From the very first day, we got used that nothing about our relationship will be simple or normal. Since we started to date, we needed to survive seven or more time zones between us, more than 10 000 km and cultural differences. It worked more than fine, but we started to wish to spend more time together. We were completely sure we are a great couple and we were ready to take our relationship to the next level.
Why did we choose Croatia
For those who do not know us (read more in about us section), my (now) husband Jaime is a Mexican citizen, and I am Croatian. When we started to talk about the wedding, the first and the most important step was to decide where are we going to get married.
We considered many options – from the beach wedding somewhere far away for only two of us to the big Mexican wedding party. In the end, we decided to organize a rather small, intimate wedding in Croatia. To be completely honest, it was not my first option (I voted for a barefoot wedding on a beach), but the reality check got us back to Croatia.
The most simple thing we could do was to get married in one of our countries. Getting married in Mexico meant my parents would not be able to attend it due to the medical reasons and, besides all the documents I would need to bring, we would be required to do several medical tests which would increase the total price for around 500 USD. Croatia, however, does not have any medical requirements and his family (at least a part of it) was able to come. The decision was made.
Documents Jaime needed to get married
I will always remember how, when we told my parents that we are getting married, my dad said: “Congratulations, you just made your life more complicated!”. Of course, he was referring to all the paperwork we would need to get through in order to be together. Our motto always was “When there is a will, there is a way.” and we were ready for this adventure (and yes, it was the adventure!).
To start with, Jaime needed to get three documents in Mexico before we could even apply for the marriage ceremony in Croatia. He needed (1) his birth certificate, (2) the certificate he was single and (3) the certificate there was no any barrier marrying me and the marriage would be valid in Mexico as well. All the documents needed to be apostilled afterward.
The first two were piece of cake. Since he was living and working in Mexico City, his parents were allowed to picked them up and they apostilled in Oaxaca, his hometown. The third certificate was a bit tricky because at the time we were living together in Mexico and the only place we could get the document was Mexican embassy in charge for Croatia, which was located in Budapest, Hungary.
A Trip To Budapest
We tried everything, but there was no help. We needed to go to Budapest as soon as we arrived in Europe. Everything needed to be well planned as we needed to apply for the marriage in Zagreb between 40 and 30 days prior to the wedding and we needed to find the day when both of our embassies in Budapest were open. We booked the apartment for three days, as the first day we arrived in the afternoon, we could not do anything. The second day we hoped to get everything done, but nobody could confirm it for sure.
We sent all the documents to the Mexican embassy several days before and made an appointment. We needed to show up there strictly between 10 and 12 in the morning, with all the original documents. They asked for (1) certificate that Jaime was single with apostille, (2) his passport, (3) his Mexican ID or any document with Mexican address on it, (4) birth certificate with apostille, (5) my passport or ID with the address in Hungary, Bulgaria or Croatia (because the stated embassy is responsible for citizens of those countries only) and (5) Jaime’s photo (3.5 x 4 cm).
They were very friendly and they informed us we would get the document within 15 to 20 minutes. In no minute they issued the document saying there is no reason why he could not marry me. We paid the fee of 17 670 HUF (approximately 60€ back then) afterward. The lovely clerk in the embassy explained to us where we could find the bank to make the payment and which bus we needed to take back to the center.
To make the document valid in Croatia, we needed to pay the visit to the Croatian embassy too. They told us to give us the call when we will be on the way and so we did. They took the paper, gave us the payment slip and told us to come back in 2 hours. We decided to stroll around until we find a bank or post office. And so we did, we paid the fee (I think it was around 20 – 25€, but I am failing to find a proof of payment) and grabbed a coffee while we were waiting.
Somehow, we managed to do everything within the same day and we were thrilled. Even we had apartment paid for an additional night, we decided to pack and go home the same afternoon. At the time, Budapest was full of refugees and it was not the best time to visit. Also, we were nervous about wedding preparations so we wanted to seize every day we had.
Organizing the ceremony in Zagreb
If you are organizing a wedding ceremony in a foreign country, you need to translate all the documents to the local language. As soon as we arrived in Europe, we translated the first two documents Jaime needed to present. While we were still in Budapest, I emailed the last document so the translation would be ready as soon as possible. In total, we needed to translate three documents from Spanish to Croatian which cost us around 600 HRK (around 80€).
In the meantime, we started to look for a translator. As Jaime was not fluent in the Croatian language, the official translator needed to accompany us in the civil registry office when we were applying for the marriage as well as she needed to be present during the wedding ceremony. 375 HRK each time (around 50€). Here you can find the list of all the translators in Croatia (the document is in Croatian only, with the list of different languages).
