Mariage at the mairie

 Catrin, our daughter, our only daughter, is engaged to be married to Froim. Froim has been a member at Bordeaux Church for some years and they started seeing each other last year. They set a date for October 31. It seemed a good date, especially from the point of view of covid.

However to marry in France you need to supply various documents supporting your identity, your single status and also your place of residence. For people who not French, and neither of our protagonists are French, this can be complicated.

You have to get your birth certificate translated by an officially recognised translator and stamped and stapled in a particular way that indicates to the town hall that the document is valid and correctly translated. In addition your birth certificate has to be issued within the past three months - and here either some town halls interpret the rules differently, or the rules are different for French people and for foreign people* - and within three months of the date of the wedding.

Froim's birth certificate was issued trilingually - in German, French and English - so it did not need a translator. NOT SO FAST! He was born in the former West Germany, which no longer exists. On his birth certificate his mother's name is given with "geb maiden-name" (born maiden-name. In English we sometimes put née maiden-name). This provoked great perplexity at the town hall. But the country in which you were born no longer exists ! What can we put as country of birth ? Also what is this geb maiden-name? What is your mother's name? Off to the translator for them to certify that geb means née.

Catrin's birth certificate was also bilingual, but in Welsh and in English. But where were you born? Ysbyty? Maelor? Wrecsam? Wrexham? What is all this? Strange to relate, the translator does not speak Welsh, but Google does so she quickly certified that Ysbyty Maelor Wrecsam means Maelor Hospital Wrexham and that the place of birth is Wrexham.

The town hall were still perplexed though, so they sent their documents off to the procureur for them to give their legal advice on whether this couple could marry given their current state of birth, and if so, whatever could be put on the marriage certificate.

Froim wrote to the mayor to complain. "This does not seem to reflect a very European spirit." The mayor asked the team to respond. "We are just trying to be professional". We discussed what a couple should do who wish to marry but find the state unwilling to comply for administrative reasons. It is illegal to hold a marriage ceremony in a church for a couple who are not legally married.

After about a week the procureur delivered their opinion - there is no problem with these documents. Catrin and Froim went in to choose a date for their legal marriage. They chose the earliest possible date. Can you blame them !

So this Saturday at noon at the town hall they will say "Yes" to each other, surrounded by the few family members who can make it (that is, Patricia and me) and by friends and church folk. 

In October we hope that at least all the parents and siblings will be there for a marriage celebration and meal at a chateau on the outskirts of Bordeaux.


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