If you’ve been researching your options as a foreign couple wanting to get married in France, there are many governmental technicalities that arise, that most people just can’t get around, either because of time, efforts or money involved.
The biggest is that at least one of the marrying partners has to be in France for at least 40 days (continuous) before the wedding. Sorry… you just can’t hop on a plane and get married the next day or even the next week. So, for those wanting to just elope and tie the knot in Paris… well, as Tony Soprano used to say…fuggeddabboutit. A marriage here takes planning in advance.
Then the second biggest issue is that in France you have to get married at the City Hall first, then you can have the normal tradition religious wedding ceremony elsewhere afterwards.
And then, you will need to have ” Publications of Banns” at the Town Hall (Mairie).
France notes “Most Mairies take approximately 4 -6 weeks to process an application. Requirements will vary for each Mairie, therefore, it is essential that you first meet with them in order to determine their exact documentary requirements and terms of validity (documents may need to be issued less than 3 months prior to date of marriage or publication of banns)”
By this point you might be thinking, “what a drag!” and “we can’t possibly do all of that”. Don’t despair… there are still ways to still have your “wedding” cake and eat it too, in France!
What to Do?
I suggest you get a civil marriage done in your home country, which basically eliminates all the obstacles listed above, which is comparatively a less tedious task in most countries. Then you can have the wedding ceremony here in France.
Ceremonies that are available:
Civil Ceremony: To be legal, a French civil authority (Officier de l’état civil) must perform all weddings before any religious ceremony takes place. In practice, this means that the mayor (maire) or his duly authorized representative as Deputy Mayor (adjoint), or councilor (conseiller municipal) of the city must perform the wedding. At least one of the parties to be married has to be a French Resident for at least 40 days prior to the marriage.
Religious ceremony: In France, a religious ceremony is not a legal marriage and can only take place after the civil ceremony. The minister, priest or rabbi performing the religious ceremony will require the civil marriage certificate (Certificate of celebration civile) as proof that the civil ceremony has taken place.
If you’re planning to marry in a church in Paris, but aren’t currently living in France, you REALLY have your work cut out for you. Your emails will more than likely go unanswered. If you try to phone the church directly, you will probably never make it past the church secretary. The best suggestion that I have is to find a friend or relative with strong, personal ties within that specific Parish to make the plea on your behalf. This should be someone that you are on very good terms with, because it may require more than a few visits with the priest before you get your final answer.
And speaking of final answers-, as anyone who has spent any time at all in France knows, the first answer is always “non“- just ignore that one and ask again in a different way. If, after the fourth or fifth ask, the answer is still no, then I would suggest you move on to Plan B- a symbolic ceremony in a private chapel, or maybe a blessing ceremony in a non-denominational Parisian church.
If you are one of the lucky few to receive direct permission to marry in a French church, Felicitations! You are one step closer to realizing your fantasy of a storybook wedding in a beautiful old church in Paris. But don’t unbuckle your seat belt just yet- there’s still quite a bit of paperwork involved. Ah, paperwork- France just wouldn’t be France without it. But no worries- Your American Wedding Planner in Paris comes through again! Here are the paperwork requirements needed to marry in a Catholic church in France:
A cover letter, written on formal letterhead, from your parish priest (the priest in the church that you attend in your home town) that gives you the “official” go-ahead to marry in a foreign country. The letter basically says that the priest knows you and that there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to marry in France. It should include the name of the French church that you’ll be marrying in, as well as the date of the wedding. He needs to include your original Pre-Nuptial Inquiry form, which will then need to be stamped with an official seal from the Bishop. Also, your priest will need to include a copy of a certificate proving that you have completed Pre-Cana classes.
Another letter, also on formal letterhead, from the Bishop of your parish. This letter pretty much says the same as the priests’ letter- it gives the name of the French church, the wedding date, and states that the Bishop knows of no reason why you cannot marry in a Catholic church in France.
Baptism and Confirmation certificates which have been issued within 6 months of your wedding date. These certificates must also have the official seal from your Bishop on them in order to be accepted by the church in France.
If your spouse-to-be is not Catholic, then you’ll need to send a completed and signed Permission for a Mixed Religion document. You must get this from your parish priest as well.
If one or both of you have been divorced, you are not allowed to marry in the Catholic Church in France unless an annulment has been granted. You will have to submit proof of this along with your documents.
Your marriage certificate as proof of your civil ceremony. Remember: you can only be married in a Catholic church in France *after* you have had a civil ceremony.
All of the above documents need to be submitted to the priest of your French church at least 2 months before your wedding date, in order to give you enough leeway in case there are any unforeseen hitches. As some of the documents are time sensitive, I typically suggest that you give yourself 4 – 6 months before your wedding date to start accumulating your documents. This is after you have received confirmation directly from the French priest that he will marry you in his church, of course.
Residency requirements – The bride or the groom must be a French Resident for at least 40 consecutive days before the marriage: the Mairie (City Hall) or the city where the civil ceremony takes place is dictated by the place of residence. If both parties to marry meet the residency requirement, but resided in different districts, the civil ceremony can take place in either district of residence. There is almost no exception possible on the 40-day residence requirement, making it impossible to have an official wedding on the French Riviera when both sides are just visiting for a short stay.
It is very important that you first learn about all necessary documents for marriage in the City hall (Mairie), where the wedding will take place. Because each City Hall has its own requirements. You should also check if they accept the statements available at the Embassy.
Most City Halls require some or all of the following documents:
- A valid passport, a visa for France, and / or a carte de sejour
- A birth certificate (extrait d’acte de naissance) not more than 3 months old Most City Halls require a certified copy of your birth certificate joined with the state issued apostille together with a certified translation. You must obtain a translation of a sworn translator, you can find a list at your local city hall.
- An affidavit of marital status (certificat de célibat ou de non-remariage) not more than 3 months old, most of the time a certificate of celibacy is also required
- Proof of residence (justificatifs of address). You will need to present 2 proofs of residence in France for mayor of the city of marriage (ie, electricity or telephone bills, rent, etc.)
- Du certificat notary: Besides the above, if the parties opt for a prenuptial contract governing the marriage of their respective properties (regime du marriage,) the French notary preparing the contract will give the couple a certificate (certificat du notary), also due to the Board.
Marriage Certificate: Couples married in France automatically receive a Livret de famille. This is a booklet that serves as an official record of a wedding and subsequent events in the family, such as births, deaths, divorce or name changes. These facts are recorded in the booklet. In France, the Livret de famille is an official document.
It is also possible to obtain a marriage certificate (extrait d’acte de marriage) in writing to city hall where the wedding took place. You must indicate:
a) Date and place of wedding, and
b) The full names (including maiden name of wife) of the two parties. If the certificate must be presented in France, the application must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If the certificate must be sent to an address not French, provide a self-addressed, international postal coupons to cover international postage.
Don’t forget to capture all the moments of the best day of your life on video!
Saskia is a female wedding videographer at the French Riviera / Cote d’Azur. She is fluent in English, French and Dutch. You can find more information on her work on: [http://www.weddingvideo.fr].
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/S._Aafjes/444389
Kimberley Petyt. Kimberley Petyt is the Founder and Managing Director of parisian events, the premier wedding and event planning agency catering to the English-speaking community in Paris, France.
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Kimberley_Petyt/89823
Olivier Lalin weddings [http://www.olivierlalinweddings.com/]
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Olivier_Lalin/195543