A few weeks ago, we were down in Franche-Comte (where we will have our wedding). As J’s mother works at the school (which happens to be in the same building as the town hall – gotta love small town France!), she was able to get us the “dossier de mariage”, a wedding date already on the books (normally you need to hand in said dossier for the date), and an appointment for our “audition”.
Wait. Audition. What the hell is that? Even if you were married in France, you might not have ever heard of it unless you were married fairly recently. It’s a rather new development. It’s basically an interview that you do with someone at the town hall. It’s a way to sort of feel out if it’s a “mariage blanc” (green card marriage) or to be sure both parties want the marriage. It’s not just for foreigners (as the woman assured us several times), but for all couples getting married in France. Not having an audition can be grounds for the marriage to be canceled by the Prefecture.
The interview can be conducted with both parties at the same time or separately. We had ours together, because as the woman knows J’s mom, she really wasn’t trying to discern if it was a fake wedding or not (for the record, it’s not fake).
We were asked questions like where we met, if we lived together (and for how long), why we were getting married (one of the reasons to check is actually for papers!), if each other’s families had met us, if they supported the wedding, how long we’ve been planning the wedding, etc. There were also questions like if we wanted kids, if we believed marriage was just to have kids, if we believed you could have kids outside of marriage, what we thought marriage was for, etc. Wow! Some of the questions seemed deeply personal and like it should be none of their business.
Anyway, we found the procedure fairly painless – though I can imagine it could be a real problem for some couples! And I imagine for certain foreigners, the person doing the interview could be less than friendly in some places, so we definitely lucked out.
So yes, now, to get married in France, you need to go through this sort of interview along with handing in a dossier full of lovely paperwork.
The dossier is easy for the Frenchies (copy of ID, proof of residence, and a birth certificate less than 3 months old – that is free for them to get!).
For foreigners, you need a birth certificate that is less than 6 months old and its apostille (both of which cost money and need certified translations in French). Cost is about 100 euros altogether give or take. You need a certificat de coutume and certificat de celibat. Neither exist in the US (surprise surprise), so the US Embassy provides a notarized service with a declaration that you sign under oath. Cost is currently $50 (38 euros when I went) plus the cost of a trip to Paris or your nearest US Consulate. You also need copies of your passport (and visa/titre de sejour depending on your country) and proof of residence.
Ah, at least that’s the administrative part down. For now… I’ll have to change my residency card after the wedding.