For a country as family obsessed as Greece is, where only 5% of all births are outside of marriage, they really don't make the process of getting married very simple. It could be that I'm a foreigner and so the extra paperwork, or it could be like this everywhere and I don't know any better. It's not like I spend my weekends jetting around Europe marrying strangers to compare the process with Greece.
With time ticking away fast and all my international pals still waiting for a wedding date (long-haul tickets, visas hotels, you know, those kind of minor details that friends need to have time to organise when they don't live in Europe), I finally decided to get my paper work started to register our marriage in July. And so far, the whole thing has put me right off marriage. Our little, non-legal, non-binding verbal ceremony last year which lasted all of 5 minutes was so much simpler and already left me with that "married" feeling.
The actual legal process is making me want to tear my hair out. And I have a lot of hair, but Greek bureaucracy has so many little convoluted sub-clauses, stamps, departments, papers, wrong paper - go back to start and impossible people, that even the thickest of heads can be rendered as bald as a baby's behind by the time you're done.
Mr Zeus's sister went to the local mayor's office yesterday to pick up Round 1 of registration forms, all in Greek. I wonder what do people do when both halves of the couple are foreigners? They get an instruction sheet detailing all the paperwork a foreigner needs to marry in Greece, written helpfully only in Greek, naturally.
First on my list of things to do was talk to the British Embassy, which I did this morning.
BB: "I was wondering what paperwork I need to get married in Athens?"
Embassy: "You need to get married in Athens?"
BB: "No, what PAPERWORK do I need to get married in Athens."
E: "How long have you been in Greece?"
BB: "More than three weeks." (not a lie, come on)
E: "Ok so if you have been here more than 21 days you need to bring your passport with you. Is your partner Greek? So you need to also bring a photocopy of his Greek ID. And EUR 133"
God dammit! Bye bye wedding shoes, jewellery and pre-wedding pampering.
E: "But I should tell you the Certificate of Non Impediment (free to marry in other words) is valid for only three months. When is your wedding?"
BB: "In July"
E: " Could you apply for it after three months if it's just a civil ceremony?"
BB: "No, because we're having a wedding party to go with the registration, and I can't get a date unless I submit my paperwork to the mayor's office, and I can't do that unless I get the certificate from you guys."
E: "Talk to the mayor's office, sometimes they accept the Certificate of Non Impediment for up to a year even if it runs out in three months. If you apply for the certificate now you'll get it in 21 days."
Which means April is when I'll get the certificate to be able to START the process of my paperwork down at the mayor's office, God knows how long that will take... not to mention things like proof of residence and everything officially translated into Greek, plus a 500 word essay on 101 Ways You Enjoy Being Screwed by Greek Bureacracy... Mmmm gustaro.
Tick tock guys!!! July is not that far! Why do I have a horrible sinking feeling that by the time we get the date it will be cutting it way too close for any of my friends to make it?
Screw you, legal marriage!!!!!!! I wish I could blame someone, but the truth is I totally believed Mr Zeus when he said "It's no big deal, don't stress." Perchance I should have paid attention to my friend who took weeks upon weeks to get her permission to marry and planned ahead of time because being a foreigner she has been on the receiving end of the type of bureaucracy not even Greeks dream of? *Bangs head on table*
Will you guys come to my wedding :'( ? It's going to suck ass if none of my friends make it.