We did! (part one)
This has been one of the weirdest, most hectic, crazy summers I have ever experienced, and I’ve had a few so that’s saying alot!
First of all and without further ado… we got married! Mon homme and I are now Madame et Monsieur (although I am keeping my own nom de famille). We toyed with the idea of mashing both surnames into one (by taking the best letters from both!) and that little mash-up has become our unofficial title to our nearest and dearest. But on paper, I is still me, and he is still he!
So I’m not really sure if this post is going to take the official “How to get married in France” paperwork route, or the emotional, gushing wedding speech route! I suppose a smattering of both is best!
The decision to get married wasn’t taken lightly. Let’s just say we’ve put the cart before the horse a few times and so marriage certainly wasn’t rushed into! Everyone has their own reasons to get married or to not wish to be married at all. Whatever floats your boat I say! Personally I wanted to get married and so did mon homme. And for once – we both wanted to get married at the same time! And to each other (that’s a start!).
So a date was chosen, to fall in and around the dates of other much more well-organised weddings over the summer. We had decided to have a wedding with just ourselves, our children and our witnesses present (it was handy that one child was legally able to be a witness and the other witness was Grandmere). While we both loved the idea of inviting all of our family and friends, it just wasn’t to be! We’re not a couple who could entertain the thought of putting ourselves under any financial pressure – we have enough of that in daily life! To us, the piece of paper was the most important thing so we went ahead with a plan for a simple ceremony and celebration.
And thus the paperwork began!
I have to say, with all of my experiences with French administration, I thought it was going to be worse. It wasn’t necessarily straight-forward, but, it could have been worse! Needless to say though, this is France, so there were a few hoops to jump. Thankfully I am an EU citizen so that made things easier. First and foremost, as with anything in France, you need to go to your local Mairie (town/village hall) to check their legal requirements. They provide you with a comprehensive list of all the documents needed. Now I should mention at this point that you are supposed to be resident in France for a certain number of days before the actual ceremony but we all know how the real world works and there are ways around this (yes even in France!). I don’t know what the ways around this are but … that didn’t concern me as I am a resident here.
I needed to contact my Embassy to get a Certificat de Coutume and a Freedom to Marry document. The Irish Embassy puts both on the same document and the wording of the document is printed in 5 languages so thankfully there was no need for me to pay for the official translation. Otherwise you do need to get the document/s officially translated by a traducteur assermonte. To obtain these documents you also need to forward other documents to your Embassy. Everything is subject to a time limit so you need to be absolutely clear and careful as to what the requirements are.
For example the French and Irish systems differ greatly when it comes to birth certificates. In Ireland we generally get one certificate, at birth, and you need to treasure it for life! If you misplace it, then you will find yourself having to fork out for a replacement. In France, you are issued with a few birth certificates, in different forms! These certificates are only valid for 3 months! Every time you need a birth certificate for something official, you have to contact the Mairie where your birth was registered and ask for a copy. This is generally a free service. However this is quite frustrating as a foreigner. I have to pay a fee to the Irish registrar to receive a copy of my birth cert which dates less than three months every time one is required. Not to mention that I often have to pay up to €40 to get the said birth cert translated. A costly business being an etrangere!
I heaved a huge sigh of relief when all of the paperwork was sitting on the secretary’s desk at our Mairie. It felt even better that we had everything there ahead of time! At that stage there was nothing left for us to do except reserve a restaurant for our wedding dinner. We had already decided on the honeymoon destination and the train tickets were sitting in our filing cabinet. We had decided on a weekend trip to Marseille (more about that another time!).
We were busy organising ourselves to go to other beautiful weddings over the summer. I had started a new job. The children were coming up to their school holidays. And so life tripped along as it does. Our wedding kind of took a back-seat for a while. Then in the space of a week we had a lot of well-wishing neighbours mention our impending nuptuals. I had forgotten about the baans. The notice of our marriage was put on the village notice board and I may have mentioned before that this is not exactly a sprawling metropolis so nothing skims by unnoticed!
