Photo Credit: AngelM
In my previous posts I presented the costs of a legal wedding in Tahiti, as well as the requirements to get legally married in Tahiti, the documents you’ll need to order and/or to apply for, and the few things you need to complete to finalize your application, in order to have a civil marriage in Tahiti.
Your application has now been accepted and your wedding ceremony date and time have been confirmed back to you (through your Wedding Planner).
What Happens On The Wedding Day?
On the wedding day, you will meet at the City Hall at the given time, and the Mayor (or one of his representatives) will perform the ceremony in the presence of at least two witnesses (either yours if you’re traveling with your witnesses, or those provided by your Wedding Planner if you’re eloping and traveling on your own). You must have a sworn translator/interpreter there to translate the ceremony for you (this is absolutely mandatory by law, otherwise the marriage won’t be celebrated). I’ll act as the sworn translator for my couples.
It’s a quick ceremony, typically a short 10 minutes that go as follow:
o Mayor’s Welcome Speech & Intro
o Mayor asking if a Marriage Contract exists
o Reading of the articles of the Civil Code
o Mayor asking to accept to be wedded husband or wife (say OUI)
If you already exchanged rings in a symbolic ceremony before going to the City Hall, it’s okay not to do it again, otherwise this is when you would exchange rings.
o Mayor’s pronouncement of Marriage
o Reading of the Marriage Certificate
After the ceremony, you will receive a Marriage Certificate (“Certificat de Célébration de Mariage”) along with several copies in a multilingual format (so there’s no need to get it translated back home), which will all be dated and signed by the Mayor’s office. These prove that the marriage was legally performed and is legally recognized.
Depending on your country of origin (see here for all full list of countries), these certificates may or may not need to get Apostille’d in Tahiti before your departure (or legalized in France in a very few cases), as to be valid when presented to officials back home.
Some countries do not need the Apostille when they have entered an agreement with France, in which case your certificates are valid as is. This is the case of most countries in the European region.
Some other countries will require that the certificates are stamped with an Apostille (which is a free service in Tahiti) and I’ll take care of doing this for my couples. I’ll typically go to Tahiti the next business day after the wedding, and will return the stamped certificates to you before you leave (or ship them back to you if you were to leave the very next day).
Fewer countries will require that the certificates be legalized by the International Foreign Affairs, which is a process that takes a lot more time.
Whether or not you can register your Tahiti legal wedding back home depends on your country of origin.
For example, the U.S. do not maintain a central registry of marriages, but only birth / death / marriage records for each state when they take place within that state. That means that your state will not record your Tahiti legal wedding, just like they wouldn’t record your marriage in a different state. All marriage certificates issued in French Polynesia should now be in a multilingual format, so they do not need any translation, and as long as they were stamped with an Apostille in Tahiti (which is a requirement in the U.S.) they’re valid for any purpose that would require you to submit evidence that you are legally married, like social security, taxes or this kind of things.
Many countries have a central registry of marriages, where you will just need to present your certificates to get a transcript to your country’s registry.
I am experienced in assisting my couples from around the world in this process and will guide you through step-by-step, to make it as easy as possible on your end. I will also be there on the day to act as the sworn translator during the ceremony (into English) and will be accompanied by another staff to act as your witnesses as well when needed.
Missed the previous posts in the series? Here is the best article that sums up everything I shared about getting legally married in Tahiti.