Getting Married in France
What makes France different from Ireland is that in France only civil weddings are legally recognised. Religious ceremonies have no legal standing. If you want to marry in a French church then you will also have to go through a civil ceremony at another venue. A lot of couples consider having a civil marriage at home and then a religious wedding in France.
However, if your heart is set on France as the country you want to start your married life in well this is what you need to know: At least one of the partners to be married must reside in the place where the wedding will take place for at least 40 days immediately prior to the wedding.
One or both of you must reside in the departement (district) or the arrondissement (if in Paris) for at least 30 days prior to the marriage. Following these 30 days, French law requires the publication of the marriage banns at the Mairie (Town Hall) for 10 days. Thus 40 days is the minimum period of residence before a civil ceremony can take place. Non French nationals must provide the following before the banns can be published:
1. A pre-marital certificate, which is obtained at the Mairie (town hall) where the wedding will take place.
2. A certified birth certificate issued less than six months prior to the date of the marriage
3. A passport (carte de séjour)
4. A certificate of residence (provided by your embassy)
5. A prenuptial certificate of health (certificat d’examen médical prénuptial) issued less than two months prior to the date of the marriage by a medical doctor after: serological tests for syphilis, irregular anti-bodies, rubella and toxoplasma. It is possible to have these tests done in France.
6. If you have married previously, a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse or a certified copy of the final divorce decree
7. A notarised “Affidavit of Law” (Certificat de Coutume), drawn up by a solicitor in the state of residence of the parties, stating that: the person is free to marry, and the marriage performed in France will be recognized as valid in the home country.
8. A personal certificate of celibacy (provided by your embassy)
9. The documents must be translated into French. The translations and the original document must be verified by the French Consulate General (vérification de traduction).
10. Foreign documents must be legalized prior to being given to the French authorities. Obtaining an Apostille can legalize documents.
11. On arrival in France, you should contact the Mairie to see if any other documents are required. A minimum of four weeks may be needed to complete the necessary documentation and to reserve the wedding date and location.
The exchange of rings is the most significant part of your day. Wedding rings are a thing of beauty. They are also small, expensive and in hot weather with wedding nerves in tow, they can prove to be slippery little things that can be easily dropped, lost or forgotten!
Dropping the rings can be especially drastic if you are having a destination beach wedding! So here are 5 tips to look after these little ultra important things on the days up to the wedding and on the big day itself. If you haven’t bought your wedding rings yet, click here to have a look at some beauties!
- Often the jeweller will package your wedding rings in a plastic box with their logo on it which isn’t very pretty. Buy a pretty wedding ring box to store your rings in – the box is a nice keepsake of the day and is less likely to get forgotten or mislaid on the wedding day.
- Don’t use an ordinary small cushion for your ring pillow. Get a proper ring pillow as these have ribbons attached which you can securely tie the rings to.
- Your hands can swell in the heat and with nerves. Simply rub a little bit of hand lotion on your ring finger before the walk down the aisle. This will help the ring glide onto your finger for a picture perfect moment.
- A Warming of the Rings Ceremony is a beautiful way to involve your guests. However I always advise couples to get thin white wedding ribbon and get the groomsmen to pass it along to each row of guests before threading the rings on to it. Ideally have a grooms man on each end of the row of guest seats. If the rings slip from the guests hands they will remain safe on the ribbon.
- Get your engagement ring cleaned before the big day so it sparkles in photos. If you don’t have time to get it cleaned, rub with toothpaste it does a great job!
The Wedding Planner in Ireland answers your questions: I’m getting married abroad and I have been requested to get a Certificates of Nulla Osta – What is this and where do I get it in Ireland?
A Certificate of Freedom to marry (also known as ‘Civil Letters of Freedom’, “Certificates de Coutume” or “Certificates of Nulla Osta”) which states that a person is not married, may be needed for marriage in some foreign countries. Irish citizens living in Ireland wishing to obtain such a Certificate should apply to the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs, 72/76 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Tel.: (01) 4082568. Irish Citizens living abroad should contact their nearest Irish Embassy. Apply for it as soon as you have your wedding date set and allow plenty of time for them to respond.
