So, you’ve decided to get married in Paris. Since you were a little girl you’ve been dreaming of a solemn, dramatic ceremony in an ancient Parisian stone church. As luck would have it, your mom’s hairdresser’s aunt Genviève lives in Paris and her brother happens to be a priest! Despite everything you’ve heard about the difficulties of marrying in France, he has graciously agreed to perform your wedding ceremony, just as long as you have completed the preparation classes and your paperwork is in order. Ah, paperwork- France just wouldn’t be France without it. But no worries- Your American Wedding Planner in Paris comes through again! Here are the requirements needed to be married in a Catholic church in France:
A cover letter, written on formal letterhead, from your parish priest which gives you the “official” go-ahead to marry in a foreign country. The letter basically says that the priest knows you and that there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to marry in France. It should include the name of the French church that you’ll be marrying in, as well as the date of the wedding. He needs to include your original Pre-Nuptial Inquiry form, which will then need to be stamped with an official seal from the Bishop. Also, your priest will need to include a copy of a certificate proving that you have completed Pre-Cana classes.
Another letter, also on formal letterhead, from the Bishop of your parish. This letter pretty much says the same as the priests letter- it gives the name of the French church, the wedding date, and states that the Bishop knows of no reason why you cannot marry in a Catholic church in France.
Baptism and Confirmation certificates which have been issued within 6 months of your wedding date. These certificates must also have the official seal from your Bishop on them in order to be accepted by the church in France.
If your spouse-to-be is not Catholic, then you’ll need to send a completed and signed Permission for a Mixed Religion document. You can get this from your parish priest as well.
If one or both of you have been divorced, you are not allowed to marry in the Catholic church in France unless an annulment has been granted. You will have to submit proof of this along with your documents.
Your marriage certificate as proof of your Civil ceremony. Remember: you can only be married in a Catholic church in France *after* you have had a civil ceremony.
All of the above documents need to be submitted to the priest of your French church at least 2 months before your wedding date, in order to give you enough leeway in case there are any unforeseen hitches. As some of the documents are time sensitive, I typically suggest that you give yourself 4 - 6 months before your wedding date to start accumulating your documents. This is after you have received confirmation directly from the priest that he will marry you in his church, of course.
Being married in one of the dozens of beautiful, historic churches of Paris is a chance of a lifetime. Although the process to get there may seem a bit daunting, the memory of your unforgettable Parisian celebration will make the journey worth it.