Universally rated as one of the most romantic settings on earth and with a choice of idyllic white-sand beaches fringed by gently swaying palm trees, the islands of Tahiti offer the perfect spot to say 'I do' – the ideal destination for that long dreamt of beach wedding in the South Pacific!
With its palm-shaded coves, romantic secluded beaches, intoxicating scents and alluring people, the magic of Tahiti has for centuries lured writers to her shores, incited sailors to mutiny and inspired some of the world’s most beautiful paintings.
The legal requirements for getting married in Tahiti are fairly straightforward but it does take longer than in other South Pacific islands. For this reason, many couples prefer to have a civil wedding in their home country and enjoy a romantic, traditional style Tahitian wedding in Tahiti.
For couples wanting a civil (and legal) wedding in Tahiti, we recommend using an experienced wedding planner, together with a clergy member in the case of a religious ceremony. Most resorts have wedding co-ordinators on staff that can get the application process started using copies of your legal documents.
Overseas visitors are required to select the date of the ceremony as well as the commune / island where they would like their marriage to be celebrated.
After the civil ceremony, couples are free to arrange a church wedding or a symbolic, personalised ceremony to celebrate their union.
None for foreign citizens: as of May 2009, non-French nationals can be legally married in the Islands of Tahiti on the day on which they arrive in the islands. However, the completed paperwork must be submitted to the chosen City Hall at least one month and ten days prior to the planned wedding date.
Couples should also allow a few weeks longer to complete all the required documents, including time for translation and certification in your home country.
French nationals are required to have a one month residency prior to being eligible to get married in the Islands of Tahiti. Once the complete paperwork has been submitted to the chosen City Hall, the marriage can take place after a further 10 days.
Ensure that all documents are in your legal name, and provide affidavits in cases where you are known by another name.
You should supply the following documents at least 45 days prior to the legal wedding date at the chosen City Hall.Documents required for getting married in the islands of Tahiti, include…
An Apostille is an internationally recognized stamp that certifies the authentication of a document.
Once all the administrative details are taken care of, the mayor’s office will declare the wedding by putting an announcement on their bulletin board.
On the day of the wedding, the couple, witnesses and guests must be at the mayor’s office at the scheduled time for the ceremony. According to public law, the doors must remain open during the ceremony.
The actual legal wedding at city hall will take no more than 30 minutes. The ceremony is performed in French. If you are not fluent in French, you may want to have an interpreter present to translate the ceremony.
At the end of the ceremony, the mayor will give the newly married couple official documents that certify the legal union.
Note: you can’t get married on a Sunday or a national holiday in French Polynesia.
A church wedding is not legal in Tahiti. A religious ceremony can only take place after a civil ceremony has taken place in Tahiti or in your home country.
If you are legally married in your home country, and wish to have a religious ceremony in Tahiti, you’ll need to provide proof of your legal marriage before you can book a date.
Some faiths may require additional documents for a religious service, whether held inside a church or elsewhere. You may want to check this with your wedding co-ordinator or local minister.
For instance, couples of the Roman Catholic faith should allow at least six months before the planned wedding date in order to process all the necessary paperwork (certificates of baptism, dispensations, statements of freedom to marry, etc.).
You should make contact with the priest whom you want to have officiate at your wedding as soon as possible. He will help you complete the necessary paperwork and provide part of your marriage preparation instruction.
Your Certificate of Marriage from the Islands of Tahiti may already be recognized legal in your own country, or you may require an Apostille (a stamp authenticating your documents for international use), which is easily accomplished at the Court in Papeete.
Most foreign visitors to the Islands of Tahiti are eligible to the exemption status or have their Certificate of Marriage stamped with an Apostille to present to their local authorities back home.
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 as to whether an Apostille is required for your country.
There are no official fees charged in Tahiti for the marriage licence and wedding certificates. Even the Apostille stamp – that some countries require on the marriage certificates – is free in Tahiti.
However, there are costs involved at home: ordering certificates, having them Apostilled for international use, getting them translated in French, and also for sending the documents to French Polynesia. Those costs vary from one country to another.
This is the most popular form of ‘marriage’ in French Polynesia and can be arranged through local specialists who will make your wedding ceremony unforgettable.
(Remember these marriages are a pure Tahitian experience and they are not legally recognised or binding marriages.)
Your wedding ceremony can be as elaborate as a royal event or as simple as an “I do” on a pristine white beach.
Imagine standing on a white sandy beach in a palm-shaded cove, while a Tahitian trio serenades you and your lover: you exchange tiare leis and receive a wedding blessing from a Tahitian priest as a warm tropical breeze ruffles the swaying palm fronds above you in a landscape that includes an extinct volcano soaring majestically into a clear blue sky.
The ceremony then sees you wrapped in a traditional tifaifai – a handmade wedding quilt. Pure magic.
Many hotels and resorts offer experienced wedding co-ordinators who can insure that the entire process of getting married in French Polynesia, including fulfilling all legal requirements, is stress free.
For wedding planning, contact Nelly Grange at wedotahiti.com – an excellent wedding planning resource in Tahiti.
Additional information: For translation or interpretation services Australian citizens may consider contacting the Australian National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, or Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators.
For documents that require an Apostille stamp please check smartraveller.gov.au for Apostilles in Australia.
Both the Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) and a Certificat de Coutume can be issued to Australian citizens and permanent residents in Australia: See Getting Married Overseas at smartraveller.gov.au.
Other nationalities should consult their respective embassy or consulate in regard to obtaining and authenticating required documents.
Latest update: How to get married in Tahiti: 18 November, 2018
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