mario&me

Marrying a Spaniard in 7 Easy Steps

Disclaimer: The word “easy” in the title of this post—take it with a grain of salt. A large grain of salt.

Wedding in Spain

Last year (July 7, 2012, to be exact), I got married in Spain. I got married in Spain to a Spaniard. We celebrated our wedding in a Romanesque church with origins in the eleventh century, the beautiful San Cipriano of Zamora.

San Cipriano

Source: Turismo de Zamora

Trying to get married in another culture, with all its requisite paperwork and bureaucracy, makes you realize that planning the actual wedding and reception is a lot easier than trying to get the Spanish government to recognize the legality of your upcoming marriage vows. And so I get emails from readers who are in the same situation as I used to be: they’re dating Spaniards; they want to marry them … but how? How indeed.

So You’re Dating a Spaniard … and now you want to say I do / Sí, quiero in the church.

I Do

To get married in the church, you have to do all the things for the civil ceremony and a few additional ones for the religious part. I’m going to talk about the Catholic church, because … well, that’s my experience and it’s the most common in Spain. A helpful website for both civil and religious ceremonies can be found here. Also, remember that every region in Spain is different, so be sure to ask your local authorities about any special requirements they may have.

1. Get a copy of your birth certificate.

This is first and foremost. But, ojo, it can’t be a vintage birth certificate. It has to have been issued within the past six months, I believe. Silly? Perhaps, but you don’t want to play with their rules.

For Indiana, my home state (go Hoosiers!), I went through Vital Records and ordered two copies because I’m slightly neurotic. Your state is going to be different. They say it takes 46 weeks, but I got it sooner than that. It cost me $10 for the first copy plus a $1.85 identifty-verification fee (and $4 for the additional copy). The “problem” was the shipping. I wasn’t sure whether to insure it or not; in the end, I did. That ended up costing me about $17.

Next you have to get that sucker apostilled. An apostille is an international certification and is comparable to notarization on an international scale. The process for getting an apostille on a document varies from state to state. In Indiana, there’s no fee for the apostille service. I sent in my birth certificate along with the following to the Indiana Secretary of State’s office:

  • an original signature
  • a cover letter with the name of the country (Spain), my phone number, and information as to where the documents had to be sent afterward
  • a postage-paid envelope for them to send it back to me

I hope you are okay with spending some money. Bureaucracy requires paperwork, and paperwork requires money. Yours.

2. Proof of freedom to marry.

So, this document doesn’t exist in the U.S. I know, I know. Whaaaat? How can I be expected to produce a document that doesn’t exist? This will happen in Spain (see: getting your degree recognize by the Spanish government), and you will just have to suck it up and find your way over it, around it, or through it. One of those methods has to work.

In the civil court, you can accomplish by swearing before an American consul. In my case, I did so by swearing in front of my pastor and having him sign a document I found on the Internet. I signed it, and so did he. He stamped it … you know, to make things official-ish and all. Boom, done!

Note: apparently in Madrid, this is different, and the statement has to be made by the parents. What’s with that, Madrid?

3. Baptismal certificate.

We Protestants can be strange. I didn’t get baptized as a baby, because in my denomination this is frowned upon. Instead, I got baptized in my church as an eight year-old. I asked my mom one night before bed, and that was when I got dunked in a lukewarm bathtub in front of 200 blurry strangers. (My vision leaves much to be desired.)

Baptismal Certificate

My baptismal certificate was more like this one … not so official looking

But here in Spain, Catholics like to get all strict about baptismal certificates, and the one I got in Sunday School class wasn’t exactly cutting it. Nevertheless, we somehow convinced the 80-year-old bishop that it was indeed legitimate, and off we were.

US_Embassy_Seal

4. Certificate of consular inscription.

This isn’t hard to do. I just made an appointment with the American embassy in Madrid. I did have to wait a bit, but the process was simple. There is a small fee for the service.

Traductor Jurado

My official translator has two other degrees as well

5. Translate your documents.

Luckily for me, I’ve got a translator for life in Mario. You will need to have your birth certificate, the apostille, baptismal certificate, consular inscription, and proof of freedom to marry translated into Spanish. This must be a legal translation, so you can’t just do it yourself.

6. Application forms.

There are various application forms involved in this process. We filled these out and had them filled out for us. We had to visit the bishopric of Zamora as well as Mario’s dioceses to speak with the bishop and priest of Mario’s district. You could tell that this was a very rare occasion for them, as the paperwork often required us to explain the situation two or three different times in the same meeting.

7. Posting of Banns.

You’re probably asking yourself right now what in the world Banns are. I had the same question. Basically, in Spain, people are required to go through a process called “posting of banns” for a civil ceremony. This is a public declaration of intent to marry. It’s possible that your nearest embassy/consulate can provide a letter saying that this is not required in the U.S. In our case, our names and wedding date were posted outside the door of Mario’s church for weeks before our wedding. You know, just in case someone had an objection to the marriage.

What happens now?

Well, now you’ll be wanting your residency, right?

Libro de Familia

The libro de familia.

The libro de familia (literally family book), or Spain’s marriage certificate, can be obtained from the civil registry after the wedding takes place.

Get empadronado/a.

