Making it all Legal – Getting Married in Mauritius
It’s hard to feel like you’re on your holidays when you’re dragging yourself out of bed just before 7am. Today was the scheduled morning for fulfilling all the legalities to do with getting married in Mauritius. We barely managed to eat much breakfast before meeting our driver/guide at the hotel entrance. After a quick check that we had brought our passports and birth certs, we were back on the road again heading West and North towards the capital, Port Louis. The journey takes about an hour, much of which is spent tailing slow-moving vehicles through small villages or roads that wend their way through fields of sugar cane, avoiding the jagged mountain peaks that line the horizon.
Port Louis is what you would expect from a small island capital. Loud, crowded and busy. The streets are clogged with traffic making progress slow and painful. Definitely not somewhere to be during rush hour traffic. Happily for us, we weren’t driving. Our trusty guide edged his way along the streets until he could deposit us outside what was easily recognisable as a ‘civil service office building’. While we waited for him to park the car and return, a plethora of other guides pulled to the kerb and also emitted couples obviously there for the exact same purpose. We had an extra few minutes on them all so we were first to arrive on the 7th floor and take the head of the queue for the first of many officials that we would need to visit. First on the agenda was a piece of paper to say that we were not Mauritian residents (not that anyone would easily confuse us for that). We both had incorrect middle names listed. I had fared reasonably well with just a slight mis-spelling of the Irish for Dublin. Brodie, however, now had a new birth date which had to be corrected. So much for sending all the information in advance! The first official worked his way through the page as we produced evidence of all that was incorrect. A quick rubber stamp, and he was shaking our hands as we exited out the door. Next up was the cash office to pay for the privilege of admitting that we’re not Mauritian, and we were then done with phase one.
For phase two we trundled down the road to visit a lawyer and verify our occupations. The staff had a good giggle at Brodie’s passport for some unknown reason they didn’t care to share. The final phase was the court house. Two stops here to get some rubber stamps. We were herded into position in front of the last guy and encouraged to raise our right hand. He says something about how we’re going to swear that the documents he’s holding are correct. ‘Yeah’, I agree as Brodie solemnly announces “I swear!”. The rubber stamp is already landing – it’s obviously never happened that someone didn’t agree. Our guide ushers us out the door and announces that we’re legally done. We debate the finer points of exactly when one is or isn’t married in Mauritius as we’re loaded back into a now steaming hot car and return back to Flac where we’re due to make our last stop.
There are apparently only two registrars for this big big area now, and that is the excuse we’re firmly given for why we’re being scheduled for marriage at 16:15 on Wednesday instead of 15:00 as requested. The guy is big, and he ‘has the power’ so there isn’t much arguing to be done on that matter. We sign our names to declare our intention to be married on Wednesday and he scrawls ‘No Religion’ across the sheet – just to make it clear. We then leave with a leaflet that describes our marriage ceremony options… which amount to deciding who owns what property back home – and friendly, but serious suggestions that we not be late. This despite the fact that we’re going to be ready to go an hour before the time that’s just been allotted to us.
We’re now all done for the day. We take a quick stop off in a supermarket where a woman follows us up and down every aisle asking if we want suncream, wine, beer, dresses… With a sense of relief we arrive back at the hotel where we formally shake hands with our guide who may never be seen again, and commiserate with the hotel staff about the time we’ve been given. A wedding coordinator we’ve never seen before mutters something about making some calls, but we’re not holding our breath. When our own coordinator tracks us down (“by shouting ‘Good Morning!’ at our backs as we walk past the bar) she seems happy and prepares to rearrange my many appointments until I remind her that we’ve got a fixed window for photographs so we’ll be starting at three regardless of when the registrar shows. It’s not like sunset is going to hold off to suit us.
We’re off the clock for the afternoon and can shower and enjoy tea for two on our balcony while our room is serviced with a vengeance by a scary cleaning woman who suddenly materialises like a ghost behind Brodie’s shoulder as he pours the tea. We leave her to rattle around the room while we enjoy our tea and chocolate in the shade of the balcony while the pool-side contingent scuttle between the water and the bar.
At 5pm it’s time for me to hit the spa for a ‘hair trial’. This could go wrong in so many ways. I give my best description of what I think I might want to the exceedingly polite hairdresser, and hint that perhaps she might have some ideas of what’s appropriate. She scurries off and comes back a short time later with some kind of magazine hairstyle how-to that indicates how to replicate the hairdo that an asian model is flouncing about with. “Curly romantic” the title reads. Everything else is indecipherable japanese.This is not quite what I had in mind, but it looks like it might just work so we go for it. 40 minutes later and my hair has been painstakingly curled and pinned into place. “You like?”, she asks anxiously. I think I do, and Brodie comes in to give a positive verdict also. Another important item is checked off our wedding list.
Time for dinner. Dessert this evening seems to be a mousse theme. Shotglasses of various flavours of mousse line the counter. These are proving popular as almost every guest passes by carrying a plate laden with the little glasses. We select two each which don’t disappoint, along with a very nice lemon meringue pie. Having learnt our lesson from over-indulgence the night before, we call it quits at that point and retire to relax and get an early night before the wedding countdown really begins.