How to Get Married in France

elopements in france

Today we take you all the way to Europe to look at what getting married in France looks like for those of you considering a destination wedding or elopement in this oh-so romantic country.  To get the 411, we chatted with French wedding planner and officiant who is an expert at all things saying “I do” in the country, Pierre-Henri Therond of Love Gracefully.  We asked him how to wed, how to elope, and how to infuse the romance of the country into your big day and here’s what he had to say.

JF: What does it take to legally get married in France?

PT: France is a secular country, so no religious minister can legally marry you. The only person who can legally marry a couple in France is a French state official. He or she is always the mayor of the city in which you live in. So, if you don’t live in France, you can get married in France but you’ll need to prove residency for 40 days in a row in the city in which you want to get married. All the paper work has to be done in French, so you’ll need a bilingual lawyer to help you go thru the process. And patience…

getting married in paris

JF: What are some great alternatives to legally tying the knot there?

PT: Since it’s a real pain to go thru the entire legal process, all foreign couples get legally married in their own country and, then, come to France to celebrate a symbolic ceremony! A symbolic non-legal ceremony can be done in a church by an American priest such as the American Church in Paris but what most couples prefer is to tie the knot outdoors, amongst the free exquisite romantic locations that Paris has to offer, with a secular celebrant. The idea here is to celebrate a real personalized ceremony that matches the couple’s values and beliefs mixed with the French romanticism. The ice on the cake being the French accent of the celebrant…

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JF: What are your favorite spots for a destination wedding in Paris or across France?

PT: In Paris, the 2 most popular spots are the garden of the Eiffel Tower and the garden of Notre-Dame’s Cathedral. I enjoy them both very much but there are other locations such the garden of the Luxembourg garden that has tons of flowers all over or the garden of the Rodin Museum that would be my favorite for it’s gorgeous sculptures. Outside of Paris, the French Riviera will always be my favorite spot. The landscape and the sea, the villas and the sunlight produce magic. There, I celebrate a lot of ceremonies in the city of Nice, on a hill overviewing the entire bay and city; a dream view for a magic kiss…

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JF: What are some creative ideas you’ve executed to make a destination wedding feel infused with the local culture?

PT: French are known to be romantic. I can’t explain why it’s like that but romanticism will be all over my writing…And since I write only personalized ceremonies, I always create a new text specially made for that particular couple and, therefore, am naturally creative with my writing. So, my text will be full of French quotes, using a rhythm and a poetry that triggers love in the heart of people. Also, with my French accent, you know you are in France. I don’t know why but it has a deep impact for the people who hear it, a bit like their heart melts…

getting married in france

JF: Favorite places to stay in Paris for the honeymoon or night of the wedding?

PT: Nothing looks more like a hotel than another hotel, so my recommendation is to choose and hotel that convey that uniqueness you are looking for. Literally in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Shangri-Là Hotel would be my favorite; imagine being in bed with the Eiffel Tower at your window…If you have less of a budget, the Terrass Hotel is on top of Montmartre, the only mountain in Paris, so they have suites that overlook the entire city. And if you prefer being the heart of old Paris, in a very homey environment, the hotel Pavillon de la Reine is a must, in front of the gorgeous Place des Vosges to feel like a queen…

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Thanks so much to Pierre-Henri Therond of Love Gracefully for sharing his insights, information and fave places to wed and stay in Paris and beyond!  For more information about elopements, officiating ceremonies or destination wedding planning in France, be sure to check out his site here.

Photo Credits: Ceremony with Couple Laughing: Maria Cabrelli, All Other Images: Jacques Mateos

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A Formal Destination Wedding in Naples, Italy

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Alessandra and Luigi selected Monte Di Procida, Italy in the Naples region to touchdown for their destination wedding. A place near and dear to their hearts, this is the small town where they had family from and where they actually met during one of their summer visits from the US. To bring this fantasy wedding into reality, the couple enlisted destination wedding planner, Art of Perfection Events and Maryla Colandrea shared with us the details of this very special big day.

“About twenty minutes from the bustling city of Naples, Italy is a town called Monte di Procida, an exclusive seaside village, on a bolstering hilltop, with 360 degree views of the Bay of Naples and Surrounding Islands. It is a dream destination and this Italian-American couple who met there years ago knew exactly where they wanted to celebrate their nuptials, in the same “Piazza,” towns-square where it all began.”

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“Alessandra and Luigi wanted guests to indulge in Italy like an Italian.  From yachting to the famous Islands to candlelit dinners overlooking Mount Vesuvius every part of this wedding week was exciting. Cooking classes, Morning espresso and a cornetto in Piazza and Amalfi Coast Villa rentals were just a few of the ways guests toured the Italian life-style.”

