Is it possible to get married in a French castle hotel?
Yes. French marriage laws are not as complicated as other European countries, but you do need to plan in advance.
If you’re not a French national, the first place you should contact for advice is your embassy in France, which should have a printout or a packet detailing procedures. If you’re using a wedding coordinator, he or she should have current information on French requirements, but always double check for peace of mind.
Only the civil marriage is considered legal in France, and the only person who may perform this is a French Civil Authority. This could be the mayor (maire), his deputy (adjoint), or a city councillor (conseiller municipal). A religious ceremony may be held at any time after the civil ceremony.
Either the bride or the groom must have been a resident in a commune in France for a minimum of forty consecutive days before the civil ceremony. The marriage must take place in that commune. If both marrying parties are residents of different communes France then either commune is acceptable.
Required documents (some city halls (mairies) vary in their requirements):
1. Passport, or a French residence permit (carte de sejour)
2. A birth certificate (extrait d’acte de naissance) less than three months old provided by a bureau of records—not the hospital.
3. A certificate of celibacy (certificat de célibat) less than three months old. Ask your embassy if this can be done in the form of a notarized affidavit in front of a consular official.
4. In some cases you may need an affidavit of law (certificat de coutume). This is a statement about the legality of marriage in your home country, which also certifies you are free to marry under your home country’s laws.
5. A medical certificate (certificat d’examen médical prénuptial) that is less than two months old, stating that you were examined by a doctor in view of your forthcoming marriage (vue de mariage).
6. Proof of residency (justificatifs de domicile). The party declaring residency must provide two documents proving residency, such as a rent receipt, a utility bill, etc.
7. In case of prior marriages, a certified copy of the final divorce decree(s) or death certificate.
Documents need to be officially translated into French. Sometimes the city hall can provide the name of a sworn translator (traducteur assermenté).
All documents must be received by the city hall before the publication of Banns. Banns are published no less than ten days before the civil ceremony.
The civil ceremony can now take place in the commune where the Banns were posted. The ceremony will be in French (take a translator) in the presence of at least two but no more than four witnesses.
The religious ceremony occurs after the civil ceremony. The person performing the religious ceremony will require the certificate of civil marriage (certificat de célébration civile) as proof that a civil ceremony has occurred.
Many couples who don’t want to go through the paperwork marry quietly at home and then go to France to restate their vows in a lavish wedding in front of family and friends. Certainly, that’s an option to consider.