Are you a foreigner dreaming of getting married in France? While it may seem daunting due to the complexities of legal requirements in a foreign country, don’t be discouraged. Knowing the necessary documents and procedures will simplify the process, letting you focus on the joyful details leading to one of life’s most precious milestones: getting legally married in France! This article explains how to legally marry in France as a foreigner.

Steps to Legally Marry in France as a Foreigner

Marrying in France as a foreigner is romantic yet complex, requiring a clear understanding of legal and administrative requirements. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Marriage Conditions in France for Foreigners

Firstly, it’s essential to understand that marriage conditions in France are the same for French citizens and foreigners. You must be of legal age and single, as polygamy is prohibited in France.

Marriage Location

The marriage must be celebrated in a municipality where one of the future spouses has a durable connection, either by primary or secondary residence or through a parent’s domicile, maintained for at least a month before the marriage date.

Necessary Documents for Marriage

Marrying in France can be a romantic and memorable experience. However, as a foreigner, certain conditions and documents are required for legal recognition. Here’s everything you need for planning your big day in France:

  • Birth certificates: Must be less than six months old for validity. If not in French, they need translation by a certified translator.
  • Proof of residence: Can be shown by utility bills, etc. If not residing in France, your partner’s or parents’ residence proof can be used.
  • Valid passport or identity card: Ensure to have both originals and photocopies.
  • Certificate of celibacy: This confirms you’re not already married. Obtainable from your home country’s civil registry, embassy in France, or a notary.
  • Certificate of Custom: Confirms you’re free to marry and the marriage will be recognized in your home country.
  • Divorce or death certificate: If previously married, proof of legal freedom to remarry is needed.
  • Two witnesses’ details: Present at the ceremony, their ID copy, and a form with personal information are needed.

Governmental Conditions for Marrying in France

Besides necessary documents, certain governmental conditions must be met:

  • Minimum age: Future spouses must be at least 18. Exceptions for under 18s with parental approval are possible.
  • No marriage among close family members: Marrying immediate family, either by blood, adoption, or alliance, is prohibited.
  • Free and clear consent: Both parties must freely and clearly express their consent.
  • Residence in France: Foreigners can marry in France if residing for at least a month, or if one of their parents resides in France.

Pre-marriage Interview

Before marriage, the civil registrar interviews the future spouses together, but separate interviews may be required if deemed necessary. In case of doubt about the marriage’s validity, mutual consent, or suspicion of a sham marriage, the mayor’s office may request the public prosecutor to prohibit the marriage ceremony.

Publication of Banns and Marriage

The publication of banns is an official marriage announcement. It must be displayed at the town hall for ten days. The marriage can’t occur before these ten days and not beyond the year following. If a visa for marriage in France is requested, a banns publication certificate is issued by the town hall.

After the Marriage

If the foreign spouse was legally living in France after the marriage, they can obtain a one-year residence permit, allowing work, among other things. After three years of marriage, they can apply for a ten-year residence card. After four years, they can even apply for French nationality through the prefecture of their residence.

Marrying in France as a foreigner may seem complex, but with proper organization and a clear understanding of legal requirements, this special day can be as memorable and romantic as you’ve always dreamed.

how to get married in france

Different Types of Marriages in France

France, a country of romance, offers a variety of options for couples wishing to marry. Despite its reputation for picturesque church weddings, it’s important to note that a civil ceremony is legally required in France. Here’s an overview of different types of marriages in France.

Civil Marriage: A Legal Requirement

Civil marriage is the only form of marriage recognized by law in France. It precedes any religious ceremony and is mandatory for all couples wishing to marry legally. Key points of civil marriage are:

  • Celebrated at the town hall;
  • Both parties and their witnesses sign the marriage register;
  • The ceremony is conducted in French, but translation can be provided, or a professional translator can intervene if necessary.

Religious Marriage: A Personal and Spiritual Ceremony

After their civil marriage, many couples opt for a religious ceremony. While not legally binding in France, it adds a personal and spiritual dimension to the union. Key elements of religious marriage are:

Religious Marriage: A Personal and Spiritual Ceremony

  • Can be celebrated in various religions, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Islam.
  • The ceremony includes hymns, readings, and blessings.
  • Various documents are required, including proof of civil marriage.

