• Clémentine Ward, Awardweddings.fr

The different types of wedding ceremonies in France for destination weddings – guide by Top Wedding


As part of my job as a wedding planner, I organize the wedding ceremony for my destination couples getting married in South of France. There are different kinds of wedding ceremonies and I’d like to explain a little bit about each of them.

The civil wedding ceremony

If you want to get legally married in France, you have to do it at the mairie (town hall). A few couples want to do this as they want the “real” ceremony to be on the same day of the celebrations. However you have to be a resident for at least 40 days or your parents must live in the place where you want to get married. So this hugely restricts the number of couples being able to get legally married in France.

There are also a few things to consider when getting legally married in France:

  • The ceremony will be in French so if you don’t speak fluent French, you’ll need to hire a certified translator

  • You will be married under the laws of France so if you don’t plan to live in France, it may make more sense to get married under the laws of your country of residence.

If you are a French resident, I can help you sort out the paperwork. You will also need to hand in your file personally at the mairie.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t meet these requirements, as there are different ways of getting married in France that are as meaningful.

The symbolic ceremony

A symbolic or humanist ceremony is a non-legal ceremony but, oh so personal! , You can adapt the content to your own story and make it incredibly emotional. There are several wedding celebrants in France who will be able to conduct the ceremony for you. I will be able to source a professional wedding celebrant in the South of France.

The usual process starts with a questionnaire about how you met and what brings you together. The celebrant will then draft the content of the ceremony and send it to you for review before finalizing it.

If you have a family member or a friend who would be happy to celebrate your union, it could be even more personal. I would be very happy to give you some tips on how to build the content of your ceremony.

The religious ceremony

It is possible to have a religious ceremony in France if you are from the religion of the church you want to get married in. The main religion in France is Catholic and therefore most churches will accept catholic baptized couples. Having said this, it is also fairly easy to organize other religious ceremonies, e.g. Protestant.

I cannot insist enough that the church is a religious institution and they take ceremonies very seriously, they are not “just another wedding supplier”. So if you are serious about celebrating your union under the eyes of God, you will need to prepare:

  • First, you or your partner need to be baptized – you don’t both have to be Catholics

  • You will then need to meet your local priest to start a marriage preparation course. It can be done during a weekend or over the course of several weeks.

  • Your local priest will fill in a file that will need to be sent from your local parish to the parish in France where you want to get married. The paperwork must be in order at least a month before your wedding otherwise the ceremony could get cancelled.

  • You will also need to get closer to the Priest of the church in France to prepare the content of the ceremony. If the church priest doesn’t speak your language, you will need to find a priest who does. This is not an easy task and this is where an experienced wedding planner will be able to assist you.

  • To have a religious ceremony, you will also need to be legally married before.

As a wedding planner, I have helped several couples getting married in the Church. I organize the logistical aspects but it is essential that you (the couple) get personally in touch with the local priest. He will want to know that you are personally invested in this ceremony and serious about the implications about getting married in the Church.

I hope that this guide has been helpful! If you are planning to get married in the South of France, please don’t hesitate to contact me to help you organize your wedding.

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