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Sohal Beach Club is like a blank white canvas. It is a lovely location on the water overlooking the islands of Ischia and Procida. However, our team of event designers and producers recreated the space to design Alessandra and Luigi’s “Dream” theme that created the whole setting for this lush wedding.”

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“As for the wedding theme, Il Sogno: “The Dream,” was the ongoing thread that kept guest anticipating the wedding day. We romanticized the simple all white outdoor location with lush fabrics, grand carpets and soft tones of blushes and creams for the flowers. But most of all it came to life when people first walked in. The sun gleaming on an angel in the distance swinging in the summer air, just as Luigi told us of his dream when he first met Alessandra. Guests were drawn to the plexy-glass frames telling Luigi’s love-story while guiding them to their first stop the “Photobooth” where all guests were asked to pose for their glamour shot.”

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“Then, to signature cocktails, where they found a massive floral tree that sparkled with Swarovski crystals and personalized dream catchers to help guests find their seat.”

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“As the dreamy “day” became “night” the Dream wedding went Fantasyland with splashes of Gold, Black, White and Silver to transport guests once again to a place of decadence and imagination.”

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“For the Italian music lovers, two famous Italian Singers, Dodi Battaglia and Riccardo Fogli of the legendary group “I Pooh,” stopped by to sing “Alessandra,” a song dedicated to the bride by her father.”

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“Lit butterfly ballerinas on stilts, a human after-dinner drink table, sparklers, mouthwatering Italian desserts and glittering fireworks ended the night for guests who left wondering if it was all real… or just an “ Italian Dream!”

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Francesco De Tito

Wedding Vendors: Church: Maria Assunta in Cielo, Monte Di Procida, Reception Venue: Sohal Beach Club, Naples Italy, Bride’s Gown: Pnina Tornai for Kleinfeld Bridal, Destination Guest Planner + Wedding Designer + Guest Villa Rentals + Invitations + Swag Gifts: Art of Perfection Events, Florist: Il Massimo dei Fiori, APevents Details Photographer &  Behind the scenes Videographer: Gennaro Cimmino, Band: “I Pooh” featuring Dodi Battaglia and Riccardo Fogli, Music: Alma y Musica

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St. John Destination Wedding with Teal!

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Margarita and Mark traveled to St. John for their destination wedding in the sand! The duo had been to the island before and knew it was the perfect spot to wed. So Margarita and Mark enlisted the help of Mary Bartolucci at Island Style Weddings to make the magic happen and she shared with us a bit about their big day.

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“Saying ‘I Do’ in the sand at sunset was a must for this peppy couple! Elisha Orin captured the joyful romance perfectly at breathtaking Trunk Bay.

The Caribbean allows busy couples to get away from it all and really focus on their guests and each other.  It also allows them to really “get it” their big milestone in their lives.”

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What was the inspiration for the décor and that fabulous fashion? The colors of the Caribbean – islands – sea life – natural beauty.”

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Barefoot in the sand gets even cuter with these two flower girls!

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“We even acquired a surprise guest just before the ceremony; his furry entrance made quite an adorable statement with his custom bow tie and lovable face.”

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The beach wedding ceremony was lined with shells and elements befitting of the ocean.

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“As the newlyweds entered into their private reception in Peter Bay, they were greeted with festive streamers, cocktails, and live music from a band they fell in love with in the states and flew them down for their big day! One large dinner table expanded the length of the patio and created an intimate dinner setting that was bustling with laughter.”

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“The evening was filled with smiles, dancing, and love! And towards the end of the night, the pool was filled with the happy newlyweds, their guests, and lasting memories.”

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Elisha Orin

Wedding Vendors: Wedding Planner + Design and Decor + Officiant: Mary Bartolucci and Leah Burris of Island Style Weddings, Wedding dress: Allure Bride, Brides shoes: Tory Burch, Groom’s Attire: J. Crew + Perry Ellis, Bridesmaids Dresses + Groomsmen Attire + Flower Girls: J. Crew, Ceremony location: Trunk Bay, Reception location: Villa Carlotta, Upper Peter Bay, St John USVI, Videography: Nazareth Roads Productions, Ceremony Music: Violin- Chris Robberts, Florist: Jessica Aubain- Roses Too Flowers, Reception Entertainment: Orange Yellow Red Music, Catering: St John Catering, Save the dates + Programs: Decadent & Design LLC - Etsy

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Getting Married at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida

getting married at the breakers

The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida is one of the country’s premier luxury resorts (and home to destination weddings from around the world). We checked out this property firsthand and found that whether you’re hosting an event for 50 or 500 friends and loved ones, you’ll certainly be well cared for by this incredible oasis and its team. We recently chatted with Joan Bever, Director of Food and Beverage – Event Sales and Services, who shared with us a bit about getting married in the area and all the recently renovated 140-acre property has to offer! Located just 15 minutes from the Palm Beach International Airport, The Breakers Palm Beach is easy to get to for your guests, makes your legal domestic destination wedding a breeze, and with eight restaurants and bars and 540 rooms and suites, they have everything you could need and more during your vacation of a lifetime!

