Getting Married In France
Or you can have a legal wedding in your own country, and then choose either a religious ceremony or your honeymoon in France . Both will offer you a romantic and picturesque setting for that special day.
From a royal chateau to a yacht wedding, France offers a great variety of memorable places and fabulous experience. Sailing on the Seine in Paris or by a romantic fishermen's village on the Mediterranean. In the Renaissance private chateau, presently summer residence of a prince (who will also attend your ceremony) In a sumptuous mansion on the French Riviera or at the little chapel at the flower market in Nice,...And......candlelight dinner, and a horse-driven carriage or a chauffeur-driven vintage car, and a bilingual assistant.
All other worries can also be taken care of: transfers, hairdresser, bride's bouquet, photographer, video recording (in NTSC American standard), wedding certificate, all this can be included in the packages from standard to deluxe ceremonies offered by a few specialized agencies operating in France.
A civil marriage is mandatory in France and religious ceremonies, which are optional, are not legally binding in any way and can only be performed after the civil ceremony. To be legal, a marriage in France must be performed by a French civil authority. In practice this means that the mayor ("maire") or his legally authorized replacement performs the marriage ceremony.
There is a requirement of residency in France which one of the parties to be married must comply with. One of the parties must reside in the town or the "arrondissement"if in Paris, for the 30 (thirty) days prior to the marriage. In addition of these 30 days, French law requires the publication of the marriage banns at City Hall for 10 days which makes a total residency requirement of 40 days before the ceremony can be scheduled to take place at City Hall.
- Birth certificate (from the Bureau of Vital Records, not from a hospital)
- A notarized "Affidavit of Law" (Certificat de Coutume), drawn up by an attorney in law licensed in the State of residence of the party, stating : that this person is free to marry,
that the marriage performed in France will be recognized as valid in the United States, and that publication of marriage banns is not required in the United States, neither under States nor Federal law.
- In the case of previous marriages, a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse or a certified copy of the final divorce decree must be produced.
- Prenuptial certificate of health issued not more than two months prior to the date of the marriage by a medical doctor after :
- Serological tests for syphilis,
- Serological tests to determine blood types and possibly the presence of irregular anti-bodies,
for females : serological tests for rubella and toxoplasma. It is possible to have these tests done in France.
In all cases, it is recommended that the contracting parties contact the Marriage Bureau of City hall upon arrival in France as extra documents may be required, such as a residence affidavit.
All documents listed above must be translated into French for presentation to French officials. Translations can be done in the United States by a "Translating Agency" or by a certified translator in France. If the translations are done in the United States the translations as well as the original of the document must be presented to the French Consulate General for verification ("vérification de traduction").
All foreign documents must be legalized being presented in the French authorities. American documents can be legalized by obtaining the Apostille called for the Hague Convention which was signed by the United States on October 15, 1981. The apostille is usually obtained through the office of the "Secretary of State" of whatever state the document was issued in. For documents issued in the District of Columbia the apostille is obtained at the "Notary Authentication Office at 717 14th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20005.
If no special measures are taken by the parties with a French Notary or an attorney at law in the States, prior to the marriage, they are married under the "communauté réduite aux acquets". This means that what each party owns personally before the marriage, or whatever comes to them afterwards through inheritance, remains their property. Only what is acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both parties.
American citizens holding ordinary American passports are not required to obtain a visa for a trip to France as long as they do not stay longer than three (1) months. The visa exemption does not apply to students, journalists or to members of airline crews no matter what the length of their stay. American citizens holding diplomatic or official passports must obtain a visa before going to France no matter what the length of their stay. Other foreign national must check with the visa section of the Consulate General of France.