A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Married in France
Firstly, congratulations on your engagement, and welcome to the incredible adventure of planning your wedding! Planning a wedding in France, with its beautiful scenery, delicious food, and warm weather, is a dream come true for many. What’s not to love? It’s an exciting journey that, when done right, becomes the trip of a lifetime for both you and all your guests. However, organizing a wedding in France can be a substantial undertaking, and it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you’re diving into. Embracing this experience can make your wedding truly unforgettable, blending the charm and romance of France into your special day.
Going to France is a beautiful and culturally rich experience that blends tradition with romance. From its breathtaking landscapes to its 1000 castles, the most visited country in the world offers a unique backdrop for couples looking to tie the knot. Here are ten important questions to consider when getting married in France.
In this Article
- When should I start planning my Wedding in France
- How much does a French chateau wedding cost
- How do I start planning a wedding in France?
- What season to get married in the south of France?
- How to Ensure An Amazing Guest Experience At Your Destination Wedding
- How to Ensure a Seamless Day for the Bride
When Should I Start Planning my Destination Wedding in France
18 months is a perfect time to start planning your wedding. You’ll get a good range of suppliers available and better prices (before they increase the following year). France is very popular and some venues and suppliers get booked two years in advance. Having said this, you can also do it in a few months, things might just be a bit more full-on.
How Much Does a French Chateau Wedding Cost
The cost of a wedding in France can vary significantly based on various factors such as location, guest count, and preferences. On average, however, a wedding in France can range from €30,000 to €50,000 or more for a luxury wedding. Provence tends to be more expensive due to higher venue and vendor costs. Venue rentals, catering, and entertainment can make up a significant portion of the budget. Additional expenses include attire, photography, decorations, and transportation.
Couples looking for more luxury affairs with extensive guest lists, high-end venues, and elaborate decorations can easily surpass the average range. Conversely, those aiming for smaller, intimate celebrations such as an elopement in less expensive locales may find ways to keep costs lower. To achieve a dream wedding while staying within budget, careful planning, prioritization, and researching cost-effective options are essential.
Determine Your Overall Budget
Work out your finances very early on, so you don’t end up spending half your budget on hiring the wedding venue.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of items to consider and their usual percentage allocation for a French destination wedding:
- Venue Hire: Items: Renting the space (chateau, vineyard, garden, historic site, etc
- % of Budget: 20-25%
- Travel and Accommodation: Flights for the couple (and potentially close family members),
- % of Budget: 15-20%
- Catering and Drinks: Reception meal, beverages (including wine, especially if in a wine region)
- % of Budget: 15-20%
- Wedding Attire: Wedding dress, groom’s attire, accessories and shoes.
- % of Budget: 8-10%
- Photography and Videography: Hiring a professional photographer and/or videographer.
- % of Budget: 10-12%
- Entertainment: Live band, DJ, performers (e.g., local French musicians or artists for authentic ambiance)
- % of Budget: 5-7%
- Flowers and Decor: Bouquets, centrepieces, ceremony decor, lighting, rentals like chairs, tables, linens, etc.
- % of Budget: 8-10%
- Wedding Planner or Coordinator: Professional fees for someone specialising in French destination weddings.
- % of Budget: 8-10%
- Ceremony Expenses: Officiant fees, legal paperwork, translation costs, and any special religious or cultural rituals.
- % of Budget: 2-4%
- Invitations and Stationery: Save-the-dates, invitations, RSVP cards, menus, programs, postage, etc.
- % of Budget: 2-3%
- Miscellaneous: Welcome gifts for guests, hair and makeup, favors, emergency fund for unexpected costs, etc.
- % of Budget: 5-6%
- Contingency: It’s wise to set aside a percentage for unexpected costs or if you decide to splurge on something last minute.
- % of Budget: 3-5%
Keep an Open Mind
If you can’t afford a Chateau in Provence, explore other regions. Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine are perfect alternatives, which will not compromise your vision. Chateau Lacanaud or Chateau Canet is a fine example.
Be flexible with the Date and the Season
Saturdays are prime days as anywhere else. The high season starts mid-June and lasts until the beginning of September, August being the busiest and priciest month. If you choose a venue with accommodation at peak time, you will have to hire it for a week, not just a few days.
it’s important to note that wedding trends are evolving, with more couples now choosing to get married on Fridays or even weekdays. This shift is particularly convenient for destination weddings, as it’s easier for guests to attend during the week when they are likely already on holiday. Saturdays remain as popular as ever, but there’s increasing flexibility in wedding scheduling.
