Wednesday, 28 September 2005
Heather and I spent this last weekend looking forward - "forward" as in anticipation, ahead, towards what the future holds for us. We've decided that we'll get married in Paris, since France has been such a large part of our lives - not the least in that we met here. We're also working to make it a bit more of a permanent part of our lives, too.
So on Saturday, we crashed a wedding. Well, "crashed" is maybe not the right word for it because it turns out that all French civil ceremonies are open to the public. But we didn't know this when we woke up early and got dressed in our spiffies. We also didn't know that when the security guard asked us if we were there for the 11:30 or 12:00 wedding and we replied, "umm, 11:30?"
After killing a bit of time in the neighborhood, we returned. I approached the nice assistant (to the officiating vice mayor), who personally showed us the salle de mariage before the next ceremony started.
It was a beautiful room, restored to its 18th century state and full of dark wood, velvet, and ornate decorations. The three large hanging paintings made it seem more like a museum room than a public office. After a few minutes, the assistant escorted us to the registration clerk for our paperwork. The clerk was helpful and had a slightly wacky sense of humor, which made the process seem that much less dry and... officious.
See, in France, you're required to be married in a civil ceremony - and that civil ceremony has to take place in the mayor's office. Even if you have a religious ceremony, you have to physically go to the mayor's office first. This is their form of separation of church and state, and makes some sense when you think about it.
Heather and I are fortunate in that we live in Paris, and that we live in separate arrondissements. Paris has twenty arrondissements, each with its own mayor. The "mayor of Paris" is actually number 21, presiding over the other twenty. Each mayor has several vice mayors, many (all? I don't know) who, in addition to the mayor, can preside over marriages.
Twenty mayors and their teams means twenty mayor's offices; with us in two jurisdictions, we have a choice of where we'll get married. My arrondissement's office has a beautiful ceremony room. On the other hand, Heather's has a nice garden in the back (useful for pictures) and a really cool vice mayor who would officiate (the vice mayor officiating on Saturday in my arrondissement was a bit stiff, though not unlikeable). We saw her mayor's office in action when we went to a wedding last summer - one we'd actually been invited to, at that. The decision will probably come down to which one is able to best work with our schedules.
I now have a packet of things to complete, including both of us visiting the doctor for prenuptial medical exams. Wow, this is feeling more real by the day...
Sunday saw us at the Salon Immobilier de Paris, or the Paris Real Estate Convention. We started off with very little in mind, but left with much better ideas of our budget and what type of apartment we'd like, as well as contacts at several agencies.
I guess it's apparent that we're planning on buying a place in Paris. As you probably understand from the marriage bit above, we don't live together yet. We want something that will suit us both, as well as act as an investment.
Why a new place? Heather, bless her, believes that it's best that we move in together to a new place. Otherwise, we both feel there'll always be that lingering sense that one of us is "invading" the other's space. Besides the fact that neither of our places is well-suited for two people, I've had a less than happy experience with moving in to someone else's home. Fortunately, Heather had the same thought totally independently. Another reason that we're such a great match.
Why buy? I guess buying real estate is as good of a sign as any that you're in it together as a couple; it's a pretty exciting step. I have to admit that don't look forward to some of the brass tacks of a search, but shopping for a place can be cool. Home is where the heart is, and I'm hoping that a new apartment will be the perfect compliment to our new lives together.
can i come to the wedding. PLEEEEASE!!!