Discover How to Create the Wedding of Your Dreams
Without Busting Your Budget!
The average cost of a wedding in the UK last year was close to £17,000, using current exchange rates that is over 19,000 euros. Couples are investing a huge amount of their income to ensure that they have the wedding of their dreams and by choosing France as your destination there are many ways to ensure your wedding is everything you dreamed it would be without busting your budget.
Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue
France has wedding venues to suit every budget and every style and our smaller venues have worked really hard this year to create some fabulous inclusive wedding packages. Lockdowns and government restrictions have imposed limits on the size of weddings in 2020 and whilst this has been devastating for so many, it has also forced us all to be creative.
An example of this is from Sandra at Rubijoy Weddings. She has been working with Château Canet in Rustiques in the Aude region in the south of France. Together they have put together an all-inclusive, off-season wedding package. She says this package is perfect for couples who wish to downsize their plans and still have a beautiful wedding in the south of France.
Another fabulous option is to choose a smaller venue and extend the capacity with marquees, stretch tents and glamping! Snazzy Tents have options to suit a variety of budgets, and as each of their events really are bespoke, they recommend you get in touch to find out how they can can help you create your dream French wedding adventure.
Dorn at Le Moulin de la Quentiniere offers some great ideas! She agrees that France is a really affordable wedding destination which means that a couple can focus on the really important aspects of their event. She feels that an affordable wedding is an opportunity to do a few really important things brilliantly! Couples do not need to cut back on the things that mean a lot to them; even members of the UK royal family opted for smaller and more personal weddings this year. Couples can make the wedding about each other and a celebration of their love. That way they are able to get something magical that just happens to cost a less.
Have a smaller guest list – This year couples needed to limit the people they invited. choosing guests who were more invested in the happiness of the couple. Whilst this was a hard choice it also ultimately meant couples were less stressed – not having to worry about sitting Uncle Bert next to the playful but bothersome teen brother! These smaller weddings have ultimately proved more relaxing and enjoyable!
Concentrate on what is important – it’s not about having the most expensive dress, the biggest array of flowers, a crowd of bridesmaids or the most extravagant food. Take time to consider what is really important to you, consider what you want to put all of your energies into. If the bride doesn’t want to wear a traditional (designer) dress? Cool! It’s her choice! If the Bride and Groom fancy serving pizza at the reception? Go for it – what fun! Not wanting to marry in a church? Don’t. There are an abundance of lovely venues to choose from! We host ceremonies in our beautifully refurbished flour mill! If this is your kind of dream destination wedding venue, then not only can that wish be fulfilled but booking such a venue won’t blow your budget.
When a couple focuses on what is really important to them, they can focus on where they want to spend their money. Finally, don’t discount the savings a wedding planner can bring. A good one, who knows the area and knows your budget, can offer flexibility and choices that will ultimately save money in the long run.
When it HAS to be a Chateau!
For some couples their dream French wedding has to include a grand chateau! And of course why not? Karina Tomczyk from Château Rieutort in the south of France explains how there are still ways to make your dream wedding more affordable.
At our venue couples are allowed to bring their own soft drinks, beers and spirits which saves a great deal and offers flexibility for couples to make choices about their party. As we are a wine domain we do use our own wines during events but couples buy the wine at the domain’s prices (lower than retail prices) and with a discount (10% or more depending on the size of the order) – which is a great saving and also they know that they are serving their guests with really great quality wines!
In France there are many big properties (but not anonymous like some hotels) where you can sleep your entire wedding party of 50 – 60. If you have your heart set on a grand chateau, choosing a venue where guests are accommodated on site for 3-4 nights is super handy and if you ask your guests to chip in to cover the cost of their accommodation you barely pay for the venue itself. Château Rieutort is a perfect example of such property. The cost to rent the entire property including accommodation for up to 65 and one breakfast buffet is mainly composed of the rental cost of each individual accommodation – so in the end there is almost no extra cost for “having the wedding” on site. When you consider the overall costs, hosting a 3 nights stay in a French chateau may cost the same as 1 night in a posh hotel in the UK.
Your Wedding Planner is your Best Friend!
