How do you say “I do” in the City of Lights? Paris has to be one of the most romantic places in the world to tie the knot. And even if you’re already married, it’s a wonderful place to choose for renewing your vows. Although there are many ‘destination wedding planners’ to choose from the first thing you’ll want to do is getting the legal details squared away.
French law requires that before a wedding ceremony takes place in a church in France, you need to have proof of a civil marriage.
There are two ways you can go about this – the easy way and the hard way. You can have a civil service performed in your home country and bring the documentation with you to France or you can opt for a French mayor to perform the civil service on French soil. Depending on how long you’ll be staying in France, you may want to investigate the legal process to have a civil wedding in France – but know just to get started you’ll need to have resided in France for a minimum of 40 days (or 60 days according to other sources) before you can apply for a civil wedding service.
If you are just planning on coming to France for the wedding service alone, then you’ll probably choose to have the civil service performed in your home country. Then you’ll want to decide whether you prefer to have a church/temple wedding or a wedding in a variety of elegant locales including the Right Bank Jacquemart Andre Museum, a privately-owned Right Bank ‘hotel particulier’, a chateau just to name a few of the possibilities.
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Church Weddings in Paris
For church weddings, you can start by visiting the sites of the interfaith American Church located on Quai d’Orsay overlooking the Seine River.
For Christian services, you can also visit the site of the American Cathedral in Paris. Be sure to take some time to study the site suggestions and prerequisites regarding marriage counseling, documentation, and remarriages. Both churches will help you with wedding planning including music and flowers.
If you want to celebrate a truly ‘French wedding’, you’ll want to invite your guests to celebrate and party – for at least the entire weekend. A French wedding starts a few days in advance with the civil wedding (but it can also be held on the same day). The church ceremony is followed by a ‘vin d’honneur’ where all the family and friends are invited to drink a glass of champagne to celebrate the marriage. Those that are invited will stay for the wedding reception dinner which is often served at a different location from the ‘vin d’honneur’.
The dinner may end at midnight but the music and dancing can go on until two am or later. . .
The following morning you may be invited to a brunch. Try not to miss this brunch which is a nice time to talk with the bride and groom once they’ve gotten over the shock of actually being married. The brunch is usually much more relaxed and the most intimate gathering of family and close friends.
Traditionally, the French wedding is celebrated in the bride’s home village – but nowadays people improvise. For Parisians, especially those who are far from their home villages, sometimes a civil wedding suffices – but the dinner reception continues to be an integral part of the ‘big day’.
Looking at some of the wedding destination sites for Paris – makes me almost wish I was still a fiancee!
American Cathedral in Paris American Church in Paris
23, Avenue George V,
Midway between the Seine and the Champs Élysées.
Métro stops: George V on the #1 line, and Alma-Marceau on the #9 line. On the RER network, it is close to the Pont d’Alma stop on the C line. Public buses 42, 63, 80 and 92 stop near the Place d’Alma, but the 42 does not operate on Sunday.
65 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris, France
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American Church in Paris