This blog breaks down everything you need to know about planning a destination wedding in France. From budget ranges, planning checklists, FAQs, best locations, cultural expectations and what vendors to hire when planning a destination wedding in France. Generally, a 50 person guest list is average, and budgets range from 50k – 150K+
Planning a destination wedding in France, overview and table of contents:
Table of Contents
The 4 most important things to figure out first:
- Region & Location
- Guest list
What to budget for a destination wedding in France
The below budgets are estimates based on three budget types. The numbers are calculated in Euro. Use a currency exchange website like this one to calculate the amount in USD based on the most up to date exchange rate.
Luxury budget (50 guests)
Flights for two: 9,000 (from NYC to Paris) or 14,000 (LA to Paris)
Wedding Planner: 15,000
Celebrant : 1,500
Food: 650 EUR /person
Misc. Costs: 5,000
Accommodation for the couple: 2,000/night
average budget (50 guests)
Flights for two: 2,500 (from NYC to Paris) 3,500 (LA to Paris)
Wedding Planner: 7-10,000
Celebrant : 600
Florals: 5,000 (more if you want a full flower arch at the ceremony)
Music: 4,000 (DJ, lighting + live musician)
Food: 200 EUR/person in Paris, half that amount in Champagne
Misc. Costs: 3,000
4-7 nights accommodation for the couple: 2,000
Elopement Budget (couple only)
Flights for two: 1,600 (NYC to Paris, if you manage to strike a deal with a budget airline), 2,500 (LA to Paris)
Venue: free (if outside)
Celebrant : 600 EUR
Florals: 200 EUR for a bouquet and boutonniere
Food: 600 EUR (fancy michelin starred dinner for 2)
Champagne: 50 EUR (one good one, one cheap one for spraying)
Misc. Costs: 1,000
4-7 nights accommodation: 1,000
Venue types and regions of France best for your destination wedding - and why
There are a few general types of venues and regions for French weddings. Choose based on what you’re looking for, as well as what will accommodate your guests best.
18th Century Chateau
Who it’s for: couples wanting the most quintessentially French type of venue. You can’t get this anywhere else and Chateaus are perfect for hosting events and parties.
Who it’s for: couples who want the convenience of accommodation, catering and venue/reception hall all in one place
Examples: Royal Champagne; the Ritz; the Plaza; Hotel Marignan Champs-Elysée; Champagne Houses/Head offices eg: Moet + Chandon’s Orangerie; Ruinart’s caves; Veuve Cliquot’s Manoir de Verzy; Pol Roger’s home etc.
Who it’s for: couples wanting a charming elopement location that incorporates the outdoors and French wine culture.
Festive, celebratory location
Who it’s for: couples wanting a more specific mood or atmosphere
Examples: Paris for romance, Champagne for glitz and party, the Cote d’Azur for the sea and hot weather, French Alps and Chamonix for ski/adventure weddings
How to make sure your guests have a great experience
- Consider your guest list carefully – you’ll be taking care of them! Be selective of who you invite, and surround yourself with people who will truly support you and lift you up on this day.
- Double check the guest bedrooms in the Chateaus. They can often be very ‘rustic’ aka, dirty and outdated. That can be an uncomfortable surprise for guests who may prefer booking a nearby hotel instead.
- Welcome baskets, welcome parties, day-after brunches. This is a nice way to turn the trip into a holiday for guests. Welcome baskets can provide coordinated gifts for the wedding day, and parties and brunches help everyone relax.
- Transport and shuttles. Taxis and Uber are not as well serviced in France, especially once you’re outside Paris. Consider organising a coach to pick guests up in rounds as needed. This staggers the exit of your guest so your wedding doesn’t come to an abrupt end when everyone leaves!
- Evening ceremonies in hot months. It can get extremely hot from May to July in France. If you have an outdoor ceremony, plan it later in the day and in a shaded area (this is also better for photos).This is especially true for vineyards, as there is NO shade and it is dangerous to be out in the open sun. I have seen people fainting from the heat first hand!
- Avoid August. August is a rainy month. No French person gets married in August for this reason.
The pros and cons of each season in France for your wedding
In general, the best months for weddings in France are May, June, July, September and October.
Pros: more availability, great for ski and mountain weddings in the Alps
Cons: outside of the mountains it’s just cold, dark and wet, not necessarily cheaper, and many chateaux are closed or have minimal heating
Pros: late spring blossoms
Cons: early spring is cold, grey and dull
Pros: al fresco dining, long days, warm temperatures well into the night, beautiful sunsets
Cons: can be very hot, especially in June
Pros: lovely colours, best season for vineyards, more availability
Cons: not much to note, it’s an ideal season all around
Planning the type of wedding ceremony you want
My advice is to have a symbolic ceremony during your destination wedding in France. There is no advantage to having a legal ceremony as two foreigners with no residency.
Legal weddings in France can ONLY take place at the Mairie (courthouse). You need to be a resident here for at least one month prior with proof of address, utility bill in your name and an ID. You must go to the town hall prior to the wedding to register and for the publication of banns.
Banns have a 10 day waiting period, after which, you can get married any date after that within 1 year. If you want that French Chateaux wedding, a legal ceremony isn’t it!
My recommended vendors for French destination weddings:
I recommend these vendors because they are accustomed to US/UK style weddings, and will know what you want.
