How to get married in France as a foreigner
Oh, la,la…. getting married in France! Destination wedding in France…. Say Oui!
Is an American/French-speaking wedding full service florist living in France, specializing in romantic garden-inspired floral designs for the English speaking couple, who dream of coming here to marry or celebrate their marriage in her adoptive country.
She can be found at https://www.thepaintedbouquet.com/.
This is a beautiful Insta snap, a worthy photo spot, for couples either getting married in France or already married in their home country and are now honeymooning in Paris. It is the Trocadero, (Metro Line 1), which is quite busy with photographers, some with full equipment like light-boxes and tripods, brides in their dresses with grooms dressed dashingly, balloons held by engaged couples, and invariably the vendors of Paris selling their souvenir trinkets. Once more, this all takes place before 8 am! It is the time when the light is beautiful and the tourist crowds aren't around yet.
Another beautiful photo-worthy location is on one of the many stone staircases in and around Paris. They are many ubiquitous architectural features in Paris. Brides with long dress trains can pose with them cascading behind them. Utterly stunning!
There are many weddings in the South of France; these have a different vibe, with a semi-arid climate, olive trees, and lavender fields. Very pretty! Imagine yourself in your dress and your bridal bouquet in a lavender field in Provence! The colors! And of course, let's not forget the various châteaux as the backdrop for your wedding.
“In other words, around every corner, or down any narrow road, there is a beautiful wedding spot for you in France.”
As you're now daydreaming of the beautiful scenes of France for your wedding before you, you may need to put the brakes on to understand how you marry in France and if you are coming from another country, how you get married in France.
Isn't as clear-cut as you think when planning a destination wedding here. So, here is the breakdown of the process and options for couples who have dreams of a wedding in the City of Love, or in this beautiful country called La France.
Getting legally married in France is only possible through a civil ceremony, which takes place at the council offices (mairie) and is performed by the mayor. The French marry in the Mairie first, and then have their religious ceremony. Civil marriages do not take place outside of this administration location, meaning you can't invite the Mayor to meet you in a garden to do the ceremony. To get married legally in France you need to follow specific legal requirements.
To apply for a legal marriage in France you need to provide the following documents:
- Proof of residency in France for at least 30 days before the application, for at least one of the parties. This is the part called a 'long lasting bond" with the town or area. This can be fulfilled by either one member of the couple, or if your parents own a home here.
- A valid passport for both parties.
- Original birth certificate for both parties.
- Certificate of celibacy, stating that you're not already married.
- Legal Affidavit stating that you're free to marry and your marriage will be recognized in your home country.
- Prenuptial agreement, with a notary's certificate, if you plan to have one.
- Divorce decree, if you were married previously and divorced.
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? However, you will need to have these documents translated into French using an official and professional translator...sorry Google translate! An additional administrative step of an apostille is also required from the Secretary of State in the US. It is the official stamp to say the document is official. I kid you not!
Because of the residency restrictions and other legal requirements involved in getting legally married in France, most foreign couples choose to have a legal wedding in their own country and only have a religious or symbolic wedding in France.
Some couples I've met are already married but do every other aspect of the wedding day in France. This can be right after the marriage or months later, choosing to have a summer fête or maybe in the Christmas season of Noel. Others have eloped and have a special weekend in Paris, complete with a hotel room and a view of Le Vendôme, oh la la! Others have come to France, inviting friends and family for a vacation while celebrating their nuptials together. I've met brides who have chosen another dress for their 'wedding' here in France. What a great excuse to have 2 wedding dresses!
The term Mariage Civile is the official term for a marriage recognized in France. Choosing a religious ceremony is an optional act. Same-sex marriage is legal in France and follows the same procedure as described above.
Whether you marry in your home country or get married here in France, planning your wedding ceremony is critical. Start well in advance of your prospective date, completing documentation and checking you meet the residency requirements. It's never too early to start planning your destination wedding. If I could do it all over again, I would marry here in France. But, I can still enjoy the idea of weddings and get involved as a wedding florist. Come enjoy the romance, beauty, food and la vie of France!