The other day, I met a friend in Jardin du Luxembourg. She was hand-delivering a copy of the May issue of Canadian Family that she lifted from the Air Canada lounge in Toronto. This issue features PARIS LETTERS in the book section. Score! Merci Canadian Family.
This was our first friend date alone, outside of our group of friends. I asked her if she was married yet, knowing she was to be getting married in May. “No, tomorrow. Want to come? 4pm at city hall.” I nodded and smiled. Our friend date was going well. Then she asked the one question every expat bride in Paris asks:
When do I say Oui?
In France, you have no choice but to get married at city hall, and you only have to say one thing once: Oui. But you need to say it at the correct time. For those of us who are hardly bilingual, this moment is more stressful than all the other wedding planning moments combined.
If you ever get married in France, this is when you say Oui:
The ceremony is a lot of bla bla bla français. Then there is a moment when this happens: Bla bla bla français bla bla (they say your name) bla bla (they say your fiancés name). Then there is a pause. That’s when you say Oui. Then your hitched.
Translation: They basically ask if you take this person to be your lawful wedded spouse. That’s it. Champagne and photos follow.
A rundown of events:
You walk in together. A nice metaphor for marriage. After a brief ceremony, and after you say Oui at the right time (she did), you sign some paperwork. Quelle surprise.
They are smiling because this is the last thing they have to sign after months of paperwork gathering. It’s a whole headache in France. L’administration est coo-coo.
The bride and groom are handed the Livret de Famille. They warn you that if you lose this booklet you are screwed. The Livret de Famille is proof that you got hitched. You even need to show it if one of you dies to prove you are married to this person, as morbid as this is. The livret is also filled with blank pages where you fill in the names of your children. I think there is room for 20 children in that little livret. Don’t lose it!
City halls in Paris are fancy, as is our bride. Ooh la la!
A photo in front of a fountain is a must in Par-ee.
Then there was a very fuzzy time when we drank a lot of bubbly at a nearby café. Once it was time to leave for dinner, the guests took off in taxis to the restaurant until all that was left was the bride and groom… and no more taxis.
Not expecting this would be the first time they would try hitchhiking.
Resorting to calling for a taxi. This is always the last resort. Le sigh.
Considers taking the bus.
Realizes she hasn’t tossed her bouquet yet.
Sees a crowd gathering for the bus.
Gets ready for the toss.
And a happy bus goer gets a nice treat.
Eventually a taxi did arrive, followed by more bubbly, followed by… well, it’s too hard to remember. There was a lot of bubbly.
Happily ever after in Paris for Mallory and Justin!