One could say France is synonymous with the word romance. From the winding streets of Gaie Paris to the picturesque countryside to the romantic beaches of the Mediterranean shore, many have visited France and fallen in love. Rich in tradition and ceremony, you could not find a more beautiful place to get married in. But in the country of l’amour, you have to navigate the delightful French bureaucracy, which is no easy feat.
First steps to getting married in France
Unlike many other countries, getting married in France begins and ends with a civil ceremony. You can, of course, choose then to have a religious or secular service, but this is just for upholding tradition. All civil ceremonies, held in a Mairie (town hall), is the legally binding process a couple must go through, whether you are heterosexual or a same – sex couple. However, either you or your spouse must have connections to this Mairie, i.e, one of you or your parents currently lives there.
You are required to attend the Mairie together and register your intent to marry (épouser) at least 10 days before the ceremony. This is one of the many steps required to prove that you are both free to marry. You will then be interviewed and once approved, an announcement of your intention to marry will be posted in the Mairie. This is to provide a chance for any objections to be registered. This can take up to four weeks, longer if one of you is not French.
Legal requirements for getting married in France
The two main ones are that you must be over 18 and you can’t already be married. Of course divorced (être divorcé) is fine but you will need to prove it.
If both of you are not French, you will experience some serious French headaches working your way through the bureaucracy to be allowed to get legally married there, which can then end up in a big fat no. Many couples choose to marry in their home countries or place of residence and then come to France for a second religious (religieuse) or secular (séculière) ceremony (la cérémonie).
Documents required for getting married in France
While the list below may look long, the only headache is really getting your documents translated into French.
- Official identification – Identification Officielle
- Birth certificate – Certificat de Naissance
- Proof of address – Justificatif de Domicile
- Proof of nationality – Preuve de Nationalité
- Proof of civil status – Certificat de Capacité Matrimoniale – this can be obtained from your Embassy. You will need to provide a death cert (Certificat de Décès) or proof of divorce if you’ve been previously married.
- All original documents not in French must be translated into French and ‘legalised’ with an Apostille stamp. Meaning it has been recognised by the issuing authority that it is a legitimate copy.
- Possible information regarding your two witnesses (les Témoins).
- If you are not French, you may require a Certificate de Coutume. You can get this from your Embassy.
- Family record book – Livret de Famille. You will only have this if you’ve had a child born in France.
What happens next?
The ceremony must take place in the Mairie, in a room open to the public. It will be performed by the Maire (Mayor) or a representative and will be carried out in French. So if neither of you speak French it might be no harm to bring a translator. The ceremony itself must happen no less 10 days after your authorisation is granted and in less than a year. It’s good to note that if it takes place more than three months after, you will need to provide new copies of your Certificate de Naissance.
Once you’re hitched you will be given a Livret de Famille, unless of course you already have one. This is a good book to have as you can record future events in it (births, deaths, divorces etc). You will also be provided with a marriage certificate (L’acte de Mariage).
What fees are involved with getting married in France?
The application to apply for your civil ceremony in France is actually not too expensive. You should expect to pay around €100. Of course, if you then want to have a second more lavish affair, then it depends on where you choose to go. France would not be the cheapest of countries to get married in but if you’re not choosing the Eiffel Tower as a wedding venue, you may be able to have a delightful wedding for a reasonable cost.