Because Mario and I had not yet moved to Madrid, I got empadronada (registered with the census) in Zamora, where we got married. I didn’t do this until after the marriage, but it’s important in order to get your NIE (foreign citizens identification number). Getting registered in Zamora is about 100x easier than in Madrid. That’s why I always advise people to get married in your future spouse’s hometown, if he/she is not from Madrid.

Apply for your NIE.

You can check out the process here. In this case, you are not a student, so you won’t be applying for the same type of NIE as you would have if you were in Spain as a Conversation and Language Assistant or on study abroad. I did this process in Zamora, and like I said earlier, it took much less time than it would have had I done it in Madrid, where foreigners abound and you have to reserve appointments months in advance.

What did I miss? Have you gotten married in Spain or another country? Do you plan to?

About these ads

Third Culture

photo_thumb.jpg

In our guest room a flag hangs from the wall above the bed. No, not a yellow and red flag; this one is red, white, and blue. You know—the stars and stripes. My dad bought Mario this flag to remind him where he should (eventually) settle down. My dad would like it very much if we moved back to the US, preferably yesterday. It has a prominent place in our home, this flag. Why?

(more…)

How to Host Thanksgiving in Spain

Having hosted two Thanksgivings in Spain, I now consider myself an expert, obviously. That’s just how these things go.

IMG_0397[1]

  • Buy a female turkey, una pavita. I had no idea before 2010, but smaller turkeys are tastier

 

IMG_0400[1]

Mario helped too!

  • Have a pinche, a sous chef. Mario’s father, Jesús, was my sous chef, and the best one there could possibly be. He spent the whole morning chopping, cutting, and just generally being helpful. Also, he is totally relaxed. Find one of those.
  • There will be bread. This is Spain, how could there not be?
  • Stand up to the idea of primer plato, segundo plato. Stay steadfast in your American-type meal and have your guests eat everything off the same plate. The horror!

PB270291

IMG_0413[1]

  • Let someone else make the dessert, even if they make it differently than you would. This year, we didn’t have the traditional pumpkin pie; rather, we had a sort of pumpkin cake. No big deal. We ate some pumpkin, okay?!

IMG_0407[1]

  • Drink local wine. Better yet, have another person bring that local wine, especially someone from Toro!

There you go, my recommendations for a Spanish-American Thanksgiving. Go forth, and roast yourself a turkey!

Thankful for 2012

In 2012, life changed. Life changed fast. I could say it all to you, in one breath, a rush of words and emotion that would leave you reeling. I could replay the year over in my head, wondering how I got to this point, this place right here—November 22, 2012.

In 2012 I did so many things. So many things changed in my life, in my family’s lives, in my friend’s lives. These things, there were good. They were wonderful and magical and joyful. So, dear 2012,now it’s my turn. Thank you. Thank you for:

  • July 7. On this day, I married Mario. I don’t have words for this day. It was a day full of sunshine and laughter and red scarves and dancing. It was rich with tears and photographs and the grasping of hands. I wore a white dress; he wore a suit. We joined hands, and we said yes.

IMG_0501

  • New family. I’ve gained some new family this year: in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles. I’m no longer the American; I’m prima or hija. I’m part of this family here in Spain, a grand family who has taken me in without a second thought, who has taught me to cook, lavished me with presents and love and welcome. I couldn’t be more grateful for my mother-in-law, Pepita, who worries about me as if I were her daughter or my father-in-law, Jesús, who emails me to wish me a happy Thanksgiving in his newly acquired English. I am so grateful to them and for them.

IMG_0087

IMG_0809

  • Old family. One is silver, but the other’s gold? I don’t really buy this saying, but I am aware that my family has always been there for me, ever since the rainy Monday almost twenty-six years ago. My family has supported me through my on-again, off-again relationship with Spain, and I don’t think I could have done it without them. They love Mario like their own son, and they would do anything for us and for my brother and his wife. You couldn’t ask for more dedicated parents, the kind that go to every single sports event in high school, the kind that never say a word about driving six hours there and back to pick you up at the airport, the kind that pay for a brother and future-sister-in-law’s plane tickets just so that they can all be together on the most important day of the bride’s life.

IMG_0889

IMG_0163

  • Thanksgivings past. My extended family was never one to fight. Our holidays were filled with food, laughter, and kids’ tables. There was no yelling, no hurt feelings, no real problems. As a girl, I took this for granted. Now I couldn’t be more grateful for an extended family that knows the value of togetherness.
  • New friends. I’ve met some new people here in Madrid recently, and I’m really excited to see where these friendships lead. You cannot underestimate the value of a nearby friend.
  • Old friends. Where would I be without my constant source of encouragement and laughter, Hilary? Roommates in college, friends for life. I cannot say enough about my cousin Bailey, just seven months older than me and already on her way to having her second child. It’s hard to reconcile what was with what is, but our friendships will never shrivel and die, just change and grow as we do.
  • This blog. This blog has been a source of encouragement for me over the past few years. I started it without knowing what would come of it, and I am ever so grateful for the readers who comment, email, tweet, or Facebook me. Thank you, readers! Thanks for reading, for caring, for helping me see things in a new light. Without you, I know I wouldn’t keep writing. Thank you.

So happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! If you’re in the States, please eat some stuffing for me! And—oh yeah—give your mom and dad a hug! They’re the only ones you’ve got.