Quick Guide on Getting Married in France

Posted on 11. Jan, 2012 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, expat France, Travel Tips

Serious and informative post warning! You have met your perfect match and plan on getting married in France? While it seems like a tortuous and awfully long process, thanks to the reputation of French bureaucracy, it is really not that bad if you take a minute to gather everything. Let’s take a closer look.

So, want to get married in France?

Where do I need to go?

To get married in France, you will need to visit the City Hall (Mairie) of the city you wish to get married in, or currently live in. Depending on the size of the city, you might have to book an appointment or wait for a few hours, so make sure to plan ahead.

Once you have met with the Mairie, they will hand you several forms along with instructions, which you will fill out and hand back at a later, second meeting.

What paperwork do I need to provide?

There are three types of documents you will need to provide the Mairie with.

  • Identification: regardless of your nationality, you will need to provide at least these documents:
    • Birth certificate (dated 6 months or less);
    • Proof of ID (passport);
    • A proof of address (copy of utilities bill and lease if you live in France, certified copies if you live abroad).
  • Forms handed by the Mairie during the first appointment:
    • List of your witnesses;
    • Projet d’acte de mariage: (Marriage certificate draft), which will include many details: birth dates, parents names, etc.
  • Certificates handed by your Embassy:
    • Certificat de coutume; (states that your French marriage complies with the laws of your own country).
    • Certificat de célibat (statement of single status).

Once you have filled and collected all these documents, you need to book a second appointment at the Mairie, during which the clerk will evaluate your application and suggest a date if you are successful in applying for marriage. And pray no one messes up your file!

And how much is this going to cost?

Only your sanity and mind? Jokes aside, getting married in France is free of charge in itself, except the fees implied when requesting the certificates at your Embassy. For me, a Canadian, it was $90 (plus the transportation to Paris), which isn’t that bad.

Happily married!

How was it for me?

For me, it was a bit… complicated. Of course, you say - it’s France! I had to go to the Mairie three times in total, including one the day before the wedding because apparently, one of the documents I provided was not satisfactory - meaning that my wedding, which was planned for the day after, would have been off if I wasn’t so sweet with my French Canadian accent. I’m now happily married and proud owner of a French marriage certificate, a funny travel story and a mini honeymoon in Vichy.

Have you ever thought about getting married in France? Or abroad? Are the complex procedures scaring you off?

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27 Responses to “Quick Guide on Getting Married in France”

  1. Abby

    12. Jan, 2012

    Awwwww congrats!! Getting married abroad can be really tricky… My friend was a wedding planner while I lived in Costa Rica — it’s amazing how many people think it’ll be easy!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Kjersti @ backpackified

    12. Jan, 2012

    Hi! Great post! Me and my husband spent 16 months living in Paris, got married last summer and were thinking of doing it in Paris. However, as far as we could figure out with the limited information available, it is not possible to get married at a Paris city hall, you have to do it at your own embassy. Is this still true? In any case, since my husband is Finnish and I am Norwegian, we could not get married at either of our embassies as they only allow marriages between two citizens of the same country. Just a heads-up to anyone in an international relationship :) (this might just be the case for our countries/embassies though, I have not checked).
    Cheers, Kjersti

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jan, 2012

      I think embassies are not legally permitted to perform wedding ceremonies - at least in Canadian embassies. Not sure about the others!

      Reply to this comment
  3. Chiara

    12. Jan, 2012

    Congrats! Beatiful purple palette! ;-)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jan, 2012

      Thanks! :) I was keeping the white palette for my “real” princess wedding when we get back to Canada.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Laura

    12. Jan, 2012

    Congrats! You two look so happy :)

    Reply to this comment
  5. Andrew

    14. Jan, 2012

    Congrats. My wife and I decided to get married in the US for a number of reasons, but the bureaucracy in Germany is certainly one of them. This seems fairly easy and straightforward in comparison. What I have heard from friends in Germany, is that all of the stuff must be translated into German by official translators and less than 3 months ago.

