I've already posted photos of this day all over the place, of course, and given all kinds of extensive and confusing updates about the legal/immigration aspects of the process, and several people even managed to be there for it.
Hannes' parents offered to fly my mom in, but she was unfortunately too sick.
It's okay, though: I was still depressed and Hannes and I just wanted it to be over and done with. It had taken 5 1/2 months and the paperwork and stress had been ridiculous. It was time to move on.
Coupled with the fact that we didn't give a shit about a dress or rings or any of those obligatory traditional aspects of a wedding day, seeing as how it was an unpleasant formality and not really our day, Anke was quite upset. Understandably, she was about to see her only beloved son get married and didn't like the idea that we were just exhausted and blah and wanted to get it the fuck overwith.
At first we were like, well, sorry, but this has been really hard and stressful and one of us really needs health insurance and work permission and legal residency status, and we just want those things and to continue with our lives.
But Anke, Marco, Nico, Andrea, and of course our legally-required third-party interpreter Solvig (because you have to have someone do that if you can't understand the German fluently), as well as Hannes' uncle Henry and aunt Peggy and his grandmother Edith and her boyfriend Jürgen all came, and they all did their best to make it a special, meaningful, celebratory day.
And they succeeded.
The circumstances weren't great: getting married by a stuffy, verbose old school principal-type government bureaucrat in a crummy dim little office building we'd walked to in the snow a number of times before that doesn't look unlike a generic dentist's office, on a completely random day - the soonest one we could get - that ended up being very grey, cold, windy, and wintery again? Blarg.
I wore a dress that I had bought at H&M in Korea in 2013 and sandals my mom had gifted me that are grungy from trudging along dirt paths and through beach sand for the last few years. My genuine effort at light, natural makeup ended up looking like I wasn't wearing any at all. Being depressed and sedentary, I'd gained weight again, and my face was puffy.
But everyone complimented me anyway. And not just in the meaningless, platitudinous kind of way, but in the way that they genuinely thought I looked lovely and were truly happy for me. Hannes looked great, that kind of goes without saying, and his stoicism tends not to betray his stress or tiredness quite as readily.
He also ordered a lovely bouquet that he chose the flowers for himself, and
surprised me with it the night before. I had no plan for one and was not expecting one.
The first of the pretty decent bridal selfies
"Oh man, wow, this is taking a long time, isn't it?"
"Jesus take the wheel, this is going on forever.."
"Yep, there's still more.."
"Is there still more?"
"I hope we're having something decent for lunch.."
After 15 or 20 minutes of this guy droning on like a bad university professor and being lowkey rude and snappy to poor Solvig, who was sweating under the pressure, the three of us were kind of like:
But then the crucial moment finally came and I was like:
Classic mother-in-law stuff
"Oh lol I actually got this fool to sign it"
"Shit, he's still talking."
Here are the two or three minutes worth seeing.
Marco, Anke, Nico, and Andrea brought some sparkling wine and various snacks in case somebody couldn't wait for lunch, as well as two packages of brand new glasses.
Pretty decent bridal selfies continue..
I like the upside-down one more. What do you think?
Anke had insisted that we go out to lunch afterward (because the marriage was at 10:30 in the morning) and tried to get me to pick a place, but I had been so disinterested at the time that I said "Yes, okay, fine, there are various vegan restaurants in Hamburg that I haven't tried. Why not Loving Hut? It looks fairly nice inside. Okay, sorted."
Eesh, definitely put on weight..
Anke had a mini bouquet and a gift for Solvig to thank her for helping us.
It was really sweet.
We'd been too preoccupied and stressed out to think to get her anything ourselves.
Cute confused waiter with non-alcoholic something-or-other to use for a toast
Ridiculously attractive couple, right?
Marco had written out a speech for the toast. The gist is what you would imagine: that we're a team now and we have to support each other. Also that he's now my boss. Later, when no one else was looking or within earshot, he easily admitted that Anke is the real boss.
This refreshing ginger ale/mint/lime drink was probably better than the food, honestly.
Solvig is a real fan of their vegan phờ, but I wasn't impressed. They gave me a lemon wedge instead of a lime wedge and there was no spicy chili sauce to add to it.
Okay, so: the cake.
Nico and Andrea brought us a cake, a custom-ordered one with an edible picture that was both gluten-free, and vegan. Anke - who is always, always cold - later told me that she rode in the car with them from Rostock (it's around a two-hour drive) and they refused to turn on the heat for her, giving her a blanket from the back instead, because they didn't want the cake to melt.
