Home Wedding in the Lot

Home weddings are always trickier and more expensive than you think – and in this case, Natasha’s family, amongst other things, re-levelled the ground for the dancing marquee and knocked down (and re-built) a garden wall to provide entry to the neighbour’s garden for dining!

But this is what I love about home weddings, the challenge of making a place that is special to someone into something they never thought possible, for the biggest day of their lives. It was worth it in the end…

Congratulations Natasha and Jake

Official Photography by Shanna Jones

Natasha’s family have a beautiful property in the Lot where Jake and she had shared many happy memories with friends and family. They therefore thought it fitting that they have their wedding there.

So they invited 140 guests from the UK and Ireland, for three days of celebrations.

The event kicked off with a cocktail evening the night before at nearby Chateau de Cenevières.

The weather held off for them but back at the house setting up, we had hail – thank goodness we had a plan B just in case!

But, as it turned out, we didn’t need plan B as the sun came out for the wedding day and the rain stayed away.

Jake and Natasha were able to have a beautiful ceremony on the terrace and lawn, conducted by Father Brian D’Arcy and with music by Brian Kennedy, both family friends.

This was followed by a champagne fountain and cocktail food and drink by the pool.

Before moving into the marquee in the (neighbour’s) garden for speeches and dinner.

From dinner back into their own garden for cake-cutting (made by the bride’s mum) and the first dance.

And it wouldn’t have been a McGuigan party without it being kicked off by a rendition of ‘Mustang Sally’ from father of the groom… Barry.

Barry McGuigan singing

The next day it was round the pool for a BBQ and Jake’s favourite… gelato, specially shipped in.

If you are looking to get married at your own place in France or want your favourite gelato shipped in!.. then contact someone who knows how and tell us about your wedding day aspirations. Book a call to discuss you home wedding.

Keeping up Vegan resolutions…

Well it’s now the end of January, or ‘Veganuary’ if you were up for going vegan last month. If you’re hoping to carry through your new resolutions to a wedding in France, you’ll be pleased to know that despite perceptions of France not being well known for its choice of vegan options, there are some great French caterers who can make the vegan menu experience just as gastronomic as that of meat-eaters.

Here is an example of a Vegan menu for one of our clients:

And a couple of dishes:

Gastronomic canapes at wedding on French vineyard

Don’t forget your wedding cake either. Why choose one when you can have three? In this case Victoria sandwich, rich chocolate cake and lemon and poppy seed. I can tell you there wasn’t a crumb left.

For the day after party there are also a growing number of street food trucks with some truly beautiful vegan options…

And of course, plenty of vegan wines can certainly be found here too!

If you are looking to create extraordinary experiences for you and your guests then book a call and see what we can do for you.

A snapshot of our weddings and events in 2018

2018 was all about ‘experiences’ – something we hear our couples and clients talking about a lot… wanting to do things that are unexpected, different and in such a way that guests leave saying how much fun they had.

As in previous years, our couples journeyed to France from all over the world and we, French Wedding Company, journeyed up and down the country to locations ranging from a moated chateau in Normandy, the front steps of a grand holiday home in the Lot, to a Premier Cru vineyard in Bordeaux.

However, for us, the most important thing was how we worked together with our couples to create something individual and reflective of themselves, yet also with their guests’ enjoyment, front of mind.

So here are just a few highlights from our ‘experiential’ weddings and events that included:

An interactive show with French Can-Can dancers that involved ad hoc performances by the groom and certain guests (lots of laughter and cheering here):

Ballerinas from the Royal Ballet, London performing a specially choreographed piece alongside a harpist, for a bride who was an ex-dancer:

Synchronisation of a couple’s first dance with fireworks, ensuring the first firework went off as the groom lifted his bride up into the air. (You should have heard the gasps of awe from their guests!):

A themed Great Gatsby night including Charleston dancers, cocktail barman, cabaret singer and all the appropriate styling:

A few celebrity guests also made key appearances for their friends…

Plenty of fun was had by all, particularly at the following day’s BBQ and pool parties…

Watch this space for more details of our weddings from this summer…coming soon!

If you are looking to create extraordinary experiences for you and your guests then book a call and see what we can do for you.

