How to Plan the Perfect French Wedding in 5 Steps

French Wedding - Bride and groom walking to their French Chateau wedding

If you have dreamt your whole life of the perfect fairy tale castle wedding, France is the best country to choose for your wedding. In this guide we will help you get started with planning your dream French wedding in five simple steps. 

But before we get into it, let’s explore why many couples from around the world choose France for their destination wedding.

Why do People Like to Get Married in France?

You are probably wondering: what makes France so unique? Well, Jean-Charles Vaneck, your luxury wedding planner in Paris, will tell you right away. 

“The sheer number of beautiful stone French Châteaux and estates in France means you can find the ideal wedding venue in any region of the country. France offers one of the best gastronomies in the world and also the best wines,” he explains. “Food is not only the backbone of our country but our very own identity. The quality of food here is so high that you won’t necessarily have to go over your budget to find an excellent caterer. All to say, I believe that if you’re getting married in France you will get great value for what you will invest.”

1. Find a Wedding Planner in France

Planning the perfect destination wedding in France starts with finding the best luxury wedding planner. Executing a luxurious and tasteful celebration requires time and resources. And if you live abroad, you need ears and eyes on the ground. You need someone who you can fully trust!

“First, I recommend booking your wedding planner before anything else. Your wedding planner will be able to guide you with their knowledge and also introduce you to other suppliers in their network.”

Before you choose your wedding planner it’s important to do your research. There are a few essential questions to ask your luxury event planner in France. “It is always good to know how long they have been in business,” says Jean-Charles. “It is easy to spot if someone is confident over the phone. I always recommend a first phone or video call to get a feel if a wedding planner is the right fit for your event. At the initial research stage it’s important to look at their event planning portfolio as well. A wedding planner’s experience is reflected by their work. Their portfolio should show different styles and types of weddings that can inspire you.”

“You may also want to ask how many weddings your wedding planner takes per year. For instance, we limit the number of events we do per year so we can remain available and responsive. A price-friendly wedding planner may take more weddings per year, which means you won’t get a personal service,” he explains. “Another essential factor to take into consideration is how much does a wedding planner cost? Like most wedding vendors, an experienced planner will value himself or herself and the quality of work they produce. The more experience a wedding planner has, the more they will charge. Finally, you want to make sure you ask for a contract that details the services provided.”

South of France private luxury villa for weddings

2. Choose Where to Get Married in France

The next step and perhaps one of the hardest choices to make after deciding to say ‘I do’ in France, is picking the right region and venue for your wedding. Paris is one of the most popular choices and has an abundance of venues where you can create a wedding that looks like something out of a fairy tale. However, there are so many other incredible areas outside of Paris that are worth considering when planning your destination wedding in France

You have the lush verdant hills from Loire Valley to the Burgundy and Dordogne regions, as well as the iconic scenery and beaches of the French Riviera. The south of France is blessed with the perfect climate for outdoor weddings, with mild winters and hot summers tempered by a light sea breeze. You can enjoy almost 300 days of sunshine per year. 

Some of our favourite hotels for a luxurious French wedding are the Grand Hôtel Four Season Cap Ferrat, the Cap Eden Rock, and Hôtel de Paris in Monaco. You can also find a lot of luxurious boutique hotels in Provence along the lavender fields, particularly near the city of Gordes. The breathtaking landscapes of France are the perfect backdrop for creating unforgettable wedding memories.

Top French Wedding Venues

Many couples deciding to celebrate their wedding in France are torn between an opulent Parisian indoor wedding or a Cote d’Azur fashion-inspired ceremony outdoors. Either way, deciding on a wedding venue can be difficult.

“As a true French ambassador and wedding planner, I have explored all the different regions and the type of venues.” says Jean-Charles. “A Chateau wedding is undoubtedly a fantastic choice. It features a dramatic antique interior that carries a lot of history and those typical symmetrical French gardens you usually see only in films. If you are looking for a religious feel, you may consider an Abbey, like the one in the Vaux de Cernay or Abbaye de Fontenay.” 

“Since you’re getting married in France, chances are your celebrations will involve a fair bit of wine. So what about celebrating your wedding in a Champagne vineyard?” Jean-Charles suggests, “Some regions that are less popular, but remain stunning include Brittany or Haute Garonne. And if you love the relaxing, rustic atmosphere, France has the cutest and quaint villages in the world such as Annecy, Biarritz, Les Baux de Provence or Cassis.”

Jean-Charles Vaneck - Sumptuous Events - Luxury wedding planner in France
Jean-Chales Vaneck – Mr Sumptuous – Luxury wedding planner in France

3. Learn the French Wedding Traditions

A wedding is a celebration of love and commitment. It is widely known as the best day of your life. However, weddings are not celebrated in the same way in different parts of the world. French wedding traditions are quite unique. It’s important to know what you should expect if you have the chance to attend a French wedding.

So what are the differences between an American and a French wedding? There are still many beautiful displays of French romance that couples choose to incorporate into their marriage. Fiançailles, which translates to “engagement”, is a big deal in French culture. If the proposal usually takes place during a romantic trip, an intimate engagement party is often planned to make a formal announcement to both families.

