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Paris Weddings II: Getting Married in Paris

istock_000004652056smallIt’s Not Really as Easy as Saying “I Do.”

In Part Deux of our wedding series, Parisien Salon examines the process for getting married in Paris. Be forewarned: you’ll need all of your patience to get through it.

Story by Linda Donahue

Falling in love? No problem. Saying “I do?” That’s easy. Getting married in Paris? That’s not so easy.Unless you’re marrying a French citizen, you should know that you’re going to have to really work for your Paris wedding. If you have time and patience, then here are the steps you need to take:

paris-weddingStep 1: You’re going to have to wait for it. French law requires that one person in the couple needs to have lived in the district around the city hall where they’re going to be married for a minimum of 40 consecutive days. This includes the 10 days required for the city hall to publish the Banns (the public announcement that gives people the chance to legally object prior to the wedding).

Step 2: You need to show two proofs of residencyknown as the justificatifs de domicile. These can include a utilities bill, a phone bill (a cellphone bill doesn’t count), a rent receipt, a lease or a French social security card. If you’re staying with a friend or relative, you can also have that person sign an attestation d’hébergement sur l’honneura legal statement that you’ve been living in that person’s residence for the required period.

Step 3: If you’ve cleared that hurdle, you’ll need to start pulling together a small book’s worth of paperwork, including:

  • A valid passport or a French residence permit (carte de sejour)
  • An original copy of your birth certificate (extrait d’acte de naissance)with both parents listedissued within 3 months of your wedding date along with a translation from a sworn translator (traducteur assermenté). You’ll find a list of sworn translators listed at every mairie.
  • A certificate of celibacy (attestation tenant lieu de declaration en vue de mariage ou de non-remariage) less than 3 months old.
  • An Affidavit of Law (certificat de coutume) certifying that you, the American citizen, are free to get married in France and that the marriage will be recognized in the United States. Only an attorney licensed to practice in both France and the United States can execute this document.
  • A medical certificate (certificat médical prénuptial) stating that you were examined by a doctor no earlier than two months before the publication of the banns. The Embassy publishes a list of English-speaking doctors who can perform this examination, which includes a standard check up along with blood tests for blood type, syphilis, rubella and toxoplasmosis.
  • Proof of domicile.
  • A certificat du notaire if you’re filing a pre-nuptial agreement, drawn up no more than 2 months prior to the marriage. If you’re foregoing a pre-nup, you’ll be married under the communauté réduite aux acquets, meaning that what each of you owned personally before the marriage, or whatever comes to you afterwards through inheritance, is your personal property, and that anything acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both parties.
  • If either of you were previously married, you must also provide a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse or a certified copy of the final divorce decree. (Don’t forget about the translations.)

Step 4: You’ll need two to four witnesses (temoins), and you’ll need to provide their names, addresses, their professions and photocopies of their passports.

Step 5: Wait it out. You’ll get word from the Mairie of your wedding date and time. You can request a specific date and time, but you’ll probably be told that nothing is confirmed until your entire wedding file (dossier) has been approved.

Step 6: Get married at city hall. French law dictates that everyone has to have a civil ceremony before they can have a church wedding.

If you don’t have 40 days to spare, there is a much easier way to go about this: have a civil ceremony at home. With your proof in hand (translated, of course), you can get married in a church, a temple, or at any of the city’s elegant (or offbeat) venues.

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  1. [...] Salon examines the legal intricacies of getting married in France. But don’t fear! Civil ceremonies require [...]

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