Candice and Carl Part Three – The Wedding Day

A Touch of Provence in South-West France –
An intimate outdoor wedding

Candice and Carl, busy London professionals, contacted us directly looking for help with all aspects of their venue search and wedding planning.

They were looking for an intimate, outdoor wedding, in a countryside venue, with touches of Provence. Having found and visited 6 properties with them, Candice and Carl chose Chateau de Saint Paul for their wedding.

The varied and intimate outdoor spaces were just what they were looking for in their wedding venue, along with the rustic style and charming accommodation.

You can read about their wedding planning journey in their own words in their 3 part blog.

             

The private chapel was ideal for their religious wedding blessing.  The decoration was simple and elegant.

Bridesmaids wore sage green and the groom and groomsmen traded the formality of jackets, in favour of braces and bow ties.

                 

The wedding colour palette was classic whites with touches of sage green and lavender, a reflection of Provence.

The wedding style was elegant and romantic.

Drinks were held in the main courtyard, where guests sipped champagne or made up their own mocktails.

  

The chef cooked mini skewers on the hot skillet whilst a friendly petanque competition took place in the shade of the chateau.

  

The wedding breakfast took place in the garden under the shade of a Mediterranean style pergola, draped in soft white fabric, created especially for the occasion by the styling team.

  

Guests sat at one large table decorated with white flowers and touches of light grey, sage green and lavender.

The wedding menu was served family style with platters passed down the tables for guests to help themselves.

At the end of the meal the a tiered presentation of macaroons were shared instead of a wedding cake and guests were entertained by an interloper!   (Not really, one of the guests is a stand up comedian, and came as the substitute bride.)

                                 

After dinner guests danced the night away to the live music sung by a jazz pianist brought in specially from the UK from one of their favourite bar/restaurants.

The next day everyone was invited back for a post wedding Sunday brunch at the chateau.  A casual affair where we all sat around and shared the memories of the wonderful day before.

Congratulations Candice and Carl!

Wedding in France

Photography by Peter Antoine Photography

Venue Search Tips 1: Setting Your Venue Budget

Don’t let your venue choice mean compromising on your wedding day

If you are starting out on your wedding planning journey then it’s an exciting time, but, it can also be a confusing one… not least because most wedding venues in France do not offer an ‘all-in’ package. ‘GREAT!’ I hear you cry, ‘we can have our day, our way’, and yes, that is of part of the joy of a wedding in France.

But beware …

Before you get out your iPad and start searching for venues, have you considered what venues you can afford AFTER you have calculated your wedding day costs?

So often I hear…

I thought the venue would do that’

or

I didn’t realise that wasn’t included

 

The reality is that there is a huge choice of wedding venues in France to suit all tastes and budgets, if you know where to look for them, but the cost of hiring a venue can vary vastly from one venue to another.

The cost of your wedding day, however, generally varies little from venue to venue (assuming you are comparing apples with apples!).

So, to avoid disappointment and to get a fabulous wedding venue AND the wedding day of your dreams, follow these 5 steps.

  1. Fix Your Overall Budget
    Decide on a total figure that you both feel comfortable spending, taking into account any family contributions.
  2. Work Out What Your Ideal Day Will Cost
    Talk through your ‘ideal’ wedding day and research the average cost that each service required will be.  Don’t forget support services such as staff, delivery charges and equipment hire, for example. DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING!!!  This is perhaps one of the hardest areas of your budgeting as it will take time and research, but make the effort, take advice and you are setting yourself up for a lot less hassle and potential heartache.
  3.  Allow Contingency
    It may be impossible to know all costs before you know your venue or exactly which suppliers you are using.  Also, things often have a bad habit of coming up unexpectedly, so, add a contingency:  10% is usually good.
  4. Work Out Your Venue Budget
    Take your wedding day costs from your overall wedding budget and see what you come out with.  Don’t be too upset if your venue budget comes out less that you thought, you won’t be the first!  It is at this stage you can then add in any accommodation costs you are hoping to recoup from guests, as this will boost your venue hire spend.
  5. Find Your Venue
    Before despairing that you can’t afford anywhere or the venue of your dreams, do take a look around.  With over 8000 wedding venues in France there are sure to be some options for you.  If not, then this is when you need to decide where you might be happy to compromise.  Prioritise on-the-day services, identify where you might be prepared to shave some money off to increase your venue budget… and get expert help!

