Like any other couples we also experienced the highs and lows of getting married –much more so because we are of different nationalities (a Belgian and a Filipina) and not to mention, we live in another country as expats.
Pinning down the wedding place
Finding the right country where you want to get married is the first and most important step. After all, it takes time and effort to take care of all legal requirements. Plus, there’s also the cost and effort you are willing to spend that you need to consider. Switzerland would have been the most convenient choice for us. But securing all the required documents, translating all
these in three official Swiss languages, waiting for our application to get approved on top of getting a wedding date and place were just too much for us to process. We didn’t have the luxury of time nor the patience to do all of that. We decided to look for other options. It didn’t hurt also that we both love traveling, which greatly helped us in making a decision.
We checked on France. The waiting time was just a couple of days shorter than Switzerland. Still, we needed to reside there for a minimum of one month before applying for a marriage certificate. We then considered Belgium and the Philippines as other options.
I’ve heard stories about the tedious process that a Filipino and a foreigner who want to get married in the Philippines are usually subjected to. We did not want that.
In Belgium, the marriage can take place 10 days after the posting of the marriage banns, a public announcement of an upcoming marriage between two individuals. We also had to consider that our families and friends live in different continents.
“How about we elope? Nobody will know, except our families, until we tell them,” we innocently joked to each other one night.
Before we knew it, we were heading north and landed in these Scandinavian countries: Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. We found the Nordic region romantic, uncomplicated and free.
A Danish “fairytale town” called Aeroskobing caught our attention. Everything about it shouted “perfect wedding venue.” We fell in love with the place right away.
Applying for a Danish wedding
Depending on the municipality, the legal requirements were pretty simple and straightforward: Our passports and visas, birth certificates, documentation of marital status, and notice of marriage and booking form. Normally, the processing would only take a week or two, and the couple might be required to stay three days in the country. In Aeroskobing though, we
were required to stay for a day only. But of course, we still decided to stay longer.
We were able to immediately provide a copy of our marriage certificate, already translated into English, German, Spanish and French. The second copy was sent a
week or two later, right after it received an apostille, a validation from the Danish Foreign Ministry which gives our marriage that seal of so-called international acceptability.
My partner, an EU national working in another European country (Switzerland), can apply for my residence permit as his non-EU spouse upon returning to our country of residence.
We could have breezed through the wedding. But there simply no avoiding a few hiccups along the way. For instance, it took some time for the consulate in Geneva to respond to my husband’s request for a certificate of no marriage. Later on, we found out that he had to submit his request to the consulate in Copenhagen.
Meanwhile, the folks from Aeroskobing advised us to get our papers translated in German, English or Danish language. Luckily, the Belgian consulate was able to provide us a German version. On my part, I was anxiously waiting for the renewal of my work visa. It arrived on the day before we were to fly for Geneva.
Keeping it light and easy
Getting married in Denmark is fairly simple and easy. But we still chose to get our own marriage coordinator – based outside the country – to help us out. Through email correspondences, our wedding planner proved to be of great help in terms of taking care of some paperwork, finding the place to stay in as well as booking the photographer to capture our special day.
I wanted a wedding dress that was simple and classy. I found one online, it and was delivered to me two weeks later. The wedding ceremony took around 15 minutes only. Truth be told, it felt longer than that. The whole time, my tummy was churning, my hands were cold, and my throat was dry. I was holding back tears as I recited each word of my wedding vows. In fact, when it was my turn to say the magic word that would seal our marriage, I ended up whispering it instead. I had to keep asking everyone if I really did say it. They assured me I did.
My life will never be the same again. I am now officially a “Mrs.” and on a new journey.
This article was first published in the 4th edition of The Filipino Expat Magazine. CLICK to read or download back issues.
About the author
Perpie Poblador is living in Switzerland with her Belgian husband. A self-confessed information junkie, she loves sharing and blogging about topics that interest her. Most likely, she shares stories about her travels and food adventures; and her peculiar curations that spell coffee, life inspirations, something geeky, or anything in-between. Follow her blogging at coffeechatwithperpie.com.