Get married in France for €10k

Learnings from personal experience!

I got married in France in 2010 in the Loire et Cher area (not far from the city of Tours). Thankfully my wife is French and having this connection was, as you can imagine, a blessing when it came to organising things. The experience was such a good experience all round that I organised a few weddings after this for family members and friends in France and almost became somewhat of a wedding planner although I would never claim to be one!! This experience led me to consider the main pain points of non-French speaking people as they navigate the possibility of getting married in France. In this article, I will recount my experience in getting married here as a non-French person and account for some learnings. In a follow on post, I will give my experience of the top 10 wedding venues to consider, as I see them, in France if you are a  non-French speakers. 

Do the legal part at home before getting married in France

When it comes to a wedding, as you know, there is the legal papers to get signed as part of the ceremony. Typically ‘at home’ you will have a priest or celebrant who are ‘qualified’ to celebrate this part. If you want to get married in France and want to do the legal work there, it’s pretty much impossible unless you reside in the area that you want to get married. The Mayor does the officiating and gives you the paperwork. You can then present this to a priest or other celebrant if you wish to have a more traditional service, but the legal work has to be done first. I lived in France at the time and we qualified to get married like this so we did it all in France but my advice is that it is easier to just get the paperwork done first and have a civil ceremony. 

Church & music

You probably have seen that my handle is @ownatune. I compose original pieces of music as gifts for people. These are Art pieces that can be hung up and appreciated long after the big day. I am telling you this as we decided to also have a church ceremony. We had a priest and he officiated the religious part. The piece of music that I composed was played over the PA as we walked down the aisle and this was really cool and special.

Wedding product image           Wedding gift with star map

Check out if you think that a specially composed piece of music for your wedding day would be a nice addition. 

You can plan all your music in advance and have it on your phone or have a member of your entourage be the person looking after the music, make sure the church can accommodate though!!

Do you need a planner

You can get a lot done yourself on this one to be honest and once you know where you want to get married, most venues will be able to point you in the right direction re. A ceremony based on your requirements with most venues offering an ‘on site’ option to make things easy. If you have fallen in love with a venue but see that there is a language barrier or you have misgivings or concerns you could think about involving a planner. A planner generally can organise the full wedding, part of the wedding or just be there and manage things on the day. The price you pay will depend on the size and scope of what you want, so expect to pay between 10-20% of your budget here but of course you get serious peace of mind. 

Some planners to consider (@jenniferfoxweddings) (@feteinfrance) (@rachaelellenevents) (@dorotheelegoaterevents) (@brides_in_france) (@sumptuous_events_paris)

Cost of a wedding in France

How long is a piece of string? There are a few commentators who say that France is the most expensive place in Europe to get married. I’d seriously seriously beg to differ on this!! Firstly, this is dependent on what you want. Of course if you go for the Chateau fairytale wedding, you will pay the appropriate prices and many do. This is a once in a lifetime event. Involving a wedding planner on top of this will be a cost as already outlined. Don’t forget that your guests will probably have flown in from around the world so you will need to think of the previous day and the day after re. Activities etc and these may be hidden costs. Eg we organised a tour to a vineyard and other activities. A good article re costs in France are outlined (@etvoilaweddings). 

What we did and our financial breakdown

We didn’t go for a Chateau style wedding but as we understood the local system. Most French people will get married in the local town/village and build a party around that. To give you an idea of what we did. 

  • We booked the local ‘Salle de fete’ (every village has one). 
  • We stocked all the wine and beer (no better country for value for money on this!!) we had loads left over!!
  • We had 2 days catered for food including a cake made. 
  • We hired a 15 member jazz band to play for 2 hours earlier that day for the ‘Vin d’honneur’ which is a celebration after the ceremony. Read more about traditions like this (@frenchweddingstyle). We supplied all the champagne, beers for this and had it by a lake where we had our wedding pics taken. 
  • We did our own music entertainment for the main wedding. We hired in a PA system and had a playlist ready to go. As some of us were musicians, we hired instruments also and played when we wanted!
  • We decorated the room as we wanted and took our time to get this right. 

All in for €10,000

There is probably a lot that i’m forgetting but all in we paid around €10k. Again, we didn’t set out to scrimp or scrape, it was a massive celebration and blow out and no one was without food or drink for 2 days. We ended up giving some of the drink back to the shop (we kept a lot of the wine though!!). 

Hope this helps guys, 

Ciaran, (@ownatune)