Hmm, just noticed that the article didn't come out, guess there must be a character limit on the posts here.
Once you’ve popped the question (or once she’s shown you the test results) the obvious choice is the ‘do not sober-up until leaving the Elvis Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas’ approach. But Poles need visas for the USA and the chances are 98% that your intended doesn’t have one. In the unlike event that beloved is one of the chosen few, Tim Hyland from Travel Express says “We can get you to Vegas within 24 hours for under 2700 PLN, hotel and alcohol not included”. Tempting eh?
So, it is a wedding where you call home or a wedding in Poland? We’d go for the Polish option. Partly because the drinking session afterwards will be of truly epic proportions but mainly because getting a fiancée visa is a very long and laborious process (many countries have had problems in the past with Poles marrying their citizens just for paperwork). These days getting a fiancée visa is as easy as finding a sober politician and then getting an honest answer out of him. For example, the Australian embassy charge 3,300 PLN as a non-refundable processing fee and need so long to organise the paperwork that you’d be able to invite your great-grandchildren to your own wedding. And the Australian embassy is among the easiest to deal with! As the Polish government is very protective of Poland’s reputation as the most bureaucratic country in Europe, when you get back to Poland, you’ll need deal with even more bureaucracy to have your marriage legally recognised here.
Not that there’s an absence of red tape if want to get married here. Even the US embassy website warns “Getting married in Poland requires considerable time and can be complicated”. A foreigner who wants to marry here must show a passport, a birth certificate (us foreigners, we just love to lie about being born), a “Certificate of No Impediment to the Marriage” (which show they are free to marry), and certified sworn translations of it all, including your birth certificate. Some embassies will issue the Certificate of No Impediment. The Australian embassy hand the things out immediately at a cost of 254 PLN. The British embassy put up a notice in the consulate that you intend to marry, then after 21 days give you the certificate (at a cost of 492 PLN). But other embassies, including the American embassy, cannot give you the magic paperwork; instead you have to go to the family court, which can mean waiting for up to xx weeks for an appointment. Once you get a date, you swear an oath that you are legally entitled to marry and the judge asks you (and your beloved) if you really do want to get married. Then the court checks that what you are claiming is really the situation with your country. If the court has experience dealing with your nation things move fairly quickly but if you’re from, say Cape Verde (a tiny African country virtually no Pole has heard of), and you want to get married in Bytow (a tiny Polish town virtually no foreigner has heard of) it’s going to take a while. Once everything’s been given the official OK you get a certificate saying you can indeed get married. Expect to pay between 200 and 500 PLN court fees, a few hundred for a sworn interpreter and more for a lawyer (not that one is really needed).
Next choice is church wedding or civil wedding. If you go for the civil route you need to visit the Urzad Stanu Cywilnego (the registrar/county clerk) of the place where your partner lives. Take your Certificate and both the original and certified sworn translation of your birth certificate. It’s a good idea to bring you passport too and your Polish residency card if you have one. You need to wait for at least one month between dropping off the paperwork and getting hitched but this time can be shortened in “special circumstances” (we aren’t sure if arriving with a girlfriend who is very pregnant and a soon-to-be father-in-law who has a shotgun counts as special circumstances).
Or you can have a church wedding and skip the civil wedding completely. This being Poland, ‘church’ means ‘Catholic church’. If you are a heathen infidel, which all of us non-Catholics obviously are, as far as the Polish government is concerned a non-Catholic religious wedding in Poland is about as valid as getting the old lady who lives next door to do the ceremony (less valid actually as the old lady next door is most probably not a heathen infidel like the shaman who performs the ceremony at your temple of false gods).If you want to be legally married in Poland, you need to have a civil wedding to go with your heathen infidel wedding. You might think that this is a very obvious infringement of your European Union right to equal treatment regardless of your religion but you’d be wrong: in Poland all religions are equal, but some are more equal than others.
For more information contact the Urzad Stanu Cywilnego for the place where you plan to get hitched. It’s best to ask that specific one as it seems that the regulations are interpreted slightly differently in different places. Alternatively you can just work out that it is far quicker cheaper and easier to just head for Bali and have a Jagger-style beach wedding (and as Mick knows, getting a waiter to play minister can seriously cut down on divorce costs). But doing that would mean you miss the best part of a Polish wedding experience: the reception. These are very highly recommended; at the first one I went to the bride’s grandmother literally drank me under the table.