Juli 01, 2013

un mariage et encore beaucoup de questions...

{a wedding and still more question...}

Finally... here it is! The English version of my wedding Q&A! Prepare yourself for a loooong read! Should any other questions come up please do not hesitate to contact me... You can already enjoy an overview of all the wedding posts here>>>.

How did you come up with the theme „Something Blue“?
If i only knew… after the engagement our main concern was all the paperwork. We did not really think about organizing the wedding itself. The Blue just came up somehow. It is our favorite color and according to this saying something blue just belongs to a wedding… and just imaging that our guests would also wear something blue was just nice. It seems the theme found us.

How did you start planning?

With all the formalities. Paperwork is not really our thing and as a binational couple there is more to get done. Concerning the celebration I would have liked to get married just the two of us which would have made the preparations way easier. In Denmark you can get married way easier when you have different nationalities for example. That would have been even easier with just the two of us present. As you upset your parents very much when doing so we decided to get married at least with a very small party attending.

Why didn’t you get married in Paris?

Oh, I can just hear the ladies sigh romantically! Getting married at an office is as dull as anywhere, being more of an administrational act than a love thing. Arnaud was of the opinion that we should get married in Germany if we do it not “alone”. Dresden was just the natural decision as it made planning easier (yes, we considered other places). Anyway, this is the city where we met, where we first kissed and where Arnaud proposed (now you can sigh!).

Who/what helped you with your preparations?

My parents helped with everything in Germany that we could not do in person and they also played taxi when we visited possible places, made appointments and talked about details. I also clicked myself through tons of wedding websites and kept on talking to Arnaud about ideas. Fortunately a lot could be arranged via e-mail.
For the formal part a certain lady in administration was super helpful and nice (none in Dresden, those were mostly the opposite of helpful). Without her we could never have made the date (we gave her some delicious salt from Brittany + thankyou-note and an official thankyou-note after the wedding to show her how much we appreciated her help).

How does all this paperwork for a French-German couple work?
If anyone needs help with that, just drop me a line! For everyone else, the short version… you have to have all documents ready (birth certificate etc.) and (in our case) send it to the French embassy in Berlin. They send you a letter stating that you can get married and with this you go to the office responsible for you in Germany where you have to hand in all your documents again (fortunately those cost nothing in France, in Germany you pay for every single document!). If they’re fine with everything they pass it on to the state’s high court. After another waiting period you should receive the “go” and finally you can get all those documents to the registrar’s office to talk about the actual wedding date and the details.
The biggest issue was that all documents have to be recent somehow, i.e. every certificate, document etc. can not be „older“ than a certain given „age“. Sometimes that could make you run in circles to stay up to date because all those offices like to take their time dealing with you. The embassy needs at least month, the state’s high court up to six weeks. We were really lucky with our registrar who made some calls and helped us keeping our preferred wedding date. Fortunately I had asked Dresden to keep this date early on, although they were close to cancelling it at some point… yeah, i wrote tons of mails and made several calls. I guess it helped that we wanted to get married on a Friday in April (wedding (high) season in Germany starts usually in May).

How many guests did you have and why

we had decided to get married with just our parents, siblings, my granny (the only one of our grandparents “left”) and four friends (best men, bridesmaids). For one thing we really wanted to keep it small and simple. If we would have started picking members from our families it would have been war.
As the registrar’s office allows 25 people we also invited my father’s brother and family and my mother’s sister and family for the ceremony and the reception. They do not live far away and it was really nice having them, especially because Arnaud also already knew them (and liked them!). I was very happy that all guests were indeed wearing something blue… I loved the picture (although I may have to explain again this thing with the white blouses to some).

How do you not invite certain people?

Just don’t do it! Seriously! Of course someone could feel mistreated but you want to spend the best day of your lives with people who mean a lot to you and make this day unforgettable. Why should you be upset by grumpies you do not like that make you unhappy every time you have a look at your pictures? Some people can not be avoided of course, like with couples where you just like one of them, but those could be hidden in the background maybe…

Did you have a best man and a maid of honor?

