Getting married in a chateaux in France sounds very romantic and is very romantic. However it does have its complications. There is a manditory 40 day residency requirement prior to the wedding so this often makes couples look to other countries for their dream wedding. Only civil weddings are legally recognised in France, so 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 Wedding Planners Castle Guide 2009 features a number of chateaux’s available for weddings.