Till death us do not part: French woman marries dead fiancé

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The Independent Online

The bride wore white but, as the mayor sadly pointed out, she was a widow before she left the town hall. By special permission of the French President, Magali Jaskiewicz, a 26-year-old-mother of two from eastern France, has married her dead fiancé.

Jonathan George, 25, father of her two small daughters, was killed in a road accident almost a year ago, two days after the couple informed the town hall that they planned to become man and wife.

This weekend, in the village of Dommary-Baroncourt in Lorraine, Magali, dressed all in white, married Jonathan and became his official widow. During the ceremony, a large colour portrait of Jonathan was placed beside her on a wooden stand.

"I am not really in the mood to have a wedding reception so we will just drink a cup of coffee and I will thank everyone who has supported me," Magali George said after the civil ceremony. "In all these months, I have not heard anyone say anything negative about what I intended to do."

The bride, relatives and friends and the couple's daughters, Doriane, three, and Kassandra, 18 months, then went to place flowers on the bride-groom's grave.

Under article 171 of the French civil code, it is possible for a bride, or groom, to marry a dead fiancé but only if there is clear evidence that they planned to marry before the loved one died.

Even then, special permission has to be granted by the President of the Republic. Nicolas Sarkozy duly obliged.

Christophe Caput, the mayor who conducted the ceremony, said: "Magali's case was water-tight. They had lived together for five years. They had two children. They had already bought the wedding dress and gone through the formalities."

On Saturday afternoon, the mayor put on his ceremonial red, white and blue sash and conducted a normal wedding ceremony – except for the missing responses of the groom. Magali wore her wedding ring on her finger and that of her dead fiancé on a chain around her neck.

"She left the town hall a widow but she had taken her loved one's name," Mr Caput said.

"When Magali came to tell me what she planned to do, we drew up a dossier together," he said. "Only the President can authorise such a marriage. We had to get together all the proof we could [that they planned to get married before the accident], such as a photograph of her wedding dress and their love letters.

"It is a real love story. When the gendarmes brought her the decree signed by the President, she came straight to see me. She said, 'These are my first tears of joy since Jonathan died'."

Posthumous marriages are uncommon but there are said to be around 20 such cases in France each year.