Yes, but only unofficially. In Germany you do not need them anymore to sign the wedding documents. We would have needed an approved interpreter for all of this (as Arnaud’s best men do not speak well enough German) and that’s really very expensive. Nobody did mind to be “unofficial”. My dear Christiane already knew what was coming as I had warned her a long time ago that I want her to be my maid of honor…

How did you organize the day and how did you find your locations?

To find out how we wanted to do things we sat in front of a map and figured out what would be important for us. A good party has good food. Something we agreed on very fast. We took this as a starting point and made up a nice plan from there.
From the registrar’s office to the restaurant “Schillergarten” you just need ten minutes by foot. A beautiful location at the river Elbe, perfect for the reception. As we were only so few they were very flexible as well. Under hard rain we could have done the toast inside, under a little shower we could have used the terrace (roof). As we had wonderful sunshine we were outside in the biergarten with a lovely view on the Elbe river and the famous “Blaues Wunder” bridge (of course, “blue wonder”!).
I really wanted to have some time for pictures so we sent our little party on a sightseeing tour in the meantime. During one of our family brunches Arnaud had fallen in love with the restaurant “Luisenhof” and the location with its view over Dresden is really breathtaking. That we would have the wedding cake there was an easy decision as the restaurant has its own cake shop that makes the yummiest cakes.
After cake and coffee we wanted a little break… to change location but also for us. Our families could check in to their hotels and change (yap, two actually did that), Stephanie could hand Lil T over to the babysitter, we could just take a breath and sort out the events a bit…
We were not sure where to have dinner for a long time. The bar that we had in mind just did not seem right, when we visited again. We decided to check all the restaurants located close to the hotels/apartments and one made it finally, as it was within easy reach for everyone and gave a beautiful view of Dresden’s famous Frauenkirche. I made an appointment, talked to the very nice event manager and thought that I would have to worry the least about this event on the list (oh, so naïve!).
For the morning after the wedding we had reserved tables for breakfast. That was very relaxed…

How did you actually plan everything in the end?

With a wonderful chart! We had categories like formalities, outfit, travel and so on followed by the actual events and their time spans, locations, number of guests. Together with contacts, budget, state (mail, confirmed, etc.) and upcoming events (marked with colors!). That was easy and effeicent. I could easy share it via google doc and we could always check together what still needed getting done and what is “save” already. 

Why didn’t you stay in one location?

That is a good question actually. We did not really think about it. To find the right location with so few people is not easy. To keep moving was a good idea in the end. There was always something to do and the interpreter (for our parents) was only present for cake&coffee and the dinner. It never got boring this way…

Did you sent „Save the Date“s?

We never could be 100% sure to keep our date but to prepare everyone a little we sent STD via e-mail. I made a .pdf that looked nice enough and in the e-mail we told our guests to wait for the invitations warning them that they’ll be late as we were not sure about keeping the date.

How did you make the invitations? When did you send them?
We only received the final go from all the offices in February and in March we knew we could have “our” date. The invitations were accordingly sent just one month before the wedding.
We really wanted to use the silhouettes of Paris and Dresden. I think that was Arnaud’s idea. We spent a long afternoon in craft’s shops and discussed how we could manage to make the invitations. With cards, blue paper, glue and a lot of enthusiasm we started crafting. To cut out the silhouettes was too difficult in the end so we printed them on the cards (in blue!). I wrote all the texts (and addresses) by hand. The front shows our favorite kissing pictures with the date of the wedding that we printed on blue paper. We tried making new pictures but they just did not turn out well. To illustrate the important events of the day we added a paper with a tram map to which I had added all the places, times and how to get there.
We did not have nice stamps due to the lack of time but nobody seemed to mind.

My post about it: 

How did you search for your wedding dress?