We could choose if we wanted the translator to be from Spanish or English language, but since most of the foreign attendees were Mexican, we went for Spanish. Basically, if you are fluent in more than one language, you can choose any of them – it only matters that you fully understand the process and the ceremony.
Finally, we were ready to book the appointment for the wedding ceremony. We came to the civil registry office in Maksimir with Jaime’s three documents, all apostilled and translated to Croatian, my ID, the copies of best man and maid of honor IDs and accompanied by the translator. A few days earlier we made a payment of 200 HRK and brought 100 HRK worth government stamps (in total around 40€). Please take a note all the documents need to be issued within the last three months.
In less than half and hour time, we had our October 23 appointment set and all the hassles we went through (I tried to leave all the stress and bureaucracy problems out of the post since we are trying to remember only the good things) suddenly were not important anymore. Our day was coming and we could not be happier!
If you want to get married in Croatia, those are (more or less) the steps you will need to pass in order to finalize your marriage. I know you are probably not Mexican, but you will still need to visit your embassy in Croatia or some of the surrounding countries to validate some of the documents.
We decided to have a civil wedding only, since because of the distances and other requirements, a church ceremony would complicate the things even more. Make sure to have enough time to organize everything if you would like to have a church ceremony as well.
Yesterday we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and this was the perfect moment to remind ourselves what we needed to get through. Our marriage is still not legalized in Mexico, though. Apparently, you need to do it in person in Mexico, and since it is a bit far, we were not able to do it yet, but hopefully we will next year.
Ps. All the photos were taken by a great duo named Fotkalo. We highly recommend them if you decide to get married in Zagreb! Check out their web here
Where did you get married? Was is complicated or you enjoyed every moment?
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If you found yourself being in a long distance relationship, you must be a maniac, masochist, and completely crazy person. Long distance relationships are crazy hard and you don’t want them. Believe us, you don’t want them. But once you realize how hard it is going to be, it is often too late and you are already in love. The only thing you can do now is give your best and make that relationship work.
Since we spend almost 2 years in a relationship like that, we like to think we are competent enough to give you some advice how to make a long distance relationship work. The following quote from the movie “The Notebook” describes it best.
“It’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.” The Notebook
How it works.
Define your goals and make clear what you want
Since the beginning, you need to make totally clear what you want from each other and which are your mutual goals. It can be pretty tricky and uncomfortable talking about those things because it might seem too serious at the beginning, but it is essential. You need to know what your feelings are and if the both feel the same about being in this kind of relationship and, eventually, about your future. Soon you will need to define your goals too. When are you going to be together? First maybe for a weekend, then vacation you are going to spend together and, ultimately, do you want to be together forever. You need to have the goal, but you also need to be patient. Best things happen to those who wait so don’t rush the things too much, but also – don’t forget that long distance relationships are meant to be temporary.
Now when you made sure you both want to be in this relationship, you need to be aware it is going to be very hard. Are you willing to do what it takes for the relationship? There will be days when you will miss the other person so much you just want to scream, leave everything and take the first plane to visit him or her. There will be days when you will just want to hug your better half and he or she will be 10 000 km away. You will need to remember yourself why do you want to be in this relationship and what do you like about a person every day. The only reason why you should be in this type of relationship is if you believe he or she might be the one and you want to work in your future.
As we said before, you need to keep in mind it is going to be hard. This kind of relationships are not for everyone and you need to make it clear is it for you or not. Can you deal with lonely nights? Can you trust your partner enough? Can you live with the fact Skype video call is the most similar to face to face contact you can get? You have the right to decide you don’t want this. That you want a real relationship in which you can actually kiss another person. But if you decide you want is, don’t forget that you are going to fight and sometimes the trigger is going to be just the fact you are not together. You can get very cranky because you can’t be with the person you love and in those situations, you will also need to be reasonable and remind yourself why you are in that relationship.
Communication is a key
Since you are far from each other, communication is the most important thing in your relationship. You need to talk a lot – but really talk – and you always need to find time for each other. You need to make the other person feel important just like you would if you were together. In order to get close to each other you need to share your lives, know some details about each other, talk about your friends, things you are doing, people you’ve met, talk about how your day was, … Also, don’t forget about the “little things” – good morning and good night messages and so on. Use the benefits of nowadays technology! All I can say is, we are sooo lucky to have the internet today.
Do things together
Even if he is in Mexico and she is in Europe, you can do some things together. Watch the same movie and talk about it, read the same book, work on some mutual project, make a web page (hehe) or just spend some time planning your future. Also, you can use the mobile applications for couples and upload different notes, pictures, important dates etc. There are so many things you can do together no matter how many kilometers are between you!
