The first girl I ever had a crush on, when I was 7, was Marie-Catherine, the constantly smiling daughter of my tres exotic French teacher. She had blonde hair with gentle curls and even when it was raining, as it always did in Ireland, her hair seemed to radiate. I was smitten.
I have often wondered if Marie-Catherine was the cause of my love affair with everything French. I am thrilled to have been commissioned by a wedding planner to shoot an elopement there next year.
For couples considering getting married in this most beautiful country, I spoke with Anne Mulvihill, wedding planner from the extremely stylish Fete in France.
1. How can you help international clients who would like to get married in France?
Our job is to help clients who are far away create their dream wedding in France. With a bilingual staff we accompany clients through the planning process to find the right venue & vendors and we are present on the day to make sure that everything goes according to plan! We also happily to provide recommendations for accommodation, restaurants, guided tours and other concierge type services if needed. Our goal is to help create not only a destination wedding but an experience for our clients. We aim to translate not only our client’s visions into reality but also to help translate the different cultural expectations between ‘Anglo’ weddings and French ones.
2. What's the legal situation of foreigners getting married in France? Do you help the couple through any hurdles?
There is a residency requirement of at least 40 days in France for a legal wedding to be held... not to mention a whole headache- filled list of documents to supply to the French bureaucracy. The vast majority of our destination wedding clients have their legal ceremony in their home country and then come to France for a symbolic or religious ceremony.
3. What are some of the more spectacular venues you would recommend for couples to get married in? Castles, palaces, historic places etc
There are so many spectacular venues in France that it’s hard just to name a few. It is possible to privatise some museums in Paris for a ceremony and/or reception. Outside of Paris there are some fabulous chateaux and villas that can be fully privatised – some with private chapels and luxurious accommodation.
4. Can you give some indication of your costs from a couple having a small intimate affair up to large, palatial spectacles with 150+ people.
Our services are based on the scope of the project. Since each client’s wedding is different our job is to personalize our services to comply with the client’s wants and needs. Pricing for organization and coordination of an elopement in Paris start at 2300€. We happily provide custom quotes for larger events.
5. Do you cater for couples that would like to elope?
Of course! Just because there may only be the couple present on the big day does not mean that they shouldn’t have the wedding of their dreams!
6. If a couple was looking to have a large wedding in a private venue (i.e. no hotels or other people present) are there any venues you would recommend?
Yes! In Paris there are private mansions where you can have the run of the whole house and host everything from the ceremony to late night dancing in different spaces but all within the same venue.
Outside of Paris in areas like the Loire you can privatise entire castles and their grounds for a day or weekend long event. In Provence there is a private villa we particularly like with beautiful grounds where you can host guests for a leisurely weekend wedding event. There is even a chapel from the 16th site that can accommodate up to 100 guests for a ceremony and a pool built into the historic ruins.
In Normandy one of our favorites is a fully restored farmhouse from the 15th century complete with two medieval towers at the entrance and a moat surrounding the property. Each guest room is uniquely decorated and filled with interesting vintage objects. It’s the ultimate in ‘rustic chic’!
Interview by Nicholas Purcell