France is a country that has gained the reputation of being a romantic destination. It has been the end point of romantic pilgrimages for years and many couples dream of carrying out romantic gestures in the European country that has developed so much over time. The exact origin of its impressive title is unknown but there are several theories for why it is a place where every romantic couple dreams of going to in order to cement their love for each other. France serves as the setting for many romantic novels such as Madame Bovary and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Many American writers, like the late legend Ernest Hemingway, utilized France as the backdrop of a romantic story filled with adventure and tragedy, especially focusing on the First World War which was going on at the time.

The landscape is picturesque and diverse. Northern France has expanding meadows and fields complete with cozy chateau and charming villages, Southern France is a Mediterranean paradise equipped with pleasant weather and beautiful beaches. Throughout the country are a wide variety of vineyards that offer a beautiful venue for carrying out romantic fantasy walks or dream weddings. The nation is a fairy tale come to life which means that it is a privilege to get married there. Who would not want to be married in France? It will certainly be a wedding to remember and it is actually more doable than it sounds. Weddings regardless of how many guests are being invited or where it is being held are going to cost a pretty penny because it is a momentous event that requires a lot of moving parts. Looking at the cost besides the actual dress and tuxedo, there are decorations, catering, flowers, music, and the venue. All of these components are rather expensive because they are significant parts of a ceremony that will fever last in the memories of not only the couple but all of the guests.


Mariage proposal in front of the Eiffel Tower

A wedding in France is the dream of many because of its picturesque views and romantic literature embedded in its history. The biggest question is, is it possible and how much will it cost? Truly, how much is a wedding in France?

France is home to many beautiful chateaus that give a classic fairy tale atmosphere to a momentous day. There are many diverse regions of France and one of them that gets less recognition than the remainder of the nation is the Midi Pyrenees which borders Spain and the Pyrenees mountain range to the South. This Southern French region is lush and is landscaped with beautiful mountain topography that provides pleasing and entrancing views that will make the photographers’ job effortless. Nestled in this region is a medieval chateau by the name of Château de Puissentut. It is quaint but does not lack in charm that it does in size.

Wedding at Chateau Bouffémont

A rustic wedding would be perfect for this venue as well as a traditional theme, but a crowd larger than forty could lead to discomfort. If the glitz and glamour of matrimony are large and cinematic in your mind, you may want to consider another venue but for those who want the Pyrenees mountains to witness their undying love, this would be fitting. As you move further away from the Spanish border and closer to the Mediterranean sea one will see that the landscape of the country gradually changes. A wedding with a Mediterranean/warm climate feel would suit the remainder of Southern France rather well for the simple fact that it has beautiful beaches, charming villages and upscale shopping districts that benefit the guests and the bride and groom being married. Designer makeup and accessories make any wedding day complete and cities like Aix-en-Provence and Nice.

Northern France has a beautiful wine country, charming medieval villages and sprawling chateaus equipped with detailed gardens. The famous city of love is also located in the Northern part of France — Paris. Its rich history, beautiful riverside cafes and the famous Eiffel Tower are all romantic backdrops for a romantic occasion. The legendary country has so many regions and venue to offer, so it makes it hard for a prospective married couple to decide on where they should get married. Clearly, venues will vary in price and starts at three thousand euros. An upscale castle perfect for a dream wedding cost between five thousand and ten thousand euros.

Wedding in front of the Eiffel tower

Most couples that are both of French and non-French origin choose to host their receptions in castles because of the obvious charm, European uniqueness and appropriate space for guests. So a venue cannot be booked for an extremely low fair. Catering is another expense that many do not anticipate to cost much, but it does. It is reported that enjoying genuine Haute French cuisine and good service cost at least one hundred thirty euros per person. Meaning that if there are thirty guests attending a wedding catering, excluding the cake, can easily cost three thousand nine hundred euros. Going to France and not enjoying French cuisine and top service would be a waste because it is a country known for its fine cuisine and upscale atmosphere, so not having that at the wedding would take away from the effect of the ceremony and the reception.

Budgeting in the catering fee is very important and should be the first thing before going ahead and selecting music talent and decorations, categories where one can afford to be more flexible. Most of the packages that are minimally one hundred and thirty per person include a; cocktail, a starter, main course, dessert and a couple of glasses of wine. The right menu can send the right message so getting it right is something that can be achieved through budgeting.

