If you’re thinking of getting married overseas, you’ll want to read how this local bride put together a wedding to remember.

An international affair: 2 weddings + 3 receptions = 1 international couple

When Jan Schramke proposed to my daughter, Marie Dubord, she knew exactly where her dream wedding should take place: Uetersen, Germany, the European “City of Roses” and Jan’s former homestead. Since Jan is a German citizen and part of their courtship entailed backpacking through Europe, it naturally followed that Marie was up for the excitement and novelty of an international wedding.

A nine hour time difference and several thousand miles of distance between her home in Portland, Oregon and Uetersen were not deterrents for Marie, especially since a critical part of her plan included recruiting her future mother-in-law’s invaluable help. Canvassing the area to formulate a litany of reception hall, DJ and menu choices, Ulrike Schramke was eventually aided by Jan’s visit home to further insure his and Marie’s preferences would be included. A collaboration of efforts and a cultural merger resulted in making their nuptial experience a continent away both feasible and enjoyable.

Submitting an affidavit of marriageability, copies of birth and baptismal records (the latter so they could have a church service) and a copy of her passport, all of which needed to be translated into German, Marie and Jan complied with German law regarding a marriage between a citizen of Germany and a citizen of the United States.

Getting all the wedding paraphernalia over to Germany took an unexpected twist. To avoid possible loss or damage, Marie transported her wedding gown in a bridal garment bag on board the flights, but to keep baggage manageable, other wedding items were shipped out ahead of time. Unfortunately, delayed at German customs, the packages arrived the day after the wedding.

Local tradition greatly enhanced the festivities when in lieu of the usual stag and bachelorette parties, a “Polterabend” was held: lots of German food, beer, and broken dishes. Guests brought dinnerware (although porcelain toilets are an acceptable option!) to smash on the ground in a designated area. At the end of the evening, Marie and Jan swept up the pieces as guests repeatedly sabotaged their endeavors by running through the piles. This ritual symbolized the necessity of the couple working together to tackle life’s problems.

With a unique perspective on the separation of Church and State, the day before the religious ceremony – 8/23/08 – Marie and Jan were required to have a civil ceremony (doubling both the partying and the odds that Jan would remember their anniversary).

Predictably, with the cost and distance involved, on the bride’s side only immediate family members and a mutual friend who was already touring Europe attended the wedding. What better reason to add another celebration to the itinerary? So on December 27, 2008, the couple again donned their bridal wear to dazzle guests at another reception held locally. Although a difficult season to travel (their flight was delayed three days by stormy weather), Marie’s belief that friends from afar spending the holidays with their families nearby would join in the merriment proved to be true.

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