A guide to getting married in France: If you are not a French national or French resident you can still get married in France but there are requirements that need to be met before you can go ahead and tie the knot.
Residency Requirement to get married in France
If you want to get married in France, either you or your spouse to be must live in France in the town in which you wish to marry for a minimum of 40 consecutive days immediately preceeding the marriage. There are no exceptions to this rule under any circumstances.
Posting the banns to get married in France
As all marriages in France must be conducted in the first instance in a civil ceremony at a Marie (Town Hall), banns (notice) should be posted in the Mairie (Town Hall) at which the ceremony will take place at least ten days before the marriage and after at least 30 days of residency in France by one of those marrying. Be aware that most town halls will take 4-6 weeks to process your application so don’t leave it until the last minute.
The marriage ceremony in France
Getting married in France involves a civil ceremony performed by a French civil authority, only after that can a religious ceremony be held. The civil ceremony must take place in a Mairie. If you have a religious ceremony – whoever performs it will have to have the certificate from the civil ceremony before going ahead.
The Marriage Certificate in France
Once the ceremony is over, the happy couple will receive a “livret de famille” which is a booklet recording the marriage and with space for family events including births, name changes, divorce and death.
The certificate of marriage is obtained by requesting a copy from the Mairie where the marriage took place.
Documents that you need in order to get married in France
Before you confirm that you are to be married in France, you should contact the Mairie at which you want to be married and ask them to verify the documentation that you need but basic paperwork that you will need includes:
Proof of domicile (utility bill for instance)
Birth Certificate (needs to be no more than 3 months old)
You may need a certificate that confirms that you are single called a certificate of celibacy (certificate de célibat), a certificate of law (called a certificate de coutoume), a medical certificate or various other paperwork. Only the Mairie at which you wish to get married will be able to confirm exactly what paperwork they will require you to provide.
Depending on whether you’re from an EU country or further afield will affect what paperwork is required so make sure that you contact the Mairie well in advance to ensure that you have all the paperwork in the time frame required.
You will find it useful to look at the Embassy website of your country in France about getting married in France – they will have helpful advice and tips and it may even be that you will have to notify them of the impending marriage.
There are quite a few English speaking wedding planners operating in France and you might find that their services will smooth the way considerably if a French wedding is your desire.
Useful vocabulary and phrases for getting married in France
Town Hall Hall – Mairie
Publication of banns – publication des bans
Marriage certificate – attestation de marriage
Birth certificate – Extrait d’acte de naissance
French residency permit – Carte de séjour
Proof of domicile – justificatif de domicile
Honeymoon – Lune de miel
I love you – Je t’aime