Standesamt – The Ceremony

22 08 2012

My poor little Mac needs to go to the Apple store to get fixed, hence the delay in updating about the wedding!  (Don’t worry! I have a full back-up of my computer so no pictures or important documents were lost! Haven’t backed up your system lately? DO IT NOW! You never know when a computer crash will strike!)

Okay so I’ll start with the courthouse ceremony – the Standesamt. (All pictures in this post are by our fabulous photographer, Annette Schrader!)

In Germany, all couples who marry are required to do so at the Standesamt, or registry office. This important step can also be done at any location, provided a government worker from the registry office officiates – so some people tie the knot on a boat, or in a park, or in a forest, etc. But the majority have a simple ceremony at the courthouse, often on the same day as the church ceremony. This is the legal part of getting married, and if you wish to have a religious (or otherwise more personalized) ceremony, you are certainly allowed to do so afterwards, but not before the court has made it official. Kind of like signing the marriage documents before the ceremony: you’re legally married before you actually say your vows. But here it is done in a government building. They still try to make it nice with quotes about love or what your life together will mean, but mostly focus on the legal contract that the couple is entering into.

We decided to have our official wedding two days before the church wedding, and boy are we glad we did! Having that breather between the two wedding days was really great, especially because there was so much to do before the wedding on Saturday! So, governmentally speaking, we got married on August 2. (We count our real wedding day as August 4, though – and it’s the date engraved in our rings). We got ready at our place and Tobi’s wonderful friend Rebecca did my hair and makeup. Then Tante Hannah drove us to the courthouse so we didn’t have to walk and so we could be there early to hand in our passports (and our witnesses’ passports). Weddings take about 20 minutes, and there were several couples there before us. Our friends and family were waiting outside and Tobias and I got a chance to meet & greet a bit before our 11:20 a.m. ceremony at the Rathaus Altona.

Tobias and I, just having gotten out of the car

My sister-in-law Jaimie and my niece Abby (cute pigtails!!) looking at my bouquet

me, with my mom and brother in the background/foreground

surrounded by family and friends

Finally, our time came and we were ushered inside for the ceremony. Funny story: our Standesbeamterin (the lady who did the ceremony) was there when we were picking up my parents from the airport! I don’t remember having seen her before at the registry office, but when we were at the airport waiting for their flight to arrive, I pointed her out to Tobias, saying, “I KNOW I’ve seen that lady before!” I was so surprised when we walked into the courthouse and saw her!

Our guests filed in as we took our seats in front of a large, ornately carved desk with two equally ornate high-backed chairs. There were chairs on either side of the table for our witnesses – the equivalent of a maid of honor and best man here in Germany. Tobi’s cousin Christoph and my good friend Ariane were there to act as witnesses for us, and even though it is no longer mandatory to have witnesses, we liked the tradition and went along with it. They also had chairs for the parents to sit in.

The room was bigger than I expected!

My family didn’t understand the ceremony, but that’s how it goes….My mom looks like she’s about to cry!

So we sat in our chairs and the court was called to order! Just kidding, it wasn’t all that serious. The lady began her spiel, reading out the information we had provided them (place of birth, address, nationality, etc.) but then made the whole audience laugh when she told us she was legally obligated to ask us if our circumstances had changed since we submitted our documents and she had to make sure we hadn’t gotten married to anyone else in the meantime. I was extremely joyful but also so nervous my hands were sweating, but that comment brought some much-needed levity. She then proceeded on with the ceremony and talked on and on about the meaning of what we we were doing that day and what the path together as man and wife will look like in the years to come. I actually don’t remember much of what she said, but only that she spoke very slowly and clearly, enunciating every syllable of her prepared speech with careful precision. I remember looking down at her notes and seeing the text she read pretty much written out, in her own handwriting, on the top page of her notebook. I don’t remember her ever looking down, though, and I am sure knows that speech like the back of her hand.

my witness, the beautiful Ariane (she’s the one who did the illustrations on our wedding invitation, by the way!)

