Tempted by a Chateau Wedding in France?
Have you ever dreamed of getting married in a typical Provencal Mas surrounded by lavender scented countryside? How about in a luxury Chateau in the South of France with enough bedrooms for all your guests? Or perhaps the thought of a ceremony in a contemporary villa overlooking the Mediterranean catches your imagination? After all, the stars have been at it – look Angelina and Brad! A wedding in France is not only incredibly romantic, it is also simpler than it might seem.
We have a few perfect venues from a top Chateau in the Cote d’Azur, to a large informal beachfront.
Do you need someone to talk to who knows the lay of the land? What are the legal facts about getting married in France? We will be delighted to help you with your enquiry and put you in touch with the owners who often double up as wedding planners and can guide you through the process and even for a fee arrange anything from caterers, to music and photographers!
The facts: There are two types of weddings in France, the Civil Ceremony and the Religious Ceremony. You are not required to have a religious wedding, but you cannot get married in a church without firstly having a civil wedding.
Here is a useful guide to the different types of weddings, and the documents that you need to provide to marry in France.
Only a Civil Ceremony is legally binding in France. They are conducted by the mayor, or his legally authorised representative in the Mairie (Town Hall). You will need two to four témoins (witnesses) for your civil marriage. They will have to be present at the wedding and sign the register. The ceremony will be performed in French, however, it can be possible to make arrangements with the mayor for a translator to be present.
What Documentation is Required for a Civil Wedding?
All documents must be the original copy and endorsed with an Apostille Stamp/Apostille Certificate. This is obtainable from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. Also, any documents which are not in French must also have official translations, (translated by an agency verified by the French Consulate).
Valid Passports for both parties and also for the witnesses (les témoins), including photocopies of the front and back.
Justificatifs de Domicile
Proof of Address. You will need two documents showing proof of residence in the town/village where the ceremony will take place, for example; a gas bill and an electricity bill. Both parties must be resident in the town or village for at least 30 days prior to the civil ceremony.
Official copies of your Birth Certificates. They must be translated into French by a certified translator and issued within three months of your wedding date.
Certificat de Celibat
This is a certificate which does not exist in the UK. It states that you are not married already. It can be obtained from the Consulate.
Certificat de Coutume
A notarised statement of law by an attorney who is licenced both in France and in your home country. It certifies that both parties are free to marry and that your marriage will be recognised in your home country.
Certificat de Notaire
If you are planning to have a prenuptial agreement, this must be presented to the Mairie.
A religious wedding ceremony is not legally binding in France. In order to have a religious ceremony, you must first have a civil ceremony, and provide your religious official with your marriage certificate. It is a popular idea in France to have the civil ceremony the day before the religious ceremony, or have the civil ceremony in the country of residence prior to arriving in France.
Due to the residency requirements in France, it is a popular choice for foreigners to marry in their home country and have a blessing, such as a Humanist Ceremony in France. This opens up many possibilities of dream locations as the ceremony can be conducted almost anywhere.
Your Marriage Certificate
If you marry in France you will receive a livret de famille. It is an official document which is used for all events concerning your new life together, your family.It will be a record of all births, deaths, divorce and name changes.
You can receive further copies of your marriage certificate by writing to the Mairie in the village where the wedding took place. You will need to provide the following details:
The date and place of your marriage.
Your full names (including maiden name).
Religious ceremony details, if applicable.
If you would like any further advice about rules and documentation required for getting married in France, you can contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK) or the French Consulate.