It’s always a treat when we hear from past clients. Our bride Leslie, whose wedding in Normandy took place in a beautiful garden (pictured above), recently got in touch. She has created some excellent content about her own wedding planning journey on her personal blog. The idea was to recount her experience of planning a wedding in France to share with family and friends. But she’s actually been contacted by brides and grooms embarking on their own planning journey who have come across her posts.

Leslie reached out to see if we would be interested to share some insight on planning a wedding in France. We’ll be contributing to a future post on her blog, and it was also just the motivation we needed to start up a series on our blog we’re calling “How to plan a wedding in France”. To kick things off, we’ll start with how to plan a wedding ceremony in France.

Planning a wedding ceremony in France

If you’re thinking about planning your wedding in France, one of the first questions will be about your wedding ceremony. It may seem romantic to have the “official” wedding take place in France. Or you may be accustomed to having one ceremony that fulfills your wish for a religious wedding and at the same time makes your marriage official in the eyes of the state. However it’s important to know that in France, the civil ceremony is always separate from any other type of symbolic ceremony. With all that in mind, how do you go about planning your wedding ceremony in France?

Planning a civil ceremony in France

The civil ceremony in France refers to the ceremony celebrated by the maire (mayor) or adjoint-maire (deputy mayor) which officializes your marriage in the eyes of the state.

The location of the civil ceremony is determined by where you reside in France, or in case of foreign couples, where you can establish a local tie in France. If one of the members of the couple is French, the local mairie (city hall) where their parents or family member lives could be an option. Otherwise, one member of the couple must establish residency in France and show they have been a resident for at least 1 month.

In addition to the residency question, as with most administrative processes in France, compiling the necessary documents is a cumbersome endeavor. If you are not French, there’s the added layer of complexity to obtain recent versions of documents (birth certificate, etc) and have them translated into French by an approved translator.

Given the time and effort required to pulling this off, if you are both citizens of another country we strongly advise you to have the civil ceremony in your home country.

Planning a symbolic ceremony in France

The symbolic ceremony in France refers to any religious ceremony held in a place of worship, or a secular ceremony held in a garden, ballroom, or other space. The symbolic ceremony can be conducted by a member of the clergy, a friend, or family member, and has no legal bearing.

Religious wedding ceremonies

Different faith traditions have different rules around marriage preparation, and often couples are surprised to learn the requirements that their (or their family’s) faith has around wedding ceremonies.

France is a country where all religions are freely practiced, but it has a long history with the Catholic faith, and a majority of the churches in France are Catholic churches. The Catholic Church in particular has a lengthy administrative process that rivals the process for the French civil ceremony. If you are interested in marrying in the Catholic Church, we advise you to start by reaching out to your home parish to get their blessing to marry in another parish. From there, you’ll need to find a Catholic parish in France who is open to celebrating a marriage ceremony for a non-parishoner couple. Once that is established, the remainder of the process involves compiling the different religious documents (baptismal certificate, etc) and completing your marriage preparation course.

Whatever your faith tradition, you will likely want the ceremony performed in a language you speak! It’s helpful to see if your rabbi, priest, pastor or faith leader would be open to coming to France with you.

Finally, if you plan on having a religious ceremony in a place of worship in France you will need to provide proof that your civil marriage has already taken place.

Secular wedding ceremonies

If a religious ceremony is not the right fit for you, a secular wedding ceremony will be the best route. The secular ceremony allows you to create a ceremony in your image, with readings and music that are meaningful to you. You may choose to have a non-religious celebrant create a text and officiate your ceremony, or you may prefer to have a friend or family member in this role.

The good news is that if you plan on having a secular ceremony in France, you have the choice of officializing your marriage either before or after your wedding in France.

Additional resources

For a first-hand account of the trials and tribulations of planning a civil ceremony in France, click here to read about Leslie and her French husband Arnaud’s experience.

And if you’re considering working with a wedding planner in France who can help you navigate this and all of your other questions about planning a wedding in France, we’d love to hear from you!

Our hearts go out to all of the couples who have made the decision to postpone their destination wedding in France because of Covid-19. Many couples have the weight of changing their date, and all of the work that represents, solely on their shoulders. This can add to the stress of an already stressful situation!

You might not have thought about having a full-service wedding planner as part of your vendor team because you planned to do much of the work yourself, and perhaps for budgetary reasons. It’s true that we’re best known for our Full Wedding Planning services, however we do offer a variety of Partial Planning services depending on your needs. We also are happy to announce a new offer, in response to the couples who have had to postpone their date.

Here’s a quick recap of our Partial Wedding Planning services:

Planning Support
Hourly packages (1/3/5 hours) which provides access our expertise in wedding planning. We discuss your planning concerns and offer best practices and vendor recommendations. Our hourly planning support can also be used to conduct research, request and review quotes and manage vendor communication. From 300€ per hour.

Month-of Coordination
This service starts 30 days out from your wedding date and allows you to hand off the project to an experienced coordinator. We review the schedule of the day – or help you create one – and double check all of the vendors and services that have been booked. On the wedding day, a team of coordinators will be on site to oversee that all goes according to plan, freeing you up to be fully present with your friends and family. From 3500€.

