Can I have a legal wedding ceremony in any venue of my choice in France?
No. All legal ceremonies take place in the town hall (Hotel de Ville or Mairie in French) closest to either the Bride or Groom’s (or their parents’ in some cases) principal residence in France. The civil ceremony is the only type of legally recognized ceremony in France. The officiant from the town hall (either the Mayor or one of his subordinates) will not conduct a civil ceremony outside of the town hall.
Is it possible to hold a legal civil wedding ceremony in France if neither the future Bride or Groom are French residents?
From experience, the answer to this question is generally no… unless you either have connections in the town hall in which you wish to get married or if either the Bride or Groom’s parents have a residence in France. According to French civil law, you must be a resident in France for at least 40 days before you can legally be married there. It is generally quite complicated to prove residency. You need a gas or electricity bill in both of your names. Sometimes a telephone bill is accepted. In order to have both of these things you need a bank account in France and to prove that you have a fixed abode. So far, only a small handful of couples with whom we have worked have been able to have a legal ceremony in France. On one or two occasions, either the couple or their parents had a second home in the South of France and they were therefore able to get married in the Mairie located in the same village / town as the property. Another of our couples had a friend with an apartment in Cannes which they rented for a few months prior to the wedding. This meant they were able to open bank accounts and open a mobile phone contract which was accepted as proof of residency when they handed in their papers at the town hall. Another couple had bought a property in France 6 months previously and was therefore able to get married at the local Mairie. If either the Bride or Groom do not speak and understand French to an acceptable level, the ceremony must be translated by a court certified translator. The town hall usually provides a list of local translators and the cost of hiring the translator is to be covered by the couple.
What are the alternatives if I am not able to hold a legal ceremony in France?
Many of our clients hold a civil ceremony in their country of residence the week before coming out to France for their main wedding celebrations. Once in France, there are 3 possibilities:
1. A religious ceremony in a religious place of worship.
2. A religious ceremony held at the wedding venue.
3. A non-religious ceremony held at the wedding venue.
It is very easy to organize options 2 or 3 but option 1 can be more complicated (although not impossible of course). This is because religious ceremonies in France are generally carried out solely in French and you will be required to meet with the officiant several times prior to the wedding to prepare. Some officiants only marry people who are regular members of the religious establishment but some are more flexible and are happy to marry foreigners. In the Christian faith, it is generally easier to have a religious ceremony in an Anglican church as the latter are usually run and attended by English speakers. Options 2 and 3 are very easy to organize as there are several fantastic professional wedding celebrants / officiants in the local area who specialize in conducting wedding ceremonies in any location of your choice. They are usually not attached to any one religious establishment and are generally very open to performing both religious and non-religious ceremonies and even mixed faith, bilingual ceremonies. Most of the ceremonies we have organized have either been carried out by one of the professional wedding celebrants we work with, a friend / member of the family who is a good public speaker or by an officiant from the couple’s home town.
What makes you different to other wedding planners in the South of France?
We would like to think that we offer an Anglo-Saxon approach to wedding planning which has an impact on the way we work, the way we communicate with our clients and our ability to anticipate and fully understand the vision that our clients have of their wedding. We absolutely love the region in which we live and really try and promote anything “Made in France”. We make a concerted effort to stay up to date with trends in the wedding industry but also really try to help couples create something unique and timeless, not totally dictated by any particular trend. We always put our clients first. We are transparent with our pricing and the fact that our clients pay the vendors directly goes one step further to promoting this transparency.
Do you do plan weddings elsewhere than the South of France?
We mostly organize weddings in the South of France specifically on the French Riviera and in Provence. However we also promote a hand-picked selection of exceptional venues in the Paris area and are more than happy to travel to other areas of France and Europe. We have planned a wedding in Montenegro and hope to work in Italy in 2017.
What time of year is best to get married in the South of France?
The South of France and particularly the French Riviera is lucky to benefit from a superb climate. With 300 days of sun, very low rainfall in the summer months, and warm temperatures, the South of France is really at its very best between April and October. The very best months are June, July and September.
What size weddings do you usually organise?
The group sizes we usually work with range from 30 to 200 people. We have even organized a wedding which was attended by the bride and groom only and have also organized a wedding for 500 people. The most common size of wedding we are used to dealing with is about 80 to 150 people.
Do you have exclusive partnerships with any particular vendors?
We most definitely have preferred vendors but do not have exclusive partnerships with any. We select the vendors to recommend to clients based on their needs, which are always very different from one couple to the next. We feel more comfortable working with vendors we have already worked with in the past but are always open to working with new vendors if the clients so desire.
What budgets do you usually work with?
The budgets we usually work with range from 150,000 Euros to 500,000 Euros+ based on 100 people.
How long in advance of my desired wedding date do I need to contact you?
We have a maximum quota of weddings we can realistically take in any one season in order not to over stretch ourselves and be able to offer the best possible level of service. The sooner you make contact, the better the chances of us having availability will be. Most couples tend to begin the planning process 12 months before the desired wedding date. 18 months or more of planning time is even better because availability of the more popular wedding venues will be more likely. Shorter turn around times of 6 to 9 months are also possible.
How do we start the wedding planning process with you?
Can we see examples of your previous work?
Sure, you can view photos and videos of a selection of our favourite work in the portfolio section of our website. A few couples we have worked with have retained the rights for their images for privacy reasons so we do not feature all of the weddings we plan.