Note 2016+ weddings: This post was written in 2008. Please Contact Rosie The Wedding Planner for an Update about legal wedding paperwork needed for wedding abroad. 🙂
The Wedding Planner in Ireland Advises:
A dilemma that often comes up now when planning a wedding is who will walk the bride down the aisle. Although traditionally it’s the father that does this, the commonality of step-families in todays world has made it a more difficult decision. This is especially true when the step parents have been in the children’s lives for a long time.
Breaking tradition A bride that has both a step father and a biological father may opt still to have her biological father walk her down the aisle. This can be a way to show her family bond as well as stick with tradition. In the case of a bride that hasn’t been close to her father, she may opt to have her step father walk her down the aisle. This is a newly emerging sight at weddings, and quite touching. Of course, if the bride loves both of the men and wants to include them, there’s nothing wrong with having both walk her down the aisle. It honors her relationship with both men and lets them have the chance to hold her arm.
This also holds true for the groom. He can choose to escort both a step mother and his biological mother down the aisle at the beginning is she should choose to. Or the best man can do so, as is tradition. If the father has passed on, the bride may opt to have an older brother or an uncle walk her down the aisle. Likewise, if the mother of the groom has passed, then a sister or an aunt may want to walk with him.
While this all seems like a loving and simple solution to include everyone in the wedding, some parents may still have issues with their ex-spouses. And this can lead to bitter feelings about your choice in who walks who down the aisle. Should you fight for what you want? That’s entirely up to you. If walking with both fathers makes you happy, then you should do that even if the opposite wives are not pleased for whatever reason. If you feel that it may cause more trouble than it is worth, then you may opt to stick with tradition. Just be sure to include your step father in some other part of the wedding so he doesn’t feel left out because of biological status.
In the end, remember that it’s your day and your decision.
The Wedding Planner Ireland advises: A “wedding vow” is a set of promises you and your groom make to each other during the wedding ceremony. You may choose a traditional, a religious, a customized, an interfaith, a multilingual, the possibilities are endless.
In Western culture, the wedding vows customarily included the notions of unselfishness such as -love-, faithfulness -forsaking others-, unconditionality -in sickness and in health-, and permanence -until death do us part. During your vows at the very least you must have an officiant and witnesses present. Traditionally, the groom pronounces his vows first, followed by the bride. The order can be changed; there is no law that sets the order in which the vows said. It is possible for the bride and groom to say the vows in unison to each other. Usually the couple will face each other and join hands for their vows. In some countries there are set things that have to be said to make the marriage legal. Some churches may frown on the idea of you writing your own vows so be sure to discuss it with the celebrant well in advance. If you are unsure about the wordage of your vows, ask your friends, family, and the officiant for some examples they’ve used in the past. Sample Vows: I, (your name), take you, (your name), to be my [opt: lawfully wedded] (husband/wife), my faithful friend, and partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honour and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live. I, (your name), take you, (your name), to be my friend, my lover, the (mother/father) of my children and my (husband/wife).I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you, for all eternity. Remember that you and your groom can say different vows.
Prelude, Processional, Resessional… confused? The Irish Wedding Planner’s Quick Guide to wedding music should have you sorted in seconds!
Ceremony music includes:
The Prelude: As the guests arrive and are seated, they’ll hear this music, designed to help create the mood and set the tone for the entire event.
Processional: An indication to the guests that the event is starting, this music usually has an even beat (you’re not looking for a beat to dance to, just walk to!) This music will continue as each of your attendants walk down the aisle. As the bride begins her walk down the aisle, the music changes again.
Ceremony: Some ceremonies are held without music; others feature a soloist, duet, or just a favorite song—whatever you like.
The Recessional: Marking the end of the ceremony, the recessional music is played as the wedding party—and the new husband and wife—leave the ceremony.
The Postlude: As the guests begin to leave, the music turns to the postlude, a background music similar to prelude music.