Tobias signing the document that says all of our information is correct. I then signed Sarah Gilmour for the last time. Then she gave us another document and we signed it again – this time, as Sarah Stäbler.

We exchanged rings (his ring is a bit tight, so I had a hard time getting his on his finger!) and then the Standesbeamterin pronounced us husband and wife!

We sealed the deal with a kiss!

And then we were married! Yahoo!

Tobi shows off his new bling!

Tobi hugging his brother, Achim

The ceremony was short and sweet, and we made our way outside to make room for the next couple. (I swear, courthouse weddings are a bit like an assembly line!) Before going back home, we spent some time standing outside of the courthouse and receiving lots of hugs, congratulations and well wishes from our guests. It was really lovely!





Restoring order

12 08 2012

They say that “time flies when you’re having fun”, and whoever they are, they’re correct! These past three weeks have truly flown by. What a great feeling having had these three weeks filled with visits from family and friends who came here for the sole purpose of celebrating with us. Thank you, everyone!

Now everybody has gone and it’s just us two again. And I’m exhausted, yet content. I’m just blown away by the kindness everyone showed in helping out with making the wedding festivities go smoothly. It’s bittersweet, though, as goodbyes usually are. I’m definitely missing having my family and friends just a short walk away. Especially my sweet little red-headed niece, Abigail, who turned 10 months old yesterday (on her mother’s birthday…happy birthday, Jaimie!)

I’m also incredibly happy to be a newlywed…and I still get a twinge of excitement when I see that ring on Tobi’s finger. (See it in the picture below?) Yesterday, I saw a sign in a shop that said, “I want to marry a cowboy!” and I smiled to myself that this phrase, “I want to marry…” is now part of my past, since I’ve already married the man of my dreams! It’s an exciting new phase of life and I am looking forward to enjoying it with my new husband.

Tobias & Abby at the Baltic Sea

He’s back to work this weekend, and I go back to work tomorrow. So I’m just trying to get the house back in order so things feel more normal again. Though we still have a big pile of unopened wedding presents in the corner, which I am excited about opening over the next week. Tobias had the fantastic idea of spreading out opening the presents, instead of opening them all in one fell swoop. I wasn’t sure about the idea at first, but he’s totally right. This way, it’s not just one other wedding task to check off the list, but rather to enjoy it, to take more time reading the cards and appreciating the thoughtful presents people have given.

I have about a bazillion pictures to share and stories to tell from these past few weeks. And now that the wedding is over and it doesn’t need to be a surprise anymore, I am excited to share more about all the lovely details! So you can expect the rest of this month to be filled with a lot of wedding updates. So if that’s not your thing…see you in September! 😉





Mr. & Mrs. Stäbler!

6 08 2012

We had the most wonderful time at our wedding! Both the courthouse and church weddings were so much fun and really special! Definitely the best day of my life yet! I’m so very happy!

A lot of you have already seen them on facebook, but here is a preview from our wonderful photographer, Annette Schrader. (Love the pictures!)

August 2 – courthouse wedding

August 4 – church wedding

Can’t wait to see the rest of the photos! It was SUCH a fun evening and I feel so incredibly lucky to have had so many friends and family to celebrate with me and my new husband!

Tomorrow, we’re headed off to Berlin with the family for a day trip. We’re getting up early since our train leaves at 6:14 – so it’s bedtime for now!





Family is here!

28 07 2012

Tobi, Mom, Jeff and Dad on the way home from the airport

My parents, my uncle Jeff and cousin Liz are finally here! They arrived early on Thursday morning and they were lucky to have 2 wonderful summer days with lots of sunshine for their first impression of Germany!

Now it’s back to rain for the weekend, which actually works pretty well because we were able to do lots of touristy stuff the past two days, and now we can work on folding wedding programs à la assembly line!

It’s nice having them here and showing them where I live! Jon, Jaimie and Abby arrive on Monday so then everyone who’s coming will be here! Should be fun.

