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I am officially a French wife! The French, famed for their bureaucracy, have very strict rules about how they want their citizens to get married. Since my husband and I got married in the US, we ignored those rules but if we ever want to live in France (which is a big possiblity) we needed to check a few boxes.

The proper way to marry a la Francaise is to announce the impending nuptuals by publishing the Marriage Banns no less than 10 days prior to the ceremony. Then you have a civil ceremony at the city hall. If you choose to have a religious ceremony, it can only take place after the civil one. At the end of the civil ceremony, the new bride is handed the Livret de Famille, or family book. This is an extremely important document in which marriages, divorces, births and deaths are recorded and apparently, you can’t do a bloody thing without it! Having the Livret was a great concern to me as I read that if we try to move to France before we have it, things will be much harder to get done.

However, getting it had its challenges. My husband had not ever applied for his citizenship card. The Carte Identite is proof that you are French (a passport doesn’t count) and even though he was born in Frnace, he never got his card. For years before he and I got together, his mother urged and pleaded with him to get his card. Then, as we were planning our future together, I urged and pleaded – and pleaded and pleaded – with him to get it. Finally, on our wedding day, he applied for it. Which meant that it would be months before our marriage would be official in France, months before our daughter could begin to get her French papers in order and months before I was registered in the system (pushing back my timing for French citizenship and benefits, should I desire them).

Once he got the card, he then had to apply for everthing else. We still had to publish the Banns and then we had to send off for all the other paperwork.

Finally on Friday afternoon, the Livret de Famille arrived, along with our daughter’s French birth certificate and our French marriage certificate. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we still had hoops to jump through before we’d get the Livret but my husband was just pulling a fast one on me because he wanted it to be a surprise. And, boy, was it. I actually did a jig of joy in the apartment and took the vein-poppingly frantic photo you see above. I had no idea how pleased I was going to be. The final piece of the puzzle is Mlle’s French passport. Once that is in place, the world will truly be ours! OK perhaps that’s an exaggeration – suffice it to say, we have a lot more options to choose from now that we are all “dual”!

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