A Gabonese Wedding

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Those of you that have been regularly following our blog know of our trials and tribulations we've encountered relocating to Africa.  Housing has been our biggest dilemma and while we are still sorting that, we also had to deal with my immigration.

Joe secured his residence card quite awhile back and in the meantime, we have been trying to figure out how to do the same for me.  Because we weren't married, we couldn't follow the same procedure that most other couples do when moving to Gabon.  We had heard that we might be able to secure a common law certificate which would be just as good as a marriage certificate so we followed that path for a few months.  Protocol changes daily here and what worked for one person one day may very well not work for another the following day.  Eventually, we were told they just couldn't figure it out.

Joe and I knew this could be an issue ahead of time and being that we were already planning on getting married at some point we figured what the heck?!

We were in a bit of a rush as my visa, which had already been extended once, was set to expire so we quickly jumped on board.  We told our families and let everyone know that while we were having this wedding here we are thinking of it as solely for immigration and we would most certainly have a 'real' wedding at home with our friends and family present.

Everyone in Gabon must be married by the local mayor in order for the marriage to be legal.  We had to have a wedding medical, which consisted of blood tests for HIV, syphilis, blood type and things that would concern me in case we ever want to get pregnant, and complete paperwork.  (Polygamy is legal here and is actually an option on the marriage paperwork.  For those who are wondering, we chose monogamy.)  All of the paperwork was submitted to the mayor and we were told that we would be married on October 30 at 9:00 am.  Funny enough, after we informed our families, Joe’s Grandma told us that her and Joe’s Grandpa were married that very day 64 years ago.

Joe and I had no idea what to expect but we were told that we needed to dress nicely and be prepared for the ceremony to take about an hour.  We arrived with our 4 attendants, whom were surprisingly hard to find as they must also already have a residence card and many of the expats we know here don't, and a few other guests at city hall.  They supplied the music and as we sat awaiting the mayor we listened to Eminem and Rihanna (never thought I would hear them at my wedding but I wasn't about to create any fuss.)

Joe and I sitting front and centre in city hall.

The ceremony was presided over by the mayor and 2 others.  It was completely in French and while we understood most of it, we had our friend Tarik translate just so we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves in to.

Tarik translating before exchanging rings. (I think we were laughing that the mayor reiterated several times that monogamy meant 1 man and 1 woman FOREVER!)"

Disclaimer:  Please do not judge me by my dress.  I searched all of Port Gentil and came up with 2 white dresses.  This was the better of the two.

We said our “Oui’s,” exchanged rings, and signed the documents and are now legally married in Gabon.  Afterwards, we went for champagne at a seaside restaurant and later out to dinner with the wedding party.

Mr & Mrs Reid

The day was nice and relaxed but certainly not what we pictured our wedding day to be.  Luckily, we are happy to announce that we have begun planning our Canadian wedding for the summer of 2011!


  1. Yea!! So happy for you and Joe! You both look great!!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! That is so exciting! Wishing you and Joe all the best and can't wait to celebrate with you when you make it back to Canada!
    Love, Kylie, Corry and Zane

  3. Congratulations. I am smiling as I think of your experience. What a great memory. Where can we send a gift. Laura and I would love to send one.

  4. No gifts needed... your thoughts and congratulations are enough!

  5. I love this blog, it is by far my favourite. I think that is how I will end up getting married...by saying "What the heck?".

  6. Congratulations!!!! So excited to hear the news - and what a great story!!!!

  7. WOW, CONGRATULATIONS!!! So happy for you both and excited for you and your 'real' wedding next summer!!! Your Gabonese wedding certainly does make a wonderful memory and story. Romantic too, being spur-of-the-moment and all. :D

    Wishing you all the best,

    Shelly & Mike

  8. Congrats! Everything looked great. Can't wait to celebrate with you here.

  9. So exciting for you guys..even though it's just one of those boring monogomous relationships hey!! That's too funny! Congratulations!

  10. [...] One year ago today Joe & I were at the Port Gentil city hall getting married!  (You can read all about it here!) [...]


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