Considerations When Creating Your Destination Wedding Guest List Size
Reduce the number of guests if your mind is set on a particular expensive location or venue. Do not rely on a drop in numbers, because it’s abroad.
Research Destination Costs
Different destinations in France may vary in terms of costs. Research and gather information about the average costs of weddings in your chosen location. Keep in mind that certain regions, such as major cities or popular tourist destinations, may have higher prices compared to rural or less-travelled areas. Consider the currency exchange rates, local taxes, and any additional fees or permits required for hosting a wedding in your chosen destination.
Organising Travel and Transportation
Consider the costs associated with your travel arrangements and transportation within the destination. Research flight prices, baggage fees, and ground transportation options. If you have a large number of guests attending, consider group discounts or transportation arrangements for their convenience.
Selecting your Wedding Planner or Coordinator
If all these questions before getting married in France seem a bit overwhelming, it is a good idea to hire a planner from the start. She/he will take you through all these questions to plan your dream day. There are many planners in France so how do you choose?! As a wedding is such a personal event, find a planner with whom you have good chemistry as you’ll be talking a lot to each other! You can also do some research on their portfolio and the type of weddings they’ve organised before. Is it the kind of wedding you want?
Planning a wedding can be a stressful experience so you must choose a planner who can take on the pressure before and on the day. Do they have proper experience in planning weddings?
Another crucial point is the language of course as you are planning a wedding in a language you may not speak. Although lots of planners speak a little bit of English or French, your planner must have an excellent level of both languages so you can discuss subtilities you may want; and so they can relate to local suppliers. It could become frustrating if you can’t communicate properly with your planner and suppliers.
Make also sure that they don’t take any commissions from suppliers and only recommend them based on their good services and professionalism.
Check out wedding planners in our directory.
Should I go for a Fully Inclusive Venue or Source my Suppliers?
When you start looking, you’ll find venues that offer a fully inclusive package with catering, decorations and some photographers, celebrants, etc… On the other side, you’ll also find venues that just rent out their spaces where you’ll need to organise everything. Although it’s more work to source all your suppliers, it will give you greater control over who you hire, their style of services and their cost.
Don’t Forget to Factor in Exchange Rates & Bank Fees
If you are dealing with a different currency, consider the impact of currency exchange rates on your budget. Account for any potential banking fees or charges associated with international transactions. It may be worth exploring different payment options or discussing potential discounts with vendors for paying in the local currency.
Should I Consider a Contingency Fund
It’s essential to allocate a portion of your budget as a contingency fund to account for any unexpected expenses or last-minute changes. This will provide you with peace of mind and flexibility throughout the planning process.
Do I need Wedding Insurance?
Consider purchasing wedding insurance to protect your investment in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as vendor cancellations, extreme weather conditions, or personal emergencies. Review different insurance options and choose a policy that aligns with your needs and budget.
How do I start Planning a Wedding in France?
An important question to start your research is to know the kind of experience you want. Do you want a vineyard or a rustic chateau? Do you want to be there for a few days and treat the place like your home or would you prefer more of a chateau experience that you’ll only get once in a lifetime? The more prepared you are, the more targeted and efficient your search will be.
Where to Get Married in France?
For couples on a budget who contact FWS, we often share our experience of working in all the South of France, from vineyards in Bordeaux to Chateaux in Provence. South West France is generally cheaper than South East. Provence and the Cote d’Azur are extremely popular, the cost of living is more expensive and therefore suppliers tend to charge more. We are great believers in paying the right amount for the right service and we always share our experiences with our couples from the onset of the planning to make sure they choose the area that best fits with their ambitions. Having said this, there are plenty of ways to have a reasonably priced budget in an expensive area. Local knowledge, mid-week, and off-season weddings can help you save lots.
How to Decide on a Destination Wedding Venue Setting
From grand French Wedding châteaux to intimate farmhouses, coastal villas to rustic barns, the setting of your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding experience. Think about the atmosphere you want to create and whether the venue aligns with your desired theme and aesthetic.
- Châteaux: The epitome of French elegance and luxury, châteaux are often sought after as wedding venues. These majestic structures offer expansive gardens, stunning views, and historic architecture that provide a fairy-tale-like atmosphere.
- Vineyards: France is globally renowned for its wine, and its vineyards offer a rustic yet sophisticated setting.
- Beach Venues: The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is famous for its stunning beaches and luxurious resorts.
- City Venues: For those who prefer an urban setting, cities like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille provide beautiful venues ranging from chic hotels to historic buildings.