At some point I felt like I had searched the entire internet. I needed to find out what I wanted and from time to time i showed dresses to Arnaud. It was really important to me that he thinks I look beautiful on our wedding day and he can be very specific about what he likes… I fell in love with dresses in the 50ies/60ies style and really thought I might save some money ordering online. Of course the only dress I liked was out of stock and after some friendly mails it became clear that I would not get it. My personal dream dress is (still) much too expensive, although Arnaud really liked it as well. At least I knew I wanted sleeves, nothing superwhite, something blue somewhere, shorter and swinging. It’s already something knowing what you want!

post wit ideas for dresses: http://louveaparis.blogspot.fr/2013/02/ce-que-je-veux-porter.html

How and where did you finally find it?

I was getting nervous because the date came closer and it became also „more possible“, while i had not even tried any dress. In Paris I even researched dressmakers and checked prizes. At some point I just had to book an appointment and just try something. When we checked wedding locations in Dresden I made two appointments in bridal shops, happy I could take my parents.
In the first shop there were just no short dressed and although my “consultant” was nice and assured me that everything could be shortened I got annoyed by the constant “but actually it is too nice to cut”. The other ladies were worse, though, and I was happy I did not get the one of the bride next to me. She already gave me a strange look when I announced the budget. She basically advised her customer by saying “but you only get married once!” (yeah, and the rest of the life you keep on paying for it!). Well, at least there was a bolero I liked as I started thinking that I would have to do without sleeves.

In the second shop we had to wait long (a customer had been late and caused a delay throughout the day – snow!) but the consultant was friendly. I already knew the shop because a friend had bought her dress there and everything I remembered was positive. When I mentioned I wanted a short dress I saw some worried lines but she managed to dig up two short dresses and some other with that certain vintage feel. My dress was the first I tried and I could not stop smiling when I tried it. It was even under budget (who knew that all the other stuff adds up so much later???)! I tried the other short dress but I looked a bit like a ballerina muffin… anyway, the best thing about my dress is a kind of inner belt that gives you so much comfortable stability. Nice! It is from Amélie Bridal by the way and you can find it here >>>. I did not want to try more and we did not have time anyway (more appointments!) but as we all were so happy it was just the right choice. I’ll never forget my father’s big smile… fortunately I got some more volume like I wanted and a matching bolero jacket (one came with the dress but was too short for me) as well as the fascinator in the same shop (it is called “in due” and you can find it online here >>>).

Why is your dress short?

I really wanted to be able to freely move and also go to toilet alone without worrying. I feel like the cut of the dress is one that really suits me and i love the idea to change the dress‘ color and wear it again. After having seen my shoes after our photo shoot I was happy to have chosen a short dress. I did not have to worry about it being dirty at any point. The photographer congratulated me as well – her dress got super dirty during her wedding – especially after we had taken the pictures directly at the Elbe river. Everybody who talked to me said that I’d made a good choice and what I heard most was “it’s just you!”.

Hand on heart: did you go on any kind of diet?

I guess it was the first time i really thought about making a diet. Weirdly i felt thinner everytime i tried my dress and was worried i would not fit in at the big day. Having no discipline whatsoever I did not go on any diet, though. I started doing some sports to survive the day (I normally do not really wear heels) and being not a huge fan of my arms I wanted them to look good enough… my husband was quite the same. His suit was tailored just for him and before the wedding a little belly suddenly appeared. He had to take care of that.

Did the groom see the dress before the wedding?

I really would have liked to show it to him but he wanted to keep it a secret. He knew the color (he had a little piece of fabric to match his outfit) and length… I just had to tell him that much! Another reason I bought it in Dresden. That way i was never tempted to just reveal it to him. I did show him the muffin dress, though. He hated it! Well, good choice.
He did not show his suit as well! Post:

What do you think about all those expensive bridal magazines?

I got mine all from my mother. I guess i would not have bought more than one for myself. You get a lot of ideas on the magazine’s websites. I think they can be a good inspiration, once you find the one that works for you.
Post: http://louveaparis.blogspot.fr/2013/02/quelque-chose-lire.html

Where and how did you find your wedding rings?

