The civil marriage requirement in France

30th November 2012

If you are considering getting married in France, this is a piece of information that you need so you can best plan your wedding.

In France, Church and State are separated. This means that a marriage at the town hall is not recognised by the Church, and that a marriage at Church is not recognised by the State. Also, in order to be married at Church, you need to be first married at the town hall. This is true for any couple getting married in France, French citizen or foreigner.

So how does it translate wedding wise? It means that if you would like to have a religious wedding in France, you will need to prove that you are legally married. Legally married meaning at the Town Hall, in the UK or in France or anywhere.

Now, to be married at the Town Hall in France, you need to be resident in France, with a proof of address and a residency of at least 40 consecutive days right before the marriage day. If your parents have a second home in France, that should work. Another option would be to rent a villa in France for the whole summer and at least 40 days before the wedding. But usually UK couples getting married in France have a Town Hall marriage in the UK, as this is simpler paper wise and also that way they have a ceremony in English… because not all mayors in France speak English!

Once the civil marriage has been celebrated all is in order and you just need to transfer the paperwork to the religious body that will be celebrating your marriage in France.

Of course if you are not looking at a religious ceremony but a symbolic or humanist one, these rules do not apply… That said your marriage will not be legally valid so you will need to get married somehow in the UK.

If you have any question about getting married in France do not hesitate to contact us: contact (at)