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How to get married in France

How to get married in France

7 months, 30 days to go

Getting engaged was probably the happiest moment of my life. I actually thought I'd died or was dreaming!

Now the dust has settled and the last celebratory Christmas pie has been munched, the hardwork is about to begin. The lovely MM and I are getting married in September 2011... in France.

If you've ever wondered how to get married in France then you've come to the right blog!

It is notoriously difficult to actually get married in France. One of you needs to be resident there for over a month and apply to the town hall with proof of your address etc. You also need a long list of legal documents and such. It's a minefield!

First thing to do is contact the Mairie and British Consulate as they will tell you everything you need to know!

Quick must have check list for getting married in France

One member of the couple must be resident in France for 40-days - proof of address required  
Certificate of celibacy for non-French nationals
Certificate of law for non-French nationals living in France
- or -
Certificate of law for non-French nationals living in the UK
Prenuptial medical certificate - obtained from a French GP, French Dispensary in London or Medicare in London
A solicitor's certificate - ask at the British consulate for details
Birth certificate
Death certificate or Divorce certificate if appropriate.  

NB: All documents must be certified by the British consulate and translated by an approved translator prior to being presented to the Mairie. You can get a list of approved translators

This list is really just a general overview but as you can see it's a complicated matter.

France offers some seriously good benefits to it's married population so it's little wonder they're so strict on what you can and can't do.

You may have noticed but I don't live in France. So I can't legally get married in France even though my husband-to-be (from now on known as H2B or MM) was born and raised in Paris.

How to get married in France without all that hassle!

This seemingly insurmountable problem turned out to be relatively easy to fix. Though it's the first compromise on MM's side for me it's a small stroke of luck.

In France, couples must first marry in the town hall before any civil or religious service can take place.

This means showing up in your big white frock, sitting in front of your congregation and the town's mayor and being told about your responsibilities to each other, signing the register and walking out of there married... then going over to the Church or venue and doing the whole walk down the aisle ceremony thing.

It's like an enforced registry office ceremony followed by a big white wedding. This isn't the ONLY set of options but whatever you decide, the town hall is non-negotiable.

Don’t get me wrong, town halls in France can be exquisite. They can be truly lovely places to get hitched. But I want to get married in front of everyone once, just the once.

I want the first time my H2B sees me, that day, to be when I’m walking towards him preparing for our one and only big wedding. Plus I'd prefer to say vows in front of my loved ones and then get on with the party!

Civil ceremony in the UK before the wedding n France

So... to how to get married in France? Simple. We don't.

MM and I will be sneaking off to the registry office in our local UK town and getting secretly pre-wed here.

We'll sign our papers and be legally married for all intents and purposes but we won't consider our marriage valid until we've said our vows and exchanged rings in front of everyone we know and love, which won’t happen until our wedding day in France.

We're not doing anything special for our UK "wedding". It's simply getting the formalities out the way so the romance can begin. I might even wear jeans. Simple.

I said simple but, as I am learning, nothing is ever simple when planning a wedding. And that's only made worse when it's a multi-cultural affair.

We’ve got traditionalists on both sides! Not the same traditions by any means but certain rules, it seems, will not be broken without a bit of a scuffle.

There's a stand-off between us and assorted relatives who want to come to (and therefore make a big deal of) our little civil wedding here...

As I said, nothing is ever simple. We should probably just get married here after all, but that would be taking the easy route.

C’est la vie!



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