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Image: Amy Hill Photography

JF: What are some of the benefits of getting married at a grand resort?

JB: The Breakers Palm Beach is one of America’s premier destinations for magnificent weddings and celebrations. A one-of-a-kind oceanfront destination resort, the bride and groom and their guests never have to leave property. Every need or want is just a stroll away. 

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Image: Alain Martinez Photography

JF: Why is this a great option for destination couples?

JB: It’s a tropical paradise! From the great weather to the stunning ocean and the beautiful blue skies, Palm Beach offers the perfect environment and backdrop for a destination wedding. The Breakers also offers a fusion of old world tradition with modern luxury, giving couples the chance to get married in front of the Atlantic Ocean and celebrate inside a Renaissance-inspired palace – all without a passport required.

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JF: If a couple is planning a wedding at The Breakers, what creative ideas and events can couples plan to enhance the ceremony or reception?

JB: Planning an incredible celebration is all about the details, and a spectacular wedding features customized elements that reflect the couple’s personal styles and tastes.

We encourage our couples to consider incorporating a piece of home (a menu item with local flare), sharing something special to them with their gusts (a specialty cocktail that represents what they sipped on their first date) or by including a personalized element from their family’s heritage (a song or special dance).

Speaking to the menu, a few of the unique and fun items popular today include our Local Fresh Florida Stone Crab Claw First Course, Individual Ice-carved Raw Bar, Signature Giant Martini Sundae and interactive food stations. For dessert, try a pie bar, whoopee pie station or homemade cookie bar and for a new take on the cake, pass bite-sized monogramed petits fours.

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Image: Nancy Cohn Photography

JF: What about activities that aren’t event driven?

JB: Beyond the classic resort amenities offered, guests can also enjoy poolside relaxation in our luxury Bungalows, take a bicycle tour of Palm Beach, delight in beachside Yoga or Pilates (we even offer Paddleboard Yoga!), discover deep sea fishing, scuba diving or snorkeling at The Breakers Reef, and, of course, spend a truly relaxing day at The Spa.

Our team can also help arrange private golf lessons or shotgun golf, tennis or croquet tournaments as well as beach volleyball and private fitness classes.

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Right: Donna Newman Photography, Left: Anthony Vazquez Photography 

JF: What can guests and couples experience at and around The Breakers when coming in for a destination wedding?

JB: The resort’s amenities include four oceanfront swimming pools and five whirlpool spas, a new, spectacular 6,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor Ocean Fitness center, 25 luxury Bungalows for daytime-rentals, half-mile of private beach, an oceanfront luxury spa, 11 exclusive specialty shops, two 18-hole championship golf courses and 10 Har-Tru lighted tennis courts. The Breakers also features a collection of eight distinctive bars and restaurants.

If guests choose to explore the area, world-class shopping, unique entertainment, and captivating museums are located just around the corner. Guests can browse the designer boutiques on Worth Avenue, spend a leisurely afternoon shopping at CityPlace or take in a bit of history at the Henry Flagler Museum – all within minutes of The Breakers.

luxury destination weddings

Image: Ambrosio Photography

JF: Can couples have a beach-inspired wedding or a black tie wedding?  Tell us about the diversity of the property and who it’s ideal for.

JB: Whether indoors or outdoors‚ The Breakers has myriad of breathtaking locations to suit every couple’s personal taste. From stunning oceanfront settings and lush gardens to magnificent ballrooms‚ we can accommodate ceremonies and receptions for 50 to 500 guests. Our one–of–a–kind venues set the perfect stage for a once–in–a–lifetime celebration. 

A few of our favorites include….

The Ocean Lawn: The Ocean Lawn has a breathtaking direct view of the Atlantic Ocean and provides the relaxed feel of a beachside wedding. Framed by palm trees, the Lawn is a favorite locale for stunning ceremonies. This outdoor paradise can be used for ceremonies, welcome and rehearsal dinners, and brunch. The Lawn accommodates 100 to 500 guests.

Venetian Ballroom: With floor to ceiling windows overlooking the stunning Atlantic Ocean, the Venetian Ballroom is one of The Breakers’ largest ballrooms. This majestic room accommodates up to 550 guests.