New! Postponed Wedding Support
This service is for any couple who has postponed to a later date, whether it’s a Fall 2020 wedding or a 2021 wedding. We provide support and guidance as you update your vendors due to the date change, help put into place any vendors not yet contracted or find replacements for any who are not available on the new date, set the logistics plan and orchestrate the on-site coordination so you can fully enjoy your day. Contact us for more information!

Many countries around the world are more than a month into confinement, and it seems that it’s having the desired effect of flattening the curve. We can be cautiously optimistic but the reality is that it will still be a little while before things are “back to normal”.

We’re still facing a lot of uncertainty, but couples who make it through confinement are coming out even stronger. And if the trend we’re seeing in China holds true for the rest of the world, 2021 is shaping up to be a particularly busy year for weddings.

We’ve shared some advice on postponing your wedding and while some couples have opted to shift their date to later in 2020 or even 2021, there are still some couples who are holding out hope that they will be able to maintain their late summer wedding as planned.

We wanted to share some additional advice on planning your wedding amidst the ongoing crisis. Our recommendations come from having 14 years of wedding planning to our credit, but since every situation is unique, only you can know the right decision for your celebration.

Holding out hope for a 2020 wedding

We completely understand if you’re holding out hope for your original 2020 date. Many countries are expecting encouraging news in May, which will give more visibility on when businesses will be able to open to the public, and when international travel will be allowed.

The advice we’re giving to couples in this situation is to set a deadline of at least 2 months out in order to give yourself (and your planner) enough time to get the rest of the planning finalized, and your guests enough time to arrange their travel.

Postponing to a 2021 wedding

If you’ve made the decision to postpone your wedding to 2021, you’ve likely already made a majority of the design and vendor decisions. Most vendors are applying deposits to the new date and are not charging change fees. However, if you’ve already set the design but decide to go in a completely new direction, there may be a cost for the extra work. Along with shoring up the new date with your previously booked venue and vendors, you’ll also want to get any other remaining vendors secured for the new date.

Planning for a 2021 wedding

The majority of our postponed weddings are being shifted to 2021, mostly into May and June. So if you have your heart set on a weekend wedding in Spring/Summer 2021, we encourage you to get the planning started as soon as possible.

The first step of planning your wedding is getting the venue and date set. With the expected swell of couples for 2021 and the current international travel restrictions, we’re encouraging couples to think a bit differently about venue search and selection. In-person visits may not be possible in the immediate term, so consider doing a virtual/video tour with your top picks to get a feel for the spaces before booking.

If planning site visits is an essential part of your wedding planning experience, this will likely push your decision date out. In order to increase your chances of booking in your preferred month we recommend considering a weekday wedding. As celebrated event designer David Beahm noted in a recent Harper’s Bazaar article, “Perhaps Wednesday weddings are going to be the new thing for a while, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Weekend, Wednesday or any other day of the week, we offer different levels of support depending on your planning needs. We would love to hear about your vision for your day and see how we can help with your plans!

 

Updated on April 14, 2020

Greetings from (continued) confinement in France! I am riding out the lockdown in the countryside of Brittany, grateful to be in a house with a lawn as opposed to my Parisian apartment.

We’re going through a scary and uncertain time and there’s unfortunately very little we can control right now, but there is a lot of information we can gather to arm ourselves as best possible once the situation gets a bit clearer.

The news cycle is spinning so fast that it’s not easy to make heads or tails of what to do. At this point we’re looking at each of our upcoming weddings and evaluating on a case-by-case basis. We’re here providing support to all of our couples, collecting as much information as we can and updating as the situation changes.

If you’ve been planning your own wedding and have been in direct contact with your vendors, I wanted to share some advice on how we’ve gone about things:

1. Review your venue and vendor’s postponement and force majeure policy as stated in their contract. Review your wedding insurance policy (if you have one). *It’s not entirely clear on how insurers are viewing the pandemic, and it may not fall under force majeure, so it’s always best to contact them directly to clarify.

2. Reach out to your venue and vendors to understand what adjustments are being made to their policy in light of the COVID-19 emergency. If you have a wedding planner, they are here to help facilitate these discussions. Here at Fête in France, our standard contract has a penalty clause in the event of a change in date or venue, however given the extraordinary circumstances we are waiving any change fees.

Once you’ve collected the above information:

3. If your wedding is between now and early July, you are likely in decision-making mode vs. wait-and-see mode. Time is of the essence, especially if any guests will be travelling, so you may choose to send out communication to your guests without yet having a date rescheduled. That said, if at all possible, have your new date set before communicating with guests – it will save you a step down the line and will be appreciated by any guests who need to rebook travel!

4. If your wedding is in mid-July or later, we recommend waiting until mid-May to understand how the situation evolves and reassessing then. If you still feel strongly about postponing, the same advice applies: if possible have your new date set before communicating with guests.

We know this is a stressful moment and it can be difficult to keep emotions at bay. The people surrounding you – your fiancé(e), your wedding party, your family and your key wedding vendors – are here to support you and guide you, and can’t wait to be part of your wedding, whenever it may be.