With a choice of elegant chateaux, romantic cities and stunning scenery, France is the perfect spot to say 'I do' – and the ideal destination for that long dreamt of wedding in Europe!
From the magical atmosphere of Paris to the scenic beauty of the Loire Valley and the fabled French Riviera (Côte d'Azur), France offers a wide choice of stunning venues for your destination wedding.
The easiest way to have your dream wedding in France is to have a civil wedding at home first, followed by either a religious ceremony or blessing at a place of your choice in France.
The legal requirements for getting married in France are fairly rigorous and not for the faint-hearted. At least one of the applicants must be either a French citizen or a legal resident of France. It is recommended that you work through a certified wedding planner.
Religious ceremonies are not legal in France, and religious ceremonies can only take place after a civil ceremony has taken place in France or in your home country.
The marriage banns (more commonly known as the marriage application) must be made and received by the local Mairie (town hall) at least 10 days before the wedding date.
However in some special cases, those with property or that have family with property in France have been allowed to marry without having to follow the residency requirement but this is at the complete discretion of the Mayor at the Mairie.
There is a 40 day residency requirement for civil ceremonies in France for at least one member of the couple: 30 days as a resident and 10 days to process all the paperwork.
Ensure that all documents are in your legal name, and provide affidavits in cases where you are known by another name.
All documents – originals or certified copies – must be translated into French and need to be endorsed with an Apostille stamp affixed. Contact the French embassy or consulate in your home country for an official translation, or your embassy in France.
Your consulate in France will be able to help with issuing these documents. For more details, please click on the relevant nationality link: Australia – United Kingdom – Ireland – USA – Canada – South Africa.
Note: an Apostille is a unique stamp that is attached to an official document, usually by a local embassy, Court or Government Department, that certifies the authenticity of that document.
The civil ceremony takes place at the Mairie (Town Hall) of the town in which you are staying and is performed by the Mayor or his authorised representative.
The ceremony is conducted in French. You are not required to have a translator present, but if you wish to have an English translation of the ceremony you should contact the Mayor to make the necessary arrangements.
To have a religious wedding ceremony in France you must first have been married in a civil ceremony in your country of residence or in France. You will need to produce your marriage certificate as proof of your legal marriage before you can get married in a church.
Many couples choose to have their civil ceremony the day before their religious ceremony or have their civil ceremony in their home country prior to arriving in France.
Some faiths may require additional documents for a church service. Couples are advised to contact their respective clergy as early as possible to determine what is required for their particular religion.
Couples of the Roman Catholic faith should allow six months before the wedding date in order to process all the necessary paperwork (certificates of baptism, dispensations, statements of freedom to marry, etc.).
Paperwork should needs to be completed at home, usually through the bride's parish. Documents should reach the church you wish to be married in at least two months before the wedding date.
Typically, the wedding ceremony of a Roman Catholic must take place in a church rather than in a resort or on a beach.
Because of the France’s residency requirements many couples choose to get legally married in their home country and have a blessing in France.
The advantage of this type of ceremony is that you can have it in any location of your choice, taking advantage of the many beautiful wedding venues that France has on offer.
You must apply to the Mairie where your wedding took place in order to receive your marriage certificate. This certificate will serve as legal proof of your marriage when you return home.
You will be issued with an official document called Livret de Famille. This book records the marriage and has space to later add events such as births, deaths and divorce. This document is not a marriage certificate.
European Union citizens (except the United Kingdom and Ireland) may need to have their Marriage Certificate apostilled (or authenticated).
This does not apply to citizens of United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Citizens of Asian countries, South and Central America should check with their Civil Registrar/Marriage Officer as to whether an Apostille is required for your country.
A special stamp (Apostille) is required to validate the marriage certificate obtained after the civil ceremony for certain nationalities. Your wedding planner can assist you in obtaining the Apostille, if required.
Major hotels in France can often provide wedding planners who can insure that the entire process of getting married in France, including fulfilling all legal requirements, is stress free.
For more information about wedding planners and venues in France visit Oliver's Travels – an excellent resource to getting married in France (and other destinations in Europe).
For more information on getting an Apostille Certificate (Australian citizens) for Australian public documents, visit Apostille Australia Certicifate Service. When affixed or attached with an Apostille Certificate, the documents will automatically be accepted for legal use in foreign countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention, including France.
Please note: while accurate at time of publication this information is for guidance purposes only and liable to change without notice. Please check with your wedding planner at your resort of choice or the relevant embassy of the country in which you intend to marry for up-to-date details before your wedding.
Latest update: How to get married in France: 26 November, 2019
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