If you are thinking about getting married in France then this Destination Wedding Guide is a great place to start.
And who could be better than the French destination wedding expert Monique Trulove, editor of the hugely popular blog French Wedding Style, to bring you all of the inspiration and information you need to start planning your big day in the fabulous country of France?
France is such a bountiful place for your wedding, with so many options to suit every bride. From stunning chic elopements in the city of love Paris, grand Chateau weddings in the South of France to mountain top weddings in the French Alps, you really couldn’t hope for more choice in one country!
France also offers the option of it being an adventure for you and your wedding guests, with so much to see and do and not forget to eat and drink!
The main requirement to have a legal wedding ceremony in France is a 40 day residency stipulation, for at least one of the couple immediately preceding the wedding. What does this mean? At least one of the couple needs to show proof of residency such as a utility bill in your name, in addition to the usual documents such as birth certificate, identification and a declaration of celibacy.
Before you have the crafty idea of renting an apartment in Paris with a view to proving residency, the paperwork for this can often take over 3 months before a suitable proof of residency document is gained.
If you are not a French resident and fall into this category, remember that French bureaucracy is very strict! A charming smile and good intentions will not receive any credence in the local town hall (Mairie’s office) where you need to go to submit the necessary documents.
Most couples looking to get married in France do not fit the residency criteria, but there are still options available to have your French wedding. If you want a religious ceremony, French law states that you must simply be civilly married before participating in a religious ceremony. So just like many French weddings where the legal ceremony takes place weeks before, you’ll need to become legally married in your domestic country before heading to France.
Now, unless your friends and family are current on French law, there is nothing stopping you having your own secret wedding ceremony at home and treating your French wedding as the actual day you got married.
If you are not religious then the number of opportunities and locations that you can have your ceremony in France is vast. When choosing your venue, be sure to research the travel plans for you and your guests especially dependent on the time of year.
Many beautiful chateaus are very rural and if there isn’t enough on site accommodation, how far do your guests need to travel for their bed for the night.
Google maps can be very deceptive. The speed of travelling a mile in the UK is not the same as travelling a mile in France on country roads. Whilst many large towns and cities are connected by motorways, rural France is very rural with narrow roads, glorious countryside and little in the way of restrooms and services.
There are many options for finding your wedding venue in France, but here are some suggestions:
- Chateau de Cherrone – Set in the Pays de Loire lush region of France, Chateau de Cherrone is an historical estate of 400 hectares including 2 Castles, an English Park, a garden & forests. The beauty of this historical French heritage and the teams vast experience in welcoming guests make Chateau de Cheronne a French masterpiece.
Image: via Chateau de Cheronne
- Belfonds – A magical estate en Provence with its own park and a large swimming pool, 15m x 3.5m, ideal to host your brunch or the rehearsal dinner! The courtyard with the stone arch and the stairs can help you to make a great entrance.
Image: via Belfonds
- Chateau de Fayolle – A beautiful and ancient wedding chateau in Aquitaine in South West France, with their own chapel on the grounds where you can get married. With accommodation for 20 adults plus some children at the chateau and with Hotels and B&B establishments within 10 minutes, the chateau can cater for up to 100 people.
Image: via Chateau de Fayolle
- Mas Saint-Sixte – is a very private 17th-century country house near Eygalières in Provence, with impressive tailored grounds which are perfect for hosting summer receptions. The delightful grounds include a small lavender field, an olive grove, a pétanque court and an idyllic pond, featuring two large shooting fountains and a rowing boat.
Image: Mas Sainte Sixte via French Wedding Style
There are many English speaking celebrants assisting weddings in France, who can provide humanist and personal wedding services tailored to your individual requirements and beliefs. Alternatively as the ceremony is non-legal, many couples ask a close member of their family or community to conduct the service.
One of the many benefits of a humanist ceremony is the wide scope to include content into your big day that is personal. There is no one to tell you what you can walk down the aisle to, how many readings that you should have. Want to include a song in the ceremony? The choice is yours!
A wedding in France can be wonderful at any time of the year. However consider your guests when booking your wedding, as many travelling may want to extend their stay as part of their annual vacation. In addition if you are inviting children, then school holidays would need to be considered.
The summer months for a wedding especially in the South of France are extremely popular, with venues and photographers becoming booked up far in advance. After all, if part of the allure is getting married in sunshine, then you will want to pick the optimum weather.
Historically Paris in the summer months is when Parisians taken their vacations to the country, especially August. Whilst this is evolving, if you want to book the services of Parisians for your wedding day, be sure to book early.
Image: Mas Sainte Sixte via French Wedding Style
French wedding cake
For centuries the Croquembouche has been the ‘piece montee’, centrepiece of French weddings. This is a traditional French dessert. It is a high cone of choux filled with pastry cream that can be dipped in chocolate bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons.
They are also often covered in macarons, a small pastry consisting of two layers and a flavored cream or ganache. The name comes from the French words croque en bouche meaning ‘crunch in the mouth’.
Although not the traditional wedding cake, macaron towers make an eye catching an alternative wedding cake option. This is a French treat that can now be found around the world, with construction of the towers in many different sizes and forms. The macarons can be colour co-ordinated to fit with your wedding theme.
Be realistic about your time and skills.
Planning a wedding in France can be a wonderful experience, but make sure you have thought about the time involved to plan a wedding abroad in another language. One worthwhile option is to hire a wedding planner who can deal with all of the planning issues for you. They can liaise with French wedding vendors and understand the nuances of planning a wedding in another culture.
If you have made the decision to plan the wedding yourself, be realistic about your language skills. If your French is very limited, try to source English speaking wedding vendors by using resources such as the French Wedding Directory.
Communicating your desires into another culture can be difficult and French wedding vendors are known for not answering for 1 week to an email. This is not them being rude, just simply the speed at which business is handled in France.
Above all remember planning a wedding in France is an adventure and many couples return to France during their marriage to relive their big day.
France – Real Weddings:
If you think that getting married in France could be the wedding destination for you, take a look at the Real Weddings in France section for more ideas and inspiration.
Destination Wedding Guides are meant as just that – a guide to getting started with your destination wedding planning. Please always consult an official or expert (such as a wedding planner or Monique at French Wedding Style) in the country you wish to marry, to ensure you have the correct and up-to-date legal paperwork requirements, especially for a legally binding wedding ceremony. We would always recommend using a reputable wedding planner who can fully assist you in such processes.
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