audition at the mairie

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”.

Dossier de mariage

Dossier de mariage that the town hall gave us

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.

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12 thoughts on “audition at the mairie

  1. Hmm. Some have to get married so they can legally stay in their relationships otherwise couples get split up if the non-frenchie can’t find work. How does one handle that sort of question? At my age (nearly 60) feel really snarky being told what sort of relationship I am allowed to have with my partner, sigh!
    I’ll be really interested in your next post.

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    • We definitely sped up the timeline of things, because of my impending titre de sejour expiration. Everyone is aware of that – even the woman at the mairie!

      The paperwork question can also apply to people trying to buy a house and such. I can’t remember the other answers exactly but they were along the lines of officially showing your commitment and such (nothing too lovey-dovey). There was also an “Autre” option with a blank for an expiration. It was a bit of a weird experience, and everyone has a good laugh when we share it. Even the French can’t believe the sorts of questions we were asked! And it’s the same questions for every couple – even 100% French ones!

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  2. I’ve never heard of this, I thought it was some kind of rehearsal when I saw the title.

    Wow, very much like the Green Card movie then! (I always had a problem with how the supposed giveaway question on that was that he didn’t know her brand of makeup remover or whatever. Are guys really supposed to pay attention to that? I think I wouldn’t know the brands of all of my own stuff even…)

    Anyway, glad it went well. Some of the questions e.g. about kids really do seem none of their business.

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    • No one had any idea what it was until we went. I tried googling but found very little info on it, so I decided to blog about it.

      I guess we can look at it as a trial for if we ever do a green card interview! There was a thing on Buzzfeed recently with the types of things they could ask you… A lot of them were so difficult! They’re things I don’t even pay attention to. Like the makeup thing. I have so many different brands that I probably couldn’t list them!

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  3. I remember we also had some sort of interview back in 2010 when we got married. We were in there for about half an hour and the interview was a bit relaxed for us too (ahh, small town mairies). We were asked questions about our marriage as well, but I don’t remember how personal they were, but mostly our interview was about paperwork. It seems like your interview was a lot more ‘intruding’ than ours.

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    • I think she said it started back in 2010, so when you were married, but maybe the interview has changed a bit? She printed it out, so it was a set group of questions… most with options to check for the answers. It was just strange! But it could be good preparation for if we ever go through the American green card process! I’m sure that’ll be far more intrusive.

      But like you said, it didn’t take long! The interview was over and done with in like 10-15 minutes. The rest was going through all the paperwork! Between what we gave them, and what we had to fill out, it took a bit of time!

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  4. We didn’t have anything like that in Metz in 2012, but maybe the size of the town makes a difference? Though I would think if it’s a smaller town, it’s be easier with less rules, since everybody knows everyone’s business . . . The kids question seems like it’d be tricky, I mean, can they tell a couple they can’t get married because they don’t want kids? There’s space for like, 6 kids in our livret de familly, hint hint, lol.

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    • Maybe it’s really not that old then? The other person who commented said the questions didn’t seem the same – ours were more intrusive. It’s definitely an obligation now though – it’s on the Services Public site http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F930.xhtml

      I don’t really know why they ask the kids question, but I think it’s because they want both parties to know they are on the same page – there are two answers, the man’s and the woman’s. I think that’s the point of a lot of the questions – making sure both people agree.

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  5. I remember the paperwork was super tedious involving trips to the Embassy and the office of NYC vital records, but an audition?! Wha? We didn’t have to do that and all I have to say is thank God. That sounds awful! I’m glad that is out of the way, so how is the planning going?!

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    • Yes, apparently the audition is very recent but mandatory for all marrying couples. So annoying! But maybe it will lessen things later… like if I apply for nationality? The marriage has already been considered as legit?

      The planning is going. We’re keeping it super simple. And his parents have been super awesome! We’re having it in their town so they’re the ones doing a lot of ground work. We’ve got most things planned out (and hair and makeup appointments scheduled) and just need to start purchasing the decorations!

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  6. Congratulations!

    Some of those questions seem way too personal! Especially for a culture that is usually more reserved when it comes to personal questions. Do you fill out the paperwork/questions before going or do they ask you the questions while you’re there?

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    • Thanks!

      They ask the couple while there. They can even speak to the two people separately to compare the answers if they suspect that it’s a fake marriage.

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