DON’T get yourself in a position where you fall in love with or even commit to a venue but can’t afford to hold the wedding day you had dreamed of.  You’ll end up resenting the fact that you had to squeeze other areas so tightly or spend the whole planning process and even on the day, stressing about it.

If it all feels a bit overwhelming, why not contact French Wedding Company about our Venue-Finding Service.  We know how to find a broad spectrum of venues, understand site logistics and their impacts on costs.  We also thrive on getting creative… thinking of different ways of doing things to achieve your dream wedding.  The service includes helping you to understand your options and set your wedding day budget.

Contact us about our Venue-Finding Service now and we’ll get you started on the right path.

Coming Next… Venue Search Tips 2: Search Pitfalls

Coming Soon… Venue Search Tips 3: Getting the most from your site visit

A four-day celebration with a ‘jockey race’

Jasemin and John run a busy company in London and were referred to me by one of our agency partners.

“We didn’t realise how much help we were going to need until the first venue advised us how much they did not arrange!  It was then we realised we need a wedding planner”

John said, “I am a natural worrier and it doesn’t matter how much you say it will be fine I still worry, but when I turned up for our wedding and had seen all that you and your team had done behind the scenes I knew it would be fine. Our guests and we had an unforgettable 4 days. Everything that you did for us was worth every penny and more.”

Jasemin said, “You do so much more than anyone can imagine and should shout about it more. Your team were all amazing and the whole thing was a tightly run ship in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Thanks for all your help.

    

DAY 1 — Family dinner

It started small, but as numbers increased the rehearsal dinner went from the Chateau dining room to a black and silver themed, black-tie dinner, in the smaller reception room.  Stylist Jen and her team transformed the room from simple barn to classy dining room with a vintage gramophone, baby grand piano and champagne bar.  The party went on all night.

                                

DAY 2 — Welcome Dinner

The idea for the welcome dinner came to John and me over a glass of wine in the local bar, on their site visit.  John’s dad worked for a racing newspaper and horse racing was a passion of John’s.  He talked about an idea of having a jockey race and so the Malliac Steeplechase was born.

Hosted in the large barn, the tables were set around a parade ring complete with artificial grass, winning post and jump.  During dinner, the sweepstake was run and the jockeys were presented to the guests.

                

DAY 3 – Wedding Day

Classic white and green was the scheme of the day.  Guests were greeted on arrival to gin and tonic ice pops served from a vintage bicycle.  They then made their way to a corner of the garden that had been transformed into a beautiful ceremony area for their religious wedding blessing.

  

The afternoon reception took place under the shade of the mature trees and around the rose arbour of the park garden.

 

 

Before sitting for their meal, the guests gathered on the circular lawn for the big race…

Three laps of the lawn, jumping over cognac barrels, before a dash down the finishing straight.  A commentary was given by John’s dad and it was an eventful race! There were falls, run-outs and even a disqualification.

The gastronomic meal was followed by the presentation of a fantastic vegan chocolate cake made especially at Jasemin’s request.

                   

DAY 4—Departure brunch

After three days of festivities, it was time to say goodbye with a casual lunchtime buffet and a dip in the pool.

               

Congratulations Jasemin & John.

Photography by: Celine Chhuon

 

 

Afternoon tea then off to the market…

We are delighted to say that we were recommended to Stacey and Ben.

Stacey came with some ideas already for their special day: ‘We come to this region regularly and want to show our friends what we love about it. Our idea is to have an afternoon tea and then go to the local night market’, she said.

And so their dream day was born…

The venue was the very special Chateau de Saint Paul, with its private chapel, beautiful on-site accommodation and two courtyards.

Its layout and rustic feel gave the intimate and relaxed setting that Stacey and Ben were looking for in their wedding venue.

The colour was yellow—beautiful for a summer’s day in June. Sunflowers captured the joy of the day and the essence of the French countryside.

