For 90% of our clients, our advice is, 'Don't'!
Have we gone mad? Not really but let's get our terminology straight...
Getting married is a legal contract between two people, is officiated by..well, someone official and is quite formal. A wedding on the other hand, is a celebration of a marriage and as far as we're concerned, it's where the party starts!
In the UK, the person who officiates at a marriage is called a registrar. If your service is in a registry office, the registrar will say some words and then carry out the legalities. Even if you have a classical church service, at some point you'll be taken aside by the registrar and with your witnesses, you'll enter your name on the register and have everything signed, sealed and delivered.
In France, it's much the same except the person officiating is the local mayor. Now the local mayor isn't just allowed to marry any couple. One member of the couple has to be from the mayor's village (or more recently, has at least one parent residing in it) or both have to reside in the commune for 100 days. The couple then have to go to the mayor's office to fill in the paperwork (about eight different documents each - in French) then four weeks later, the service will take place. At the end of all that, the couple will have French marriage certificate which, if they normally reside in the UK, will cause problems for evermore. Hence our advice: Don't get married in France!
The answer is pretty simple. For our UK couples, we advise them to have the marriage formalities carried out at a UK registry office. This is a simple and quick process and ensures that all the documentation is in English. After that, at some point they come to France for the wedding ceremony which can be anything from a church wedding to a service in the grounds of a chateau.