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Getting Married In France

Updated on July 24, 2015
Princessa profile image

Wendy moved to France in 2005. She planned to stay there for only 5 years but fell in love with everything French and still living in France

France is the country of romance par excellence. A Spanish friend of mine took his girlfriend for a weekend in Paris just to propose to her in front of the illuminated EiffelTower with a bottle of champagne while sailing in a boat on the Seine. How romantic I thought…The only thing that would match that gesture of romanticism would be a wedding at a FrenchCastle.

Thankfully medieval castles are available for weddings in almost every country of Europe. And in France you do not need to be a Princess or even a millionaire to have a princess style wedding,.there are castles for all budgets and lately it is becoming more and more fashionable for ordinary people to have a Castle wedding in France.

Civil Wedding In France

Civil Wedding In France
Civil Wedding In France | Source

Just choose your castle according to your needs and budget and you can even spend the whole honeymoon there! How is this possible? Well, fortunately there is no shortage of castles in France. You might even say that every little town has its own castle! Some castles even offer wedding packages where a wedding planner arranges not only for the settings but also for costumes, period music, meals and everything else needed to make your special day perfect.

Why France?

  • The beauty, history, and culture of the country will contribute to beautiful, lasting memories. The beautiful and diverse scenery of France will add to the romantic atmosphere of your wedding. There are many mediaeval towns in France to choose from for your special day. Just imagine getting married next to a lavender field with the sight of poppy and sunflower fields in the horizon!
  • France is particularly renowned for its food. Some of the most delicious meals, breads and cakes I have tasted were in France. So you can make sure that your guests will have the best menu and a wedding cake to remember in years to come.
  • The wine: France still leads much of the world in wine production; the wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and Champagne are famous around the world. You can offer your guests the best wines at a very affordable price.
  • Travel to France is easy with many airlines offering direct flights to several French cities and towns at very affordable prices. Also, travelling in France is easy and enjoyable by both railway and motorway.
  • Foreigners can marry in France, either with a French spouse or with another foreigner. You do not need to be a French national or marry a French national to make your wedding legally valid in your country of origin.
  • The legal age to wed without parents' consent is 18 for men and 15 for women.

Drawback of a period Wedding:

Period and symbolic weddings are very romantic and fun for everybody, but they are not legally binding. You will need an extra civil wedding to make your wedding valid legally.

Renaissance satin and lace Wedding dress

Renaissance satin and lace Wedding dressThe entire dress is covered with gold leaf lace that is embroidered in 3-dimensional flowers. ¾ length lantern sleeves, basque waistline and off-the-shoulder neckline are also heavily embroidered.
Renaissance satin and lace Wedding dressThe entire dress is covered with gold leaf lace that is embroidered in 3-dimensional flowers. ¾ length lantern sleeves, basque waistline and off-the-shoulder neckline are also heavily embroidered. | Source

The Wedding Dress:

The Wedding Dress

If you are getting married in a castle, your wedding dress needs to be as royal as the setting. So why not invest in a Renaissance or mediaeval wedding attire. Not only they are original, but they are absolutely beautiful and they suit all shapes.

If you are looking for extravagant gowns of some of the top designers while staying within your big day budget I recommend you visit Best Bridal Prices, they have an amazing collection of Wedding Dresses

French wedding chateau venue: A fairytale french wedding reception is amazingly affordable.

Chateau de la Caillotiere

The Formalities In France

It is a legal requirement to marry at the local town hall, or 'mairie'.

A marriage in France is recognised as valid in most other countries.All marriages in France must first be performed by a French civil authority before any religious ceremony can take place. Civil ceremonies are held at the town hall in front of the mayor and they are very short, usually only taking between 15 to 20 minutes. It is the completion of the civil ceremony that establishes the couple as husband and wife before the law.

The required paperwork must be filed with the town hall at least 20 days before the proposed date of the wedding. Sometimes, the mayor may request proof that the participants are not already married.

For a religious wedding it is necessary to have a certificate of civil marriage.