Many people think that by not using a Wedding Planner they can save money but that’s often not the case; especially when you’re planning a destination wedding. A Wedding Planner will help you avoid costly mistakes, save you a great deal of time and will also help save you expensive trips to and from France whilst you plan your big day.
We spoke to Katerina Meyvial, who plans beautiful weddings and elopements in and around Paris. She told us that having a destination wedding in France doesn’t necessarily cost a fortune because different venues and different vendors can cater for different expectations and budgets. However, she warns, sometimes what seems like the best deal is not always a wise investment, and sometimes the more expensive option can end up being the most economical.
She advises couples to hire a wedding planner before making any other choices. A wedding planner will help ensure that you avoid costly mistakes, they can help you to choose a venue that meets your expectations and your budget and they will know the very best local suppliers. If your suppliers have to travel some distance to the wedding venue and need to stay overnight their costs will increase dramatically. These hidden costs can add to your overall budget. To get the best deal, she recommends weighing all the pros and cons before making your decisions.
Also, often, when couples plan a destination wedding, they choose to host a multiple-day celebration with pre-wedding cocktail and a day-after brunch. It is a great idea, as it clearly brings your celebration to a different level. For couples that are budget-conscious, I would recommend skipping catering or wedding planning services for these side events, and ask your bridal party to help prepare a dinner/brunch for you. I am sure they will be happy to organise a laid-back garden or pool party for you in a unique location, like a French castle!
And finally, a little brainstorming can help you save on the decoration too. For instance, choose a naturally beautiful area of the venue that only needs a little floral décor to enhance its beauty and try to use benches instead of individual chairs to save a little more.
Laura at The French Wedding Company has been planning weddings in France for over a decade and she also offers some excellent advice for couples planning to get married in France.
First and foremost she recommends that couples spend a lot of time planning before making any bookings. France definitely offers excellent value – you can get a lot more bang for your buck and excellent quality but couples should be very realistic about their budgets. France isn’t always cheap but quality is high and there are are few things that all couples can do that won’t break the bank and still give them a fabulous day.
Know all of the costs BEFORE you book your venue – it’s too late once you have booked! Find out what isn’t included and how much it will cost to supply those things; a package may not be the most cost effective option. Take time to fully understand your options; Laura has more information on this on her own website. She also rightly points out that this could be especially relevant in 2021, if we are still holding events under COVID protocols.
Consider Day-Only venues. These are often ruled out by many couples because they don’t have accommodation on site but this isn’t always a disadvantage. Often these venues are much nearer to towns and booking a separate holiday cottage or a local hotel (that are usually small enough to just take over with your party) means that you are not committing to pay for accommodation for guests who (as in this current crisis) may not be able to come. Day Only Venues are usually very well set up for events and often provide fully equipped caterers, kitchens and furniture in the price. And… No-one gets to see the venue before the big day!
Don’t spend a fortune on the small stuff. My heart breaks at the end of each wedding when I pile all the bits and pieces of decoration into a box that I know is going in the bin. Not only can you save money on not spending on these but you’ll also be kinder to the environment! Ask yourself if you really need all of the menus, place cards, table plans and favours? Instead Laura recommends having one big menu and table plan presentation, make a statement rather than a menu at each place setting. When choosing Wedding Favours make them something really useful or something that can be consumed straight away or give a really personal keepsake that doubles up as a gift. Get creative and personal! We had one couple write a thank you note to each guest, and presented it nicely and used it as the table place card, another had a caricature done of each guest in advance as an escort card – a great ice breaker, a fabulous personal gift and not one of these was left behind!
Flowers add a touch of luxury to weddings but less and bigger is more! And you can save money! Other than your bridal party, consider spending on bigger statement pieces for your flowers like an arch or big urns that can be moved around during the day and used as a backdrop; these look fabulous in photos too and make more of an impact on the day. Also don’t rule out good quality silk, paper or dried flowers and which can be cheaper, look amazing and you can save them as a keepsake. I had wrist corsages for our mum’s and bridesmaids at my own wedding. We used high quality silk flowers and no-one noticed a difference on the day. I gave them to the ladies in presentation boxes so that they could be saved.
