Getting married in France
– a simple guide to help you
plan your wedding in France
These days, so many people are choosing destination weddings that getting married in your own backyard seems to no longer be an option.
I have known many people who have gone to other countries to get hitched and it is definitely a once in in a lifetime experience.
France is what many consider the most romantic city in the world.
Here is a some information you may want to keep in mind if you have no idea how to plan a wedding in France.
Do you plan on getting married in France?
Planning a wedding in France might be something a little bit overwhelming. Let me help you create an amazing day, filled with personnality and true to your couple’s values.
When choosing Zephyr & Luna for your big day, you choose peace of mind. You choose to never worry about your photography ever again.
I photograph weddings and elopements since 2013, all over the world but mainly in France. So if you’re looking for a seasoned wedding photographer in France, I might be just the one you’re looking for!
1) All about France
Old world beauty and romance
France has always been knowed for its numerous, beautiful chateaux and domains that scatter its varied landscapes. Paris is the main city of the country, and the iconic Eiffel tower has been photographed by billions of visitors. But there is more to France than Paris. This country is filled with amazing gems you will find in every region you will visit.
If you’re looking for a particular region already, you can hop onto the dedicated page:
– North-West France (Red) which includes Brittany, Normandy and the Loire Valley
– North-East France (Blue) which includes Alsace, Champagne Ardenne, Franche Comte, Lorraine, Nord Pas de Calais and Picardy
– Central France (Yellow) which includes Auvergne, Burgundy, Centre, Rhone-Alpes (Lyon), Paris and Limousin
– South-West France (Orange) which includes Aquitaine (Bordeaux and Dordogne), Midi-Pyrennees and Poitou Charentes
– South-East France (Green) which includes Provence, the French Riviera, Corsica, the Alps and Languedoc Roussillon
Picture by French Wedding Style
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 before you will be allowed to wed in France, unless your wedding in France is only symbolic and you want to have all the legalities made at home. If you want your wedding in France to be more than a secular ceremony, you are required to be over the age of 18 and you must be 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, a birth certificate, a marriage certificate from your home country and a copy of a divorce decree if you have been married in the past. 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. Keep in mind that those who are planning outdoor ceremonies may want to choose a date sometime from March-May since this is when the weather is typically mild and it is not too hot or cold. Waiting until the summer months means that you may be getting married while your guests roast in the sun.
In the event that you are getting married indoors, you still want to choose a region that is not particularly damp. We all know that getting wet on your wedding day would not be fun at all. However, it’s great to know that it’s very very rare to be raining 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 US, including the following:
Serving onion soup at the end of the night is traditional since it will help your guests wind down after such an eventful day. To be honest, you can read this everywhere but after photographing more than 100 weddings in France, I have never ever saw 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 pretty much the same to be honest).
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 some decadent French dessert, go for a Mille-Feuilles!).
Classic French weddings can be incredibly long. It’s not rare for a couple to get ready at 8am in the morning and have their first danse at 1am the next day! A typical French wedding will have a duration of 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 as some caterers don’t offer them. Send your save-the-dates!
9 months prior:
start looking for your entertainment. A DJ, a group or a band might be a great idea depending on the theme/ambiance of your wedding! You can also contract a wedding insurance policy for destination weddings. Once you have your theme pinned down, you may contact rental companies for decor like chairs, tables, arch, candles, fairy lights, if yhey 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 accomodation.
3 months prior:
check your final guest list in order to see how many people will be attending so far, and book accomodation if necessary (most destination wedding venues in France have on-site accomodation).
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 it’s perfectly adjusted. Create a wedding programme if necessary. You can also plan for in-room welcome baskets for your guests (and have them delivered to the accomodation/venue as well).
2 weeks prior:
check your RSVPs and make final adjustments. Send the final number of persons to your caterer and accomodation/venue. Confirm with your wedding vendors. You can buy a little travel steamer for your wedding dress and you future husband’s outfit, as they may suffer some wrikles 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 simply enjoy! 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 enveloppes 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 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!
How to plan your peaceful elopement with me
Schedule a non-sales call
Everyone truly hates sales calls (me included) so I refuse to fo them. We simply chat about what your dream day and travel plans look like to see if we’re a match!
Book your date
We find the perfect date together and you’re officially booked!
I’ll plan your dream elopement
From itinerary planning to vendor suggestions all the way to helping you with permits, I plan everything.
Live your adventure
You live a peaceful, meaningful wedding day on an itinerary that’s custom created just for you.
Relive this day forever
I deliver your pictures and your choice of album from my collection, to remember this adventure, and share it for years to come.
Let’s plan your peaceful elopement
Where you can be you. Feel. Breathe in each other’s love.
Experience a place close to your hearts, or a bucket list dream.
Need more inspiration for your elopement?
Check out this brand new article about the best places to elope IN THE WORLD