Your boyfriend proposed and you said “yes”! Congratulations to both of you. A new adventure starts: the organization of your big day. It will be fun, full of joy…and sometimes stress, but the result will be great, there’s no doubt about it! You love France? You’re thinking about getting married in France? What a great idea!
If you don’t know how to choose your perfect wedding venue, here is some advice to help you!
There are almost unlimited options for wedding venues in France but the most popular ones are booked two years in advance. Start as soon as possible to seek for your perfect venue but don’t panic if the ceremony is next year. There will still be wonderful locations available. You can as well opt for a wedding on a Friday or even earlier in the week, it will open many possibilities (and lower the cost).
France is a wonderful country with distinct seasons. Summer is warm and sunny in all French regions (even if it is less warm in the North). Spring and fall are wetter while winter is colder and drier. One exception: the French Riviera, which is generally sunny all year-round (with some rare rainy days). But don’t forget that a wedding under the snow in the Alps is extremely charming too! If you ask me, the best time to get married is late June, when the days are long and the sun is almost certain to shine !
From a beautiful château in the Loire Valley or a stone cloister in the lavender fields in Provence to an old mansion in the Bordeaux region, you have so many options for wedding venues in France. If you don’t know how to choose among all the amazing French regions, have a look at this article!
Keep in mind that your guests might be coming from quite far for your wedding. The venue’s accessibility should therefore be one of the top priorities. First have a look at the airports (and whether direct flights exist or not) and then check the distance from the airport to the venue as well as transportation options. Paris, Nice, Lyon and Marseille have major international airports.
Choosing a reception venue is also a question of budget. You will find in France numerous luxurious and very expensive venues but charming and affordable locations as well. Note that Paris and the French Rivera are more expensive than the other regions. Anyway, when you find a potential venue, it is essential to ask for the price first and to look at what is included in it as it can vary.
The number of guests at your wedding will also be a determining factor to consider in choosing your reception location. Many places in France only accept a hundred or so people. Beyond, it will be necessary to find solutions such as a large tent for a dinner outside (but it has, of course, a cost).
If your guests come from far and if they want to stay some days, it is important to ask if the venue offers some accommodations or if there are accommodations nearby. It’s not always the case.
Usually in France, you book a venue for a week-end but if you choose to get married on Friday, it will probably be not possible to enjoy the venue on Saturday for a brunch, one the of French traditions for the day after (see more here). If your guests come from far and you want to organize a several-days party, you can consider booking a beautiful villa for a week.
Exclusivity: Sometimes, the large venues (a castle for example) host two or more weddings at the same time. If you want to enjoy the venue as a whole, don’t forget to enquire.
Weather: You dream of a cocktail and dinner outside and you are right! But the weather is always unforeseeable. You have to know what are the bad weather fallback options (a room, a tent…)
Suppliers: It’s not unusual for the owners to impose one or several suppliers (caterer, DJ for example). You can see it as a constraint but it’s also an advantage since they know the venue perfectly. Check if it’s the case and if not, ask if they have some recommendations to help you to choose.
Wine: If you choose a castle in a vineyard (in Provence or Bordeaux regions for example), it is possible that you have to serve the vineyard’s wine during the cocktail and dinner. It’s charming but you have to take it into account (we recommend tasting the wine). Moreover, some venues ask for a “droit de bouchon” that means that you have to pay a corkage charge on every bottle you bring during the reception (if you supply your own Champagne for example).
Price: Don’t forget to ask what is included in the price besides the venue (chairs, tables…)
Logistics: Every location has its own policies. Ask at what time you have access to the venue and when you have to leave. Ask what are the specifications for decorations and entertainment (fireworks are often banned on the French Riviera for example due to the risk of forest fires). Some venues offer a wedding coordinator but it is not systematic. Finally hiring a local wedding planner could be very useful if you live 10 000 miles from your wedding venue!
Picture on the top of the page: Florence Dujarric – Château de la Bourdaisière