No matter where or what type of wedding you are planning, the debate about whether you need a wedding planner is one that many couples face. But when you are planning a destination wedding in France how does this change your decision?
To find out I asked expert and UK Alliance of Wedding Planners member Fabienne Slater owner of Elian Concept Weddings and Events. Elian is a boutique event management agency specialised in the design, planning and co-ordination of exclusive and refined wedding in the UK and in France. Their aim is to help their clients make their dreams come true.
I am getting married in France! Should I hire a wedding planner?
It is your dream, so this is exciting news. France is a beautiful destination for your wedding day.
I will not keep on how wonderful France is for a wedding celebration. In your heart, you already know all the reasons, when you have made the decision and your head is full of your vision for your ideal day.
But… there was always going to be a ‘but’, a few days or weeks down the line, the reality starts to creep up and you feel overwhelmed by the tasks ahead. It is perfectly understandable and quite normal. Organising a wedding is not an easy job and can be time consuming. To do it abroad is even more challenging: Foreign country, foreign language, different practices, different laws, etc. The list goes on but does not have to be daunting. Your first step could be to hire a wedding planner to help.
Wait, wait, wait! Do I really need a wedding planner?
For the reasons mentioned above, hiring a wedding planner might be a smart choice. The common view is that:
- They save time, especially as there is more admin, legalities and organisation involved to get married abroad
- They offer valuable local knowledge, which is particularly important to organise an event in a foreign country
- They bring a wealth of experience in planning unique weddings in a variety of environments (unusual venues, non religious ceremonies, etc.) and circumstances, as well as their local expertise (language, culture)
- They are a good investment (and not anymore just for the very wealthy). They will obtain the best deals and source the best value services. They are experienced in managing budgets and identifying overpriced services.
- They are wedding consultant as well as coordinator and planner. They will give you precious advice on legalities, locations and etiquette- essential for a wedding abroad.
- They relieve the stress associated with planning an event. This is even more relevant in a different country.
- They are passionate professionals paying great attention to details. They will want your wedding to be as perfect as you do.
- Finally on the day they ensure that every detail is taken care of and your event runs smoothly. All you have to do is to enjoy the day and have the most fantastic time with your guests.
Ok! You have convinced me. But how do I choose my wedding planner and where do I look?
When looking for a wedding planner to help organise your wedding abroad there are various options that you can consider. Depending of your circumstances one is likely to be more suitable than the others. Therefore, first take time to think about your expectations and constraints with your fiancé and with your family, if they are going to be involved.
Then, and this is a general advice (not only for destination weddings), look for a planner that is established, has a website or printed material showing their style, experience, professionalism and ethics and provides references that you can check.
The planner should offer a free, non-obligation consultation at a time and location convenient to you, first step to demonstrate commitment. This meeting will help you to know them and understand how they work. Organising such an important event is a long journey and you should feel comfortable to make it with them.
They should be flexible, it’s your wedding and they work with you to create your day.
Understood! What are my options for a wedding in France?
More specifically when choosing a wedding planner for your wedding in France, you will have 3 main alternatives.
1- Work with the venue ‘wedding coordinator’
They will typically oversee all tasks related to the venue from showing you around, liaising with caterers (if not in house) and to some degree with other French suppliers, setting the tables and coordinating the day. However, in most cases they are not able to offer a full planning service for every aspect of your wedding and be as personally involved as an independent planner. You may also need to be aware of the language barrier, as in some venues they may not be as fluent in English as you would expect.
Working with the venue coordinator may be suitable if you have already decided on the location and the venue and you are happy to take charge of all the other arrangements including travel, accommodations for guests if not provided, French admin, suppliers that are not managed by the venue, budget control etc.
2- Hire a wedding planner based in France
This may suit you perfectly if you only need help with the French side of your organisation and if you are confident that they match the basic criteria mentioned above, offering a truly bilingual service so nothing is lost in translation- check with a few written and spoken exchanges. It is essential that they understand you and you understand them, not only your language but also the sensitivities of your culture. It is not always the case if they have never lived in your country. They will guide you on the French aspects but may miss British particularities. You may also want to check if the planner works with ‘commission’, which is a common practice in France, i.e. they receive a commission from the venue or the suppliers, as you may wonder if you are getting the best services.
If you decide to work with a planner based in France you could choose a company located in the area where you wish to get married to benefit from proximity to venue and suppliers.
3- Hire a wedding planner based in your country
Again they should match all basic criteria explained above, and have expert knowledge of France. Often called ‘Destination Wedding Planners’ some companies offer a wide range of destinations, not always with in-depth knowledge of all of them. Europe is not as harmonised as the Euro currency makes it and being a great destination planner in Italy or in Spain does not necessary mean that the company is expert in France. If you are looking for a bespoke wedding, it might not be the ideal either. They may have planner on site, but this means you are not dealing with the same person here in the UK and abroad.
A bilingual service also is key and you will want a wedding planner fluent in French.
All key criteria ticked? Then if you seek help at your doorstep, working with a wedding planner at home is your best choice. A few miles away from each other, you will work closer and they will understand your need and concerns first hand. Your planner will be able to help from the very start, i.e. choosing the type of ceremony, the location and the venue- and provide a full planning service to include sourcing and management of suppliers in France and in the UK, handling the admin and logistical details here and abroad, monitoring the budget, a more complicated task with foreign currency and laws. They can also offer assistance to your guests, as some may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of travelling abroad. If you would like to turn your wedding celebration into a full weekend of festivities with family and friends, your planner can help with the extra-organisation involved.
Whatever you decide, trust is essential and it’s really important to feel perfectly comfortable during the preparations so you can completely relax on the day.
France is a very romantic and picturesque place to get married. You will be spoiled for choice and your day will truly be your dream comes true with unforgettable moments for you, your family and your friends. Enjoy it to the full!
I would like to thank Fabienne for her informative guest post. To find out more information about Elian Concept Weddings and Events and the services that they can offer for your destination wedding in France,
visit www. elianconceptweddings.com
Monique x x