Everything you need to know about getting married in France
Boasting one of the world’s most romantic settings, a superb choice of fine wines and mouth-watering delicacies and, of course, very non-English weather(!), it comes as no surprise that Provence, in the South of France, ranks as one of the top wedding destination choices for couples searching for something a bit different. Below is the ultimate guide on everything you need to know if you plan on getting married in France.
Planning a Wedding in France
Symbolically the country of love and romance, it is a perfect way to celebrate and begin married life together. But for couples considering tying the knot here, the legal requirements can be quite complex and particularly difficult if you’re a non-resident.
As a result, this often gives couples two options to choose from:
- Legally marry in France through a civil ceremony, and then also hold a religious or humanist wedding ceremony on the same day or a couple of days later.
- Legally marry elsewhere through a civil ceremony then come to France and choose a religious or humanist wedding ceremony.
Getting legally married in France is only possible through a Civil Ceremony, which is required to take place in a French Mairie (Town Hall). Once a French civil authority has performed the marriage, the couple can then follow this with a religious ceremony or a secular service in a location of their choice.
This is also the case for same-sex couples as same-sex marriage was legalised in France in 2013.
The residency requirements are slightly different to those in the UK. One of you will need to be a resident of France for 40 days immediately prior to a civil ceremony taking place. You will need to provide proof of address, and then submit an application to the city hall, which will also need to include a number of legal documents, such as a birth certificate and passport.
What you Need to Provide if you are Getting Married in France
If you choose to get legally married in France you should expect to need to provide:
- ID (e.g. passport)
- Birth certificate – this will need to have been issued within 3 months of the marriage date. It may need to be ‘legalised’ so that it is recognised in France.
- Justificatifs de Domicile – Proof of residence
- Proofs of civil status – if married previously, expect to provide a divorce or death certificate. Typically, this will only constitute a Certificat de Capacité Matrimoniale from your country’s Embassy.
- Certificat de Celibat – a certificate to state that neither party is already married, which must be sworn before a Consular official at your country’s Embassy in France. You will need to obtain an official attestation from your Consulate if this particular certificate does not exist under the law of your home country.
- Certificat de Coutume – this certificate ensures that the marriage will be legally recognised in your country of residence and certifies that you are free to marry.
- Certificat de Notaire- Prenuptial agreement, if you are planning on having one.
- Statement of identity and residence of four witnesses.
For any documents provided that are not in French, a notarised translation will be required. Foreign documents will also more than likely need authorisation with an Apostille stamp or the equivalent, whereby the issuing authority stamps a document with a unique ID to achieve international recognition.
A Legal Wedding Ceremony in France
The entire ceremony is conducted in French and it is strongly advised you have a translator present if you are not fluent in the language. If it is deemed by an official that you or your main witnesses’ understanding is insufficient, the Mayor can refuse to hold the ceremony.
A Short stay visa may be required for non-EU nationals (for a maximum of 90 days) which will need to be requested from the French Consulate, not the Embassy, prior to departure.
French-inspired Wedding Décor
If you’re getting married at a wedding venue in France and would like to introduce a bit of French culture into your day, then consider some of our ideas below…
A cheese wedding cake
France is famous for its cheese, so when it comes to your wedding cake, opt for a tower of cheese and crackers over a traditional sponge wedding cake. If however you do love the idea of a sweet cake, a French Croquembouche could be ideal!
Rustic wedding décor
Hessian table runners or square table cloths could look ideal at your French wedding reception. You could also fill old perfume bottles with flowers for a chic look or write your table plan on a vintage French mirror.
French inspired table names
If you’ve travelled around France together then locations around the country or French words could be perfect when it comes to naming your tables.
French wine tasting session
Seeing as you’ll be in France for your wedding, consider having a selection of different French wines that your guests can choose to drink throughout the evening. Alternatively, if you are arriving in France ahead of your wedding or you are staying on afterwards with friends and family, a group trip to a vineyard to do a wine tasting session could be a great pre or post wedding idea.
When it comes to beautiful table centerpieces for your wedding in France, consider vases with long-stemmed sunflowers. Lavender is also a popular floral to feature at your French wedding. Think about similar flowers for you bridal bouquet too!