(… WE GET MARRIED ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!! Starting to get nervous/excited!)

Happy weekend to you all!





Practice bouquet

25 07 2012

LAST DAY OF WORK TODAY! YIPPEE!! Family will be here tomorrow!

One last post before they get here, and then posting may be a bit sporadic during the next few weeks. I don’t want to spend too much time on the computer when my fam is here, as I’m sure you can understand. Plus, we’ll be doing all that last-minute wedding stuff such as baking cupcakes and buying flowers, so there won’t be much time to post anyway!

Speaking of flowers, I didn’t get a chance to post about it, but last week I made a practice bouquet for the wedding. I am making my own bouquet so I figured I should try it out before-hand to have a better idea of what I’m doing. (The more you know, the less stress you have on the day of trying to figure out how to do something new for the first time!)

So I watched this video for some tips, got some flowers, and tried it out! And here’s the finished product!

The verdict?

Colors: Great! I love having a mix of colors so as not to look too much like a color scheme, especially since we don’t have “wedding colors” anyway! I know a lot of brides choose white, which is pretty because it’s classic, but I really want my flowers to POP!

Texture: Great to have a good mix. I love the summery feel of the bouquet and would love to add a bit more wildflowers to the mix next time. Plus, I’ll be adding a succulent in my wedding day bouquet. I also love how the flowers are mixed in together so that it’s not too uniform, but more casual. Adds to that summery feel.

Size: Not quite big enough for my big dress. So I’ll need double the amount of flowers for the big day. However, this size for the courthouse wedding will be perfect!

Wrap: Twine was the look I was going for, as it also corresponds to our wedding décor quite nicely. (The only thing is…the twine smells a bit strange! A bit earthy! But not a deal-breaker.) On my wedding day, I’ve got 2 pins from my grandmothers to add to it.

Those orange flowers are called safflowers. Pretty fun, right? I’m not sure what the green sputnik-lamp-looking flower/plant is called, but that also had a really great texture. It was really fun to make!





Around here

20 07 2012

Home stretch…two weeks left!! And out of my last five days of work before the wedding, I have now finished two. [Starting to get excited, yo!]

Now it’s the weekend, I’ve got a haircut appointment today (trimming off those split ends that haven’t been cut since last summer! and getting my bangs professionally reshaped), shopping with friends, finishing up wedding DIY, practicing our first dance choreography…the list goes on and on.

I am so very excited!

And I’m extra excited this morning because on the way home from work on my bike, I decided to ride on the other side of the street for once to switch it up a little. My spontaneity was rewarded, as I saw a box that said “Zu verschenken” (basically: FREE STUFF!) and it had 6 succulent plants in it! I screeched to a halt and pulled over and stuck as many of them in my bag as I could (4 of them fit!). There were a few bowls and mugs, too, but they weren’t awesome so I left them there for the next person.

Tobias isn’t as much of a fan of these plants as I am, but he told me he likes that I like these plants so much, and so it’s okay for him to have them around.

So…I’m one happy camper!

Happy Friday to you all!





This and that

13 07 2012

Boy, I tell ya – life sure is BUSY right now! Apart from the basics like eating, sleeping and working, basically every free moment is spent wedding planning. At this point in the planning process, it somehow feels weird saying “wedding planning” because most of the big things have already been planned. It’s just all the smaller details that we just have to get DONE. You know? Checking all that stuff off the list.

…although there are a few bigger things that are still not figured out…like who will be doing my hair/makeup for the big day. Oy.

So you can understand why things have been slow over here on the blog! But I’d like to say a big thank you to my Friday class for canceling, because that means I could sleep in and now have some time to write some posts! And having a long weekend is really great, since there is so much stuff to do.

First up on catching up: I bought some mini beach shovels and a bucket for my niece Abby for their visit here, and I couldn’t help but laugh at how very European the cartoon on the tag was.

See it? You would NOT see that kind of bathing suit in the US! Hah!








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