                    

The style was vintage and our in-house wedding stylist, Jen and her team, worked with Stacey’s own purchases and creations to create the perfect feel.

Old suitcases, family photos, vintage bicycles and tea sets all came together with country garden flowers to create a charming and intimate atmosphere.

Following a conversation about shade, I suggested an umbrella ceiling and Jen created a beautiful sun-shade from coloured umbrellas and complimented Stacey’s purchases with draping and jute table runners to soften the look.

Fresh lemonade on arrival was followed by an intimate wedding blessing in the private chapel.

The taste of France was dotted throughout the day including an accordion serenade as the couple and guests left the chapel to enjoy a glass of champagne.

The afternoon tea wedding menu served both French and English savouries and sweets.

Pimms was served in teapots and vintage teacups.

Tea closed with a presentation of macaroons rather than a wedding cake.

Then guests relaxed in deckchairs on the lawns, listening to jazz.

As the afternoon came to a close, guests collected their personalised picnic baskets before boarding the coach.

The happy couple headed off in an old Citroen 2CV to join their guests at the local night market for dinner and dancing.

Congratulations, Stacey and Ben!

Photos French Wedding Company and Tim Fox

Candice and Carl Part Two – Wedding Planning

In the second part of this 3 part series, Candice and Carl continue to tell, in their own words, how, having found their venue, French Wedding Company managed their wedding planning process.

 

“Laura helped us make the arrangements with the venue owners and with the translation of the contracts. It was at this point it dawned on us that although both of us could parle un petit peu de francais, we would definitely need some help with the rest of the organisation, as how would we cope with contract negotiations and finding suppliers in the French countryside from the UK? We always thought of a wedding planner as indulgent and reserved for celebrities and those with money. We were pleasantly surprised by the cost of having Laura as wedding planner, which made our decision easy and in retrospect I am not sure how we would have got everything done without her.

From the point that we decided to use French Wedding Company as our wedding planners things became so much easier.  Laura met with us in the UK before we went out for a 2nd visit to France to understand the unique and personal twists we wanted to add to our day, building up a wedding portfolio of things we liked from other weddings, magazines and our own ideas, guiding us through the practicalities and keeping us on track when our focus got side-tracked on minute details.

French Wedding Company styling moodboard France lavender sage white eclectic
French Wedding Company Styling Moodboard

 

The second trip to France allowed us to re-visit the venue and work with Laura on the walk through of the day. By this point Laura had already helped us to find a celebrant to do the ceremony and sourced a caterer, florist and hairdresser for us to meet with during our visit. We met with all the suppliers and Candice had a run through of hair and make-up before the all-important big day. The food tasting afternoon with our amazing caterer Fabrice, left us no doubt as to who would cater our event and also fuller than one of his delicious crème patisserie profiteroles. My only regret was not to get a taxi there to sample more of the splendid wine that accompanied the food!

wedding planning france menu tasting chef finesse cuisine Dordogne wine
Tasting with Chef Fabrice

wedding menu tasting canapes finesse cuisine caterer france Dorodgne
Sample canapes and a glass of sparkly

wedding planning weekend menu tasting starter confirt of aubergine finesse cuisine catering Dordogne
Stuffed confit d’aubergine starter

wedding canapes finesse cuisine catering menu tasting Dordogne planning weekend
Scallops and with cured bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With four months to go Laura helped us finalise the details with our suppliers; the florist, the celebrant, waiting staff, the Music (PA and Speakers), decorations and catering and tableware. Planning a wedding from another country can make you feel a bit isolated and out of the loop, but it really helped to have a single contact who knew what you wanted and who knew how things work in France, working behind the scenes when things sometimes seemed to be going slower than we expected, or prompting us when we needed to make decisions and get things booked.

The online planning tool used by French Wedding Company helped us keep track of what we had to do, decisions to make and view options Laura and the team had sourced for us, and track spending against our budget. It really helped that everything was in one place.”

wedding planner menu tasting france finesse cuisine bride groom
Supplier meetings with Laura at French Wedding Company

Read Part One – Venue Search

Part Three – Our Wedding Day, follows shortly

See their wedding story book – to follow at the end of their blog series

Destination Wedding in France – 5 Things You Should Know

Thinking about a wedding in France?  Great choice!

