Getting married in France is anything but simple


July 12, 1992|By New York Times News Service

Q: My fiancee and I would like to get married in France during a visit in late August and September. We are both U.S. citizens.

A: First, either the prospective bride or bridegroom must stay for at least 30 days in the city or town in which the wedding will take place. After 30 days, a marriage announcement must be posted at the local city hall (or the mairie of the Parisian arrondissement in which you would be staying) followed by a 10-day waiting period.

All marriages in France must be performed by a civil authority -- the mayor or a legally authorized replacement -- before a religious ceremony can take place. Before the posting of the announcement, you will need to present at the city hall birth certificates and divorce decrees or death certificates if applicable, along with certified French translations. You will also need certificates of health, with blood test results, issued within two months of the wedding (the French Consulate in New York will provide a list of approved doctors), and an "affidavit of law" written by a lawyer certifying that you are United States citizens free to wed in France and that the marriage will be valid in the United States; the American Embassy in Paris can refer you to English-speaking lawyers there.

All documents must be written in French or be presented along with a translation by a "translating agency" in the United States or a certified translator in France. All documents also must be "legalized," that is, certified according to rules of the Hague Convention of 1981. Details on getting such certification for documents are available from the Secretary of State of whatever state issued the document.

Some city halls require yet more documents, so you should contact the mairie as soon as possible.

Q: Is there any source that will help our family plan a reunion? Are there places that cater to reunions?

A: A quarterly magazine called Reunions contains articles on how to plan family, class and military reunions and research your family roots. The 2-year-old publication also includes advertisements by hotels and resorts seeking reunion business and a listing of about 300 "reunion retreats." These paid listings are almost all hotels.

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