Cherish the moments
The moments you spend together in the long distance relationship are priceless. Don’t fight, enjoy others company in person or just during the Skype call. When you two are together, do the things you can’t do otherwise, no matter how banal and simple they are – watch a movie, go to the cinema, make a dinner together. “Normal” couples have no idea how lucky they are they can just drink a coffee together! Enjoy your relationship as much as possible and don’t forget to dream about the day you are finally going to be together. It is going to be worth it.
Saturday Night Fever © Mexatia
There are million of things you will need to face with while being in a distance relationship. But we only want to tell you one. Everything is possible. It will pass through. You can do it. 🙂
Do you have any other advice?
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Bok, ja sam Jaime or hello, my name is Jaime in English 🙂 Yes, the same Maja writes about. I moved to Croatia, and after a while, I decided to write something about my experiences here in my new hometown Zagreb! So I was writing my first post when I realized… Hey, nobody knows me, so how to write new things on this blog when nobody knows anything about me, it is like to arrive at a hotel and take a room without check in, so I will give you a quick intro. So I am Jaime Martínez, a Mexican from Oaxaca de Juarez, a very beautiful city located in the south of Mexico. As you know, now I am living in Zagreb, Croatia with Maja, my wife.
We ready for the take off in CD MX © Mexatia
After spending a great summer in Mexico, it was time to leave. It was September 4 and it was our last night in Mexico City. We decided to leave with style so we booked a room for in amazing Gran Hotel de la Ciudad de Mexico (if you saw Spectre, you could see James Bond staying in this hotel as well!). We booked a flight through British Airways so to reach our final destination we had a long, overnight layover in London. On the bright side, since we arrived in London in the afternoon, we had some time to go to the city and visit some of its iconic landmarks. In London, we stayed at Hilton’s Garden Inn Heathrow Hotel which was excellent for a layover. I had a very good rest but Maja did not even close her eye because of the jet lag. Super early next morning, we were already on the way to Heathrow again. Grabbed an expensive breakfast, crossed the security control and in a blink of an eye we were in the airplane again, ready for the takeoff.
The flight from London to Zagreb was amazing because you cross over the Swiss Alps and you have an amazing view. I told to Maja that we need to come here next time to ski, but she looked me weirdly and said: “Start to work harder, even normal Swiss people do not ski here.”. When we were somewhere over Austria, I thought how maybe we can ski here. 🙂
Crossing the Alps © Mexatia
Occupied by thoughts like that and after short 3 hours, we were in Croatia. Maja was excited and she started to talk about Zagreb, showing me where city center and the hill Medvednica are. The plane landed and I immediately started to worry about three things:
- Did our luggage arrive in Zagreb and did it survive the flight? In Mexico we got lots of different information prior the flight and, even the lady claimed she checked in the luggage until Zagreb, we were not 100% sure the luggage was not stuck somewhere in London or in some other part of the world.
- If the luggage was there, I was just hoping the customs would not stop us to check all the luggage, because we really had a lot. My whole life was coming with me.
- It was time to meet Maja’s parents for the very fist time!!!
Maja is already a professional in arriving back home so we were the very first ones in passport control and first ones waiting for the luggage. I saw people getting their luggage and leaving. People were leaving one by one and our bags still were not here. Suddenly I saw the first bag! I run to pick it up when I saw second, third, fourth… We were passing the customs with two cars full of baggage. Police office stopped Maja and, when I was almost ready to open all the locks on our bags, he let us go after a short chit chat with Maja.
Enjoying layover in London © Mexatia
Her dad was waiting for us. I approached him and I told him: “Don Darko it’s a pleasure to finally meet you!” while giving to him the hand and a hug like a family. Well, that was the original plan but what really happened was a handshake in a very awkward silence. I was so nervous and I think he was too. While we were driving home, I felt so weird. Everything was so different, it was a completely new city with a lot of green fields, traffic signals in a language that I couldn’t pronounce, Maja and her dad speaking a language that I couldn’t understand… and there was no traffic on the road.
We arrived at my new home. Her mom was there waiting for us with Frida, the dog. I think she read my mind because she did everything I planned to do with Maja’s dad. She told me “Welcome home, Jimmy!”, hugged me and kissed me. Frida was so excited Maja was there that she forgot to bark at me. 🙂
When I was crossing through the main door, I felt ready for this new adventure. I was not alone like when I arrived in Madrid. I was going through life holding the hand of my pretty (soon to be) wife.
