Well, it was ours. For a variety of legal, technical, and yet deeply romantic reasons (read: my visa status), A and I decided to get legally married last week--though we'll still have our Jewish, real, and deeply romantic wedding next fall.
And yes, you do have to get us two gifts.
So, what does an American wedding in Botswana look like? Well, lucky for you I am devoted to blogging that very information.
First, about a month ago, we went to the American Embassy--the most high-security place in Botswana. After being essentially strip-searched, A and I were rewarded by being allowed to pay $100 for a signed affidavit saying neither of us had ever been married before. We then headed over to the Botswana marriage registry, where it costs $6 to get married. (So make that $106 if you're American--we always pay the white people price, sigh.)
Our names were posted publicly for three weeks (called "posting the banns") and anyone who wanted to object to our marriage was allowed to do so. Luckily, nobody did, although I did see some posted objections to other marriages!
Then we came back, again with witnesses, to sign the marriage registry and finally, last Thursday was the big day.
Our courtroom wedding took place along with 8 other couples, much like a cult except that we were allowed to choose which person in the room we wanted to marry.
We were the only suckers stupid enough to show up at the requested time of 7:30 a.m. Other couples started strolling in around 8 and the ceremony got started at 9. Our official photographer also documented this cute little girl.
And me reapplying my lipstick.
After that, A and I stood up. We requested to say our vows in English, which was allowed. The D.C. made everyone applaud me for looking pretty. Then we said our vows.
Or at least, we thought we were saying our vows. We were actually vowing that we'd never been married before, were over the age of 21, and mentally healthy enough to know what we were doing. But A still looked deeply into my eyes while saying it.
Then our witnesses vowed the same.
And then we got to exchange rings. We used my engagement ring and a cheap $5 ring we bought at the mall for A--that way our real wedding rings will be special.
The D.C.: "Although you are under no legal obligation, if you so choose, you may now kiss the bride." We kissed, blurrily.
The room was filled with applause and ululating, most of it from people who had come to support their own friends and family but pretended to be equally excited about our marriage. I felt a swell of emotion, and then we moved on to the next couple. And the next couple, and the next. After five couples, they dismissed the first half of us.
Outside in the parking lot, we started to relax, hugging friends, drinking a sparkling grape juice toast, and checking out the "Just Married" sign, written in soap on our car by the roommates. I was enjoying myself so much that I hardly noticed when my purse was bumped as a man walked by. By the time I had confirmed that my cell phone was gone, the guy was nowhere in sight.
A says he thinks of this, my first pickpocketing experience in Botswana or anywhere, as "something borrowed."
Coming up next...the party!