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Has anyone done a wedding in France? If so, I'd really like to talk to you! I'm having a wedding in France, sooner than I expected. Initially my fiance and I were just going to do a court marriage and ceremony later later when we have the funds, but his parents has offered to pay for our wedding AND they have even booked a place for the reception! Now I only have 4 months until the wedding and I have to announce the wedding as soon as possible for my friends and family to be able to make it. I know its not enough time, but it is what it is.....

What I'd like to know is.. what exactly does a French wedding entail?? Is it like an American wedding? How is the reception like?? Where do I even start?? How do I recommend places to stay when I don't even really know? Can anyone recommend a wedding planner? Or maybe even a travel agent?

Again any information is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
 

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Wow - congratulations!

In France, the only legal wedding is the ceremony at the mairie - usually performed by the mayor unless you're in a really large town with assistant mayors. That's the one you need all the weird paperwork for (certificate de coutume, various bits from the US consulate, etc.). You do need to declare your witnesses (i.e. best man and bridesmaid) ahead of time and supply appropriate i.d. for them (generally a photocopy of their passport if an American friend is standing up for you).

The church wedding can only happen after the ceremony at the mairie. Assuming of course that you're having a church wedding. You can just invite folks to come for the ceremony in the mairie if you like. You still wear the fancy dress and all and usually the church bit is right afterwards, especially if the church is close by.

A church wedding in France is similar to a church wedding in the US, though perhaps a little less "free-form" especially if you're getting married in a Catholic Church. (I think the Catholic Church in France requires a certain level of pre-marital "discussions" with the priest ahead of the ceremony. You should check on this if you're going the church route.)

The reception is normally a huge blow-out, centered on eating, drinking and doing "cutesy" little sketches, stories and presentations documenting the bride and groom and their families growing up, or meeting each other, or any other particularly embarrassing moments the "friends" and family members can come up with. They don't do some of the US traditional stuff - like the wedding cake (as cake in France isn't at all as we know it). It can depend a bit, however, on the region in France that your French inlaws are from. Traditions vary.

AFAIK, they don't really have wedding planners, however the place where the reception is booked may be able to give you some names of florists, caterers (if they don't do the food themselves there) and other merchants you'll need, including hotels and auberges in the area. I'd have to say that there is perhaps a bit less "angst" connected with a French wedding than with the lavish choreographed affairs they throw in the US. Lean heavily on your in-laws-to-be (it will endear you to your future mother-in-law when you ask her advice!).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi Diana,

I'm actually a wedding planner here in Paris, and I write a blog which talks all about planning or hosting a wedding in France. Over the years I've posted a few articles which talk about the differences between French and American weddings, French traditions, etc. Here are a few that may be helpful to you. Best of luck!!

(oops! I'm new to this forum so I can't post urls, but if you take a look on google, the name of my blog is "parisian party: tales of an american wedding planner in paris") Hope this helps!!


Kim Petyt
 

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Hi Diana and congratulations

Hopefully you will be able to get a lot of the info you need from Kim's blog.
If your wedding is in the Charente, we know of an English speaking travel agent who may be able to organise your family and friends trips and accomodation.
He also has a Wedding Planner contact in the area if this will help.

Good luck

Christa
 

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Hi Diana,

Congrats on your wedding plans. I have lived here in France since April 2011 and still getting accustomed to the "French Ways". There are a few things that you should know about living here. To begin with, and no offense to anyone on this board, but know that living here at times is like living on Mars. It seems that nothing done here is like it is done back in the States. Mind you, France is a wonderful place to live, really great people that are as interested in your life as an American as you are in theirs as French.

We are getting married in less than two weeks. I suggest you please look at my posts regarding the wedding cake and our reception. It might give you some insight into what we are dealing with right now. Wedding flowers are nothing like back in the States. See my post on that as well.

You will find our group a HUGE asset in giving you information. Everything that Bev shares is truly the gospel and we are all behind you to try to share as much information as we can to help you along. This forum has helped us greatly and I hope you too can take advantage of it as I did.

Just some helpful information based upon my recent experiences...

Be strong. Many things do not at first seem to make sense but down the road, they might.

Stay strong with bureaucracy as every event (even returning a defective toaster less than one month old is a hassle) and you must have a major back bone to accept it especially when dealing with the Mayors office and the Prefecture.

Your birth certificate must be less than 90 days old at the time you are married. You must have an Apostile affixed to it and it must then be translated into French. Some mayors offices require it while others do not. The Prefecture will require it as will other agencies here. Your translation must be done by someone who is qualified. You just can't use someone who is fluent in French unless they are certified, qualified, etc. The person I used was very reasonable and did it quickly. If you want her contact information, please PM me and I will gladly share it with you.

There are a zillion and one things you will have in your mind to do, questions to ask and so on. Get yourself a pad and jot each question down. No question is too far out and please remember we are all here for you! One really important thing to do, as Bev proposed, use your mother in law to be as a resource. You are in the States while she is here and can get many questions answered for you.

Best of luck to you and yours! We're here for you! Cheers!
 

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There was one other thought that came to me after I posted my prior reply. Please see my posts on the White Wedding interview. You must ask if you need a translator (if you are not fluent in French yet). I listed the questions we were asked. Your questions might be very different but it can hopefully give you some insight. Cheers!
 

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You don't necessarily have to have a traditional french wedding in France, you can always amalgamate aspects of the two cultures together. I am married to a frenchman, grew up in England but have scottish parents and married in Edinburgh so incorporated aspects of all 3 cultures to make the day very personal and special for us. The things that I remember having to take into account were:

* Invitations - having 2 different versions if you have american and french guests attending (french and english)
* Accommodation - list of available hotels in french and english (although ending up booking the hotels for most of the french as the websites were in english)
* Speeches - not traditionally a part of french weddings - had to be in french and english
* Transport - booking transport from the airport and to the venue of the wedding day as many of our guests were from england and france
 

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There was one other thought that came to me after I posted my prior reply. Please see my posts on the White Wedding interview. You must ask if you need a translator (if you are not fluent in French yet). I listed the questions we were asked. Your questions might be very different but it can hopefully give you some insight. Cheers!
Considering the OP was over 3 years ago they've prob got a couple of kids by now lol ;)
 
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