When we visited Dresden for our preparations we also wanted to check rings. We were convinced they would be more expensive in Paris. We went to „Juwelier Wahl“ in Dresden first. The service was super friendly, helpful and quiet in this nice way. We agreed on a design we both liked and took pictures of our favorites to think about it. After leaving the store we just did not feel like spoiling the experience by any other store. Via mail we kept contact and during our second visit we just talked about measure and engraving. We even got our first congratulations in Paris from them – with glittery hearts in the envelope! Our rings are made of Palladium… it turns blue when you heat it up by the way.
If you feel like checking the shop Juwelier Wahl Dresden >>>

How did you find the other accessories?
Having so much of the „something blue“ we also wanted to have all the rest! My „something borrowed“ were the wedding gloves of Arnaud’s grandmother, my wedding dress was obviously “something new”. I had an old button in the shape of a heart from my late grandmother sewed to my corsage. The coin was a 5-Pence-Piece from our last visit to London.
I have talked about the rest at length here:

I did not want roses. That much I knew. I like ranuncula and luckily it’s their season at the end of april. I did not leave them alone in all their whiteness so I added blue forget-me-not-s. I really liked the flower’s meanings. the florist was my mother’s choice and we visited her twice to talk about everything. The bouquet turned out pretty much the way I wanted it to.

How long did it take to find everything in the right blue?

In one of the comments I’d been asked if I’ve bought the entire stock of „my blue“. Well, sorry to disappoint you but it was much easier than that. My starting point were my shoes. I wanted them to be blue and did not think of the rest yet. When I went shoe shopping with Arnaud it thought I might not even get any. Blue did not seem as fashionable before the wedding (afterwards there suddenly was a ton of nice blue shoes available!). One of my favorite shoes stores in Paris andré finally had a nice pair. I really wanted Arnaud to buy the shoes with me as he has a very special taste (some might even call it picky). This blue was quite a challenge because I could not find anything else in the same shade. I guess I succeeded in finding enough blue things that were close enough… I found Arnaud’s laces while on a stroll (and a month later I had the courage to just go into the store and buy them). The earrings are from forever21 and I just painted them with my wedding nail polish (essence) to match the shades. I did the same with the ribbons on my shoes (claire’s). I could not influence the blue of Arnaud’s suit or the ribbons that my parents used for the flowers nor the nice decoration on Christiane’s car. Somehow it all came together and just matched wonderfully.

Why did you hire a professional photographer? Is it worth it?

Maybe it was her who made the colors look perfect? I already have written a post about Juliana and Chrononauts Photography. Pictures as memories are really very important to me and I know couples who deeply regretted later that they had not hired a pro. So, let your friends (however talented) make their pictures but let them celebrate with you as well and spare them the pressure of making the perfect pictures of your big day. It is totally worth it to have a pro do the job! Take enough time to find someone whose style fits with your ideas and personalities. You really can experience the day again through those pictures and you’ll have them for a life time… you can not repeat your wedding day.

Are there outtakes?

Juliana had already deleted half closed eyes but we did not really have „bad pictures”… just funny ones or ideas that did not work out (jumping in a short dress is not very flattering from certain perspectives).

Who took care of your hair and make-up?

This seemed to be a real problem for some time. I started looking around but could not find anyone convincing. Fortunately Stephanie knew somebody. I had a rehearsal with Nadine and on the wedding day she came to our apartment. The hair stayed in place the whole day although I was not super-happy how it turned out. That was more my uncertainty what to do exactly, though. The make-up was gone by the time we did the couple shoot but in this heat nothing would have lasted. At least the eye make-up stayed nice long enough (besides the sun there were tears and wind of course!).

This way to Nadine >>> 

Did you receive any „good advice“? How did you deal with it?

Tons of it! From every direction! No matter if involved or not. It really came as a surprise but everyone seemed to have an opinion and some of them were real surprises. I was happy to have some dear friends who just were happy with me and showed a lot of enthusiasm about our ideas.
All in all it was not too much but I still don’t get why things like princess gowns or horse carriages have been suggested.
Did you make a list for gifts or something alike?

