The Departmental Archives - Les Archives Départementales
The Actes d'Etat Civil - Finding Them

The Actes d'Etat Civil - The Acte de Mariage

The government after the Revolution created the civil marriage, which did not exist in France before that. If the couple wishes to have also a church marriage (which, since the Revolution, is not obligatory), the law requires that the civil marriage take place first. As with the other actes d'état civil, copies of the acte de mariage must be placed with the Archives Départementales and with the Mairie (Town Hall). 

Acte de Mariage

As everywhere, marriage in France is a tricky business, involving a wide range of possibilities, such as contracts, banns, posthumous marriages, and more. However, the basic acte de mariage will contain:

  • the full names of the couple
  • the dates and places of birth of the couple 
  • the professions of the couple 
  • the addresses of each of the couple (which may have been that of their parents) 
  • a copy of the marriage contract, if any, will be attached 
  • all of the above information is also given for all parents and witnesses 
  • mention of any previous marriage of either, the name of the ex, and the date of the divorce 
  • a copy of the divorce , if any, will be attached 
  • a copy of the contract from the first marriage, if any, will be attached 

  Below are the two pages of an example of an ordinary, 19th century acte de mariage:

Marriage example 1

Mariage example 2

The images are courtesy of the Departmental archives of la Mayenne.

©2009 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy