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Planning a Wedding in France – Legal Requirements

Planning a Wedding in France – Legal Requirements

Many couples dream of having their wedding in France; it is the perfect choice for a destination wedding. The country is romantic and boasts stunning scenery, an amazing cuisine and a wide variety of venue options.

When it comes to planning a French wedding though, you must consider the legalities; it is more complicated for couples who don't have any ties to the country. But don't worry! Armed with the facts, there are some ways to overcome or work around the hurdles. Read on to find out about the legal requirements and how you can make your dream wedding in France a reality.


The first requirement of a French marriage is that at least one of the parties to be married must have resided in France for at least 40 consecutive days immediately before the marriage. This must also be in the location that the marriage will take place in. If you and your partner are both non-residents and do not have a parent living in the country, you will require a special dispensation, but this can be hard to get.

If however, you or a member of your family own a property in France, the residency rule may be less strict depending on location. The matter must be discussed with the local Mayor as it is ultimately up to them.

planning a wedding in france - bride and groom holding hands


There are a few documents that you should be prepared to provide if you are getting legally married in France, including:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of nationality
  • Full birth certificate (This may need to be 'legalised' e.g. by affixing an Apostille stamp)
  • The witnesses' personal and professional details
  • Pre-nuptual agreement (if you have one) with a notary's signature. A certificate for the notary may also be required
You may also need a Certificat de Coutume from your embassy. This is a document that ensures that your marriage in France will also be valid in your home country.
legal requirements for french wedding - town hall

The Local Town Hall

For a French marriage to be legally binding, it must be performed through a civil ceremony at the local town hall (known as the Mairie in French). You should note that this civil ceremony will be in French. It is therefore a good idea to have a translator present. This can then be followed by a symbolic religious or secular ceremony at whichever location the couple chooses.

A marriage application (also known as the marriage banns) should be made to the local Mairie at least 10 days prior to the wedding. It is then up to the local civil registry officer to confirm that the couple meet all of the necessary requirements of French law. A compulsory interview is also required prior to the marriage, with an interpreter present.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in France on May 18th 2013. The requirements and ceromonies for same-sex couples are almost identical to those for heterosexual couples.

Marriage Certificate

After your wedding ceremony, you will receive a "Livret de Famille". This is an official document that records any ongoing events relating to the marriage such as births, adoptions, deaths etc. This is not a marriage certificate though; these are not issued automatically in France. To obtain an official marriage certificate you must apply to the Marie in writing.

You Can Still Have Your Dream Wedding in France

If you are worried that you do not meet the requirements for a French wedding, or the process sounds too complicated for you to handle, don't fret; there is another option available.

A lot of couples work around the residency issue by getting legally married at home first with a civil ceremony. The wedding in France can then follow, without any of the legal requirements. This means that your French wedding can be more of a personalised celebration, but your guests need not know that you are officially already married. It will therefore still feel like your proper wedding day!

Plan your French Wedding with The Impeccable Pear

Of course, planning your wedding in France will be much easier with the help of a professional wedding planner.

The Impeccable Pear have a huge amount of experience in making couples' French wedding dreams come true. They know all of the challenges and pitfalls French weddings can present, but will handle everything for you confidently and seamlessly. All you will need to do is relax and enjoy this amazing time!

Get in touch with us today to discuss your wedding ideas and dreams.
The Impeccable Pear - French wedding planners
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