There are a few things however, that when considered in advance, can set you on the right path to a unique and successful wedding.

French business etiquetteWedding chateau France private chapel

With many couples opting for venues in the wonderful French countryside you may find the way of doing business somewhat different to the 24/7, online speed of big city living.  Combine that with a culture of frank discussion, fixed service criteria, and ‘not questioning the expert’ and it can be easy to start off on the wrong foot and find supplier negotiations quite frustrating.  Getting support and advice for your negotiations will make it much easier and quicker.

They speak French!

Yes, I am stating the obvious… but having knowledge of the French language can transform how you plan your wedding. When you are not tied to using English speaking suppliers, an even more diverse world of venues and extremely skilled suppliers are there for you, to help you create a truly unique day.

Marriage is only legal at the town hall

Even the French must marry at the local mayor’s office before they can marry in church. It is pretty much the same as going to your local registry office, before having a blessing in France.  If you meet the criteria for a legal wedding in France, the paperwork can be a bit laborious, but when you know how, it can be quite easy to arrange.  Translation will cost though, so do take that into consideration in your budget.

Legal wedding at French mairieWedding at Bergerac Mairie FranceLegal Wedding France - Signing Contract

It costs more than you think

One of the most common mistakes couples make is underestimating the cost of their wedding day. Setting a budget is a good starting point, but is it realistic for the day you are hoping to achieve?  France offers great value but this is not the same as it being cheaper.  If you are hoping to avoid a packaged wedding in favour of having something more bespoke, be very sure that you have considered all the behind the scenes costs.  This may vary from venue to venue so take advice from those in the know.  It may cost you, but what you could save in time, money and stress, will make for much more enjoyable wedding planning.

It’s a big and diverse country

There is a reason that many French don’t go further than their own backyard for their holidays… France is a wonderfully diverse country, rich in culture, landscapes and architecture. Each region has a very distinct character and there is one to reflect every couple.  They also have their own pros and cons, be it weather, costs or access.  Research your region well or take advice before looking for your venue, to help narrow down the areas that will best suit you.

Luxury Village Chateau Rustic IntimateLuxury villa wedding France beachLuxury chateau wedding venue

The team at French Wedding Company have expertise in all these areas.  We are all bi-lingual, have an extensive database of quality, knowledgeable and flexible, English and French suppliers as well as access to a broad range of venues.  We are based in France so know the regions and culture, understand the legalities and business etiquette.  Our years of experience mean we also know what it costs and how to get the best value from your budget.

To get help and guidance finding your venue and planning your day, your way, tell us about your aspirations for your wedding here.

Please note photos are subject to copyright.

2016: A Year of Contrasts

As this is my first blog I have brought together an overview of 2016, to show the diverse range of weddings we do in a year. Details of individual weddings will be posted either as blogs or in more depth in our storybooks that will follow soon. So let’s take a look back.

2016 was a year of contrasts that started with a welcome dinner that had a French bistro feel and ended with a rustic wedding in a beautiful stone barn.

wedding blog 2016 review
year in review - french weddings


In between, styles included classic and elegant, rustic, neon and vintage.

wedding year in review
rustic-french-wedding
wedding year in review


Couples came from across the globe, including Norway, Denmark, Australia, Canada, India and the UK. The smallest wedding was just 10 guests and wedding blessings were held on a boat, in church and at the venues.

french wedding on a boat
french church wedding
french venue wedding

Wedding reception venues included a Bordeaux vineyard, a Michelin starred restaurant, a hunting estate, a couple’s holiday home and an historic château.

french chateaux wedding
french chateau vineyard wedding

 

There was a traditional Danish wedding cake, gastronomic meals, macaroon towers, afternoon teas and picnics. Accordionists, giant garden games, a comedian and even a jockey race… entertained guests.

macaroon tower
wedding picnic hamper
accordion player


French Wedding Company are proud to have helped to bring these dreams to fruition and we look forward to another year of celebration in 2017. Tell us your wedding day dream and ideal setting and together we will make it happen.

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