Finally and maybe most importantly – don’t assume anything. Planning a wedding in France is not the same as planning your wedding at home! Whilst the principle is the same, how things work is often different. You can’t ask too many questions! Be sure that you know what is included, from when, until when, does it include equipment, staff, expenses, delivery? If it doesn’t say… always ask. Or use a wedding planner like the French Wedding Company who’ll confirm all of these details for you and ultimately save you time and money.
France is the Home of Great Food & Wine
France is known for it’s amazing cuisine and fabulous wine! High quality food and produce is very accessible and affordable in France and one way to help your budget is to choose local and seasonal produce.
Jo at Le Chef Impeccable has been working with couples for over ten years to help design bespoke wedding menus; here’s her advice!
You can have a very affordable wedding in France. Wine especially offers you excellent value! When your wedding is catered by Le Chef Impecable, we’ll offer an extensive list of affordable wines that will not break the bank. We also work with suppliers that offer sale or return so there’s no fear of the bar running dry or over ordering !!
For Wedding Food there are a variety of different catering options and the more modern style of a relaxed approach to eating means that casual dining on your wedding day with a hog roast or a slow roast buffet can be much more affordable for couples.
France offers fabulous choice and quality but my main advice would be make a budget and stick to it. Be sure that your suppliers understand this and they’ll work with you to ensure you have a fabulous day !!!
If Music is the Food of Love...
Every party needs music! What music you choose will depend on your pockets and the style of your wedding. Laura from Ensemble Obbligato echoes what many of our suppliers say – Book local suppliers! France has such a huge selection of musicians across the country; you’ll be spoilt for choice! But if you choose local then you can save of the cost of travel and this can make a big difference to the cost of your wedding!
Lora from The Candies and Soul Candy explains – we’re two bands offering different options for different budgets and different styles of weddings. Our advice would be to really consider the party that YOU want for your big day rather than what you think you should provide. There are no rules and it’s your party!
Think about Travel Costs : Soul Candy is a great big fabulous soul band. We’re based near Bordeaux but we travel all over France and moving an 8-peice band can be very costly. When choosing the band for your wedding do look at where they are based; our travel costs can double our fee so it could make a huge saving for you to choose someone based near the venue.
Think about Timings : Couples often ask about having live music until the wee small hours but experience has taught us that more often wedding guests start to disappear much earlier. If you want everyone to enjoy the dancing then maybe consider the event timings and ensure your live music finishes in good time. Not only will your guests stay up for the last dance… if the band can finish early then maybe overnight accommodation may not be needed… which in turn means savings for you.
Wedding styles are changing – many couples are looking for smaller more informal weddings. Choose a band that can offer flexibility and fit in with your style. Many couples spread their wedding event over more than one day so consider saving the band for another day – choosing a different day of the week can sometimes mean a reduced fee.
Be up front with your budget. When we, as a band, know your budget we can try and find ways to be creative to try and work within this. If you have your heart set on a particular band but the quote is too high then explain your situation… you never know!
Wise Words from the Wedding Celebrant
Gaynor from Ceremonies in France is an English-speaking Celebrant and an optimist based on nothing more than a love of life, people and laughter. Here’s here advice on how to plan your wedding budget.
Make a list of everything you need to spend money on. Then sit down together and give everything a ranking. Is it: a “must have”; a “I would like to have”; or “it would be nice to have”. Now reorder your list with the must haves at the top.
Next step, think about how important each thing is to you and if you’re prepared to compromise on it or not. If you are, then look at the alternatives and see what suits you best. So for example, a celebrant is not a must have. You’ve probably already legally registered your marriage so the ceremony in France has no legal standing. Only you can decide if you want to employ a professional celebrant or get a family member or friend to conduct your ceremony.
Whilst this is an option it isn’t ideal for most couples. I had a bride who initially wrote to me, “We are still considering the option of having a friend conduct the ceremony to help with the budget side of things”. After I’d conducted their wedding the email I received said, “The ceremony was exactly… in fact even better than we could ever have hoped for! So many of our friends commented on how brilliant you were – we really lucked out being able to have you officiate our day “.
Although your budget should have a little wiggle room don’t ever blow your budget. What’s truly important on the day are the vows and promises you make in front of family and friends.
Good luck and best wishes for a lifetime of love and laughter together.