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Last year I spent the whole winter in Dubai. The temperature of 20 – 25°C, different culture, and no family around made me feel like Grinch really did steal Christmas. I spent the holidays working because I could not stand the idea of being locked in the room alone, without presents, tree, cakes and anyone to share the joy with. I basically did not have Christmas at all, as well as winter.
I thought warm weather all year long would make me happy, but when I saw pictures of snow in Zagreb right after Christmas, I realized I missed so many winter related things. That’s why this year I am particularly looking forward to holidays and winter in total. This are also first holidays together for Jaime and me! I am planning to do as much as holiday-ish things with him and we are trying to establish some of the traditions. We already bought some decorations and I cannot wait for the smell of cakes to be felt all around the house.
I hope you are also thrilled about winter and, please, don’t allow yourself to stay locked in the house when the temperature goes down. Here are some cool winter activities for couples, all those cute things you can do with your better half in order to make this winter warmer.
Cute winter activities for couples
Make angels in snow
This year (hopefully) is going to be the first time Jaime is going to see snow falling! He went snowboarding and saw snow on the ground, but he never saw it falling from the sky. I can’t wait for it to happen so I can take him out to make angels in snow and start a snowball fight. You can do the same with your love, just get well dressed before. 🙂
Write letter to Santa and send Christmas cards
No, you are never too old! Sit and write down your wishes. After opening the presents, you can read each other’s letter and see if you guessed any of your partner’s wishes. Also, buy (or make – even better!) Christmas cards and send it to the close family and friends. This year we bought some cute cards as we want to bring back the tradition of sending them. Last time I did it when I was a kid and I think it is a nicer way to wish all the best than SMS or What’s App. The cards are already on their way and we hope they will put smiles on people’s faces.
Watch a Christmas movie
Or lots of them! Every year Croatian TV houses show Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York movies and I can’t imagine holidays without seeing them. This year we were faster and we already watched both. Is there anything better than cuddling with your better half under a warm blanket, with a cup of hot cocoa in your hand? I can’t wait to watch all Christmas movies I can remember all December long!
Decorate the house for Christmas
December is here and you can finally decorate all around! I bought the material and made two advent wreaths, we bought new Christmas lights and some other lighting decoration. There are lots of things you can do together. Put on the lights and beautiful snowflake decorations, make Christmas stockings or make paper Christmas trees.
Go window shopping
Cities are beautiful in this period! Of course, we cannot afford to shop all the time, but we can stroll around the city and enjoy all those lovely decorated windows. Even just a walk around the shopping mall can lift your mood in a second. Golden and red decorations, Christmas songs playing all around and the delicious smell of sausages. Ideal to give a hug to your couple and share your ideas about dream presents, vacations and holiday traditions. You can also search for some winter accessories like gloves for smartphones or warm scarves to heat up yourselves while strolling around.
Go ice skating
Zagreb has a wonderful and huge ice skating rink in the heart of the city. Right in the middle of the main train station and Art Pavilion, you can practice your skating skills, surrounded by lots of people, popular music, and lovely decoration. Almost every city has a rink (even Dubai hehe) so for the small amount of money you can rent out the skates and have a great amount of fun! In order not to fall down, hold your darling’s hand strongly. 🙂
Make homemade mulled wine
Mulled wine wins out when it comes to best winter drink. Aromatic, fragrant and delicious wine spiced up with all kinds of spices can warm you up in a second. Almost every Sunday, my dad used to cook the wine and soon it became our winter trademark. You can have fun with your couple adding up different spices and trying different kinds of wine. And of course, who says you need to stop after a glass or two. 🙂
Visit Christmas markets
December is an excellent month to visit the most of the European cities! Almost every city has a Christmas market and lots of things going on around the city. You can spend a nice evening with your better half, walk around and enjoy decorated city centers. Grab a glass of mulled wine and some winter food to heat up yourself. You can attend some concert, go ice skating or just enjoy the company of your loved one. And while some cities like Vienna or Berlin have well-known Christmas markets, Zagreb is getting better and better each year. With lots of innovations, it is for sure a great place to visit in December.
See a hockey game
Is there any more winter-ish sport than hockey that you can enjoy like a spectator? If your city has a hockey club, the lazy weekend afternoon can be easily turned into super fun sports date! Grab some popcorn, beer and t-shirt of your favorite team and cheer.
Try winter sports
If you prefer to participate, not only to watch – you can also try to play hockey, go snowboarding, skiing or at least sledding. For sure you have some hill or mountain around, check their offer and plan a weekend outside. You can always rent a gear and find something you will like. What’s matter is the amount of fun you will have with your loved one.
In which winter activities for couples do you like to enjoy with your other half?