- Countryside Venues: For a serene and bucolic setting, the French countryside is ideal. Regions like Provence and Normandy have charming farms, barns, and cottages that can be transformed into lovely wedding venues.
- Mountain Venues: For adventurous couples, the French Alps or Pyrenees offer beautiful mountain chalets and resorts for a unique and breathtaking wedding setting.
- Historic Mansions and Estates: France is replete with historic mansions and estates that can be rented out for weddings. These venues often come with beautiful gardens and are steeped in history.
- Converted Monasteries or Abbeys: For a unique and historic touch, some couples choose to get married in converted monasteries or abbeys.
Venue Amenities and Services
Evaluate the amenities and services provided by the venue. Does it have spacious bridal suites or accommodations for guests? Are there on-site catering services, or can they recommend trusted local caterers? Consider whether the venue offers ceremony and reception spaces that suit your preferences, as well as additional areas for cocktail hours or outdoor festivities.
Depending on your preference, you may want an exclusive venue that offers privacy and seclusion for you and your guests. This is particularly important for intimate weddings or if you desire a more intimate and personal celebration.
Incorporating Natural Beauty into Your Wedding Backdrop
France is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, and incorporating natural beauty into your wedding backdrop can create a truly magical atmosphere. Consider venues with stunning gardens, vineyards, lavender fields or panoramic views that can enhance the overall aesthetic of your wedding and provide breathtaking photo opportunities.
Local Culture and Heritage
Embracing the local culture and heritage can add a touch of authenticity to your wedding experience. Consider venues that reflect the rich history and architectural beauty of France, such as castles, historic estates, or charming village halls. These venues provide a stunning backdrop and a glimpse into the country’s cultural legacy.
What Season to Get Married in the South of France?
The second most stated worry is the weather. It may sound paradoxical, as many would have chosen this country for its sunny climate, but even in the most Southern part of France, it can and it does rain including during the summer months.
Average statistics are good to check before deciding on a location, but they will be of no use on your one and only wedding day. Unfortunately, the weather is one thing that cannot be controlled. So what can you do to avoid worrying that your outdoor ceremony, alfresco drink reception or dinner under the stars may be spoiled by the vagary of the weather? The secret is simple: Have a BACKUP PLAN!
France has diverse climates due to its geographical location and varying landscapes. The northern regions, such as Paris and Normandy, experience temperate maritime climates with mild summers and cool winters. The southern regions, like Provence and the French Riviera, have a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. The central and eastern parts of France, including the Alps, have continental climates with colder winters and warmer summers.
What is the Best Time of Year for a Wedding in France?
The four seasons in France bring distinct weather conditions, each offering its own unique charm. Consider the following:
- Spring (March to mid-June): Spring in France brings milder temperatures, blooming flowers, and lush greenery. However, it can be unpredictable with occasional rain showers. Be prepared for fluctuating weather and have contingency plans in case of inclement conditions.
- Summer (June to mid-September): Summers in France are generally warm to hot, especially in the southern regions. Expect plenty of sunshine, with temperatures ranging from pleasant to sweltering, depending on the location. Keep in mind that popular tourist destinations may be crowded during the peak summer season.
- Autumn (September to mid-December): Autumn offers mild temperatures, beautiful foliage, and fewer crowds. The weather can be relatively stable, although rain showers become more frequent towards November. It’s a great time for weddings in vineyards or picturesque countryside settings.
- Winter (December to mid-March): Winter in France can vary from mild on the Atlantic coast to cold in the northern and eastern regions, and snowy in the mountainous areas. If you’re planning a winter wedding in France, consider venues that offer indoor spaces and plan for potential travel disruptions due to winter weather.
Some regions in France, particularly in mountainous areas or coastal regions, can have microclimates. These microclimates may bring variations in temperature, rainfall, or wind patterns within a relatively small area. Research your specific destination and consult with local experts or wedding planners to understand the microclimate conditions and their potential impact on your wedding day.
How to Ensure an Amazing Guest Experience at your Destination Wedding
We see brides and grooms concerned about their guests not having a good time. After all, for a destination wedding, they would have to travel and even if this can be seen as a plus, it comes at an additional cost for them (time off and travel). For some less used to getting away, it might take them out of their comfort zone. Nevertheless, they are all prepared to make that effort to witness your happiness, so think about your wedding from your guest’s point of view.
Couples are constantly told that it’s their day and it’s all about what they want. It is right, to a certain extent but on the day, you are not only getting married in France, you are hosting one of the biggest events of your life and your guest’s experience is key to its success.