But, okay, well, as it turns out, the entire fluffy outer strawberry coating of the cake did melt, while the inside was exactly like white bread that was still frozen.
I couldn't help myself, sitting there looking at this thing, and after a few minutes of trying to stifle my laughter, finally said to Solvig, "It looks like we died in 9/11."
The gesture is the important thing, and it was so kind. They went to so much trouble to bring us a custom cake suitable for any and every of my ridiculous dietary restrictions, and had carefully transported it a long way. I know it certainly wasn't cheap, and they used this bakery because they had before and were pleased, but Andrea apparently ripped them a new asshole over this colossal failure. Don't tell people you can do a gluten-free and vegan cake if you have absolutely no idea what you're doing. Come on.
The outer strawberry stuff was good! That it was melty didn't matter; it didn't seem like it was supposed to have been frozen or anything, it was like mousse. Everyone had a hard time choking down the frozen-solid, dense interior itself, though.. and I know they were so embarrassed.
I mean, especially since we had unfortunately just been tragically killed. #neverforget
Anyway, after that exceptionally odd meal, through which Hannes and I were worn out, kind of in a daze, and trying not to let Anke's 100-mph talking and flitting around and being simultaneously stressed about everything but super excited and happy (re: part of the reason their visit to Tokyo was so stressful) get to us too much, we piled back into the two cars and drove just a few minutes to the centre of town, to take a few photos at the Binnenalster. This had apparently been Henry's idea, and it was a very good one, because we wouldn't have really had any wedding photos otherwise.
Remember that last post about springtime? Remember the end of it, about how it went straight back to winter again? Well, that's how it was on this day. Everyone but me and Hannes had their winter coat on. But because I had just taken two long, extensive walks around town, I knew that the cherry blossoms were in full bloom in a specific spot right next to the water, so I kind of marched everyone down to the spot so that we didn't have to be out in the frigid wind for too long.
Hannes and I really liked this one, until he pointed out that I'm standing in a pile of fucking cigarette butts lol. People here really need to learn how to use any of the very many trash cans that are everywhere..
This one's good, too.
And that's the one we used for the wedding invitations; that's the winner.
I went ahead and snapped these real quick, but the dim lighting was a little odd, and I was too worn out and anxious and having a hard time keeping my dress down in the wind to take nice ones.
Tell you what though, it's not hard to take nice pics of these two!
Look at this! Ridiculous!
Alright, anyway, turns out that textured soy protein stuff on top of my noodles probably wasn't gluten-free because I forgot to ask, I feel like shit, let's go home Dx
(Although actually, before going home to meet everyone else except Solvig at our place for a bit, Hannes and I went on an annoying side quest to get my passport photos taken in the subway just below this area, for Immi first thing in the morning.)
The cards, gifts, and additional bouquets continued for about a week: our table was covered in them.
I combined the two simple centerpieces (with money in them) we'd gotten into the one you see here, and the rest is from Solvig. A neat card, a voucher for a website that'll print our photos in a cool old-fashioned style, and..
..really cool wall hanging of Hamburg's harbour and skyline made by a female artist who more or less lives in her neighbourhood.
The talking and chatting were as nice as could be considering how absolutely bad I felt, but even as it worsened, I chatted with Nico and Andrea and updated them on the status of the summer garden party. We got a lot of money.
Hannes' parents insisted on paying for us to go away for the long weekend, because we never planned on having anything resembling a honeymoon. When we found out that I had to wait another month (and pay another 100 euros, surprise! Goddamnit) to get my ID card and to be able to leave the country, the vague and unreal Prague, Lisbon, and Amsterdam possibilities we'd half-heartedly come up with were obviously out, and we went to southern Germany instead, to Heidelberg.
Even if we hadn't gone anywhere with a credit card and carte blanche in tow, this would have been a surprisingly nice experience, considering how we felt leading up to and going into it. These people came, dressed up, and gifted us like crazy because they love us. And let me tell you, it's a really big deal for Nico to take a day off work: this was a Wednesday (4/11, #neverforget), and he never does that. Not to mention that also, thanks to Solvig and the three different times she had to come to annoying stressful appointments with us, we were able to have the interpreter we officially needed to even do this legally. She was basically as much a part of the whole ceremony as we were.
So thank you. Even if the cake was half-permafrost and half-melty and I had a terrible stomachache and no decent shoes and Hannes especially was on the brink of losing his patience with his mom, no one forgets their wedding day, and we definitely won't forget how special everyone who was able to be there made it for us.