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„So, you are Croatian?“
„And your boyfriend is Mexican?“
“So how did you two met?!”
“Well… in Spain.”
That’s more or less how all the conversations about our relationship start. Allow me to tell you the story how I met Jaime from the very beginning.
I was lying on a bed and chatting on Facebook while Marcela was packing some things she bought that day. It was end of the October 2012, we were in New York City and the life was absolutely awesome. The TV was turned on news. They were saying something about tropical storm in the Caribbean which might turn into a hurricane.
– Maja, did you hear that?? What if the hurricane comes to NYC? – Marcela asked.
– Ahhh, don’t bother me with unimportant things, there is noooo possibility for that. I’m doing something important here!
Two days after, the hurricane came to NYC and we were locked up in our room at 9th floor. Dying from the boredom, we chatted with two Croatian girls who were in the city too and we decided to go out with them the night the hurricane passed by. That night I met a guy from Ecuador with whom I continued to chat after going back home and I decided to start learning Spanish. I chose the language school and, suddenly, I fell in love with the language. Somewhere around that time my visa for the U.S. was denied, the thing with him fell apart and I decided to stick with my new love and spend the summer in Spain.
It was August 2013 and it was our last day together in Madrid, the following day Marija was leaving back to Switzerland. To say a proper goodbye, we decided to go out that night and we changed few clubs before we found the one with latin music. Apparently, in Spain you cannot stand in the club alone more than a minute because someone will come to you and the next thing you know – you are dancing.
He came when I really wanted to take some rest. I told him I don’t want to dance, he didn’t care much. I told him I don’t know how to dance, he said I should just follow him. I told him I don’t know how to follow (LOL) and he said… well, he started to dance. He told me he is Mexican and his name is Jamie. I thought how weird, that’s not really Mexican name, but he even confirmed it. When we decided to leave, he took my number and messaged me right after he came home. “Hey it’s Jimmy, message me when you wake up”, he wrote. Who is Jimmy?! Apparently, in the club Jamie looked to him as Jaime.
Next morning Marija left and I met him in the afternoon. Would I meet him if she stayed? Probably no. Sometimes life just connect the dots and everything makes sense later. That day I had nothing better to do and I decided to spend some time with him. We ate something in a bar and walked around Madrid for hours. I remember the moment we started to dance on the streets of Madrid, out of blue. With all the royal palaces and castles around, I felt like a real princess. The day after we met again, and the day after too, before I left for Portugal.
But for some reason, he continued to write me. A month and half after, I moved to Berlin and he came to visit me. I didn’t believe he would be crazy enough to go to another country to visit a girl he spent three days with, but he was. The moment I saw him at the Berlin’s airport is the moment when all the barriers fell off and I knew I was totally in love with him. The days in Berlin were magical, we got to know each other better and decided to take a risk and started a real relationship.
I came to see him in Madrid the very next weekend, two days before he left for Mexico. Suddenly, we were 10 000 km and 7 times zones away. Like it wasn’t bad enough when we were in different European countries, now we needed to learn how to deal with new challenges.
I’m not going to say it was easy, but we both knew what lies ahead and that we will need to put a lot of effort in this relationship to work. We made it, day by day. Once I told him, there is no good days. The good days were when we were together. When we are apart there are only bad and worse days. And we need to deal with it every single day.
The worst thing at the beginning was the fact I had no idea when I’m going to see him again. I said to my parents I would like to visit him in Mexico and one day I found the cheap ticket. The moment I pressed buy button in the website was… a moment of true happiness! We had a date! It was almost five months away, but we had it. And we were completely sure we will survive those five months. Every single night, at midnight we wrote each other messages how the date we are going to see each other again is one day closer.
And the day finally came! Oh my, I was so nervous even two – three weeks before the departure date. Finally, I was in the plane on my way to Mexico. And I was so scared. Scared that is not going to be the same and we are not going to like each other anymore, that his family is going to hate me because I come from the different world and I look different, ah I was scared about everything. I didn’t see him for almost seven months. And then there he was, holding my coffee, Red Bull and balloons. I started to run and just jumped on him. He was here and all the worries just disappeared. We made it. And we are still making it while planning the bright future that is in front of us.
Mexico City © Mexatia
Being in this relationship taught me lots of things. But the most important one definitely is – everything in the world is possible. If there is a will, there is a way. If someone told me a year ago, I would be in 10 000 km long distance relationship with Mexican guy I met dancing somewhere in Spain, I would think that person is totally crazy. But now we are the crazy ones. Crazy happy. 🙂
Note: This post was written in August 2014. In this very moment, we are happily married and together.