Under French law, a civil ceremony is the only legally binding form of union which:
- has a legal value in the eyes of French law;
- is recognized by the state (in France and abroad).
Except in exceptional circumstances, for the civil wedding ceremony to be legal and valid, it must take pace in the town hall (mairie), by a registrar (the mayor or one of his deputies).
Religious Wedding Ceremony
If the French law does not recognize religious marriage, it does not prevent those who wish to marry according to their belief in a religious ceremony.
Civil marriage is nevertheless the only one with legal value. This is why two people need to do a civil wedding ceremonyfirstbefore a religious wedding ceremony. Furthermore, the church minister requiresto see the civil marriage certificate before the celebration of any religious ceremony.
Symbolic Wedding Ceremony
In France, like for a religious ceremony, a symbolic wedding ceremony has no legal value and cannot replace the civil ceremony. The married couples choose a symbolic ceremony to complete the legal ceremony at the city hall, often perceived as a simple administrative formality, too short and impersonal.
Therefore a symbolic wedding ceremony (secular, spiritual, humanist or else) offers an alternative for all couples who aren't connected to a specific religion or are not religious at all, but still may consider themselves spiritual or secular. And also for those who for personal reasons refuse the institution of marriage.
Wedding Celebrants meet the need of married people who aspire to a personal wedding ceremony to best reflect their belief and ideals, a moment in time full of authenticity, significance and emotions.
For those who are not planning to be legally married but still feel need to symbolically commit to each other, a symbolic ceremony will give them this opportunity. This is called a "commitment ceremony".
For more information on marriage in France and the law: