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A traveller’s essential guide to planning a romantic destination wedding in France

22 Dec 2021

Have you dreamed of a romantic wedding along the French Riviera or of honeymooning in Paris? If so, here’s all you need to know about making the travel plans for your dream trip.  

Image: Getty Images

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Helena Capdevila, from etiasfrance.com, answers your questions about getting married in France during Covid-19.   

She also tells us more about the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) that will be introduced in 2022, and how to use it so you and your loved ones can plan your travel for the big day.   

Q: Can I legally get married in France?   

A: French law only recognises civil marriage, meaning you’ll need to be legally married before holding your wedding ceremony. You could choose to legally marry in France and then hold the ceremony after or marry legally in the UK first, then hold the second ceremony in France.   

To hold a civil ceremony in France, you’ll first need to contact the mayor’s office of the town where you wish to wed and the British Consulate. They will talk you through the application process and the documentation you’ll need, including your passport, birth certificate and Affidavit of law, stating you are free to marry.  

This can be a lengthy process, so I recommend being flexible with dates, and making this the first thing on your wedding to-do list. 

On the day you will need to go to the town hall (mairie) where the service will be performed by the mayor or his authorised replacement. You will then sign the register, get your marriage certificate and walk out a legally married couple. Following this, you can plan your second ceremony in the place of your choice.  

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You will need to be legally married in a civil service before you can hold a wedding ceremony in France. Image: Getty Images

Q: Will I need to apply for a visa to travel to France for my wedding or honeymoon?  

A: If you’re a UK citizen and your trip to France is less than 90 days, then you don’t need to apply for a visa to wed. However, if you intend to live in France and are marrying a French citizen, then you’ll need to apply for a ‘long stay visitor’ visa.  

From the end of 2022, couples intending to marry in France will need to apply for ETIAS for entry to the country. You will need to pre-register your journey to France using the online application form. It is quick and simple to complete and will allow travellers to gain authorisation to visit France for stays under 90 days.  

It will take up to 72 hours from application to acquisition, so it’s best to complete the form at least three days before your journey begins.  

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The Seine River in France will make a gorgeous setting for your wedding or honeymoon. Image: Getty Images

Q: Is France open to travellers during the pandemic?   

A: Yes, people can still travel to France during the pandemic. However, the French government has announced there will be tighter immigration measures between France and the UK because of the spread of the Omicron strain. It’s important to research the Covid-19 measurements in place in the country you’re travelling to before booking your trip and to check for journey updates the day before you travel.  

Q: Are there any Covid-19 restrictions for people travelling between France and the UK?

A: Anyone from the UK will need to register and enter their address on a digital platform before travelling to France. This will enable travellers to quarantine in a place of their choice within the province that they are travelling to, regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not.   

You will also need to provide negative proof of your Covid-19 PCR or antigen tests 24 hours before departing.  

Even if you’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus, you will need to be in quarantine for 10 days. The quarantine will be lifted if your PCR or antigen test comes back negative 48 hours after your arrival in France.   

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From the end of 2022, if you want to get married in France or travel there, you will need to complete the online ETIAS form. Picture: Getty Image

Q: Must I be vaccinated for Covid-19 before travelling to France?   

A: You don’t have to be vaccinated to travel from the UK to France. However, you will need a compelling reason for your journey. Travellers must meet the following requirements:   

  • You are a French citizen, or their spouse or child  
  • An EU citizen or their equivalent, or their spouse or child  
  • A third-country national that holds a French or EU resident permit or long-term residence visa   
  • A UK national (and family) that are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement from the EU and European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC)   
  • A third-country national with a long-term stay visa   
  • Foreign medical personnel, researchers, their spouses and children who are engaged in coronavirus related work or training purposes   
  • You are staying in the international flight transit zone for less than 24 hours.   

The French government is currently urging those travelling for other reasons to postpone their trip.  

Q: What other things will I need to consider before planning my French wedding?   

A: There are many stunning and scenic places to get married in France, so it’s a good idea to narrow down which specific area you want to visit. Visiting the area beforehand may be the best way to pick your ideal venue.  

You’ll also need to plan and budget for travel for you and your guests, book a place to stay, decide how long for and consider that you’ll need to book a caterer and make wedding arrangements remotely.  

To avoid delays while Covid-19 restrictions are still changing and considering that planning a wedding abroad can take longer, it may be best to set your wedding day well in advance to ensure you have ample time to make every detail of your big day perfect.  

For more information about planning your dream French wedding or applying for ETIAS, visit etiasfrance.com.

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