How to have a legal wedding in France

Can I get married in France even though I’m a foreigner? If this question pops out of your mind as you dream of having an outdoor wedding by the French Riviera or at the garden of a charming French chateau, keep reading. In this blog post, we are going to discuss all hows and the whys of legal weddings in France.

Pros and cons of a French legal wedding

Before we dive into the specific details and legal requirements for French weddings, here are the pros and cons that you should start considering as you decide whether or not to have a legal wedding in France.

Pros

If you’re in love with the dreamy French venues and you have decided to fly to this European country for a destination wedding, it’s ideal to have your wedding legally recognized back home and everywhere else.

If you will have a legally-binding wedding in France, you just have to work on the requirements once and hold your ceremony according to French laws, and your union will be legalized.

After that, all that you need to do is to register your wedding documents upon returning to your home country, and you’ll be recognized as a lawfully-wedded couple.

Cons

Among the eight destinations where we plan weddings for our couples, France has a relatively strict set of legal requirements for weddings of non-residents. We will discuss the requirements, paperwork, and processes below, but you have to take note that a legal wedding for non-French citizens and residents could be very difficult, if not impossible.

Legal wedding paperwork in France

Only civil weddings are considered legally-binding in France. Religious weddings such as Catholic and Protestant ceremonies are considered symbolic or with no legal effect. If you’re planning to have a civil wedding in France, make sure you prepare the following documents:

Identification cards;

  • Birth certificate which should be not less than six months old if issued outside of France, and must be accompanied by an apostille showing the certification of the issuing country;
  • Proof of address;
  • Document showing capacity to marry;

These are the most important papers that you need to submit to the French authorities for your legal wedding in France, but apart from those listed above, there are more documents required. You can add legal paperwork assistance to your wedding package to know the full list of the requirements and get added help from our wedding planner in France.

Other requirements for legal marriages in France

There are unique requirements that foreigners need to comply with if they want a legally-binding civil wedding in France.

Unlike in Spain and other European countries, a Catholic wedding, even when you have already followed the Church requirements, will not be considered legally-binding in France.

If you are planning to have a church ceremony, you must perform a civil wedding in France or at your home country separately to make your marriage legally-binding.

Residency and/or property requirement

First is the requirement of at least 30-day residency in France for both the bride and groom prior to the wedding day. Second is the requirement of having your own property in France. The third one is having at least one parent who is a French resident.

The residency requirement can be waived at the discretion of the Mayor if you comply with either the property or the resident parent requirement. On top of all these are the basic requirements of proof of residency and evidence of no impediment to marry. As you can see, a civil wedding in France can be quite complicated, that’s why it’s more advisable to have a symbolic wedding here.

Place for the legal wedding

It is also worth noting that even if you do get the residency requirement waived, a legally-binding wedding ceremony in France must take place at the mairie or Town Hall. It must be the mairie in a commune where either of you live or where one of your parents live.

Take note that you can’t just schedule a wedding at the mairie anytime you want. You have to go through an application process which may require a face-to-face interview and a period of four weeks or more to complete the whole process.

Language used in the ceremony

The ceremony must be in the French language, and if neither of you are fluent in French, you would have to hire a translator for the ceremony to ensure that you understand the whole thing. No worries though because the translator does not need to be certified or professional.

Symbolic French destination weddings

Instead of having a civil wedding in France, with all the strict requirements, you can opt to get married here through a symbolic ceremony.

There are hundreds of reasons that we can think of why you should choose a symbolic rather than a legally-binding wedding. Top of the list is that you can choose any dreamy, fairytale, and nature-surrounded French venue that you want for your big day if your ceremony is symbolic.

With a symbolic wedding, you don’t need to travel to France too early just to complete the legal requirements. You can literally fly a day or two before your wedding day to hold a symbolic ceremony in your chosen venue. Lastly, you can customize the ceremony according to your preferences without having to hold it in the French language!

Final note

France is a beautiful European country to get married in. It has some of the best chateaus, riverside venues, and flower fields for outdoor summer weddings. The difficulties of making your marriage legal must not get in the way of your dream wedding in France. You can just perform a simple legal wedding at home and fly to France for a scenic destination wedding. If you still can’t decide which kind of wedding to go for, just tell us through our contact page how you want your wedding to unfold and our wedding planner in France will share more details with you.

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