    And again congrats.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jan, 2012

      Thanks :)
      Translation wasn’t an issue for me because I am born in Quebec and all my documents were already in French - but for foreigners, that might get tricky.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Katherina

    17. Jan, 2012

    Two good friends of mine got married in France and didn’t have any major issues… I guess they were lucky, because it does seem to be tricky! I’m glad at the end everything went well for you two, congrats again!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jan, 2012

      It’s not that tricky, but you have to be really careful and give them exactly what they want - they do no compromise! Thanks :)

      Reply to this comment
  7. Tracy

    13. Nov, 2012

    Hi Marie, is it true that one of the partners must live in France for at least 40 days before the wedding?

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      15. Nov, 2012

      Yes, this is true. To get legally married in France one of the partners must have been in France for at least 4 weeks, in order to have an official “préfecture” office to get married at.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Kait

    21. Feb, 2013

    Hey Marie,

    I am a Canadian looking to get married to a French guy this summer. :) Thank you for this lovely post! Did you have to get a long stay visa before you got married or can I apply for one after I get married in France? This whole thing seems complicated. Cheers!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      24. Feb, 2013

      You don’t need to get a long stay visa before marriage if you are getting married to a Frenchman - you will however have to apply for one afterwards, and you will be eligible for citizenship after a few years together. You will have to visit the Canadian embassy if you’re in Paris or do this via mail to get the papers that prove you are not already married, etc.

      It looks complicated but it’s actually quite simple :-)

      Reply to this comment
  9. Kait

    05. Mar, 2013

    Thanks for the quick response! What about the certificat de celibat? Is that issued by the Canadian embassy? I can’t seem to find it on their website…

    I love your blog! It is so helpful for fellow Canadians in France. Thank you for it! :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      06. Mar, 2013

      Yes, the certificat de célibat will also be handed to you at the embassy.

      Just in case you didn’t know, you need to call the embassy and schedule an appointment - do NOT go there in the morning and queue, they won’t let you in. ;-) You will usually get the appointment in the following 2-3 weeks.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Jean-Nicolas

    06. Mar, 2013

    From a single guy’s perspective, this article is like ammo for keeping a single status! ;)
    Otherwise and a tad more seriously, nice pics! :)

    Reply to this comment
  11. Kait

    07. Mar, 2013

    Thanks so much for your help Marie-Eve! I will be doing it by post I believe as I will be living in the South. Paris is a bit far…or is it faster to have an appointment?? :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      08. Mar, 2013

      Some of my friends were able to get the forms via mail, but I went directly to Paris (I’m never one to say no to a Paris getaway!). I think it probably ends up being the same length because you either have to wait for the files in the mail, or get your appointment at the Embassy 2-3 weeks later. It really depends if you want to go directly to Paris or not. :)

      Reply to this comment
  12. rosalie marquez

    08. Aug, 2013

    how to get certificate of custom for marriage,,,or i am booking an appointment to french embassy to get certificate of custom???please help..

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      08. Aug, 2013

      If you are not from Canada I would advise you to call your Embassy and ask what the rules are for your specific country. For Canada, you need to set up an appointment at the Paris embassy and fill out the forms, which you will give to the town hall of the city where you will be getting married.

      Reply to this comment
  13. Charmaine Follett

    11. Nov, 2013

    We are travelling to Europe in September 2014 and would really like to tie the knot while there. We are just wondering if that is possible, considering neither one of us has lived in Paris. We are travelling with a tour group and one of our group members happens to be a Catholic priest from Nfld. Canada, who would be very happy to marry us. Is this possible and if so, what procedure would we go through. Very anxious to hear your reply.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      12. Nov, 2013

      I am by no means an expert on marriage in France. Best would be to check with your embassy in France and see what you have to do.

      Reply to this comment
  14. Ewen

    15. Sep, 2014

    I read that you have to live there for one to two months before you can get married in France. Is that true?

    Reply to this comment

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