Wedding Venue options in France and what to expect

There is such a wide choice of wedding venues in France so where do you start and how do you compare them all? How do you decide which format is the best one for your needs? We have pulled together a list of pros and cons as to what you can expect, and although there are exceptions, in general, there are three main types of venue available for weddings and event in France:

1 – Private properties with onsite accommodation

Luxury chateau wedding venue

ADVANTAGES:

  • Call it your own ‘home away from home’, for the duration of your stay
  • Flexibility to create your day, your way
  • No imposed packages – typically the property is rented as the backdrop to your wedding, only. Suppliers are hired direct.
  • Some venues offer an onsite organizer and/or lists of suppliers
  • Stay for as long as you like and host events on more than one day

DISADVANTAGES:

  • No, or limited onsite services or facilities specifically for weddings
  • Couples are responsible for organizing everything and all suppliers for the day.  This not only includes key suppliers but may also include furniture, utilities and infrastructure as well as the installation and dismantling of equipment and cleaning.
  • Many of these properties rent to the holiday market as their primary market, thus flexibility for weekend rental may, but not always, be restricted in high season (July/August).

2 – Venue for the Day

stunning garden pavilion and unique reception room bordeaux wedding venue france

ADVANTAGES

  • Usually there is a venue hire fee only, no packages.
  • Flexibility to create your day your way.
  • Guests don’t see wedding venue before the big day
  • Good value for money
  • Some venues offer an onsite organizer and/or lists of suppliers
  • Basic infrastructure such as toilets, catering kitchen and high capacity reception rooms may exist already on site
  • Often includes some supplies such as furniture, in the hire charge
  • Some venues offer onsite accommodation – this may be just for the bride and groom or for 100+ guests for the night of the event
  • The couple is not committing to paying for guests accommodation

DISADVANTAGES

  • If offered, onsite accommodation is usually just for the wedding night.
  • Limited access times – usually 24 hour’s rental from 09h00 on day of event to 09h00 following day when facility has to be returned cleaned.  Options may exist for a return the next day for a post wedding event.

3 – Hotels

french wedding testimonial

ADVANTAGES

  • Knowledge and services on site
  • Reception room hire included in the catering costs
  • Flexibility on length of stay for all guests
  • Can be small enough to still hire in exclusivity
  • Guests can pay individually for their accommodation although a deposit may be required

DISADVANTAGES

  • Usually offered as a package that can be quite fixed in format but only usually included catering. Outside of that you have freedom to choose
  • They may require you to choose suppliers from a list of nominated partners
  • May share venue with other guests on non event days

We hope that you have found our insights useful, however, every venue is different and may have its own particularities. Should you need help with finding THE wedding venue you have set your hearts on, get in touch and we can help you to find, compare and choose the right one for you and your guests.

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.

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.

160 white balloons go by…

CONGRATULATIONS VOGUE AND JELANI

The truth be told, I’m a bit of softie at heart and love a traditional, simple, white wedding from time to time… and so Vogue and Jelani’s wedding remains one of my favourites. Not least because they are a delightful couple who welcomed me into their families, but also because their wedding had everything you need for a great day, all in the right proportions.
Their traditional Christian wedding service was intimate, very emotional and the key focus of the day. The reception was simply crafted but personalised and fun. There was, of course, a bucket load of love, but most of all, the day oozed JOY from every guest and at every moment.

Vogue and Jelani had already chosen their venue Chateau de Malliac (Belle Vie en Gascony) – a venue I know well and a place they had fallen in love with on their first visit. So much so, they didn’t look anywhere else… despite it stretching their budget.

As a photographer, Jelani knew exactly the setting that he wanted to create for their unique day.

Their biggest challenge was the budget that they had for the numbers they were inviting and the day they were hoping to have. But, in their own words, this is where investing in me came in. They knew that if they chose a good planner with the right contacts and expertise in understanding the industry and venue, it would bring them the very best value possible whilst creating the day they had dreamed of.

The style was simple – classic, white and elegant, but with a rustic charm.  The ambience was fun, intimate, something a bit different, reflecting France and, as Jelani does not drink… light on alcohol.

