That Time We Didn’t Get Married in Newcastle

Hollywood sign
The bride-and-groom-to-be.

So Jared and I almost got married last week.

In our continued quest to sift through evidence for our de facto visa application, it became clear that we don’t have concrete proof that we’ve lived together over the last 12 months.

Common sense proof, yes. Concrete, no.

Even though we’ve lived together for over 4 1/2 years, the only feasible way to waive this requirement was to get married.

“Well,” Jared said, “let’s do it.”

I agreed. We’d roll up to the registry, sign some papers, and get it done. Anything to make this paperwork go more smoothly. We’d still have the ‘real’ wedding, eventually, but this would be the official one.

I got on Skype with my parents, who nearly had heart attacks.

“I want to come,” my mom said immediately, excited.

“I need some time,” my dad said.

Obviously, a rushed wedding at the registry office isn’t what they imagined for their daughter, but they were open to it. The estimated wedding date was at the end of April, after a mandatory 30-day waiting period instituted by the state of New South Wales.

I wasn’t pumped about the idea, but I was quickly warming up to it. Then I could go ahead and change my name, which meant that I could change the name in my passport for free, since it was within a year of issue. That was good. It wasn’t what I had expected, but life throws you curve balls sometimes.

It was actually kind of thrilling. We were getting married! My parents were coming! What would I wear?

Bar Beach, Newcastle, Australia
Maybe we could get married on hang gliders. Or not.

But then I came across another option.

For $199, we could register a de facto relationship with the state. This would also waive the 12-month relationship requirement, and we could still have one wedding when we were ready.

So we made an appointment at the Registry of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages. I emailed my parents to tell them the wedding was off. Well, the rushed one was, anyway.

On Monday morning, we waited in the crowded, impersonal waiting room, clutching our papers and waiting for our number to be called. The woman next to us mumbled loudly, impatient. This is ridiculous, she spat, hoping we would take the bait and commiserate with her.

A young Indian man on the other side worried a well-worn strip of paper. It was a notification of intent to marry, the same paper we would have been holding had our plans not changed.

“Look,” I nudged Jared. “That’s where we would have gotten married.”

Directly in front of us was a frosted door stamped with the words “MARRIAGE ROOM.”

An electronic voice cut into the din. “165 B to window 3.”

We reported to the window and were eventually led into the marriage room. It was boxy and sparsely furnished, with a small bench, large desk, and two chairs. There was a framed marriage certificate hung, off-center, on the wall.

I was relieved, mostly. Relieved that our wedding wouldn’t take place in this confined space, barely separated from a crowd of strangers who wanted to be anywhere but there.

A few minutes later we emerged, paid the fee, and were told that we’d have our certificate in approximately 5-6 weeks.

“Easiest marriage ever, right?” the kind, harried worker said. “Well, basically marriage. It’s the same thing.”

We thanked him and returned to the sunshine, free of paperwork, basically married, and one step closer to a visa.

And although I’m glad – I really only want to have one wedding – I can’t help thinking that it would have been kind of fun.

But that’s the instant gratification in me, so now I know I have to embrace the opposing aspect: anticipation. And the reward for waiting is always just a little bit sweeter.

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  1. Man can I relate. The number of times I’ve thought, let’s just get this paperwork signed and be done with it… But then I tried on wedding dresses (just for fun, because they’re crazy expensive and I wouldn’t dream of spending a thousand dollars on a piece of clothing) while I was home and then I see other people’s wedding photos I’m like…aww. Maybe a small wedding would be nice. But ugh, planning and paperwork!

    1. I know. I sort of obsessively read wedding blogs and go back and forth on what kind of wedding I want. But the planning turns me off every time! But then the cost of a wedding planner puts me off too, so I seem to have backed myself into a corner. ARGH. And what the HECK made it okay for normal people to spend thousands of dollars on a white dress?

    1. I’ve never even been to the original Newcastle but now it sounds like I can cross it off my ‘potential wedding locations’ list! Ha ha.

  2. Congratulations on being ‘basically married’ 🙂

    My husband and I actually did have a quick wedding in South Korea so we would be able to live together. Our real wedding was in Newcastle, England (the nice part though)!

    1. Thanks! We met quite a few couples who got married in Korea or just before going, for the same reasons. And now I’m really curious about England’s Newcastle – if I ever make it there, we’ll probably stick to the nice parts!

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