We absolutely adore France. Whether you are roaming the streets of Paris or admiring the natural red houses and towns in the Luberon Valley, it’s not hard to appreciate why France is known as one of the most beautiful and romantic countries in the world. But getting married there isn’t so easy, not if you have your beating heart set on a civil ceremony in an 18C Chateau, so here is our guide on getting married in France and hopefully it will offer some clarification on what you can and can’t do.

Some quick facts about getting married in France;

✈ There is a 40 day residency requirement for civil ceremonies in France

✈ Religious ceremonies are never legal in France, resident or non resident

✈ Religious ceremonies can only take place after a civil ceremony has taken place in France or back home

✈ Age requirement is 18 for Male and 15 for Females. Those under 18 require consent from parents or guardians

France Legal Guide_0020

Smart Travel Info

Civil Ceremony

Be warned, a legal wedding in France is not for the faint of heart but we are going to walk you through it anyway. For starters, at least one half of the couple must be resident for 40 consecutive days prior to the wedding in the area where the marriage will take place. Yes, 40 days – 30 as a resident and the extra 10 to sort out the paperwork. The marriage banns, which is more commonly known as the marriage application, must be made and received by the local Mairie (town hall) at least 10 days before the wedding date. You will need to be able to prove your residency in the form of two utility bills and getting 2 of those after only 30 days will be difficult.

It is worth mentioning though that in some very special cases, those with property or that have family with property in France have been allowed marry without having to follow the residency requirement but at the complete discretion of the Mayor at the Mairie so it could be worth contacting them directly.

If you are in a position to abide by the residency requirement, you will need the following for you marriage application.

✈ All documents will need to be endorsed with an Apostille Stamp. An Apostille stamp authenticates documents executed outside of France (such as an Irish birth certificate) so that it will be recognised as genuine/ official / legitimate for use in other countries, such as France.

✈ All original documents will need to be accompanied by French translations. This must be done by an agency verified by the French Consulate

France Venue_080

La Belle Vie de Chateau

1 ✈ Justificatifs de Domicile | Proof of Residency

French nationals will usually present two utility bills such as an electricity, phone or gas bills. This will be much more difficult for non-residents so you will need to contact the Mairie to see if hotel or car rec

2 ✈ Carte de Sejour | A Valid Passport

3 ✈ Extrait d’Acte de Naissance | Original, Long Form Birth Certificate

This must be translated into French by an approved translator within 3 months of your wedding date.

4 ✈ Certificat de Celibat | Certificate of Celibacy

.This is a certificate to state that you are not already married. This certificate does not exist under British law so you need to obtain an official attestation from the consulate to say so.

5 ✈ Certificat de Coutume | Affidavit of Law

This is a statement that needs to notorised by an attorney licensed to practice in both France and your home country. It basically states you are both free to marry and your marriage will be recognised in your country of residence. The French Consulate in your home country should be able to help with issuing these documents. If you are fomr the UK, you should contact the Foreign Commonwealth Office.

6 ✈ Certificat Médical Prénuptial | Medical Cert

A full medical examination including blood tests must be undertaken by a French doctor or by a doctor who is approved by your local French Embassy or Consulate. This needs to be sent to the Mairie along with the rest of your documentation.

7 ✈ Certificat du Notaire | Prenupital agreement

This is only required if you are planning on putting a prenuptial in place.

8 ✈ Death Certificate | Divorce Decree

If you were married previously and widowed or divorced, these documents are also required as part of the submission.

It is also important to note that some of these documents require the presence of both partners so even though only one person is required to be resident for 30 days, your betrothed should also be in France a few weeks before the wedding.

9  ✈ Livret de Familie

Newlyweds will be issued with an official document called Livret de Famille. This book will have the marriage recorded and later on, will record family events such as bir It records the marriage and has space to later add events such as births, deaths and divorce. This document is not a marriage certificate.

10  ✈ Marriage Certificate

You must apply to the Mairie where your wedding took place in order to receive your official marriage certificate. This certificate will serve as legal proof of your marriage when you return home.
Religious Ceremonies

Labour of Love by Heidi

Our Labor Of Love

Religious Ceremonies

To have a religious wedding ceremony in France you must first have been married in a civil ceremony at home or in France. You will need to produce your marriage certificate as proof of your legal marriage.


Without a doubt, the easiest way to have your dream wedding in France is to have a civil wedding at home first. Most couples choose this option and also keep it a secret from their guests so that when they go to France, they have what they consider to be their real wedding in a religious ceremony or humanist blessing.

Whatever you decide, your wedding will be absolutely beautiful so try not let the residency requirements put a bad taste in your mouth. If you simply can’t compromise on the legal aspect of your wedding, check out the rest of our guides here. If you can, then have a look at our Real Wedding Features in France, our venue spotlights and destination guides. Happy planning!

9 Responses

  1. FAB Guide ✈ Legal Wedding in Spain - Fly Away BrideFly Away Bride

    […] Investigating whether or not you can have a legal wedding in Spain? Well this FAB Guide addresses everything you need to know about getting married there. If you are Catholic, you’re sorted as it’s relatively straight forward and we will walk you through the process but if it’s a civil ceremony you want, sit down. We need to talk. It’s even more awkward than getting legally married in France. […]

    • Marie

      Hi there!

      We’re planning to get married in France this coming December, My fiancé is french national, I’m from Philippines & we’re both resident of Dubai UAE. What documents do I need to prepare from my side?

  2. Anea

    If our reception/ceremony in France is not “religious”, and a friend is officiating, can we have the civil ceremony at home in the US after, versus before?


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