Getting Married in France
Getting married in France is a real dream come true for a lot of couples. Romantic, exciting and with a hint of that magical je ne sais quoi, it can really make for an amazingly unique day and often represents great value for money too.
However, if you've decided on a French chateau wedding, there are a couple more extra things to consider. It might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but don't panic! At Oliver's Travels we've got loads of information about the legal side, and with a decade's experience in helping happy couples arrange their dream day we know exactly the kind of questions you want answered for added of peace of mind.
As well as that, our dedicated wedding consultant can help you with any other enquiries and arranging the big day, from a champagne breakfast to the evening's entertainment - and every magical moment in between. And for inspiring ideas we've gathered amazing stories and interviews in our wedding journal.
And if that wasn't enough...
If you book your wedding venue with Oliver's Travels. you'll get 10% off if you book your honeymoon accommodation with us too! Get in touch with our Concierge Team for details.
The Legal Side
It is worth noting that if you wish to have the civil ceremony performed in France the following legal requirements apply:
All marriages must be performed by a French civil authority before any religious ceremony takes place. Traditionally, the mayor can authorize a city councillor to perform the ceremony in the French town in which one of the parties to be married has been residing for 40 days minimum prior to the marriage. These requirements can not be waived. The religious ceremony has to be performed after the civil ceremony and never before. The minister, priest or rabbi will require a certificate of civil marriage before any religious ceremony takes place.
Alternatively, most couples hold the civil service in their country of residence prior to arriving at the chateau in France. Then they can hold a blessing ceremony in the grounds of the chateau itself or a church nearby. A full wedding service is possible in France by first taking care of the legal side in your own country of residence. Each of our castle owners, as well as our wedding planner, can assist you with your wedding plans, both on site at the chateau, and at the local town hall and mayor’s office.
Information from the Foreign Office
The British Embassy Consular Section cannot give authoritative advice on the formalities that a British person must complete in order to marry under French law. Such advice must be obtained from the mairie (town hall) where the marriage is to take place. The following notes are intended as a supplement to information received from the mairie. Three important points:
1. A religious ceremony cannot be performed until AFTER the civil marriage.
2. A French civil authority (mairie, adjoint, or conseiller municipal) performs the civil ceremony in the town in which one of the parties to be married has resided for at least (40) days immediately preceding the marriage.
3. Publication of the banns in the town hall (mairie) where marriage will take place is compulsory in France. Most mairies take approximately 4–6 weeks to process an application. Requirements will vary for each mairie, therefore, it is essential that you first meet with them in order to determine their exact documentary requirements and terms of validity (documents may need to be issued less than 3 months prior to date of marriage or publication of banns).
A marriage performed in France under French law is recognised in the UK.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: If I want to visit the cheateau for an inspection trip, do I have to pay?
A: The cost of the room will be refunded if you end up booking the chateau for your wedding, and a tasting menu is always free of charge. Our wedding consultant can also recommend alternative wedding venues matching your criteria and budget will also help organise your inspection trip.
Q: Can I bring my partner, a friend or relative to accompany me on an inspection trip?
A: Absolutely! In fact, we encourage it - it’s a good idea to be accompanied by someone. Please advise the Chateau in advance if you and your companion are planning to stay overnight.
Q: When's the best time for an inspection trip take place?
A: It's highly advisable to do it as soon as possible, as dates get booked very early. As soon as you have made your choice of chateau please contact us and we can get the ball rolling.
Q: Can I hire the chateau exclusively, and if so, how long can I book it for?
A: Yes, exclusive bookings are regularly available but you will need to liaise with our wedding consultant regarding capacity and availability. She will also help to arrange a viewing for you.
Q: I might have as many as 300 guests - can you cater for large wedding parties?
A: Yes we can! There are lots of property choices for large parties - we'd suggest a beautiful meal in the gardens or grounds with a marquee. Please get in touch with any questions, as larger parties may well need a little more forward planning.
Q: How many guests can sleep in the chateau?
A: We've got a big range of French wedding venues, which also means a big range of sizes and how many people can be accommodated. Some of our chateaux can sleep up to 80 guests, though the reception capacity at many of our venues is often far larger.
Q: Can we request an English-speaking priest to conduct our blessing ceremony?
A: Absolutely! Please advise your wedding consultant who can organise this for you.
Q: Are children welcome in the chateau?
A: Yes, and even better most chateaux offer children’s activities such as a trampoline, clowns and games.
Q: I like the idea of fireworks and a horse drawn carriage. Can the chateau provide this for me?
A: Absolutely! We pride ourselves on the ability to organise the fairytale wedding you've always dreamed of - whatever your fancy, just ask and we'll see about arranging it.
Q: Are French menus expensive? What menu choices do I have?
A: You can choose a wedding menu from as little as 30 euros per head, but obviously there's a range of prices and menus to suit your needs. Expert chefs are on hand to design a mouth-watering menu tailored to your taste and budget, and we can even take care of your wedding cake!
Q: Can the chateaux offer self-catering?
A: Most private residence chateaux offer self catering before or after the wedding day, and sometimes during the whole period of the rental. Chateau hotels are usually fully catered but will often charge corkage fee if self-catering is available.
Q: If I decide I want to book the property after my inspection trip, what's the best course of action?
A: Call your wedding consultant as soon as possible. They'll be able to arrange your booking deposit and lock down dates to make certain you snag your dream venue!
Q: Can I can book my wedding chateau online or do I need to contact my wedding consultant first?
A: You'll need to go through your wedding consultant - many chateaux charge a different rate for weddings than they do for holidays, so the prices advertised on the website might not be accurate for your chosen wedding property.
Please note there is a 3% booking fee for all wedding venues booked through Oliver's Travels.