An Affair to Remember
Planning a wedding in France is a dream of many. It is a beautiful and diverse country and offers so much to its visitors. It is a country that is symbolic of romance and beauty and all things love.
But as with all wedding planning, there are things to consider and decisions to be made when planning a wedding in France. Let’s start walking through it.
The Steps to Planning a Wedding in France
So you’ve decided to plan a wedding in France. You’ve probably already visited — or at least read about it enough to feel like you have been there — but now the real decision-making begins. Let’s start going through the biggest decisions you start with and then look at some of the options.
Where to Host Your Wedding
France is a large country with many diverse areas. From beautiful mountains and chic metropolitan areas to stunning beachfront villages and rolling vineyards, there is no shortage of beautiful locations to choose from. I talk more in-depth about these locations in this blog but here is a short synopsis.
Paris is one of the most beautiful, popular cities on earth. It is, in fact, an ode to all things love and light and beauty. It is the perfect place for an intimate elopement or a larger affair at one of the many châteaus or elegant hotels in the city.
Beyond being a stunningly elegant location (with tons of amazing photography options), Paris is an easy place to ask people to come for a destination wedding. Most people fly into Paris when visiting France so it would be an ideal place for your guests.
If your idea of a wedding in France involves rolling vineyards and stately châteaus, you may want to consider the area of Burgundy. Known for its deep red wines and food culture, Burgundy is a favorite of everyone.
Burgundy is a highly romantic, highly refined area to host a wedding in France.
Charming châteaus, pristine scenery, a fabled history, and ancient medieval villages, are among the many reasons why Provence is such a popular choice for a wedding location. Provence is delightful and offers an amazing experience for all of your guests.
Some of the most well-known and historic châteaus in France are in this area, making it an exceptional location for a wedding.
Just southwest of Paris lies the Loire Valley. Lush and vibrant, this area is known for its rivers and canals, Renaissance gardens, and scenic vineyards.
The area is also full of historic venues that are perfect for a sophisticated, refined affair.
For a completely different feel, consider the French Riviera for your wedding in France. With clear blue water, warm, sunny beaches, and vibrant nightlife, the French Riviera is grand and opulent and truly offers an unforgettable experience for both you and your guests. With beachfront resorts, palatial estates, and historic hotels, you have your choice of so many wonderful venues.
Find Your Dream Venue
After you have decided which area of France you want to get married in, you need to start looking at venues. There is no shortage of wonderful, exquisite venues at which to get married. I have reviews of several of them online (here & here, for starters).
As you look at venues, the main things you will want to keep in mind are how many guests it will hold (versus how many you think will attend), their availability for the date you would like, budget, and if the space will give the aesthetic that you so desire.
Hiring the Right Vendors
The next step will be to hire your vendors. France has so many professional vendors that are experienced in helping you create the wedding of your dream. Your wedding planner and your venue should both have recommendations for vendors if you are having a hard time finding someone.
The first vendor you will need to hire is your wedding planner. Especially if this is a destination wedding for you, a planner is necessary to help bridge the distance and the cultural differences. A planner can help take your experience from stressful to enjoyable, mundane to out-of-this-world creative.
The next vendor you’ll want to concentrate on is hiring your photographer. Since photographers only take one wedding a day, they tend to book out more quickly than other vendors that have larger teams (like catering) or can take more than one wedding at a time (like florists).
Pick a photographer whose work you can see yourself in, who communicates clearly, and who is someone you can see yourself spending a lot of time with.
If there is one thing that France stands out for, it is the food. It isn’t hard to find amazing chefs to help create the wedding of your dreams. Make sure you find someone who is open to creating a menu that reflects your taste but also incorporates French culture.
Fresh markets filled with locally made cheese, produce, and fresh-cut flowers are abundant all over France. Find a florist that can create floral installations that match your wedding style and incorporate local blooms.
Planning Your Guest Experiences
After you have found your primary vendors, you will want to start really thinking through your guests’ experience and what you want to incorporate into your wedding weekend.
Since your guests are most likely going to come in from far away, you will need to set up some options for lodging.
If you are getting married at a hotel or villa, it may be possible that your guests can all stay on-site. Otherwise, it is good hosting etiquette for you to find several options for lodging to help guide your guests through the planning process.
Unless everyone is staying on-site, you’ll want to arrange shuttle transportation for your guests to get back to their hotels safely after the party.
One final thing to consider when looking at your wedding weekend is any group activities that you want to arrange. From welcome dinners to sunset cruises to farewell brunches, research the area to find restaurants, cultural activities, and unique experiences and decide what you want to include in your wedding weekend agenda.
A Few Final Tips
As you begin your planning journey keep these tips in mind for the most seamless planning experience:
*Start early. The earlier you start, the easier it is to overcome any potential issues that arise when planning a wedding in France.
*Research all of your vendors, even ones recommended by your planner or venue.
*Make sure you hire a wedding planner. It will make a world of difference in your experience.
*Be flexible. There will be obstacles that pop up. Just be willing to pivot and make changes. Don’t be so set in your ideas that you are unable to accept necessary changes.
*Enjoy the process! Keep the focus in mind — get married to the love of your life! — and have fun!
And finally, feel free to reach out if you want to talk more about your wedding photography. As a Switzerland native, I photograph frequently all over France and am a native speaker of French.