Venues

I interviewed newly wed Ashleigh Adkins of Temecula, California and asked her about the importance of photography and video, especially at a wedding held overseas. Ashleigh Adkins (nee Ramirez) married Tom Adkins of Murrieta, California in June of 2016 in Northern France. The couple decided to do this because Ashleigh always dreamed of visiting France and wanted to hold a wedding that represented dreams coming true. Adkins stated, “I always dreamed of visiting France and of marrying my Prince Charming. I didn’t believe either of those options where possible by the time I hit twenty-five. I had only one relationship that ended unsuccessfully and I was unemployed, my life took a turn for the worst. I turned twenty-six and I met Tom[her current husband] and my life changed.

Wedding at Chateau de Trédion in Brittany region

I was finally happy and my dreams seemed possible,” Adkins continued, “I wanted my guests and my loved ones to know that if my dreams came true, so could there’s.” She summarized that a lot of the time, brides make wedding solely about them when in reality it should be a celebration of love for everyone around them. Her wedding in France not only represents a storybook wedding but an existing piece of evidence of her love life and happiness finally being achieved. The Adkins/Ramirez wedding was held at the Chateau Lignol which is located in Northern France in the Brittany region.

The uniqueness of the region made it easy for Tom and Ashleigh to decide on a theme that was not as obvious as a fairy tale/storybook wedding, they wanted their underlying theme to be present but not conspicuous so did some research on Brittany and found out that it did not become apart of France until the sixteenth century. They were both surprised by this. Mrs. Adkins said about the region, “that’s how we knew that the chateau we selected in the Brittany region was perfect. It was apart of something but it was different, just like us. We are going to be another married couple but we’re different in the way that neither of us thought we’d ever meet the loves of our lives.”

Often when a couple selects a venue they only consider whether it will be big enough to hold their guest and whether it will be nice enough for the ceremony, they rarely consider symbolism and how the venue resonates with the marriage and relationship itself.

Like Mrs. Adkins stated during our interview, there are so many married couples and so many weddings but every couple is unique in their own way. Capturing that concept starts with the venue. At first, Tom and Ashleigh only had a vision, because, like most people, they believed that having a wedding in France would be exceedingly out of their price range. This is understandable because airfare from California to France is not inexpensive, this is especially once you consider guest so the Southern Californian couple decided to take a different approach.

Wedding in Paris

They decided to have each guest pay for their own airfare then informed them that all other expenses like; food, lodging and other factors involved with travel would be taken care of. She also added that the made sure to keep their wedding relatively small, meaning that they invited their parents, siblings, grandparents and close friends, the total number of guests was approximately thirty which is a relatively small wedding but a decent enough size to make an impact. It is recommended that when traveling abroad one considers that the number of guests should be kept small because of airfare expense, venue size and for organization’s sake.

Having eighty guests fly from one country to another is a lot to keep up with and can be stressful for the bride and groom. Traveling itself is a stressful event for most people so by keeping it small it decreases the chaos that already exists on and around the wedding day. Tom and Ashleigh planned to stay at the Chateau Lignol a week and for that, it cost three thousand and five hundred euros which translates to roughly four thousand US dollars. It is on the less expensive side of French country chateaus but what it lacks in size and grandeur it makes up for in charm and rustic accents. The newlywed informed me that the Chateau Lignol is located not too far from the rugged coast that makes Brittany so different from the rest of France, nestled in picturesque farmland. It was built in the fourteenth century and is a former hunting lodge.

The venue’s location and history are important when holding a wedding in France for the simple fact that it is such a diverse country and each region has significant traditions and history that fine-tune its appeal to the foreign market. When visiting another country and having a wedding there, it is imported to be informed about the local history so that you can utilize it to make it an unforgettable event. When being more financially cautious this is extremely important because a simpler Chateau can be spruced up with adequate decoration that is key to the region. The Adkins couple did this and saved money in the process. They did not buy flowers, because buying from a florist who services in formal decoration can cost a lot of money, Ashleigh picked them from the nearby field the day before and arranged them by each row of chairs. This not only saved a substantial amount of money but it gave the guests a local flavor that enhanced the beautiful environment.

Basically, the starting price for a venue in France is three thousand euros and by renting simple and endearing chateau you can easily spend under four thousand euros. The Ulysses S. Grant Hotel in Downtown San Diego starts at roughly $13,000 for one hundred guests, so actually, a chateau in France is substantially less money.