Clear and Timely Communication
As soon as you decide on a destination wedding in France, communicate the details to your guests in a timely manner. Provide them with essential information such as the wedding date, location, and any pre or post-wedding activities you have planned.
Help your Guests Find Suitable Accommodation
Help your guests find suitable accommodations by providing them with a list of recommended hotels, resorts, or vacation rentals near the wedding venue. Consider negotiating group rates or securing room blocks to make the process easier for your guests.
What Should Be in a Wedding Welcome Bag?
Welcome your guests to France with thoughtful welcome packages. Include personalized notes, maps, local guides, and small gifts that reflect the destination. Consider adding local treats or a bottle of wine to provide a taste of the region’s culinary delights.
Encourage your guests to immerse themselves in France’s local culture and regional traditions. Provide them with recommendations for nearby attractions, historical sites, or local events they can explore during their stay.
Group Activities and Excursions
Organize group activities or excursions to enhance the guest experience and foster a sense of togetherness.
Before the wedding day, organizing a welcome drink is a good idea to welcome all your friends and family who have travelled a long way to be there. And the day after the wedding, it’s very common to get everyone together again for a brunch.
French-Inspired Wedding Catering Ideas
One of the highlights of a destination wedding in France is undoubtedly the exceptional cuisine and wine. Curate menus that showcase the best of French gastronomy, incorporating local flavours and delicacies. Click here for some French Inspired Catering Ideas.
Incorporate French Traditions and Culture
Infuse your wedding celebrations with personal touches that reflect your unique relationship and connection to France. Incorporate elements of French culture, such as local music, dance, or décor.
How to Take Care of Your Guests
Ensure your guests feel well-cared for throughout their stay. Provide them with a detailed itinerary, including transportation information and timings for various events. Also, you may consider hiring one or two nannies as your guests will probably have to travel with their children.
It may require a bit more effort but it will make the whole experience even more unforgettable for them.
How to Ensure a Seamless Day for the Bride
Finally, all brides are style-conscious and are keen to look their best on their wedding day. For the destination bride, there are a few challenges along the way, which can make them nervous. Though there are fantastic designers in France, unless doing frequent trips to France, the dress will be chosen in the bride’s country of residence.
Hair and make-up – At best, most brides will only do one trip before the wedding, often earlier on in the planning process when looking at venues or doing menu tastings and won’t go back for trial sessions with the hairdresser and make-up artist.
Beauty and Hair: Research and book a reputable local hair stylist and makeup artist who specializes in bridal services. Schedule a trial session ahead of time to discuss your desired look and ensure you’re comfortable with their style.
Dress and Accessories: Arrange for your wedding dress to be professionally steamed or pressed before the big day. Pack it carefully in a garment bag and carry it with you as a carry-on during your travel to France.
Wedding Day Timeline and Coordination
Wedding Planner or Coordinator: Hiring a local wedding planner or coordinator can alleviate stress and ensure a smooth flow on your wedding day.
Detailed Schedule: Work with your wedding planner to create a detailed timeline for the wedding day.
Bridal Suite or Getting-Ready Space
Comfortable Accommodation: Choose a comfortable and spacious accommodation for your pre-wedding preparations. Ensure it has ample natural light for makeup application and enough room for you and your bridal party to relax and get ready.
Amenities and Refreshments: Arrange for amenities such as a full-length mirror, steamer, sewing kit, and emergency supplies. Provide a variety of refreshments, such as water, light snacks, and champagne, to keep everyone hydrated and energized.
Contact Information: Create a list of important vendor contact information and share it with your maid of honor or a trusted friend.
Relaxation and Self-Care
Prioritize Self-Care: Take time for self-care activities before the wedding to relax and alleviate stress. This could include a massage, meditation, or a stroll in the beautiful French surroundings.
Support System: Surround yourself with a supportive bridal party and loved ones who will help create a positive and uplifting environment.
Maid of Honor or Wedding Coordinator: Delegate specific tasks to your maid of honor or wedding coordinator.
Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit containing essentials such as safety pins, stain remover, band-aids, and pain relievers.
You are now equipped with the knowledge and inspiration to plan a wedding in France. From selecting the perfect venue to navigating legal requirements and embracing local traditions, you have the tools to create a truly memorable celebration. Let the breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and timeless elegance of France serve as the backdrop for your special day. Embrace the charm, savor the cuisine, and immerse yourself in the magic of this beautiful country as you create cherished memories. Your dream wedding in France awaits, and with careful planning, it will be an unforgettable experience for all involved.