“In my personal experience I have noticed that French people are a bit shy and don’t like too much drama,” says Jean-Charles. 

The wedding party is also slightly different in France. Instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen, French couples have témoins (that stands for witnesses). They are asked to sign the wedding registry. The couple is often seated during the ceremony as well. The mother of the groom will also often escort him down the aisle, the French term for this is Cortege. The father of the bride accompanies his daughter the same way as in the USA. Even the dessert preferences differ in France. “White American couples love a traditional sugar paste covered tiered cake; the French often prefer to go for a croquembouche. A delicious puff pastry tower filled with cream.”

Orchestra playing in wedding reception room before the guests walk in

4. Choose The Type of Wedding Ceremony You Want

When it comes to ceremonies, a lot of people assume that it is either religious or civil. However, there are a lot more options that could be better suited for you. 

The most common type of ceremony is the religious wedding ceremony. If your faith is a strong aspect of your life, you will probably want to have a religious ceremony. Most religions require the couple to attend some couple counselling before the wedding can take place.

Now, if you and your partner have different beliefs, you may want to choose a place of worship that allows you to celebrate both, which is known as an interfaith ceremony. A non-denominational service will mention God and reflect some general religious spirituality without mentioning any specifics of religion. This is a great alternative for couples who have  spiritual rather than religious beliefs.

Then, we have the civil ceremony which is typically held at a city hall. This type of wedding legally recognises the wedding without any religious aspects. Humanist weddings are also becoming popular, as this service focuses on the couple alone. It allows you to personalise the event to tell your unique love story.

Bride and groom exchanging vows during ceremony

5. Find French Wedding Vendors

Having planned hundreds of weddings and events, here at Sumptuous Events we always plan in a particular order. Once you have booked us as your wedding planners, we would move on to the venue searching. This part can be quick if you already have an idea of the venue you want, or it can take longer. It’s important to not rush the process as you want to find the perfect venue for your wedding after all. Once you have decided on the venue, we can move to sending out the “Save the Date” invites. If you need help with managing the process, we can recommend some invitation companies we often work with like CECI New York.

The next step would be to hire your wedding photographer and videographer. It is ideal to book them at the same time. From there, you’ll need to book your hair and makeup artist, at the same time, you may start shopping for your wedding gown.

After understanding your vision, we will rapidly work on designing the concept. Once approved, we will hire the vendors needed to execute it. This includes rentals companies, florists, decorators and more. Then it’s time to decide on the food and drinks. We will suggest shortlisting three caterers and sampling one along with bar service.

We often present a floral design and tablescape mock-up during this occasion. Then come the decisions to hire musicians and entertainers to give your event a cohesive look and feel. We suggest a tentative day-of itinerary, which will evolve through the final weeks of planning.

We always plan from the big pictures to the most delicate details.

Bride and groom kissing their wedding planner
Luxury wedding planner – Sumptuous Events

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Wedding in France

After going through all the preparation needed for a destination wedding in France, you might be wondering how much will it cost? Just like any other wedding ceremony, the cost of a wedding in France can vary drastically. It depends on factors like how many people you want to invite, the venue you want to use, the type of vendors you want to hire, etc. Ultimately, it comes down to how much you would like to invest per guest.

Let’s Talk Numbers

If you are wondering how much does a wedding in France costs, then we have the answer right here.

Here are a few approximations of the cost of a French wedding. The average wedding budget in France ranges between €20,000 to €30,000 for 100 guests. A luxury wedding would range from €80,000 to €150,000 for 100 guests. And if you want an upper high-end wedding, the budget you’re looking at would range from €150,000 to €400,000. Budgets bigger than this are less common, usually involving multiple day events, with  world-class caterers, floral designers and photographers.

French people don’t like to show off by nature, so it’s not common to display what we own. If an extravagant wedding does take place, the couple isn’t likely to share it with the public. Some cultures, however, prefer more extravagant celebrations. Big-budget weddings that go over multiple days are quite common in Indian or Chinese culture. You can take the wedding in the film ‘Crazy Rich Asians‘ as a great example.

Luxury event design sketch

Can Foreigners Get Married in France? 

For a couple to get legally married in France one of them needs to have French citizenship and reside in France. Most couples having a destination wedding in France get legally married in their hometown, usually a few months before the wedding, with only a small celebration. Over the past years, it has become popular for couples to take this approach and have a bigger ceremony in a more picturesque location.

Bride and groom dancing on their wedding day

Plan Your Dream Wedding in France With Sumptuous Events

If you’re looking for the most sumptuous luxury event planner in France and possibly the whole world, you’re at the right place. Here Sumptuous Events, we are more than a wedding planning agency; we curate memorable events to suit even the most luxurious lifestyle. Plan your dream destination wedding in France, with the help of our team. Get in touch today to book a consultation with our founder, luxury wedding planner Jean-Charles Vaneck.

Further Reading

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