Photography and Video

Photography and video are components that are becoming increasingly popular as the years continue because of the digital age we all live in. People no longer want to look through the traditional wedding album to relive the momentous day that so many of their loved ones were apart of, they want to do that through social media and share it with the world. That is the times we live in, everybody shares their lives with each other because we are drawing in closes and closer to each other. Despite people constantly capturing picture and video themselves, they want professional photographers and videographers documenting their wedding for a number of reasons.

One, weddings, even when small in size, have a lot of moving parts and different people are doing different things that are just as important as each other. The hairstylist tending to the bride is something that would perfectly illustrate the day just as much as the caterers setting up the food for the reception. The groom messing around with his best man is just as significant as the officiator’s face when the bride and groom kiss, cementing their marital bond. Some things cannot be done by an amateur especially so hiring someone to do the job is something that most definitely has to be budgeted in. For ten hours a videographer/photographer starts at four thousand five hundred euros which translates roughly to five thousand one hundred US dollars.

Oddly enough this costs more than the venue the Adkins couple rented for a week, and that is just for ten hours. Most wedding parties require the photographer/videographer services for more than that because they want to capture the ceremony preparation and the reception held afterward which typically spans from twelve to fifteen hours. That is a more realistic assessment because they have to capture the bridal morning, a photo shoot of the general wedding party, the ceremony, the reception, and the wedding cake cutting. This cost anywhere from eight thousand to ten thousand euros which is a large chunk of the budget but is worth alleviating the stress of capturing each moment on an inexperienced guest.

Newly married couple near Eiffel tower

Like all services, they are priced based on quality so the cheaper the photographer and videographer the less professional and quality the work will be. Also, some people feel the need to only have a videographer or only have a photographer which is good because it still documents the wedding in a meaningful way. Having a wedding overseas has enough stress and separate stressors associated with it, so by cutting the cost and only hiring one type of visual artist is adequate and will not hold back the ceremony from its full potential.

Decoration

The decoration is the component of the wedding that is more difficult to gage than the rest of them because it depends on size, preference, time of year and other elements. Like mentioned earlier in this article decoration like flowers can be handpicked if the venue has the resources to do so. Like at the Adkins/Ramirez wedding their venue the Chateau Lignol had a nearby gathering of hydrangeas that they utilized for their outdoor summer wedding. Of course, they got permission from the property owner first, this step is important because property managers and their rules differ from person to person, and then Ashleigh picked the hydrangeas, which were a brilliant blue color, tied a gathering of them in a ribbon together and attached them to each end of each row.

Wedding at Le Bristol Paris Hotel

This was a cost effective way of decorating because florist can easily charge one thousand US dollars for a wedding of thirty people. When traveling to a country like France one has the advantage of being immersed in a landscape that is plentiful in non-poisonous flora that can be elegantly used for DIY decor. This also adds a local flavor that benefits the ceremony because it allows for the guest to be apart of the country and enjoy the culture while being there.

Doing an American style wedding in France is a waste of time because American style weddings are equipped for the US, in the nation of romance domestic accents should be considered so that the wedding can resemble the world that is so vividly expressed in romantic and classic literature. Decorations for a wedding commonly include; a ceremony program, aisle runner, decorations for the aisle, the ceremony arch and backdrop and that is not even including the reception decorations, that was concerning the ceremony.

A common trend for modern rustic weddings is DIY accents that make the decor not only affordable but unique, which is what makes weddings memorable. Wedding decorations are such a specific and adjustable element to the point that the prices vary from wedding party to wedding party. Generally speaking, the cost of decorations range from three thousand to five thousand euros for French weddings.

Final Touches

A makeup artist and hairstylist is important to have because the bride, her bridesmaid and the mother will be too busy with the events of the day to concern themselves with keeping up with hair and makeup. Their services start at two hundred and fifty euros which translates to two hundred and eighty dollars approximately which is not much of a difference and is a good price. It is a small part of the budget and a very necessary part, especially with outdoor weddings where wind and sun exposure can alter the work done hours before.

Having an artist use good quality makeup and hair product goes a long way and is important for the wedding so that the bride does not stress over small things. The goal is to have her at peace and to keep her happy. Additionally, hair and makeup can cost from seventy to one hundred fifty euros per bridesmaid.

Depending on the wedding, some couples may prefer live music and some may prefer a DJ. It depends on the theme and type of atmospheric feel that each couple is going for. DJs give a more contemporary feeling to the event and allow for the guests, bride, groom and everyone else involved to feel more freedom and enjoy the reception like a celebratory party. Live music like a wedding band also gives a similar effect to this, especially because many wedding bands cover contemporary romantic hits. Providing live music with a string quartet or live pianist is more expensive but gives a more traditional, classier feel to the reception.