Civil Solidarity Pact (PACS): A Flexible Alternative

  • Introduced in France in 1999, PACS offers legal benefits similar to marriage, like tax advantages and joint property ownership.
  • The PACS process is less formal than civil marriage.
  • It can be dissolved without a lengthy legal process.

Legally marrying in France as a foreigner can seem complex, but with a good understanding of the different options available, you can choose the one that best suits your needs and values.

Preparing Your Religious Wedding in France

Marrying in a church in France is a unique and deeply symbolic experience. However, it requires thorough preparation and a clear understanding of the requirements of the Catholic Church, which dominates the French religious landscape. Here is a detailed guide to help you navigate this process.

Understanding the Requirements

It’s important to understand that the Catholic Church has specific conditions for religious marriages. You must be baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith. In addition, you cannot have been previously married, unless the previous marriage has been annulled by the Church.

Preparation for Marriage

Once you have determined that you meet the requirements, the first step is to make an appointment with the priest of the parish where you wish to marry. He will guide you through the marriage preparation process, which may include:

  • Marriage counseling sessions;
  • Discussions about the sacrament of marriage;
  • Planning the ceremony itself.

Necessary Documents

To marry in a church in France, you will need to provide several documents, including:

  • A “full copy” of your birth certificates;
  • The dates and places of your baptisms: the priest handling the case will request a baptismal certificate for each fiancé;
  • A statement of intent: this letter describes your commitments and the reasons why you are seeking the sacrament of marriage;
  • A civil marriage certificate;
  • The names and contact details of your marriage witnesses (up to four);
  • The name and contact details of the deacon or priest who will celebrate your marriage, as well as those of the parish.

In some cases, additional documents may be required, such as documents attesting to your freedom to marry according to the law of the Catholic Church (in case of widowhood, nullity of a previous marriage, etc.) or the authorization of the parish priest where you reside if you are marrying in another parish.

foreigners married in france

Choose Your Church and Set a Date

In France, you have the option to choose the church where you wish to marry. This can be your local parish church, or a church that has special significance for you. Once you have chosen your church, you will need to set a date with the priest.

Planning the Ceremony

The final step is to plan the ceremony itself. This includes choosing biblical readings, songs, prayers, and other aspects of the ceremony. You may also choose to include certain French traditions, such as the exchange of rings.

Key Places to Legally Marry in France as a Foreigner

Considering getting married in France opens you up to a multitude of picturesque and romantic destinations that promise to make your big day memorable. Whether you’re captivated by the sophisticated elegance of Paris, the authentic charm of French chateaus, the natural splendor of Provence, or the glittering glamour of the French Riviera, France has something to please every couple. Here’s an overview of iconic sites to consider for a wedding in France.

Paris: A Setting of Romance for Your Wedding

Paris, the French capital, is often considered one of the most romantic cities in the world. With its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and renowned cuisine, Paris offers an ideal setting for an elegant city wedding.

The Eiffel Tower: A Symbol of Eternal Love

The Eiffel Tower, a true icon of Paris and France as a whole, offers a spectacular panoramic view of the city. Standing majestically above the Seine, this steel architectural wonder is the perfect place to immortalize your wedding with romantic and iconic photos. Whether you choose to take your wedding photos at the foot of the tower or at the top, the Eiffel Tower adds a touch of magic and eternity to your big day.

The Louvre: A Celebration of Love in the Heart of Art

The Louvre Museum, world-renowned for its priceless art collection, offers an impressive setting for a wedding. With its iconic architecture, including its futuristic glass pyramid contrasting with the surrounding historic buildings, the Louvre is a unique wedding venue. Its lush garden, the Jardin des Tuileries, is ideal for an outdoor ceremony. You can exchange your vows surrounded by majestic sculptures and colorful flower beds, enjoying the tranquility of this oasis in the heart of the bustling city.

