Who’s Getting Married in France?

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The posters are up for the Paris wedding fair. I think it’s amusing that it’s being held in Palais Brongniart which I thought was the precinct of the Paris stock exchange. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that wedding dresses are looking more and more like evening dresses, showing as much flesh as possible. My wedding dresses (note the plural) are definitely old hat. Not that French women are having weddings much these days, according to the statistics. It’s certainly the case of Black Cat’s friends. I asked her why. It seems that most couples don’t get married because it costs so much. Well, if you’re having your hens’ party in Madrid like one of her friends, I suppose it does!

So what are they doing instead? Well, they’re pacsing. The PACS (pacte civil de solidarité) is an agreement between two adults of the same or different sex to organise their community life. The current form dates from 2005 and is very similar to marriage except for certain rights (entitlement to a percentage of the other person’s retirement after death for example) and the fact that you don’t have to go through a divorce procedure if you want to end the contract. That in itself can be a bonus, but it hardly seems the ideal way to start your life as a couple!

You register the agreement with the court and can even have a ceremony similar to that of a registry marriage. Curiously, it is not same sex couples who are becoming pacsed the most but heterosexual couples. It seems that young people feel perfectly comfortable with just inviting their close friends along to their PACS ceremony but wouldn’t dream of not having all the second cousins and sixth-best friends to their wedding.

I don’t know if anything similar exists in the English-speaking countries.

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5 thoughts on “Who’s Getting Married in France?”

  1. Depuis la dématérialisation des échanges, la bourse de Paris devenue Euronext en 2000 n’occupe plus qu’une petite partie du bâtiment, le reste (les salles les plus prestigieuses) est devenu le Centre de Conférence du Palais Brongniart. http://www.palaisbrongniart.com/

  2. We have Civil Unions in New Zealand. In New Zealand de facto and civil union couples have the same rights and obligations as married couples, regardless of whether they are gay or heterosexual. This extends to inheritance, immigration, next-of-kin status and more. Despite that, more and more people are getting married instead of living together and women often take their husband’s name so people often call me by my daughter’s surname.

  3. That’s interesting. But, if the rights and obligations are the same as for married couples as for de facto and civil union couples, what is the point of getting married? Surely there must be some difference. In France, one big difference that many people don’t realise is that if your spouse dies, you don’t get a percentage of their retirement.

  4. I got married but I didn’t have a proper wedding dress, not even a really fancy evening dress actually! I had a small civil ceremony with my husband’s family (which is small anyway) and my parents. Even looking back on it and after attending several big weddings, I wouldn’t change a thing. I do think far too much money is spent on weddings. I think people do put it off because of the financial strain! More and more people I know are getting pacsed or are having small ceremonies.
    In Canada, same sex couples can now get married. And you become common law spouses with some of the same rights and obligations as married couples if you live as a married couple for 3 years (or more). At least I think that’s how it works. I’ve been gone for too long but I do know that my uncle who recently passed away was living on and off with a woman who then tried to claim the house as hers since she thought they were living as common law spouses but the lawyers said they hadn’t been living together long enough.

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