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The clock started today at 10:30 a.m.

At the Cleveland Park Post Office, where it took me a week to get an appointment to even apply for my passport, the woman who calls me “Baby” and “Honey” alternately wants to know if I need the pricey expedited option. I’m inclined to say no. Our trip to Ireland is more than three months off. The official wait time is 10 to 12 weeks. I knew I’d be cutting it close…but, c’mon. “Well, Honey, it can take four months now,” she says, and I ask her if that is really true, or more like a scare tactic.

“Baby,” she says, “I know it’s true.” Well, seeing that I don’t want to be sitting in D.C. when my new husband is off drinking Guinness without me, I hand her my two checks: $127 to the State Department and $30 to the U.S. Postmaster. That’s an extra $60 on top of the nonexpedited fee and, despite the State Department officially apologizing to Congress for the backlog and calling in more than 300 young diplomats to start stamping, the whole process is fraught with waiting. That leaves just about everyone plunking down that extra $60.

So do yourself a favor: Get in line now. For first-timers, here’s what you need:

  • a completed application. You can fill one out here.
  • proof of citizenship. It took a letter, a check for $10, and about a week for an official copy of my birth certificate to come in the mail, but if you were born somewhere other than Cowtown, N.Y., it could take longer.
  • two photos. Some places, like the Cleveland Park Post Office, will take them when you apply, but you can save a few dollars by going to mom-and-pop shops, like the one called “Photo Service” at 1664 Columbia Road ($11 instead of $15).
  • valid photo ID

Got a passport story? Still waiting for yours to come in the mail? We’ve got nothing to do but wait, so go ahead and share.