We still have not settled and we’re also not big fans of owning tons of stuff that makes it harder to move. We wanted help with the organization and financially. The traveling was expensive enough for the French side for example. Our families provided the clothes (the bride buys her shows by herself, though), some administration fees, the city tour, the food and the photographer. We just (did I write just?) had to take care of fees, travel expenses, accommodation, rings and styling… still enough but without the help of our families we could not have done it (I did not want Arnaud to pay for everything and I am really not rich. Yep, busted, she married for money!)
We still received gifts, though… some were the reason why we did not want any in the first place… towels is all i’ll say. Well, it’s the gesture that counts.

Did you have a set budget? How did you deal with it?

We checked how much we would need and directly asked our families how much they would contribute after they had offered to help. Both families spend about the same for us. The most expensive thing for us were the wedding bands. I think planning your budget and sticking to it is really important… somehow everything seems to be so expensive as soon as it’s labeled “wedding” and you can’t do everything yourself.

Did you have favors for the guests?

Oh, well… those. In France it is a tradition to give away almonds but they were not really our thing and too expensive as well. I found the idea of giving away jam jars in a magazine and fortunately my brother is an awesome jam maker. I just dressed the jars in blue and one is still waiting for our one-year-anniversary 2014.

Did you have bachelor/bachelorette parties?

We both did not want any. Maybe having a “Polterabend” would have been nice, just a good time with friends. While Arnaud was enjoying a nice quiet dinner with friends, I was surprised by my Parisian friends with a bachelorette party. It started out super nice as I was so touched by the gesture and their organization. They had provided good food and drinks and we had a nice girl’s time with good music talking about the coming wedding. When one of the ladies appeared to have drunk too much the evening became weird… well, last time!
By now I think a bridal shower starting off with a brunch and ending with a relaxed night out or even a slumber party would have been ideal for me… a day just about me and the happy pink future… oh, I’m such a girl!

How did you make the thank-you-notes?
All the paper things we had bought for the invitations were enough for the thank-you-notes as well. After we had received the pictures from Juliana we chose some for our guests and printed them with a blue frame. We wrote notes for all our guests and to all the people who had sent us cards. Everyone got a handwritten note with an individual text… and another picture when we still had enough. Arnaud wrote the five French ones. All in all we sent about thirty cards and I even got lucky with the post office and had nice stamps this time.

What were your musical arrangements for the ceremony?

One of the toughest decisions for me! At the registrar’s office there are different offers. We did not want to have classical live music (only option for live stuff) and did not like what they offered. Too much money for people (and whose music) we did not even know. Having your own musicians was really expensive and the titles they offered on CD was a joke… shocking at times! The lyrics are important for such events (to me at least) and they seriously suggested stuff dealing with death and loss or saying good-bye! I know that there are different tastes but… no… not for me!
I was very happy when I was told that it would be okay to bring our own CD (still 10 Euros extra!). So only one question remained: which songs are we going to take???
As a couple we have several memories connected to music but none worked with a wedding. We are rather alternative but could imagine a double bass before saying “yes“ and head banging along. We liked the idea, though, to create new musical memories for this special day. We searched for weeks and clicked everywhere. In the meantime I had shared my plight with Friederike who knows her alternative love songs. She suggested some and one even made the list! Lyrics, music and length (they play songs till the end which could be a long awkward pause for some) of „I want you“by Tom Waits was just perfect and I walked down the aisle to it. The second song played afterwards needed to be something happy and positive. Finally we decided to go with „This will be our Year“ and it was just perfect.

Why did you not get married in a religious ceremony?

Woah, that’s a personal question! Well, although Arnaud is a baptized catholic he is not a big fan of organized religion. He leaves me doing my stuff, though, which is important to me. After having seen two people doing the big church thing just because it is sooo awesome, like in the movies… it was just clear to me that I would not want to do this if one cannot give a “yes!” coming from the heart. Pretending like that is stupid to me.

Did one of you panic?

As my husband really thinks thoroughly before making decisions he did not panic. He would not even have proposed i guess... or he hid it really well. I had one moment when I was sitting on the balcony being super tired and overwhelmed by preparations and the announcement that we were going to move to Berlin in autumn. It was just a little too much. My heart was racing and I thought that “forever” is a really long time. It did not last long but I think that might be normal… it is okay to think it through and wanting to be sure.

