Photos courtesy of chateaubeeselection.com
As the holidays roll around, bells are ringing everywhere, Jingle bells, church bells, and even… wedding bells! Statistically, December is the most popular month for marriage proposals, which shouldn’t come as a surprise – it is the most wonderful time of the year, after all.
With more engagements popping up around this time, we’re taking the opportunity to offer a few primary tips to planning a wedding in France. If you or someone you know is thinking about celebrating “The Big Day” in this fabulous destination, consider these pieces of advice straight from anglophone brides and brides-to-be who have recently planned their weddings in France.
Stay tuned in the coming months for more wedding content!
1. Start building a “French wedding board” on Pinterest
Understand the style and aesthetic you are drawn to.
A great primary source for wedding inspiration, Pinterest is filled with beautiful photos and ideas for every visual element of the big day. As the bride starts compiling “pins” on her wedding board, the desired image begins coming to life. Having a general style in mind will help guide the rest of the planning process.
2. Find a bilingual wedding planner
Don’t be afraid to interview a few.
While the planner may not be as important as who the bride spends the rest of her life with, she will need to dedicate some serious hours with this person co-creating the best day of her life. So, if the first planner you find is not the right fit, keep looking! It doesn’t hurt to interview a few, but make sure that the bilingual criteria is met if you don’t speak French – this is essential for communicating with the necessary parties in France.
3. Decide on the dream region
Vineyards in the South of France, snow-capped mountains in the Alps, gardens of Normandy… there is so much to choose from!
With astounding environmental diversity, France offers practically every landscape you could imagine for a dream wedding. From the rolling vineyards of Bordeaux to the quaint countryside of Normandy to rocky beaches along the French Riviera, there are a variety of romantic vistas to pick from. Once the region is decided, it will be easier to begin the search for the right château, chalet, or country farmhouse to host the event.
4. Book 1 ½ – 2 years out
Securing a date more than a year in advance will allow for more options.
While French weddings are not typically as extravagant or demanding as weddings in America, the choices are more limited, therefore the best options get filled quickly. If you have the flexibility to reserve more than a year in advance and you are not “married” to a date, consider looking 1 ½ to 2 years out to have more choices.
5. Getting married during the week is less expensive
Venues and vendors could cost double the price for weddings on the weekend.
While this may be slightly more inconvenient for guests, having the wedding on a weekday could end up saving loads. Demand is higher for both sites and vendors on the weekend which subsequently allows them to charge much more. During the week, venues are more likely to negotiate for better prices, and this will also likely broaden your options.
6. Have a video call with the top venues you are considering
We recommend beginning the search on chateaubeeselection.com.
Once the vision and the region are nailed down, this will narrow the search for venues. The best place to start is chateaubeeselection.com which features a very user-friendly and clear selection of sites that can easily be filtered based on the location, number of guests, and style desired. Schedule a video call with your favorite châteaux and ask the wedding planner if they can attend since venue managers don’t always speak good English (or be prepared with notes that you have translated into French beforehand).
7. Visit your favorite venues in person
It is important to invest in a trip to France before sealing the deal.
The exterior may look exquisite in photos and videos, but the interior could tell a different story. Some venues are completely empty inside which means that more outside materials will need to be sourced. If you want to choose everything down to the chairs and silverware, this may be the preferred situation, however, it will entail more work (and more budget). Also keep in mind the number of rooms on site and how they look if you are planning to have close family or friends stay on the property the night of the wedding.
Stay tuned for an article in January on fabulous wedding venues around France!
8. Ask the site for their list of preferred vendors
It is helpful to find a venue that is as “all encompassing” as possible.
Many châteaux that are in the business of hosting events will have a list of vendors they recommend in the area, or they will have resources in house that you are encouraged or required to use. Consider which elements (such as catering, photographer, flowers, and a DJ) you wish to source externally and what you prefer would be provided. Some venues will offer everything on site which is certainly the easier and more practical route to go, especially if you’re planning from afar. Also, don’t be afraid to negotiate on the prices since many sites can offer package deals.
9. Contact the brides who have been married there before.
People love to talk about their wedding!
If the venue has an Instagram page and has tagged the brides that have been photographed there, it is helpful to reach out to those brides via direct message on Instagram to ask them about their experience. Having firsthand opinions and advice is invaluable since they can provide unfiltered feedback and tips on the very people and details you will be dealing with.
10. Consider the distance to travel from A to Z
Understand where the venue is in relation to the closest airport and train station, as well as nearby accommodation.
Before even planning a wedding in France, speak to your VIP guests (the people you can’t do your wedding without) beforehand and make sure they are willing and able to make the journey. Once confirmed, map out the route from the nearest airport and consider providing a shuttle service from the closest train station as well as a shuttle service for the end of the night from the venue to the hotel. Having these logistics planned out beforehand will make everyone involved more at ease.
Bonus tip: Rest assured that no matter what, the wedding will be the most magical day imaginable. You’ll be in France after all – how could it not be?