Getting Married in France
A Guide for UK Couples
This page was last updated in March 2022. Please also review the UK government’s latest advice on marrying in France.
Planning a destination wedding can seem a little daunting at first, especially when it comes to the ceremony. However, in reality, marrying in France doesn’t have to be complicated at all and there are only a couple more extra steps to be aware of when planning your ceremony.
France is home to some of the most romantic venues and landscapes in the world, and with only a little extra bit of admin and planning, you can create a truly unique and special day for you, your friends and your families.
What better way to start your married life than with a Château adventure?
For UK citizens there are two ways to get married in France, and one is much more straightforward than the other. Either way, French law only recognises civil marriage, so a civil ceremony is essential at some stage. The requirements depend on which route you choose:
1. Legally marry in the UK through a civil ceremony, then come to France and choose a religious or humanist wedding ceremony.
2. Legally marry in France through a civil ceremony at the local Mairie (town hall), and then also hold a religious ceremony (at a religious building such as a church or chapel) or humanist wedding ceremony with a registered celebrant (at any chosen venue) on the same day or a couple of days later if you wish.
Although this second option is significantly more complicated, some couples choose it if they don’t want a religious or humanist wedding ceremony, or if one of them is a French citizen.
Option 1 - Marry in the UK or your home country first
By far the most straightforward option, with significantly less paperwork and legal complexities than the second route.
The only downside is that you will technically be married as you make your way over to France for your ‘walk-down-the-aisle’ ceremony. But many couples simply choose not to tell anyone!
One bride's testimony:
“We chose to do the legal part in the UK first with just two witnesses, but we didn’t consider ourselves as properly married until we exchanged rings and said our vows in front of all our friends and family. Our ceremony at the Chateau was so special and everything we had dreamed of.”
"What documents do I need for Option 1?"
There are no additional special documents you need to fill in if you take this route, making it very simple and stress-free.
For your UK civil ceremony, you’ll need to follow the standard UK process for registering your intent to marry. Then you can go through the legal proceedings with two witnesses at a registry office at home.
For your ceremony in France, your celebrant will be able to guide you and help you choose the wording for your ceremony. As this is a symbolic ceremony, you can choose to have as music, readings and deviations from tradition as you would like, meaning you can make your ceremony truly personal and unique to you. It will also take the pressure off you on the day, knowing that the "legal bit" has already been completed.
Another advantage is that you will not need any documents translated, which can caused delays and there will be additional costs involved. Just remember to bring your marriage certificate to France as proof that your civil ceremony has taken place.
Option 2: Hold your legal civil ceremony in France
For this option, you, your partner or one of your parents needs to have lived in the town where you want to get married for at least 40 days before the ceremony.
If you meet one of these requirements and are happy to do the paperwork, then you will need to contact the Mairie (Mayor / Town Hall) and the British Consulate who will assist you in the processing of your application. You can find most of the required forms here on gov.uk.
"What documents do I need for Option 2?"
All documents must be certified by the British Consulate and translated by a sworn translator, prior to being presented to the Mairie. You can get a list of approved translators from the Mairie or local police station. Here is a quick overview of what you will need:
Proof of address, normally 2 documents such as telephone or electricity bill (this must prove that the 40-day-residency requirement has been satisfied).
Certificate of celibacy for non-French nationals to prove your single status
Certificate of law for non-French nationals living in the UK
A solicitor’s certificate (ask the British Consulate for details)
Birth Certificate less than 3 months old supplied by a bureau of records, not a hospital
Death or Divorce certificate if one or both of you have been married before
The marriage ‘banns’ are displayed approximately 10 days before the civil ceremony
In France, couples are required to first marry in the town hall (Mairie) before any civil or religious service can take place.
Once all this is in place, you will need to go to the town hall where the town’s mayor, or his legally authorised replacement, will perform the ceremony and tell you about your responsibilities to each other – in French. You then sign the register and walk out a married couple. After that, you can still hold a religious or humanist ceremony and a proper celebration!
"Will our marriage in France be recognised in the UK?"
French law only recognises civil marriages, so for your marriage to be valid in France the civil ceremony is required, whether it happens in France or the UK. UK law states that your marriage should be recognised in the UK if you follow the correct process according to the law in France – so by extension, having the civil ceremony will ensure the marriage is legally recognised in both countries.
"Are the rules the same for same-sex marriages?"
Yes – the requirements for UK citizens to get married in France are the same for opposite- and same-sex marriages, according to the UK government website.
Au Château Mas de Pradié, nous proposons un hébergement sur mesure dans nos chambres d'hôtes dans le Château lui-même et nos deux gîtes; Les écuries et la maison du gardien.
Au total, nous pouvons accueillir 18 personnes si vous réservez le domaine pour une fête ou des vacances de groupe, sinon les chambres sont également disponibles pour un séjour de luxe au cœur de la campagne du sud de la France.
A égale distance de Toulouse, Montpellier et Bordeaux, donc facilement accessible par la route et les airs, le Château est le lieu idéal pour s'évader et renouer avec la nature et le plaisir des choses simples de la vie.