Food was to be local produce but shared platters and grilled food, as Vogue and Jelani and their families were known for their barbecues and informal get-togethers.

And over the following months of site visits, meeting at their family home in the UK and Skype calls, Vogue and Jelani’s wedding day was born… and one comment stood out more than anything when Vogue said, “I would love white balloons, but I don’t know how to incorporate them into the day.”  I love a challenge, and this is how white balloons and movable styling became the theme of the day, in a cost-effective way.

Guests were brought in by bus for the ceremony in the garden. On arrival, they were greeted with mason jars with their names on to use for their drinks throughout the daytime reception – saving on glassware and service.

 

The ceremony took place under a tree in the garden and stylist Jen worked her magic with simple, elegant gypsophilia flower arrangements up the aisle, rustic wooden bench seating and topped it off with huge white balloons up the aisle (that Vogue assumed were to be the only balloons for the day).


The beauty of Chateau Malliac is that you can close off the court-yard so that no-one can see what you are doing. So, when Vogue and Jelani led their guests into the courtyard for cocktails, the last thing she thought she would see was it full of white balloons, dotted amongst the rustic food and drinks stations.

  

The extended timings of the drinks reception meant that the food offering could be more substantial and, in fact, was used as a replacement for the starter without the need for canapés.
The balloons doubled up not only as decoration but also as the table plan as guests wandered amongst the food stations and found the balloon with their name and table number on.  Drinks included a mocktail bar and non-alcoholic punch.

   

When dinner was called, guests were invited to take their balloon with them to dinner and to tie it to their chair which led to an instant white balloon ceiling in the vast rustic reception hall – cleverly at no extra cost! The flowers had been moved in from the ceremony to dot along the table so the only additional was a top table balloon backdrop. It worked a treat and when Vogue and Jelani walked in, they were blown away by the effect.

  

Dinner was high-end regional produce used to create sharing platters that included duck, foie gras burgers and sea bream with bowls of accompaniments passed down the tables.

 

After the main course, the dessert buffet was rolled in, decorated with the huge balloons from the ceremony and the white chocolate choux-bun pyramid.


And the evening rounded off with dancing…

“We just want to thank you once again for making our day possible. And turning all our dreams into a reality. We cannot thank you enough.”
Vogue and Jelani

Photography by Phan Tien

Tell us your wedding day dream and see how we can bring it to reality.

Advice on how to set your wedding day budget

NEW **French Country Estate with fabulous views & lake**

OPENING OFFERS FOR SUMMER 2018

 

The French Country Estate is the ideal wedding venue for a relaxed country, rustic or festival style wedding for up to 100+ guests.  Its organic and ‘green’ ethic may also be appealing to discerning couples.

It has flat lawns on 3 sides of the chateau and a large barn that will be available from 2019.

 

 

What we love….

We are delighted to be exclusive partners at this property.  The young owners are developing the estate in organic farming and are vibrant, aspirational and extremely hospitable – keen to offer you the very best of the region and venue.  They have a flexible approach and a whole host of additional activities that can be arranged exclusively for your guests and you, around the estate.   

The estate offers:

Weddings and Events

  • fantastic views to mountains and across the surrounding countryside
  • great flexibility in set-up and event spaces, both indoor and out
  • extensive flat lawns surrounding the house on 3 sides
  • large terraces suitable for outdoor dining
  • tree-lined avenue on arrival
  • second avenue of trees suitable for ceremony or shaded outdoor dining
  • interconnecting barns suitable for indoor receptions and events (bar, dinner, dancing, ceremony)
  • 4 hectare lake accessible for barbecues, picnics, etc.