When it dawned on me, I popped down to the notice board to have a look. I’d never really paid heed to marriage baans before so I can honestly say the first baans I ever read was our own! It was a strange feeling looking at it all printed there in black and white. It was so much more than an announcement. It was a statement to ourselves and anyone willing to read it, that we intended to be called each other’s family. We had always considered ourselves family before, but this made it a legal definition. The publication of the baans is also a means to invite objections! Thankfully there were none. Neither of us discovered that the other had been secretly married 36 times. But then, not many people would have passed through here to object! Too late now anyway!
So, mid-July, we were ready to break on through to the other side.
I wanted three things for my wedding day : not to have a cold-sore, to find something to wear that I felt happy in and I was hoping for a bouquet of wildflowers (mon homme was taking care of that one for me- flowers are his livelihood after all!) Cross my heart – bridezilla I aint!
A few weeks before the wedding I took myself off to the big smoke – Dijon – to find “the rig-out”. Unfortunately my unwavering, patient, creative, unflinching stylist aka my darling Emilie wasn’t available that day! I draft my friend Emilie in, every time there is a major occurence in my life, to find me something suitable to wear, so I at least feel that I’ve made an effort! Style and fashion could not necessarily be deemed my forte! Emilie’s talent knows no bounds (and frankly – I’m quite scared of her when I’m standing in an unflattering light in my underwear, listening to young people’s music, in a hotter than hot changing room). I never say no to anything she proposes (this girl got it goin’ on!) and some of her major successes include me getting jobs as I have felt at ease and comfortable having been appropriately attired during interviews (Doth the cloth maketh the man? Maybe not- but the fit can hide a multitude!). Emilie knows her stuff – so I listen, watch, and try my best to learn.
Anyway – godammit – she was stuck at her real job! So I was on my own.
I was at the point where I wanted to cry and go home when I caught a glimpse of a mannequin in a window wearing a simple jumpsuit! I thought “that’s me!” I tried it on, and it looked ridiculous. There was, what I deemed, a crazy bow to the back, which made my hips look like an American interstate. I thought to myself, “Shit – I’ll have to rock up to the wedding in my interview clothes.” And then, I had a revelation.
MAYBE THE BLOODY BOW TIES TO THE FRONT!
I was on my way out of the changing room when I asked the all-knowing goddess of kohl and slimness who manned the doors, if the bow went to the front or to the back. She gave me a look that whiffed of bewilderment and said ” to the front – try it on again!”
I have to say of all of the wedding preparations, the most enjoyable was picking our wedding rings.
I was surprised that mon homme wanted to wear a ring. He has huge hands, that he has stuck in the soil most of the time, and he never wears jewelry. However – that’s what he wanted – so we set about finding something for him. Unfortunately though the aforementioned big hands could not be catered for in this one-horse town so the search perimeter had to be stretched somewhat. With days to go, a ring was found and ordered. Nail-biting stuff, waiting for its arrival!
For me it was easier. I know a lovely lady, Donna, who lives not too far away from me and she makes beautiful silver jewelry. I love silver work and I have been an admirer of her pieces for a while. So when it came to picking a ring I had a rough idea of what I wanted already. I wanted something simple, silver and with a little piece of gold.
Donna invited me over to her house for a coffee and to look at her box of tricks! When I saw her carry out her suitcase of shininess to the kitchen table I was beside myself with anticipation. There was too much prettiness in one place. I turned into a magpie – picking things up, becoming distracted. I had to remind myself that the job at hand was to find a ring!
In the end we settled on a simple design that Donna quickly sketched on a piece of paper and I loved it instantly! I had spent an absolutely gorgeous morning in the company of Donna and her charming Dad who kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to get married!
I assured him I was more than ready and couldn’t wait for mon homme to put the ring his lovely daughter designed on my finger!
Wedding outfit – tick!
Wedding rings – tick!
Date, time, place – tick, tick, tick-tock!
(stay-tuned for the main event in part deux! Same bat-time, same bat-channel)