The idyllic setting and balmy climate of French Polynesia are the perfect venue for the ultimate romantic wedding. A law was passed making it possible for American and Canadian nationals to do just that. Below are some frequently asked questions about the requirements for a legal Polynesian wedding. For more information and a free destination wedding guide, please visit Tahiti Tourisme North America.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Tahitian wedding?
Couples must meet these requirements to be legally married in French Polynesia:
- Both spouses must be at least 18 years old.
- Neither spouse can be currently married.
- Spouses must be of the opposite sex.
- The couple cannot be related by direct lineage.
- The couple cannot be French nationals or residents of France.
- The bride and the groom must each choose a witness who must be 18 years of age or older. (If the couple does not have a witness of their own choosing, the mayor's office can provide one).
Can I get married aboard the ship during my cruise?
No. Paul Gauguin Cruises provides wedding receptions but not a legal marriage ceremony. Instead, you and your spouse-to-be, along with your guests and witnesses, must go to city hall in the commune in which you wish to be married and have the mayor (or an appointed representative) perform the ceremony. See below for details and required documentation.
Are any documents required in advance of the ceremony?
Yes, the couple must obtain and complete the following documents (available through the Tahiti Tourisme website address above):
- The "Marriage of Foreign Citizens in French Polynesia" application
- A letter signed and dated by both future spouses, addressed to the mayor of the commune chosen for the marriage ceremony
- A copy of both spouses' passports (required for proof of identity)
- A certified copy of both spouses' birth certificates, authenticated with an "Apostille" translated into French by an approved translator and legalized by the French Consulate (approved translators can be found on the consulate's website)
Note: The birth certificates must have been issued less than 6 months prior to the date of the marriage.
- A "Certificate of Non-Marital Status" ("Certificat de Celibat") signed by a lawyer, translated into French, and legalized by the French Consulate (approved lawyers can be found on the consulate's website)
- Proof of residency for both of the future spouses (a utility bill or any bill noting names and physical address will suffice)
- Note: A photocopy of the bills is acceptable for both spouses.
Is it possible to have a prenuptial agreement?
Yes, prenuptial agreements are optional. If such an agreement is desired, it must be translated into French and authenticated by the French Consulate.
What do I do with all these documents once I gather them?
Once the required documentation is gathered, it must be sent to the mayor's office of the commune in which the couple is getting married. The mayor's office will then contact the bride and groom to advise them of the approved date and time of the wedding.
What is the timing for sending in the required documentation?
Documents must be received at least 45 days prior to the ceremony.
What does a Polynesian wedding ceremony consist of?
On the day of the ceremony, the couple, together with their guests and witnesses, go to city hall (Mairie). The mayor (or an appointed representative from the mayor's office) will perform the ceremony, in the presence of at least two witnesses and in the language chosen by the wedding couple. After the ceremony, the mayor will give the couple a Marriage Certificate. This certificate will be dated and signed by the mayor's office of the commune in which the marriage takes place. A "romantic ceremony" can be held afterward, if the couple so desires.
Can Paul Gauguin Cruises help me with organizing the wedding?
We can help you with your reception and an "exchange of vows" ceremony, but you are responsible for the logistics of your legal wedding. We suggest that you make the necessary arrangements far in advance and that you make plans to spend extra time ashore.