Through the Cottage Door
As one of our Belle Brides, Fiona aka Green Loving Girl understands more than most how to tick all of the boxes in the Get Married in France Requirements List. Getting married in France is, as can be expected, fairly administrative and document based. But don’t be put off!
If you wish to get legally married in France, we discuss the requirements in this article, and the process in general thereafter.
The laws in France for getting married are different than the ones in the UK, as the only form of marriage legally recognised is one held at the Mairie (equivalent of the town hall/registry). For couples wanting to get married in France, they therefore need to check first whether they can get married in France, or whether they might need to nip into the registry in the UK. before flying out to celebrate separately.
Traditionally, a French couple would go to the Mairie first, and would then walk to the Church, followed by their guests. Following the religious ceremony, they would then make their way to the venue where the Vin d’Honneur is to be held, followed by a long (!) meal, with entertainment and games carried out between each course. Finally, the celebration and dancing would take them into the early hours of the morning, literally dancing the night away.
Image: Wedding blogger gets married
Where can you get married in France
The law states that couples wishing to get married in France can only do so in a “commune” (specific area, usually one served by a Mairie) with which at least one of the future spouse has a durable relationship. This may be a direct relationship, for example if they live there, or an indirect one, which may be if their parents live there for example.
Where one of the future spouse lives in the Commune, they must show to the Mairie that they have been living there for a minimum and continuous period of one month that precedes the banns.
If you think you may be able to show a strong enough link, whether because your parents live in France or perhaps because you travel to a particular area several times a year, the first step would be to contact the Mairie and ask whether the Mayor or Maire would be willing to marry you in his commune. We did so by email, and were lucky that the Maire said yes, on the basis that my parents live in the village.
If the couple both live abroad, then there are specific territorial rules which apply. In essence, it will be very difficult without the above link, unless you want to get married in one of the Commune listed on the previous link.
Required paperwork for getting married in France
This is France, so naturally, a mountain of paperwork will be required. This is referred to as the Dépôt du dossier de marriage, and the following will need to be provided in order to complete this, from both of the future spouses:
- Form of identity
- One or two proof of address
- Details on who the witnesses, or témoins, will be, including their full names, date & pace of birth, job title and address
- A full copy of each person’s birth certificate
- If this is a French certificate, it must be dated less than three months when provided to the Mairie;
- If it is a certificate from abroad, then it must be dated less than six months.
- If one of the future spouse is not French, they must submit documents confirming their nationality. It is advised to check directly with the Mairie or the relevant Consulate as to what documents are required.
- If a Pre Nuptial agreement has been made, the couple must provide a certificate from the relevant solicitor (“notaire”) confirming this
- If you are getting married in the Commune where your parent(s) reside, a proof of their address will be required
- Depending on personal circumstances (for example if one of you is widowed), the Mairie may request additional documents.
Image: Real life wedding in Angers
Audition préalable des futurs époux
Usually, a civil servant will audition the futur spouses, either together or separately. This step is usually compulsory, but may in certain cases not take place, for example where it simply cannot take place or if the civil servant does not consider it necessary. In the event that one or both of the spouses does not speak French, an interpreter may be present. If one of the future spouse lives abroad, then this interview may take place with the relevant consul.
Publication des bans
The official announcement of the wedding will be made by a publication called bans, setting out the basic information of the couple as well as information on the wedding itself. These will be pinned up at the Mairie’s entrance, and usually at the future spouses property.
Celebrating the wedding
The wedding can be celebrated 10 days after the publication of the bans, and within a year of the later.
This date will need to be agreed directly with the Mairie, and will be on the basis that the Dossier de Mariage is complete and up to date. For example the birth certificates being out of date, new copies of these will need to be obtained.
The couple will be able to request a wedding certificate with the days following the wedding.
So there it all is – the requirements for getting married in France! Find more articles to help you with the paperwork and planning process in The Study!