Well, it happened.
After all the trouble we went through to get all the proper paperwork and everything, on Saturday the 23rd of April, we pulled it off and we are now, officially, hitched.
The day itself was actually pretty easy. The week before we’d found a restaurant nearby which seemed to be a nice place and they worked with us to create a simple menu for our 18 or so guests, so that was taken care of. All our paperwork was in order, so that was all good. Rasa had found a nice maternity dress (after many hours of searching) and she looked beautiful.
Come Saturday morning, we both felt pretty ready for whatever was going to head our way. And yet, nothing did.
I went out early to get a last minute bouquet, Rasa’s family arrived from Mažeikiai about 1pm, to drop off some stuff for the baby and help Rasa get ready. A little bit after 2 and we met up with Saulė and Lin, who were going to be photographing and shooting the Periscope video of the whole event.
At Rotušė (the old city hall), our ceremony was scheduled for 3:10pm. We knew we were supposed to be there early, because there were ceremonies scheduled every ten minutes and there were things we needed to do beforehand. Arriving at about 2:40, we went in to the lobby and mingled with our group (I only noticed afterwards, while watching the video, there were several friends and colleagues there) and others.
We checked in and immediately the hard sell started. Rasa and I, along with our two witnesses, Laima and Monika, were taken into a small room where they took professional pictures under a flowered canopy, ostensibly for their records. Of course, as soon as they took them, we were offered print packages for a fee. Yes, we bought them. I was also given the opportunity to hammer a design into a coin, which I did. I picked the “love” icon, naturally.
Back in the lobby, we were asked if we wanted the string quartet to play while we walked in. Not knowing how much they were playing or what they would be playing, we said sure, and again, the venue hand came out, asking for more money. We paid.
Eventually, we were given basic instructions and met our required interpreter.I’d like to take a brief moment to say something about the interpreter: What a scam. We were required to have one, by law, since I don’t speak Lithuanian. This is fine. We were even required to have one who is registered, also fine. But then it was we were required to have one who was registered and working for a certified interpreting company. A working, certified translator (of which we knew several) wasn’t good enough. Nope, the registry office very thoughtfully gave us a referral and when Rasa called, amazingly, they already had all our information at hand. For their fee, the only part of the interpreting they don’t simply read is our names, and our girl didn’t even get that right, mispronouncing my name a few times. The entire thing felt like a scam to get money and receive kickbacks. But that’s the way it works so we paid our money and hired our reader for the 4 minutes we were required to have her.
As our time approached, we headed up the stairs to the central room where the actual ceremony would take place. Inside, we stopped several meters in front of a large, wooden desk, behind which sat the justice who performed the rites and did her duty and saw to it we were married all good and proper.
After the ceremony we exit through a different door (not, I was surprised to see, the giftshop) where there’s a ring on a ribbon, attached to a bell. We rang the bell as we left, for luck and signifying our union, then were greeted by all sorts of friends and colleagues and family. Rasa (and I, by extension) received dozens of flowers and many warm handshakes and hugs and kisses. It was absolutely delightful.
After a bit, as everyone drifted away, it was time to take some pictures. Unfortunately, the weather outside was, to coin a phrase, frightful. It was cold and windy and not appropriate for picture taking. We talked to the restaurant, where we had 4:30 reservations, and they agreed to let us come a little early and we took a bunch of pictures there, followed by a great meal and laughter and general toasting. Every time I tried to introduce an American custom or ritual, though, I was told everyone already knew it because they’d seen it on TV or in the movies.
Ah well. It was still a glorious day and the start of what promises to be an amazing journey.