Did you fight because of all the preparations and pressure?

I can’t remember. Actually we always were happy when something worked out or we got a go from someone. Arnaud let me do my whirling and whooshing but we always talked through big decisions. Fortunately we have a similar taste and did not have to fight. Just his idea of taking the night train one day before the wedding was not the best thing… well, what would I be without my black circles eyes?

What were your worries? What did not work?

I’ll try to keep this one short as the day was wonderful… overall. It’d do it again as long as I could call Arnaud husband at the end of the day. But maybe you’re in the middle of planning and want to know some stuff that can be avoided…

I guess i should have taken more time with hair and make-up. I could not really communicate what i wanted and was not even sure about the hair. I did not have time to search for someone knew after the rehearsal. My face looked weird afterwards. On the wedding day it was alright but not perfect. I don’t look like myself on some pictures.
Speaking of…. i really would have loved to have somebody being very critical about my appearance during the photo shooting. I can be a little perfectionist and there are pictures where my dress looks wrinkly and I just want to get it in place… maybe a rehearsal shooting would have been nice as well.
We were late for the wedding cake because of an accident (not us, everyone alive) and all the other guests seemed to be melting away while silently waiting for us. They had not mingled at all and our interpreter sat in the middle trying her best… as I had just had a moment of deep happiness after realizing I am married now, I just did not care about entertaining anyone.
During dinner we managed to tell people to mingle but, hey, we did not even have the room we booked. Something went wrong with the event manager. Sad, because I was so sure that this would go smoothly. Bridezilla would have killed somebody.

Smaller accidents like my dirty shoes that lost their ribbons in the way were no problem at all. I had forgotten the second bolero jacket for the dress (but my husband did not like it that much when i showed it to him later) and my expensive tighs had to be replaced after the ceremony already (now the cheap replacement is on so many pictures). You cannot change your family and just have to accept them as they are. Fortunately there are always people who do/say the perfect things…

What was the best moment during your wedding day?

That is not an easy question. I think if I had to decide it would be the moment when Arnaud turned around while I walked down the aisle. It was the first time I saw him crying because he was overwhelmed with emotion.

How was the wedding night?

Why do i ask such a question? Because several people really asked it several times. Seriously! Several times! I found that really strange and at some point i just said „my husband is French“.

What should you have with you on your wedding day?

A really good friend like Christiane thinking about everything! Otherwise I recommend two pairs of nice tighs, all those refreshing things (a nice scent, deodorant, lippgloss etc.), a sewing kit, nail polish, water, feet comoforting stuff… well, you know what you need. Just pack it up in advance and give away some responsibility to somebody you really trust… they think about stuff like alcohol free champagne!

What is your advice to others who want to get married?

Whatever may be your dream wedding just go for it and try doing everything together. Stay realistic and don’t lose each other as a couple. The bride is not marrying herself and the wedding should celebrate the couple… not the little girl who has dreamt of a pink wedding with the groom being just some decoration. Advice will be coming from all sides and you shouldn’t get overwhelmed. Stay with “Thank you, we’ll think about it!” or “What a nice idea!” and “We’re not that far with our planning yet.” Really find out what you do n-o-t want and make it clear. Take it as a given that your friends and family will want to surprise you… but also that they usually think well about it. It’s useful to have somebody with an overview about how the day is planned. Try to find someone who knows you as a couple and on whom you can rely with the program and the times. It is rather relaxing to “outsource” this.

What is your husband’s advice on the topic?

„just don’t care about the others“

Would you do it all over again?

During the day we joked that „next time we’ll do it different!“ but also the things that went wrong belong to the day now. As long as I could call Arnaud my husband again at the end of the day… who cares about catastrophes – of course i’ll do it all over again.

What would you do differently if possible?

I’ll just quote Arnaud: „it was just perfect! shut up!“.

How does it feel to be married?

really really really wonderfully awesome

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