would have an idea of what to expect. Two, either they are going to fall in love with your dress and seeing the price doesn't matter or they are going to shop around anyways. Do all of us future brides a favour, start listing the price discreetly in the corner!!
Okay, if that is really too much to ask - although I feel is shouldn't be - can you at least then put the name or number of the style on the page so we know what to ask for when we go into the shop? That truly is the least you can do, rather than making us go online and find it on your website, which also doesn't have the price. Sigh.
The last thing I didn't like, which relates to the first thing I didn't like, was that there wasn't enough practical information in it. I suppose this is how they sell magazine after magazine, by only telling you a few tidbits at a time. Well, like I said, I'll buy another one in a few weeks and see how they compare...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Review of InStyle Weddings Issue

I can't remember exactly why I picked this magazine over the 9 or so others hovering in the same part of the magazine rack, each with a skinny beautiful girl with a white dress on the front cover. I guess it wasn't specific to any particular region; it didn't look over the top on ideas of how to waste-sorry, spend, your money; and I was under pressure from ZeeGroom to "just pick one so we can get out of here", so probably the words "Great choices for any budget" and "easy ideas" caught my eye.

The magazine is 376 pages long. The first page that isn't an ad is page 27, the start of the contents page. The next is page 32, the second page of the contents. That's right, they space two pages of contents over five pages. Next is the editor's note on page 50. The first actual article comes on page 89. I was going to put quotes around the word actual, because it's basically a promotion for an event designer. But it is in print and it isn't an advertisement and it does give at least one idea. $325 US for a bouquet? Ackkk!! Ack was my reaction to reading a lot of the things in the magazine; $5000 US and for a cinematographer to film your wedding (you get a 12-14 minute DVD, no sound). Ackkk!! The price of the first outfit I saw that I actually liked, $4030 US. Ackkk!! At least that included the Manolo Blahnik shoes.

Which leads me to an aside: Was I the only one who hadn't heard of Manolo Blahnik before I watched Sex and the City? Living in Europe puts you behind the curve on a lot of pop-culture things, but was a pair of shoes that cost on average over $400 a thing that your average North American knew about before? I so do wonder. Maybe it's just me who is behind the curve.

More later, and I promise, a true review, not just first impressions.


I started writing this last night, and "Breakdown" is a very apt title, as did in fact seem to do that as I was trying to publish this. I hope it's not a regular feature of their service.

Anyhow, as I was saying. The breakdown title in fact refers to my lack of willpower. Less than a week after finally informing my parents, I broke down and bought a bridal magazine. (You can see the cover below, I'll give you my rating of it later). I really wanted to buy one, even though as I've stated before, I really don't want the hoopla of a big wedding. But it was like there was some power over me, drawing me to the section of magazines with white dresses on the covers, willing me to buy one. By the way, it's amazing how many bridal magazines are out there. How can they sell so many on a regular basis? Who buys these? I suppose a nervous bride (they are definitely targeted at the bride, not the groom!) would probably buy a stack. I bought one, and felt deliciously guilty buying just that. G just rolled his eyes at me and told me to get one, as I obviously looked like a kid locked out of the candy store, staring up at them.

The draw I felt to buy one reminded me of a similar feeling I used to get when I was dating. I would meet some guy, have a couple great dates with him and feel giddy about him. You know, that initial rush of attraction. If I had too much time on my hands after one of these dates, I found my mind wandering, thinking about our future life together, whether we'd have a boy or a girl first, how my first name would sound with his last name... and then I would pull myself back to reality, hating myself for getting carried away with things that I truly (I swear to you) did not want or expect. Honestly, I've never wanted to change my last name, it's so cool and most guy's last names don't measure up, but I still would daydream about it. It was like the hormones in my body were pressuring me to make whoever the poor guy was my mate, whether my conscious mind wanted to or not. I felt the same feeling when I went to buy the bridal magazine, something my conscious mind didn't want to do, but still wanting it. But at least buying a magazine is something considered fairly normal. I'm sure the boys and men I dated would have ran off in a panic if they had an idea of what coursed through my mind so early in the dating sometimes.
InStyle Weddings Issue Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Spice Girls time

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. (Sorry to those out there who missed/hated that bit of pop culture).

I want something simple. - This is the end result of all the following ideas.
I would like something small. - I don't want to spend my wedding day trying to make 3 minutes of conversation with every person there.
I would like to celebrate a special day with the people I care most about in this world. - That is what will make it special.
I would like no hassle. - Anything that I can do without, I want to do without.
I would like no pressure from others, making me cave in to ideas I don't really like. - This is another source of stress.
I want an unlimited budget to spend 400 Euros. - I want the freedom to spend money on what I want, but really, I don't want to spend a lot.

Then what I want is to have 3 big but low-key parties. One here in Munich, one in Sydney, one in Edmonton. Not necessarily in that order, but in those places (or close by). Doesn't that sound like fun?
Planning is a crazy thing to try and do when you live in one place and your families are from opposite sides of the world. And also when you sooooo do not want a traditional wedding with the dress and the flowers and the poufy bridesmaid dresses and the decorations and everything. My sister did it in 2003, and it was a very nice wedding (my bridesmaid dress wasn't in the least poufy) and they looked wonderful and have great pictures and memories from the day. But at points, the stress levels were really high. I would really like to try and avoid that as much as possible. I'm sure those of you out there who are already married are probably laughing, thinking "Yeah, right! Good luck!" Well, those naive dreams might fly out the window soon enough, but since it's early days, I'm going to hang onto the idea as long as possible. Hah!

I'll post later what I do want.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Zee Wedding Proposal and Telling of Rents

So, I suppose you want to know when it happened? Well, it was a Saturday in early November. We had just changed to the Czech train at the border with Germany and were on our way to Prague. We were alone in our carriage on this old clattery train. It was getting dark out, but you could just make out the snow that was falling. A very romantic setting. He asked in his G-like fashion, and I said yes. Happy beginnings.

We told G's parents while they were over here in Munich for a visit in November and we told mine while we were in Edmonton for a visit in January. Both sets of parents had an amusingly similar reaction. For both G's and my parents, it was a "Oh, well that's good. Congratulations" at first. Then when it had time to settle in, they started to act significantly more happy and enthusiastic. Not that either of us doubted it from their first reactions, but it was funny to see how having time to think about it increased their excitement. Similar to my own reaction I guess!

Now that both sets of parents know, we can tell the rest of you. We didn't really want to spread the word around before I had had a chance to tell my parents to their face, as word gets around the world pretty quick nowadays...

Getting the hang

Okay, so I think I've set things up correctly. Please comment or email me if things look wrong. Wrong as in "did she really mean for the text to be lime green on a lime green background?"

Zee Start

So. It's official and it's public knowledge now. G and I are engaged. No ring, no date, we don't even know the country! But it's going to happen, and this is the story of how it will happen.