Getting married in France

Imagine being transported to a magical land. A land of fairytale castles, medieval villages and towns with narrow winding streets and ancient houses, vineyards producing fine wines, painted caves and sites that take you back to the beginning of man. Combine this with rivers and countryside so beautiful that it will take your breath away. A land where every region has its own customs, culinary delights and style, where the gastronomy is deserving of its glorious reputation and the value for money in both food and drink is second to none. Even venues are very affordable and the most extravagant location is within reach of the average budget.

And you do not need to look too far, in fact just across the water! France offers an enormous range of ideas for wedding celebrations and has the bonus of being within easy reach of the UK. With more and more developments in foreign travel, weddings abroad are more viable an option that ever before and many more couples are looking to celebrate their union in this way.

What better than combining your wedding with a holiday. Though it is possible to hold your event over a weekend most couples who marry in France take either a short or week long break. Some couples take time out during this period, for themselves and others spend the whole time amongst family and friends.

Previous trends suggest that in general, couples from the UK have not celebrated their marriages in France unless family or friends are resident here. This is largely due to the paperwork and residency requirements, which can be restrictive. However, with changes in the traditional wedding format and an increased sense of flexibility in the way their celebrations take place, more and more people are looking to celebrate here.

Marriages in France take place in the Mairie (the local town hall) and are conducted by either a mayor, deputy mayor or city councillor. Though religious ceremonies usually take place alongside the civil service, they are not legally recognised. In order to legally marry in France there are several things that UK residents must do.

Paperwork comprised of a “livre de mariage”, given to couples by the mairie and documenting information related to the couple and witnesses, birth and medical certificates, copies of passports and certificates of law and celibacy (available from the British Embassy) must be submitted to the mairie in advance of the wedding. Notification can then be displayed in the form of “banns” which generally happens around 10 days before the event. The exact amount of time needed to process papers varies and individual mairies can advise as to what their requirements are. Translations of birth certificates must be performed by a registered translator and individual mairies provide a list of people that can help with this. If you have been previously married or already have children, documents relating to these events will also be required.

In terms of residency, either the bride or the groom must live in the village or town in which they are due to marry for a period of 40 days immediately prior to their wedding.

Most couples unable to live in France before their marriage opt for civil recognition in their home country and hold their reception, usually alongside a religious or non-religious blessing in France either on the same day or in the days following. Get Married in France, who specialise in French weddings for UK clients say “clients are always say how little difference it makes to the sense of occasion that the paperwork and wedding are held separately” and always recommend that couples leave all wedding related items such as the exchange of rings, vows and traditional wedding attire until their French blessing so that it is the main event.

Intimate celebrations at a manoir –Manor houses are many and varied throughout France. Why not choose one of the most beautiful, hire a private chef and hold a marquee wedding in the grounds. The advantage of this type of wedding is the cost. As country houses are reasonable in terms of rental, you can afford to spend more on the detail. Why not spend your savings on flowers and walk on petals all weekend.

Charter a barge – For those who like to be on the move a canal break on a barge with private crew can be a great way of combining travel with a novel wedding experience. This option is best reserved for small, intimate weddings, allowing all guests to stay onboard the same boat.