Getting married in France
– a simple guide to help you
plan your wedding in France
Many people are now choosing destination weddings. As a result, getting married in your own backyard no longer seems to be an option. I have known many people who have gone to other countries to get hitched. It is definitely a once in in a lifetime experience. France is what many people consider to be the most romantic city in the world. Here is some information you may want to keep in mind, if you want to plan a wedding in France.
Do you plan on getting married in France?
Planning a wedding in France might seem a little bit overwhelming. Let me help you create an amazing day, that is filled with personality and true to your values.
When choosing Zephyr and Luna for your big day, you choose peace of mind. You will never have to worry about your photography again. I have been photographing weddings and elopements since 2013, I have photographed all over the world but mainly in France. If you’re looking for an experienced wedding photographer in France, I might be just the person that you need.
1) All about France
Old world beauty and romance
Picture by French Wedding Style
France has always been known for its many beautiful chateaus and domains that are scattered throughout its varied landscapes. Paris is the main city in France, and the iconic Eiffel tower has been photographed by billions of visitors. However, there is more to France than just Paris. This country is filled with amazing gems that you will find in every region you visit.
2) The legalities for a wedding in France
One of the main things you need to worry about is making sure that you are doing everything legally. There are some requirements you and your intended spouse must meet
It is important to make sure that you do everything legally. There are some requirements you and your intended spouse must meet before you will be allowed to wed in France, unless your wedding in France is just symbolic and you want to take care of all the legalities at home. If you want your wedding in France to be more than a secular ceremony, you must be over the age of 18 and married in your country of residence prior to your French ceremony.
It is also necessary for you to submit several documents, including a valid passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate from your home country and a copy of a divorce decree, if you have been previously married In addition, at least one of you must have resided in France for a minimum of 30 days.
3) French weather
Just as you would in any other country, you will have to consider the season when you are planning a wedding. Those who are planning outdoor ceremonies may want to choose a date between March and May, since this is when the weather is mild and not too hot or cold. If you wait until the summer months, you may be getting married, while your guests roast in the sun.
If you are getting married indoors, you still want to choose a region that doesn’t receive a lot of rain. Getting wet on your wedding day wouldn’t be any fun. However, it rarely rains all day long in France. If you really hate the rain, choose the south of France!
4) Customs of weddings in France
There are many things that distinguish weddings in France from those in the U.S., including the following:
Serving onion soup at the end of the night is traditional, since it will help your guests to wind down after an eventful day. To be honest, you can read this everywhere. However, after photographing more than 100 weddings in France, I have never seen my couples do this!
The groom walks his mother down the aisle at the start of the ceremony, just like the bride walks with her father.
The French do not have groomsmen or bridesmaids. They have “témoins” (which is very similar).
You can have a Croquembouche or Pièce Montée for your dessert. It is a very classic wedding desert (and not the best in my opinion. If you really want a decadent French dessert, go for a Mille-Feuilles!).
Classic French weddings can be very long. It is not unusual for a couple to get ready at 8 am in the morning and have their first dance at 1 am the next day! A typical French wedding will last about 16 hours.
5) Step-by-step retroplanning to getting married in France
When you get engaged:
choose your wedding date, or at least the season, if you want some flexibility with wedding venues. If you want to have a very laid-back approach, contact a wedding planner right away!
18 months prior:
start scouting for locations. You can check my different guides to find the best wedding venues in France on my blog! You should also start looking for a caterer and a wedding photographer.
16 months prior:
once you have a shortlist of all your favorite venues and vendors, plan a little trip to France to visit the venues, taste the food and meet your photographer (if possible).
15 months prior:
start looking for your wedding dress. If you want something custom-made, the sooner the better!
12 months prior:
start looking for a florist. Your photographer/venue might have someone to recommend! You can also start contacting celebrants, if you’re planning on having a secular ceremony. Ask your caterer about wines, and also about the dessert, since some caterers don’t offer them. Send your save-the-dates!
9 months prior:
start looking for your entertainment. A DJ, group or a band might be a great idea, depending on the theme/ambiance of your wedding! You can also purchase a wedding insurance policy for destination weddings. Once you have your theme pinned down, you may contact rental companies for décor, like chairs, tables, arches, candles and fairy lights, if they are not provided by the venue.
6 months prior:
renew or get a new passport! You can now send your official invitations and buy your wedding rings. You can also order some place cards and menus for the tables. Start contacting beauty artists and ask them to come directly to your accommodations.
3 months prior:
check your final guest list to see how many people will be attending, and book accommodations, if necessary (most destination wedding venues in France have on-site accommodations).
2 months prior:
start writing your vows. Purchase your wedding favors and ask your venue, if you can have them delivered there directly.
1 month prior:
have your final wedding dress fitting and make sure that it’s perfectly adjusted. Create a wedding program, if necessary. You can also plan for in-room welcome baskets for your guests (and also have them delivered to the accommodation/venue). Start your beauty routine early as well!
2 weeks prior:
check your RSVPs and make final adjustments. Send the final number of persons to your caterer and accommodation/venue. Confirm with your wedding vendors. You can buy a little travel steamer for your wedding dress and your future husband’s outfit, since they might get wrinkled from the travel.
1 week prior:
have everything ready and shipped to the venue, so you won’t have to travel with anything heavier than your wedding dress. Try to pack light, but don’t forget anything!
3-2 days prior:
you have now arrived in France and are ready for your big day! You can enjoy yourselves! Don’t forget to have all your vendor’s details and remaining balances.
The day of:
offer gifts to your parents and bridesmaids/groomsmen. If you have any envelopes with checks/cash for your vendors, hand them to your best man/maid of honor, so he/she can give them to the different vendors.
After the wedding:
have all the rentals returned to the vendors, take your gown to cleanup (so you can wear it for an amazing post-wedding session with your photographer!). Don’t forget to pay all of your vendors. You can also send thank you cards about a month after the wedding. Enjoy your wedding pictures for the rest of your lives!
Need more inspiration for your elopement?
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