One of the joys of making sure that our 'union' is legal, is dealing with all of the paperwork that needs to be done. It is true, had we both been from the same country, things would have been far less complicated. But hey, why opt for the non-complicated when you could have 'mass confusion' and 'chaos'???
Part of the decision in getting a wedding planner was to assist with the navigation through the red tape. In hearing of Akis' stories of dealing with anything governmental in Greece, it takes the patience of Job and a bit of luck to get things to go your way. I had done a bit of research online ~ mostly reading of other people's woes ~ so I knew that I would need to bring some papers with me.
The wedding planner asked me to bring my Birth Certificate ~ long form (which was stored away in a box in BC somewhere), a marriage search ~ basically something that said I am not currently married or have been married, and she also asked for a wedding license. Well the first two items, I was able to obtain with a few payments to Governmental agencies, but the third was not an option as I was not getting married in Canada ~ they told me they wouldn't issue it.
Armed with my 2 documents, Akis and I travelled to Athens to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get my documents translated from English to Greek. The building is divided into floors and each floor has it's own languages. It was rather interesting to note that the English/Greek floor was not all that busy. So after leaving the documents there, and deciding how my name would be spelt in Greek, we would need to return 5 days later to pick up the documents. All the while, remembering that all government offices close at around 2pm. Yes, it does pay to be a civil employee in Greece.
We had an appointment that Friday at the Town Hall where we are getting married ~ in Petroupoli. They reviewed a copy of the documents and upon hearing that Akis lives in another town, quickly put up their hands and said, we won't issue the marriage license. Get it from the town where Akis lives. With other things to do such as seeing the reception and wedding site, this needs to wait.
So, Monday we get up early, shuttle to Athens and pick up my documents. When we return to Piraeus, we head to the Town Hall. We get to the department ~ a department whose sole purpose is to issue wedding licenses for the suburb of Piraeus ~ and note that there are 3 of them working there. Who knew so many people could get married in one suburb??? The first woman reviews my translated documents and decides that she doesn't think they are acceptable but will ask the other woman. The second woman at the end of the 3 desks joined side by side decides no, they are not acceptable, but will get confirmation from their boss who sits between the two. As we wait for her to get off the phone and review my documents, Akis gets a sinking feeling. The woman starts to look at the documents and then shakes her head ~ this is when someone calls about another wedding and the gossip about someone's ceremony, their guest list etc. occurs. When she hangs up the phone and we think we will finally get an answer, the boss' Mama calls and wants to chat. The other 2 workers ~ and I use that term loosely, sit listening to her conversation, drinking coffee and occassionally move something on their desk to make themselves look busy. In the end, the boss lady says ~ papers are no good. They each need to be stamped by the Foreign Affairs office in Canada and then taken to the Greek Embassy/Consulate in Canada and stamped there before they will consider the documents to be authentic. Then these authenticated documents need to be translated again into Greek... GOOD LORD!!
While I wasn't overly surprised to hear this as I did read from someone's post that they needed to get documents stamped, but Akis and I were disappointed that our wedding planner didn't tell us this so I could have done this while in Canada. Now looking for options to solve this problem, emails start flying to the Canadian Embassy here in Athens. After phone calls to the wedding planner and then subsequently to Petroupoli Town Hall, we discover that Petroupoli doesn't need to have the papers stamped by Canadian Foreign Affairs or the Greek Embassy ~ but I do however need to have a letter of intent for marriage which names Akis as the groom. This can only be obtained in the Canadian Embassy. And for me to get a marriage license in Petroupoli, I need to get something that says that I am living there.
So Tuesday we trudge off to KEP to get a letter that says I live in Petroupoli.
Thursday we have an appointment with the Canadian embassy. We head there and 50 Euros later, get the document stating I will be marrying Akis in Greece.
We pick up the paper with our wedding announcement ~ and Akis heads into the Town Hall of Piraeus to get his part of the wedding license.
After we get home, we send everything we have accumulated to the wedding planner and she verifies with the Town Hall in Petroupoli that this is in fact OK, that I can be issued a wedding license. Now all we have to do is go and pick it up. Here's hoping that they don't change their mind on anything between now and then...