Best wedding planners in France:
Julie and Romeo Wedding France
Rachel Ellen Events
Alejandra Poupel Events
Best wedding florists in France:
Les Herbes Folles
Flourish and Grace
Best wedding venues in France for 50-100 guests:
Moet & Chandon Orangerie
Chateau de Mongobert
Chateau de Mairy
Chateau Comtesse Lafond
Chateau de Pierry
Chateau de Sept-Saulx
Chateau de Cormicy
Royal Champagne Hotel
Best wedding venues in France for 100+ guests:
Abbaye de maizières
Chateau de Chantilly
Château de Fonscolombe
Best overall luxury wedding venues in France
Chateau de Villette
Chateau de Champlatreux
Chateau de Torreau
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
The Plaza Athenée
Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Airelles Gordes – La Bastide
Planning a destination wedding in France, FAQs:
What is the minimum budget for a destination wedding in France?
30K for a ‘big white wedding’ and 10K for an elopement.
Is it worth it to book an all inclusive French destination wedding package?
They are few and far between, unfortunately. Personally, I can’t recommend it! You’re better off working with a highly skilled set of independent vendors who refer to each other.
Can foreigners get legally married in France?
Yes, but it’s tricky and probably not what you actually want. You need proof of residence, a trip to the city hall, a 10 day wait, and then you are only allowed to have the legal wedding within the city hall building. You cannot have it anywhere else.
How much does a good wedding planner in France cost?
At least 6k. If they are also doing florals and styling for you, expect more.
Should I hire a wedding planner?
10,000% yes. Venues in France do not come with coordinators. They allow you access to the building and that’s basically it. Without a planner, you must decorate, set up, tear down etc. all yourself. Without a planner, you will be running around like crazy for days and have no time to actually enjoy things. You’ll be taking on a full time job the day of your wedding, and that is not what you want.
What surprise costs are there for destination weddings?
Always keep in mind things like bank exchange rates and fees, travel insurance, wedding or event insurance, high French sales taxes and photo location permits.
How far out should we start planning for our wedding in France?
For larger destination weddings in France, 12-18 months. It is a lot of planning and you want ample time. You can avoid weekend dates for more availability and less stress as well.
Are there any cultural or language barriers we might experience?
Yes. Be aware that if you choose vendors which are not accustomed to US/UK weddings, you may run into some awkward situations. I recommend checking out this blog post for a full run down on vendor expectations and French wedding culture.
Checklist and timeline for planning a destination wedding in France
18 months out:
- Start visiting the region you want to get married in
- Book visits at specific venues which interest you
12 months out:
- Book a planner
- Book your venue
- Organise styling with your planner (colour schemes/moodboards etc)
- Send out “save the dates”
- Go dress shopping and select your bridal party
9 months out:
- Attend food tastings with caterers in order to select your vendor and menu choices
- Book your other critical vendors like photo/video, DJ or Band, florist, celebrant
- Share your colour scheme with your bridesmaids and start looking for dresses
- Establish your wedding day timeline
- Send out official invitations (make sure to keep some for your flat lay photos)
6 -9 months out:
- Order wedding cake
- Book your flights to France
- Book your accommodation if you’re not staying at your wedding venue
- Book transport and organise logistics for guests
- Purchase your wedding bands
- Organise welcome party or brunch
- Purchase groom and groomsmen’s tuxedos
- Organise your ceremony script with your Celebrant
- Book your honeymoon
3 months out
- Organise welcome baskets for guests
- Organise gifts for bridal party and parents
- Write your vows and speeches
1 month out
- Book in your pre-wedding consult call with your photography and videography team to make sure you’re on the same page regarding your timeline
- Write your vows and speeches out on cue cards or in a vow book – DON’T use your phone! It looks so odd in the photos later on (like you were on your phone all day for your wedding)
- Break in new shoes around the house or office.
1 week out:
- Plan breakfast and other meals for the day of. You need to eat often!
- Figure out where to store or chill food and drinks, like champagne, while getting ready. Make sure you have plates and cutlery.
1 week out:
- Cut the labels off yours and bridesmaids dresses, peel labels off the sole of your shoes. Everything needs to be ready to wear.
Get a FULL NIGHT of sleep. Enjoy your welcome party, but don’t stay out too late.
How to choose a local wedding photographer for your destination wedding in France
The most important thing to look for is a style you love, and a photographer you vibe with. Next, the person should be bi-lingual and experienced with US/UK style weddings. Don’t underestimate the language and cultural differences! A photographer who understands French and French culture will be an invaluable asset. It’s also important that they are legally allowed to work in France, or they could be turned away at customs and immigration control only hours before your wedding day.
meet the artist
hi, im rachel ann
PHOTOGRAPHE MARIAGE REIMS + EPERNAY
I’m from the UK, but live and work in France. With my mixed background, I’m the bridge between cultures you’re looking for. If you’re planning a destination wedding in France, I would love to be a part of your wedding team. Let’s create the most memorable day imaginable!
If you’re interested in working with me, the best way to reach me is by filling out the form below with your wedding date and location. I aim to get back to you within 48 hours.
- French wedding culture guide – how to avoid awkward miscommunications!
- Eloping in Champagne, France
- Blog 3