Getting Married in France
A guide for UK citizens looking to get married in France
“How do you get married in France?” is what many of our couples ask us.
The idea of planning a destination wedding abroad might seem a little daunting at first, but in France it doesn’t have to be!
In reality, marrying in France doesn’t have to be that complicated and there are only a couple more extra steps to be aware of when planning your ceremony.
France is home to some of the most romantic venues and landscapes in Europe, if not the world, and provides the opportunity to create a truly unique and special day for you and your families.
What better way to start your married life than with an adventure at a Normandy Château?
Plus, you will have our experienced team and our extensive network of English-speaking suppliers by your side to support you every step of the way.
How to get married in France
So, what are the requirements for getting married in France?
For UK citizens there are two ways to get married in France, and one is much more straightforward than the other. Either way, French law only recognises civil marriage, so a civil ceremony is essential at some stage. The requirements depend on which route you choose:
1. Legally marry in the UK through a civil ceremony, then come to France and choose a non-official religious or humanist wedding ceremony or blessing.
2. Legally marry in France through a civil ceremony at the local Mairie, and then also hold a religious ceremony (at a religious building) or humanist wedding ceremony with a registered celebrant (at any chosen venue) on the same day or a couple of days later if you wish.
Although this second option is significantly more complicated, some couples choose it if one of them is a French citizen or they have been in the country for the specified number of days prior to the legal ceremony.
Here’s more information about how each route works:
Option 1: Marry in the UK first
By far the most straightforward option, with significantly less paperwork and legal complexities than the second route.
Choose to marry at a UK registry office with a small legal ceremony or even just a couple of witnesses.
You can then head over to France for your ‘walk-down-the-aisle’ ceremony.
This is a beautiful option because, as it is a symbolic ceremony, it means you can adapt your service to be truly unique to you as a couple with the exact wording, readings, music and order that you wish.
We work with experienced celebrants who will make your ceremony incredibly special with the exchanging of rings, handfasting, candle lighting ritual or any other symbolic tradition that is important to you as a couple
Once your ceremony is complete, you know that you are now legally married and have celebrated with all your friends and family in attendance.
Option 2: Have your Civil Ceremony in France
For this option, you, your partner or one of your parents needs to have lived in the town where you want to get married for at least 40 days before the ceremony.
If you meet one of these requirements and are happy to do the paperwork, then you will need to contact the Mairie (Mayor / Town Hall) and the British Consulate who will assist you in the processing of your application. You can find most of the required forms here on gov.uk.
Under French law, you will still need to have the formal legal ceremony at the Mairie, even if you plan to also have a ceremony at a church or other religious site or at your chosen venue.
In essence, you will therefore revert back to Option 1 once the “legal bit” is completed at the Mairie. You can have a church or chapel wedding (one of you must be Catholic) or you can have a celebrant hold your symbolic ceremony at your wedding venue.
"What documents do I need for Option 2?"
All documents must be certified by the British Consulate and translated by a sworn translator, prior to being presented to the Mairie. You can get a list of
approved translators from the Mairie or local police station. Here is a quick overview of what you will need:
- Proof of address, normally two documents such as telephone or electricity bill (this must prove that the 40-day-residency requirement has been satisfied).
- Certificate of celibacy for non-French nationals to prove your single status
- Certificate of law for non-French nationals living in the UK
- A solicitor’s certificate (ask the British Consulate for details)
- Birth Certificate less than 3 months old supplied by a bureau of records, not a hospital
- Death or Divorce certificate if one or both of you have been married before
- The marriage ‘banns’ are displayed approximately 10 days before the civil ceremony
- In France, couples are required to first marry in the town hall (Mairie) before any civil or religious service can take place.
Once all this is in place, you will need to go to the town hall where the town’s mayor, or his legally authorised replacement, will perform the ceremony and tell you about your responsibilities to each other – in French. You then sign the register and walk out a married couple. After that, you can still hold a religious or humanist ceremony and a proper celebration!
Get married at Château de Vaudézert
Château de Vaudézert is a stunning château with a fascinating history, set in the beautiful countryside of Normandy.
Lush green woodlands and hillsides surround the château and create a romantic setting for your wedding day.
With an event capacity for up to 300 guests in the stunning grounds, perfectly appointed indoor event spaces and plenty of on-site accommodation, our dedicated team are on hand to make sure that you have all the support you need for your special day, while leaving you with the freedom to choose your own suppliers to suit your style and budget.
Enjoy a ceremony amongst the trees or in front of the Château, a drinks reception by the picturesque swimming pool, a sumptuous wedding breakfast in the gardens and then dance the night away inside the event hall with its own bar and facilities.
We would love to welcome you for a visit or we can arrange a video tour at your convenience. Please get in touch below for more information.
Get in touch...
We would love to host your Normandy Château wedding, event or stay. Please get in touch using the form below for our latest availability.