What will you need to marry in France?

  • A valid passport.
  • Declaration of a French home address in the commune where you are getting married (this can be a phone or utility bill).
  • The bride or the groom need to have been a resident in France for a minimum of 40 consecutive days prior to the civil marriage.
  • Birth certificates, the full version translated.
  • One or two witnesses, per spouse; if you don't have a witness, a representative of the town hall can stand as your witness.

Most national Embassies of foreigners marrying in France can assist with the preparation of certain documents for a fee.

The croquembouche

Click thumbnail to view full-size

French Wedding Curiosities

The White wedding dress: Now a symbol of purity was introduced by Ann of Brittany who wore a white wedding gown for her third marriage to Louis XII of France in 1527.

The Wedding procession still practiced in small villages today, is a traditional French custom where the groom calls on his future bride’s home on the morning of their wedding. The groom escorts her to the wedding chapel in a procession, headed by musicians, followed behind by the bride with her father, guests and the groom with his mother at the end of the line.

In Southern parts of France, wedding guests toss dragées (a French delicacy of almonds covered with chocolate) and coins at children waiting on the doorsteps of the church. The dragées are a symbol of happiness and festivity.

In small villages, rice and wheat are showered over the bride and groom when they come out of the church. The rice is a symbol of abundance and prosperity while the wheat is a symbol of fertility for the new couple.

The old custom of using fragrant flowers to decorate the church goes back to the times when flowers were believed to guard the couple from evil spirits. Flowers also served to refresh and perfume the air.

At a traditional French wedding reception, the newly formed couple toast each other from an engraved, two-handled cup which is known as the coupe de mariage, usually a precious family heirloom passed down from generation to generation.

The wedding cake is not always a cake in France. There are some couples who keep up tradition and choose to have a croquembouche instead of a wedding cake. This tasty desert is a pyramid of crème-filled pastry puffs that are drizzled with a caramel glaze. The croquembouche originated as a tradition during the middle ages when wedding guests would bring small cakes and stack them in a pile in the centre of a table. The pile had to be as high as possible and the bride and groom had to kiss over the cake without knocking them over. The actual croquembouche was invented during the 17th century by piling small puff pastries one on top of the other and ‘gluing” them with caramel to form a piece montée.

The Wedding Night Prank On French Couples

Traditionally in small villages the guests carry out a “wedding night prank” to interrupt the newly married couple. This is called Le Charivari, and it is usually carried out on widows or widowers who are getting remarried or when the groom comes from a different village. Once interrupted, by a crowd clanging pots and pans, the bride and groom are expected to come out and offer treats and refreshments to the crowd.

A classic French wedding schedule goes more or less like this:

  • 4:00 pm - Civil ceremony at the city or town hall (Only for family and close friends)
  • 5:00 pm - Religious ceremony (Open to extended family and friends)
  • 6:30 pm - Reception (Open to extended family and friends)
  • 8:30 pm - Dinner celebration (Only for family and close friends). Expect the dinner to last for several hours. It is not rare to start dining at 9pm and finishing with the desserts and wedding cake after 2 in the morning!

Sabering Champagne is another French tradition which began in the times of Napoleon to celebrate victory and has now spread over the country as a ceremony for special occasions like weddings and graduations. The tradition originated when Napoleon’s best horsemen would show off their horse riding skills by beheading a bottle of champagne held by brave ladies while they passed by, riding their horses at full gallop. Nowadays, Sabering a bottle of champagne means opening the bottle with a sabre or sometimes with a big kitchen knife.

Sabering Champagne

Château des Condé in Vallery one hour from Paris - Exclusive room hire for 2-3 days. Church, accommodation wedding rental , hire suit wedding , sound system an

 The entire Renaissance Château for you alone, for one or two nights Euros 9,568 !!! (€ 8,000 excl. VAT)
The entire Renaissance Château for you alone, for one or two nights Euros 9,568 !!! (€ 8,000 excl. VAT)


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    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 8 years ago from France

      Benson: thanks to you for taking the time to stop to read and comment.

