Was there another secret marriage ceremony?
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s long-awaited wedding in the south of France last Saturday may not have been enough to seal the deal — at least according to the few details the notoriously secretive couple has released.
A ceremony in France, presided over by a California judge with a California marriage license would not by themselves appear to create a valid marriage under either California or French law.
So there must be more to the couple’s long trek to the altar.
A spokeswoman for Pitt, Lindsay Kurtz, said in a statement on Thursday that the couple was married at a private ceremony at their Chateau Miraval estate in Provence. She said that before traveling to France, the couple “filled out their paperwork and obtained a marriage license from a local judge, who also traveled to France to conduct the ceremony at Chateau Miraval. They are therefore married under Californian law.”
But weddings by themselves are not enough to create legally valid marriages. States and countries have specific requirements for the steps couples must take to have a recognized marriage. The exact requirements vary.
California marriage licenses authorize an official to “perform a marriage ceremony within the state of California,” according to a sample published by the state Department of Public Health. Instructions supplied with the license similarly specify that it “must be used only within the State of California.”
And to be a valid marriage in France, a California judge can’t officiate in that country. Legally valid marriage ceremonies in France must be performed at city hall by a French civil authority, according to the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Mike Kretzmer, a family law attorney in Manhattan Beach, Calif., says it’s a “curious, curious question.” He said that if Pitt and Jolie were his clients, he would advise them to have a California ceremony as well — unless they already have. “Go have your celebration wherever you want to have it, but make sure you get it solemnized in California, too,” he says.