Montmartre: A Bohemian Wedding in the Artists’ Quarter

Montmartre, with its winding cobblestone streets, quaint bistros, and the famous Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, offers a bohemian setting for a relaxed wedding. This artistic district of Paris, once frequented by famous painters like Picasso and Van Gogh, has retained a creative and romantic atmosphere. Here, you can choose to get married in one of the small hidden churches in the area or organize a reception in an intimate art gallery. Montmartre offers an authentic and off-the-beaten-path wedding experience, imbued with the artistic spirit of Paris.

The Châteaux of the Loire: A Fairy-Tale Setting for a Royal Wedding

If you dream of a fairy-tale wedding, the châteaux of the Loire are the ideal choice. These magnificent castles offer a majestic setting for a royal wedding.

Château de Chambord: A Royal Union in a Grandiose Setting

Located in the heart of a vast forest park, the Château de Chambord is a masterpiece of French Renaissance architecture. With its complex and impressive architecture, its vast French gardens, and luxurious interior, the Château de Chambord offers a grandiose setting for a royal wedding. Imagine exchanging your vows in one of the sumptuous rooms of the castle or under a starry sky in the immaculate gardens. It is a place that promises a memorable wedding, marked by majesty and elegance.

Château de Chenonceau: A Romantic Wedding at the “Ladies’ Castle”

The Château de Chenonceau, also known as the “Ladies’ Castle,” is another gem of the Loire Valley. Famous for its gallery spanning the Cher River on graceful arches, the castle offers a romantic and unique setting for a wedding. You can choose to hold your ceremony in one of the flower-filled gardens of the castle, or in one of the elegant rooms inside. The natural beauty surrounding the Château de Chenonceau adds a note of serenity and sweetness to your big day, making it an ideal place for those who dream of a romantic and peaceful wedding.

Provence: A Rustic Wedding in the Heart of Nature

Provence, with its fragrant lavender fields, verdant vineyards, and picturesque villages, offers a rustic setting for an outdoor wedding.

Les Baux-de-Provence: An Intimate Wedding with a Breathtaking View

Nestled in the heart of the Alpilles, the medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence offers an exceptional panorama of the region. With its narrow streets, stone houses, and perched castle, this village provides an intimate and authentic setting for your wedding. Imagine exchanging your vows on a terrace overlooking vast olive groves and distant mountains, or in a small chapel several centuries old, for a ceremony that breathes authenticity and serenity.

Gordes: A Rustic Wedding in One of France’s Most Beautiful Villages

Considered one of the most beautiful villages in France, Gordes is a jewel of Provence. Perched on a rock, the village offers a panoramic view of the surroundings, with its white stone houses and paved alleys. A wedding in Gordes can take place in an old Provençal farmhouse, a carefully restored farm offering a bucolic and charming setting. It is the ideal place for those who dream of a rustic wedding, surrounded by the natural beauty and picturesque charm of Provence.

The French Riviera: A Glamorous Wedding in a Chic Setting

Finally, for a wedding that exudes glamour and sophistication, the French Riviera is a destination of choice.

Saint-Tropez: A Chic Wedding on a World-Renowned Beach

Saint-Tropez, this iconic seaside resort on the French Riviera, is famous for its fine sandy beaches and lively nightlife. Imagine exchanging your vows on a golden beach, with the sound of the waves as background music, before celebrating your union in one of the city’s trendy clubs. A ceremony in Saint-Tropez promises a wedding that is chic, glamorous, and full of joy.

Nice: An Elegant Wedding on the Promenade des Anglais

Nice, with its famous Promenade des Anglais, luxury hotels, and Mediterranean charm, offers a refined setting for a seaside wedding. You can choose to hold your ceremony in a luxury hotel overlooking the sea, or on the beach, with the magnificent Bay of Angels as a backdrop. A wedding in Nice promises an elegant and memorable celebration, bathed in the sunshine of the French Riviera.

Legally marrying in France as a foreigner can be an unforgettable experience, thanks to the variety of picturesque and romantic locations the country offers. Regardless of the type of wedding you envision, you will surely find a location that matches your dreams in France.


In conclusion, getting married legally in France as a foreigner is entirely feasible, as long as you respect the procedures and laws of France. Whether you are legally residing in the country or not, marriage is a fundamental right in France. However, it is recommended to be well informed about the specific conditions to avoid any inconvenience.

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