Is a French wedding a mere fantasy?

There’s something undeniably romantic about a French wedding. I photographed a beautiful destination wedding in Dordogne, France and I can clearly see the attraction. For many brides and grooms, tying the knot in a fairytale château is the ultimate fantasy, but also one that they may not feel is achievable or affordable. However, French weddings can be more than just fantasies if they’re planned and executed carefully. Read on for our guide to how you can make your dream of a French wedding a reality.


Wedding in Dordogne, France - Destination Wedding Photographer
Wedding in Dordogne, France – Image captured by UK destination wedding photographer Mark Shaw Photography


The legalities

 Some of the most important considerations to make for weddings in France are legal ones. You should make sure you understand the legalities involved, as there are certain rules to navigate when planning a French wedding.

A wedding can only take place in France between two consenting people who are at least 18 years of age. Furthermore, those travelling to French shores for a religious ceremony are required to already be married in their home country. However, a civil ceremony performed in France is both internationally recognised and legally binding.

You must also remember the necessary paperwork for making a wedding application. You will need to provide proof of residency in France for at least one of the parties to be married, a minimum of 30 days prior to the wedding application.

Valid passports and original birth certificates will also be required, as will certificates of celibacy stating that you aren’t already married, and an affidavit of law making clear that you are free to marry and your marriage will be recognised in your home country. A divorce decree and prenuptial agreement may also be appropriate.


The budget

French weddings can be expensive, and you won’t want money worries to hinder your enjoyment of planning your big day. That’s why it’s so important to research the costs involved for a dream French wedding, and to decide on your budget before you start contacting venues.

To apply for a marriage application for your civil service, you should expect to pay about €95. The next step after this will be to contemplate how much the wedding itself will cost you. French wedding venues tend to provide both a package deal and per-guest cost.

Such factors as the venue, location and formality level you desire will impact on how much you ultimately pay for your French wedding. Nonetheless, you can expect quotes for two to three nights to be around €5,000 to €10,000.

Estimated costs for a 30-person destination wedding in France tend to hover at around €3,000 for the accommodation, €100 for paperwork/administration, and €1,500 for the reception site.


The practicalities

Before you become swept up in the romance of your French wedding, you should make sure you’ve ironed out important details like the guest list, the venue’s accessibility and the date of the wedding. You may have fallen in love with a particular fairytale wedding venue, but you need to ensure it can accommodate your invited guests. That will mean looking for a certain size or capacity of venue. You should also consider the travel that will be required for those journeying to and from your intended venue. If great numbers of people will be travelling from overseas, it will be highly advantageous to pick a venue that is in close proximity to airports and hotels.

Once you’ve settled on a specific venue, you should start planning right away. French wedding venues tend to be in huge demand, and can therefore become fully booked a long time in advance of the date you have in mind (same applies for wedding photographers and entertainment so book those as early as possible.

It’s because of the huge demand that you may also need to be prepared to compromise if you are to secure a certain date for your dream wedding at your preferred venue. Start the ball rolling as soon as you can is the key.


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