Notre Mariage

After 10 years together, Copain and I finally decided to tie the knot. Our friends and family's reaction: freaking finally people! They were right, it was time.

We hemmed and hawed about getting married in Toulouse, where we first met in 2004. We made fake guest lists. We wondered who would actually FLY across the country for us. I called a restaurant and put together a delicious southwestern French menu with six courses and cheese and lots of wine. We had visions of taking people to the place where we met at the Beaujolais festival when we were just 22, and making them drink bad Beaujolais wine...we seriously had some great ideas.  But guess what - France doesn't like to make things easy like that. In France, the civil ceremony is obligatory and must come before any religious ceremony (not that we were going to have one, but just so you know). Also, the civil ceremony must take place in:

A. the townhall where the couple resides


B. the townhall where the couple's parents reside

or the option for any French red tape technicality:

C. you put up a big fight, find a loophole, yell a lot and like magic, things work out for you.

Since we live in Paris, my parents live in the states and Copain's parents don't live in Toulouse, we realized that our idea was going to make things difficult and we didn't have the energy to yell - we had already done that to all of the bankers offering us crappy loans for our apartment. Given that we were  basically on the brink of mutual mental breakdowns, we threw in the towel and made things easier on ourselves: the wedding would be in Paris, and it would be just the two of us.

You know that when you feel instant relief, you have made the right decision. 

Beyond the whole legality of figuring out a Toulouse wedding, we didn't like the idea of people watching us (though clearly I have no problem sharing after the fact...!), of organizing flights and vacations and making a wedding website and sending invitations and planning a big hoopla.  I hear that nowadays, people even send a "Please be my bridesmaid gift" - what? I couldn't deal.  You can't ask people to fly across the world for you and not plan something fabulous.  Thanks for flying for 16 hours! Meet us at the park for some Beaujolais! Instead, our money went to our new home and we planned the perfect wedding sans hoopla for ourselves. As the French would say: ouf.

After gathering all of the necessary paperwork (I'm a pro at this now) and making a rendezvous at the townhall in our neighborhood, we set the date for our 10 year anniversary (what's a few more months after 10 years?!). We could just drink bad Beaujolais on our own!  Though we wanted it to be just be us Frenchies, we still had to have témoins - witnesses.   Non, you cannot get married in Toulouse and you cannot do it alone. Vive la France. Thankfully, we have understanding friends who agreed to come to our townhall, sign the document and be on their merry way (merci les amis!).

Our plan was to get married in the morning, take photos around the city, drive to the airport, hop on a flight and enjoy our wedding dinner in Budapest, a city that would be new to both of us and a cozy place to enjoy our honeymoon in November.  On the day of the wedding, my témoin, Dancer Friend, was supposed to come to my teeny apartment and help me finish up hair and makeup, but her doctor said Non! She was 9 months pregnant and couldn't walk up the 5 flights of stairs to my front door without her water breaking! Fortunately,  the magic of technology allowed me to text a play by play to my mom and her BFF, kind of as if they were right there with me. 

Dress and jacket found online - what do you wear to a November wedding in cold weather?!

I met Dancer Friend at the local café and she was waiting with my bouquet, her giant bump protruding from her jacket that wouldn't close. "Please don't go into labor for the next hour," I pleaded with her. We walked across the street to the town hall and waited for Copain to arrive with his témoin. At 11am, we ascended the red-carpeted stairs, into the salle des mariages, and the mayor of the 11th arrondissement entered the room.

photo by Greg Finck

photo by Greg Finck

photo by Greg Finck

He opened the ceremony with: We are here to discuss the important topic of sustainable development...(ah, politicians). Then he read us the laws by which we would be married, we both said oui (phew!), signed the mariage documents and became mari et femme.  We went with what our photographer deemed the "self-wedding" all the way out the front doors of the townhall and threw rose petals for ourselves :-) Who needs guests?!

Then our wonderful photographer, Greg Finck, took us around our favorite city to capture the moment:

Photo by Greg Finck

photo by Greg Finck

photo by Greg Finck

We stopped at the rue de Beaujolais in the 1st arrondissement of Paris to say our vows that we had written ourselves. Civil ceremonies in France are quite short, to the point, and don't really allow for anything other than "oui", so we thought it would be nice to take a moment for ourselves. It seemed fitting to say them on the rue de Beaujolais, which I had only happened upon the week before!  Merci Paris! Then we walked through the Galerie Vivienne, where there were serving and selling bottles of the Beaujolais Nouveau - parfait. 

photo by Greg Finck

photo by Greg Finck

photo by Greg Finck

Of course we bought a bottle for next year.

Our bags were packed in the car, so we jumped back in and the driver took us to Orly airport where we checked in right before boarding.  The sign that greeted us at the airport could not have been more perfect: 

You are a few meters from a new beginning. How right they were.

Locked and loaded.

We first checked in at the Corinthia Hotel - AKA the Grand Budapest Hotel - and upon learning that we had literally just been married in Paris, still in our wedding outfits, bouquet in hand,  the hotel staff upgraded us to a Junior Suite (bigger than our new apartment!). If you ever want an upgrade, I highly recommend showing up to hotel check-in in a wedding dress and suit. Then we high-tailed it to the Halaszbastya restaurant, on the Buda side of the city. 

A castle restaurant? - ok!

We filled our bellies with paprika-spiced Hungarian food, delicious Hungarian wines, and took in all the cheesiness of a serenade at our dinner table over-looking the Danube. When we got back to the hotel, they had a bottle of Hungaria - the Hungarian version of Prosecco, waiting for us in our room.  Hey - bubbles are bubbles. We appreciated the sweet gesture.

The rest of the trip, we got to know Budapest and practiced saying, "my wife" and "my husband". Hard to do when you've been calling each other something else for 10 years. It still doesn't roll off my tongue. Maybe in another 10? 

In any case, Budapest is beautiful, full of history, magical even. It was the perfect place to celebrate a 10-year journey and our big year of FINALLY GETTING OUR SHIT TOGETHER.   

Merci nos témoins, merci Greg Finck, merci Paris, merci Budapest, merci Beaujolais, merci Avancer, merci mon Copain Mari.


  1. xox! Love you! So happy for you!!! These photos are gorgeous ;)

  2. Merci Amy!;-) still thanking my mom for convincing me to hire a photographer (you know how important they/you! are!)

  3. Your wedding photos are perfection. Love all the heart and happiness in your story!! Also, LOL about copain's new name - Mopain? I like it!

  4. Mari + Copain = Mopain! yes! hahahaha


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