Whatever one’s decision is concerning the music choice of the wedding they have to keep in mind the cost of it. According to research a DJ in France will charge starting at one thousand euros and a live music group between seven hundred and fifty and one thousand euros. Pianists and symphony performers tend to be more expensive. Selecting a domestic DJ or live music group and flying them to France is also an option, but the recurring matter of airfare becomes an issue when budgeting the wedding and it ends up being less expensive to hire talent native to France.

The question of the article remains unanswered, how much does it actually cost to have a wedding in France? The answers vary but on average the cost between ten thousand and twenty thousand euros, varying upon venue choice, catering choice and other components that may add to the cost or subtract from it. Many assume that having a wedding in France would be extremely expensive and arguably the most expensive place to hold a wedding but in reality, it is less expensive than weddings in the United States, United Kingdom, and even Italy. This is not to be confused with the fact that weddings in France are cheap because they are not. To hold a quality wedding anywhere costs a decent amount of money but the assumption that France is high-cost and unobtainable is inaccurate. That type of thinking is what halts dream weddings from coming true, which is unnecessary because it can be done.

France offers such a diverse landscape and culture that can be used to make any wedding one-of-a-kind. The cost of a wedding in France is not the amount many would anticipate but it was recorded through various trials of research and personal interviews and it shows that is less expensive than the US. The nation of romance is more affordable than many would think.

FAQ

1.  Which region do you recommend holding the wedding in? Northern France or Southern France?

Both regions offer so many aspects that can make the wedding day so enriching and unique! Northern France has a beautiful and rugged landscape in the countryside and is home to the love capital and metropolitan Paris. Like the Adkins couple mentioned in the article, people who hold their weddings in Northern France find themselves in charming chateaus that mirror the farm life that is gradually diminishing from the French culture. Southern France is starkly different in terms of weather and landscape. It enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate and a mountainous topography thanks to the Pyrenees mountain range that borders Spain, their Southern neighbors.

The answer to your question is, it depends on whether you want your wedding to be outdoor or indoor. If you are pursuing an indoor wedding, Northern France would be more suitable because the weather is colder and some of the higher priced chateaus and palaces house enough people to give the ceremony an old-world ballroom feel. If you are pursuing an outdoor wedding Southern France would be perfect, preferably on one of their beautiful beach fronts or nestled in their lush forests. The entire country is very beautiful and holding your wedding anywhere would be conducive to a magical experience.

2. Do I have to pay extra fees to the French legal system for getting married? Will my marriage be recognized in the United States?

There is something called a notary fee in France for when you get married you have to pay a fee so that your marriage is recognized as a legal institution. According to research, these fees cost from three hundred to four hundred euros which is pretty pricey but not altogether too bad. Also, applying for a marriage license in France cost around ninety-five euros, which means that extra fees will have to be considered when budgeting a wedding that takes place there but that is not a foreign concept altogether. There are fees in the United States that apply for marriage certificates so concerning yourself with things of this nature should be natural.

Marriage is just as much a legal matter as it is a romantic one. I am not exactly sure if one has to fill out a marriage application and certificate in the United States if it has already been done in France, but it is always safe to cover one’s bases because the French government and the United States government are not at all related. Contacting your local government where you reside is the best option for finding out what is needed to be legally recognized.

3. What happens when your venue cannot lodge all of your guests?

Venues in France vary from small charming farmhouse to grand palaces that rival Versailles. Some people like to have their wedding receptions at beautiful hotels in Paris and some like to hold it on the beaches of Nice. Due to the heterogeneous nature of the country, there are plenty of options to accommodate the varying tastes of couples. This leads to the point that some of the smaller venues only sleep ten people which means that most wedding parties cannot fit under one roof.

Finding a nearby inn is recommended so that overflow can be conveniently located to where the ceremony is being held and be able to transport themselves back and forth to the venue and their lodging seamlessly. The bigger the venue the less lodging is a concern, so if a large country estate is rented out for the week and it sleeps thirty people, this wedding party may not have to concern themselves with overflow lodging at a hotel or inn. Everything depends on size, cost, and location but there are plenty of charming inns and hotels in France that will sufficiently accommodate wedding guests. If it is too much of a concern, try making the guest list smaller, this will cut down on cost and worry.

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