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 8 years ago from France

      ameliehub: you are welcome, it is always a pleasure to write about something that I enjoy!

      just rodney: LOL ok. I understand now :)

    • ameliehub profile image

      ameliehub 8 years ago from UK

      Wow Princessa, thanks for making it a hub. A really nice, beautiful, romantic hub.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 8 years ago from France

      retirementhelp: Thanks for the comment. I hope your sister in law can get a few ideas from here.

      Isabella Snow : I hope you can see your dream come true and get married in an ice palace, I can imagine the dress with plenty of fur to keep you warm… delightful!

      Purple Perl : thanks to you Purple pearl.

      Just_Rodney: I thought for a minute you had got the city wrong and you were talking about MY granny LOL. She has not tied the knot 23 times but she has a good number under her belt!

      DarleneMarie : It is certainly MY ideal place. Thanks for stopping to comment.

      ProCW : That would be great Pro, as I hope it means that I would be invited ;-)

      BrianS : Castles in Scotland are beautiful and romantic, but in France you have more chance of getting the sun shining on your wedding day!

      MamaDragonfly2677 : That was a sad story but beautiful at the same time, I love the ceilings and walls carved with the owners names it is very touching.

      Dottie1: Castles are a very romantic setting for a wedding. Nothing bits a castle to make you feel like a real Princess.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

      It all sounds soo romantic. Thank you Princessa for sharing this lovely hub!

    • MamaDragonfly2677 profile image

      Shannon 8 years ago from New York

      Very beautifully written Princessa. Should've expected royalty from you! I loved it! Very romantic! I love castles. But being here in NY, we don't have many to choose from... I went on a boat tour of Boldt Castle in the thousand islands... Problem: I was bringing my 10 year old hyper-active nephiew, just him and I... We toured the castle, I lost him a couple of times in the rooms, (hahaha), but none-the-less, I paid very close detail to every bit of the castle.

      The castle, itself, was never finished. Apparently a man built the castle for his wife, which whom he loved very much (obviously) seeing there are hearts carved throughout the walls and ceilings and such, and she suddenly passed away, he was heart-broken, and never completed the castle... Sad story.

      What is finished, has been done just in the last 10 years or so. All-in-all, still a very beautiful place, and it would be a dream to get married there...

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 8 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      I went to a wedding in a medieval castle in Scotland and it was a fabulous venue and we had a great time but it poured with rain on the chosen day and was blowing a gale. I think a castle in France would provide a much better chance of seeing the sun shine to order (will never happen I know) and that will always be a benefit if it does.

    • ProCW profile image

      ProCW 8 years ago from South Carolina

      If I ever decide to tie a knot or two, I'd love for it to be in France and in a castle at that.... :)

      Great hub and I pressed the green button. :)


    • DarleneMarie profile image

      DarleneMarie 8 years ago from USA

      Very nice Hub Princessa. France is a very romantic place, art, architecture and history. Just beautiful!

    • Just_Rodney profile image

      Rodney Fagan 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      What a wealth of information, history and traditions. You did not mention the ice buckets laden with oysters, surely a prerequisite for a French wedding reception. LOL great hub Princessa, like the castle marriage.

      The French now how to turn it into an evenent to remember.

      The English however have a sense of sublety, if you glance at the 68 yr old married woman.

      LONDON: A sexagenarian granny, who has tied the knot 23 times.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 8 years ago from Bangalore,India

      Thank you,Princessa for your excellent hub.I am sure those engaged to be married will find all the relevant info here for a romantic French wedding.

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 8 years ago

      I know so many people who've gotten married in castles and they loved it. If I ever get married I want to do it in an ice palace. :)

    • retirementhelp profile image

      retirementhelp 8 years ago

      My sister-in-law is getting married next year. I don't think she will go to France, however there are some ideas that I think she will find very useful. Thanks for taking the time to reasearch this. As always well done.