Marriage: What Are The Formalities To Get Married?
A civil marriage is a legal union between two people that requires following a specific procedure. Before you can say yes in front of the mayor, you will have to complete a number of administrative steps. We suggest you to discover the 5 essential formalities to carry out to get married.
1- Choose the place of the wedding
The first of the formalities for getting married is to choose the town hall where your civil wedding will take place.
A civil marriage can be held in the town hall of the commune where one of the bride and groom has lasting ties, that is:
- the commune where at least one of the future spouses has his or her domicile
- the one where one of the spouses has resided for at least 1 month
- the one where one of the parents of the future spouses has his or her main or secondary residence.
Mayors generally agree to civil marriages in their municipality for people who have a secondary residence there or for family members who live there.
In any case, contact the town hall to indicate your intention to get married.
To note: if you want to conclude a civil marriage abroad, you must go to the embassy or consulate.
2- Choose the date of the wedding
Once you have chosen the commune where your civil marriage will take place, go to the town hall to pick up your marriage file and choose the date of the ceremony. Find out beforehand if you need to make an appointment.
The choice of the date of the ceremony is the second essential formality to get married.
But be careful: before choosing a date in agreement with the city hall, also find out about the availability of the venue (hall or restaurant) where the reception will be held.
If you wish to get married religiously, you must first be married civilly.
Be aware that there is no time limit between the civil and religious wedding. This means that there is nothing to prevent you from getting married civilly a few days or even months before your religious wedding.
Note:even if you are anxious to get married and want to get married as soon as possible, be aware that you will have to wait at least 10 days after the filing of your marriage file and the publication of the banns.
3- Choose your cookies
Another of the formalities of getting married is the choice of witnesses.
Indeed, a civil marriage must obligatorily be celebrated in the presence of at least 2 witnesses (one per groom).
Each groom is entitled to a maximum of two witnesses, for a total of four witnesses. Witnesses must be age 18 or older. At the ceremony, their role will be to sign the civil status register.
To be noted: if you have trouble choosing your witnesses from among your relatives, know that you can choose different witnesses for the civil ceremony and for the religious ceremony.
If there are no witnesses, the staff at the town hall can act as witnesses.
4- Prepare your wedding file
The main administrative formality to get married is to receive, complete and file a marriage application.
For each spouse, you must provide the following supporting documents:
- A valid ID, such as an ID card or passport
- A full copy of the birth certificate dated less than 3 months or less than 6 months if it was issued in a DOM-TOM or by a consulate
This document is not necessary if one of the bride and groom is getting married in the municipality of their place of birth.
- a proof of address
- a certificate from the notary if you have concluded a marriage contract
- a certificate of celibacy or non-remarriage
- a list of witnesses to the marriage, indicating their full names, date and place of birth, occupation and place of residence, with a copy of each one's identity card.
- if one of the future spouses is divorced, a birth certificate or a marriage certificate mentioning the divorce or a copy of the divorce judgment
- if one of the two spouses is widowed, a death certificate of the former spouse or his or her birth certificate
If one of the two future spouses is a foreigner, you must provide the following additional documents:
- a birth certificate issued by the authorities of the place of birth. The certificate must be translated into French by a sworn expert or must be multilingual. It must be legalized or apostilled and must be less than 6 months old at the time of filing the marriage application.
- a certificate of custom issued by a foreign authority
- a certificate of matrimonial capacity or a certificate of celibacy issued by the foreign authority
- a list of the translator(s) with a photocopy of their identity card.
Once all the necessary documents have been gathered and the file is complete, both spouses must go in person to the town hall, with their identity documents, to file the marriage file.
As a general rule, it is recommended to file the marriage file 2 months before the date set for the ceremony. You will need to file it at least 15 days before the ceremony in order to meet the time frame between the publication of the banns and the celebration of the marriage.
Once your file has been filed, the registrar may decide to see you together or separately in a hearing. This hearing, which is optional, makes it possible to ensure that each of the spouses consents to the marriage in a free and informed manner.
5- Wait for the publication of the banns
The last of the formalities to get married is the publication of banns. This mandatory formality allows the public to be informed of the proposed marriage.
In practice, the publication of banns consists of posting a poster at the doors of the town hall where the marriage is to be celebrated during the 10 days preceding the marriage.
The objective is to inform the public of the proposed marriage in order that persons may possibly formulate their opposition to this union, in particular if they are aware of facts that could lead to the nullity of the marriage (for example, the absence of consent of one of the future spouses or the fictitious nature of this union).