Guide to Getting Married in France: The Basics

Getting Married in France - an Irish Girl's Guide!

Isn’t it crazy how time flies? So we got married in France, it will be two years ago on July 11th – which is mad! It was a little stressful but totally worth it in the end, so I thought I would share out pictures, the details of our suppliers and hopefully it might help someone currently planning a wedding abroad!

I’m writing a series on all of the elements of the wedding, from decor, to food and drink, clothing etc, but this is post will have all the basics of what you need to know.

Why France? We got engaged in Versailles and as part of that trip to France spent some time in La Rochelle and Bordeaux, and thought let’s just get married here!

How long did it take to plan? We got married a year and a week after Macken proposed which was a good time line.

Where in France? We were married in at Abbaye Saint-Étienne de Baignes, an 11th century abbey about ten minutes from our reception venue, Chateau de Puyrigaud, located about 20 minutes outside the spa village of Jonzac, 20 minutes from Cognac and an hour from La Rochelle, Bordeaux and Angouleme.  This region is part of Poitou-Charentes or Nouvelle  Aquitaine.

Is it legal? Only French residents, counted as one of the couple having lived in France for at least 40 days, can legally tie the knot in France. We took ourselves off to the registry office a few days before we flew out to get it done legit (bonus – we have two anniversaries!).

Is it religious? We are both Catholic and wanted a Catholic wedding, so we were able to receive the Sacrament of Marriage and essentially be married in the eyes of the Church in France. This was trickier to organise than we thought, so start your preparations as early as possible on this front. Our local parish priest helped us organise the paperwork and a long-time friend who had just become ordained married us which definitely helped in the process.

Didn’t you need a wedding planner? I reeled against this one for two long on the misguided basis that we both speak a little French. However wedding suppliers in rural France are a little more relaxed than an office worker from Dublin so I found the delays in responses and lack of detail a little frustrating. Eventually we got ourselves a wedding planner, and it was absolutely the best decision, one we should have made earlier and wholly worth the expense.  Magali was amazing (and she is also a humanist celebrant!)

Please comment below if you have any questions, I will try to help!

Married in France infographic. Is it expensive? Is it legal? Do I need a wedding planner?