  

  

  

House and Services

  • self-catering, accommodation for up to 16 on site
  • large, well laid out and presented communal spaces
  • pool with spectacular views
  • breakfasts and event meals can be provided for on-site residents
  • other activities such as clay pigeon shooting, hot air ballooning, colour therapy, reiki, massage

  

  

In the Area

  • nearest church – 5 mins
  • nearest airport – 1.5 hours
  • nearest overflow accommodation – 5 mins
  • nearest village with amenities – 5 mins

Rental

  • flexible arrival day
  • flexible length of stay (season dependent)

Contact us for more information

A Look Back at 2017 Wedding Venues

2017 was yet another year of variety for wedding venues including:

  • rustic country chateaux and elegant luxury chateaux
  • chateaux sleeping 40 guests and chateaux just for 10
  • wedding barns and courtyards

We revisited our exclusive partners at the Stunning Aristocratic Chateau and long-time friends at Chateau Malliac…

 Large Armagnac Chateau in Gers with ivy covered walls towers huge stone and oak beam receptions rooms, courtyard and park garden

Were delighted to return to Chateau de Saint Paul and Chateau de La Bourlie…

Chateau de Saint Paul former Priory in stone with courtyard and Romanesque chapel  Wedding in France at Chateau de la Bourlie medieval chateau with large courtyard

And established new partners at Chateau La Gauterie.

Wedding Venue France Chateau La Gauterie Manor House with large park

We travelled to new regions with Esther and Kevin who got married in the Vendée, and once again, helped couples plan weddings at their own, or at their parents’ homes in France.

Our new Venue Finding Service went from strength to strength with couples from across the globe engaging our services.  We helped them find their wedding venue in Paris, Provence, Bordeaux, the West Coast, the South and South West of France, as well as a beach wedding, and 3 of these wedding venues were booked from afar, without any visits.  From the wedding venues search service:

  • Total wedding venues found on initial searches 426
  • Total wedding venues presented to couples 112 

We are looking forward to carrying out more personalised venues searches in 2018 and sharing some of the amazing and hidden wedding venues that France has to offer.

For expert help on finding your wedding venue and making head or tail of costs, venue options and suitability, contact us here.

SPECIAL OFFER  

10% DISCOUNT ON WEDDING VENUE SEARCHES

BOOKED BEFORE 31ST JANUARY 2018

 

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

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 1 – Venue Search

Read about Candice and Carl’s wedding planning journey in the first of this 3 part series – written in their own words.

“We knew we wanted something different for our wedding, we had always loved France; the food, the wine, its beauty, warmth and memories of holidays on the South coast. The idea of making our special day somewhere we would always remember, a unique day just for us, to share with our family and friends, a perfect day….

Wedding in France

Our first thought was that we could get married in a French church and find a venue for the reception, but unfortunately you have to have lived in France for over a month to do that and as much as we would have loved to stay in the beautiful sunny countryside of France, it wasn’t possible. We decided to have a blessing and our reception in France instead. We searched online for venues and found a number of agencies that could help us to find our dream location. Our initial thought was to use a venue finding service to get the ball rolling and then we would organise the rest ourselves. How hard could it be?

intimate rustic wedding venue franceboutique-chateauLuxury Village Chateau Rustic Intimate

We chose to use the French Wedding Company for this as they had a range of venues to suit our budget and hand-picked 12 options for us to narrow our search. We chose to view six and spent an amazing weekend touring the Dordogne countryside and looking at venues. We were met at each one by Laura and her team to walk the venues and give us suggestions about what we could do at each one, which helped us to visualise what our day would look like and the general flow of the day.

Our chosen venue was the first place we visited, although it was a hard choice between the options available. The sun shone on the hilltop Chapel of St Paul’s next to the tastefully renovated stonework gites. The idea that we could have our ceremony in a chapel and have our reception within the gardens overlooking the fields and lake, with accommodation for our closest friends and family was more than we hoped for. St Paul’s was beautiful and we had found our venue.”

Chateau de Saint Paul rustic wedding venue France chapel rustic barn
Photos by Peter Antoine Photography

It takes us just 7-10 days to turn around a wedding venue search.  For Candice and Carl we sourced approx 30 possible venues, contacted 20 who met their exact requirements, proposed 12 that were the nearest match, available and within budget.  Contact us to get your venue search under way.

Read Part Two – Wedding Planning (to follow shortly)

Read Part Three – Our Wedding Day (to follow shortly)

See their wedding storybook, showing how we brought their wedding day to fruition (to follow shortly).

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