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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Sommer

Wedding Diaries Part 2 - How to legally marry a French Man!

Kelsey Sommer on way home from Wedding Planning in Paris

Salut mes amis! I hope everyone is having a lovely week so far! I am definitely getting excited for the weekend. Romain and I will be spending the weekend downtown Chicago at the Peninsula Hotel, so I am very much looking forward to a mini vacay weekend in our own city!

I wanted to pop on here and do another wedding planning update. Since my last post, the planning for the wedding has been whenever we can fit in time because the past month and a half / 2 months, Romain has been traveling every week for work. It has been a bit intense, but he is home for a couple weeks now, and have picked up some of the slack.

What is the process for you and Romain to be legally married for the French and US government?

First of all, I never went into great length here on my website, but my family background is split right down the middle. I am half French and half British, and unfortunately, I do not have a French or British passport!!! This is something that my parents and I will be figuring out and fixing after the wedding, but it does however make the process slightly more complicated than if I had the documentation proving I am part Frenchie. So since I was born in the USA, and I currently only hold an American passport, I will be the true definition of an "American in Paris" marrying my French man!

So to start the story off.... as soon as we got engaged, we asked Romain's mom to ask her "la mairie" or town hall for all the paperwork that we will need to fill out to be able to get married in France. *Now in order to get married in France you cannot ask for any of the town halls in Paris to marry you... they will only accept your marriage file if you or your parents reside in the town where that town hall is located.* So we filled out a book of paperwork, and basically brought all of our personal and family documents (including all of mine that needed to be translated by a certified French government official translator) to our November appointment in the "mairie" of Romain's mother. Everything was going well, and we had a lovely woman looking over all of our documents and history as a couple, she saw that we were missing a gold stamp on my birth certificate that authorizes that the USA and the state of Pennsylvania (that I was born in), certify that my birth certificate is legitimate! So on the first attempt, our whole file was denied, and they would not let us mail this one document or allow Romain to bring it back himself (to save us the cost of another plane ticket). The two of us had to be present with a full complete file, in order to be approved. We were both incredibly bummed out after that meeting!

So when we had figured out how on earth, I was supposed to obtain this stamp, called an "apostille," we had to have everything re-translated (because the French are sticklers about time and dates... everything when you submit a file, needs to be within a certain time period) we ended up booking 2 appointments in 2 different town halls or"mairies" because Romain's parents are divorced and live in separate towns this gave us a slight advantage to get approved by hopefully at least one of them. Also when we went back to Paris in January it was going to be the last time we would both be able to go back before the wedding, our file could not get rejected again otherwise we would not be able to legally get married in France. A little bit scary, but we ended up going to Romains' dad's town hall first, and we were a little nervous because the lady who was interviewing us, seemed very cold and stern. She was not sure about me as an American, who "claims to know the language"... because if they accept our wedding file, the ceremony is obviously in French, so I will need to understand and respond. Luckily, even as nervous as I was, I was able to prove that I definitely do not need a translator, and we were offered a civil ceremony date!!! YAY *cue sigh of relief*

Now do you remember how I was saying that the French are sticklers about time periods... well the "apostille" that I had just gotten done for that appointment, was not "stamped" and dated at six months or less before the wedding date, so I had to send my birth certificate back to Pennsylvania and as soon as they mail it back with a new stamp and date...then I need to send this new apostille and birth certificate to Romain's dad so he can bring it to the town hall, and our file will FINALLY be complete. Yes... this process has been so strange and slightly crazy, but I have definitely learned a lot about the French government and the amount of effort it takes to get married to anyone who is not from the same country as you! I am sure in all countries where this is the case, it is just as hard if not harder of a process.

And to answer the second part of the question... we will be able to get married in the USA after we receive our marriage license from France. I am not 100% sure of that situation yet, but I believe that we just need to have the document translated again and prove our marriage either at the US Embassy or at the local town hall for us to declare our marriage in the United States? Please do not quote me on that... we are mainly just focused on the requirements we need to complete for July at the moment. I am not sure I am ready to start worrying about what happens when we get back from France as a newly married couple!

I hope that this boat load of information about the process to marry my French man was somewhat interesting for you to read. I wanted to share with whomever might be curious or if there is anyone in a similar situation, because the stories I have heard about marrying someone from another country are always very interesting and often times insane.

If you have any questions about the process that Romain and I have had to go through and are still going through to get married in July, then please comment below, and I will do my best to answer them in the next wedding diaries post. Also just a heads up.... I should have some more information on the status of my future wedding dress in the next post ;)

Bisous mes amis! A bientôt!

from the future Parisian bride xx


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