The Circle Ballroom: Ideal for an unforgettable ceremony or a gorgeous reception, The Circle boasts spectacular ocean views and a soaring fresco-painted ceiling. The Circle accommodates up to 200 guests.

Mediterranean Ballroom: The Romanesque Mediterranean Ballroom features views of the Mediterranean Courtyard and fresco-painted renaissance ceilings. The Mediterranean Ballroom accommodates up to 250 guests.

Mediterranean Courtyard: The Renaissance-inspired courtyard is a dazzling spot for an outdoor cocktail hour or can be transformed for a romantic ceremony. The Courtyard accommodates 75 to 500 guests.

For more information on getting married at The Breakers Palm Beach, be sure to check them out online and follow them on your favorite social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Sorrento, Italy Destination Wedding in Navy

Sorrento Italy destination wedding

Carla and Mike said I do in Sorrento, Italy overlooking the ocean and the island of Capri at their intimate destination wedding with oodles of fashion and fun travel details too!

We asked the couple to share their love of travel and love story with us. “We fell in love with Sorrento, Italy the moment we visited…Watching the world go by in an open air-cafe we were completely captivated by the relaxing Italian flare, vibe and the seductive mythical town of Sorrento, so therefore we couldn’t resist getting married there.”

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“For our colour palette we decided to have champagne and navy blue. We actually got Carla’s dress, which is champagne, before we decided on going to Italy for our wedding. When we chose Sorrento We knew the dress would be perfect for the Italian style and with the old traditional golds they use for their décor. We used these colours and other items such as rustic string ties and champagne card invitations, labels etc. to fit in with our Italian/travel theme. We chose navy blue as we felt this complimented the champagne elegantly and perfectly. Also, with the blue sea and sky surrounding Sorrento and with Relais Blu having blue as their main colour, we felt navy blue went well and matched perfectly.”

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“Our ceremony was held in the Chiostro di San Francesco, known to anyone visiting as the ‘Cloisters’. This is an old Franciscan Chiostro in the centre of Sorrento, it is a beautiful little courtyard surrounded by elegant arches. Next to the cloisters is the church of St.Francis which dates back to the 16th Century.”

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“We absolutely loved the quiet tranquil nature of the garden we thought it was the ideal place to hold the ceremony. We added lots of rose flowers and had a beautiful harp to play throughout the ceremony, which completed the setting perfectly. Monks still use this place today and can often be seen, quietly walking through the grounds, or inviting in their latest guests.”

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“Our favourite moments of the day are very hard to select but, as cliché as it may sound, nothing compared to the moment we laid eyes on one another as Carla entered the Cloisters. Mike was blown away by how stunning Carla looked in her dress and couldn’t help but shed a tear.”

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“Make sure you have photographers who have the capability to capture the day perfectly. We picked creative and unique photographers who ticked every box for us. At the end of the day this is what you look back on and we just love our photographs as they captured some amazing shots of us that we’d never dream of having. They captured everything from the funniest moment to the most emotional, they were so passionate that they captured everything! Being able to relive the day through those heart felt in-the-moment shots is amazing and something we like to do almost daily.” 

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“Mike surprised Carla by hiring a wedding car to drive them to the reception in, an original 1960s Fiat 500 !! Trying to get into the car was hysterical, because of Carla’s very large dress, Carla had to sit in the backseat because there would be no room in the front for Mike to drive us to the reception. Then, because the car was so old, it was difficult to drive and it was amazing that Mike even got us there in one piece!! Especially with the renowned Italian drivers around us. We were giggling so much and as we hadn’t been alone together since the ceremony it was the first time we both felt we could relax and soak it all in”

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Then it was off to the reception!  “We enjoyed drinks and canapés upon arrival on our own private terrace, then indulged in a gorgeous traditional Italian meal as we watched the sun set. After the meal and speeches we then all made our way up to the pool area to enjoy some music, dancing and drinks, whiling away the evening until our chariot arrived to return our guests to Sorrento.”

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For the dinner seating design? “Bespoke table plan, table names with Romeo and Juliet scripts in the background, the table names were the places we were visiting on our honeymoon.”

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We often ask couples what advise they would give having gone through the destination process. “Our advise to future couples is to enjoy.every.moment!!! Take some alone time to really grasp that you both have just got married so you can enjoy being excited and happy together, then you’ll feel relaxed and can really enjoy the rest of the day. This was our favourite memory just being able to be with the one you love on the most important day of your life for a few minutes so you can really savour that you’ve both just got married and you’re having the time of your lives.”

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Even the wedding favors were a nod to the location! “’Grazie’ on little luggage tags for the lemoncello bottles given to guests as wedding favours at reception.”  Clearly a good time was had by all and even left some of the smaller guests exhausted from so much fun!

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer:  Caroline + Ben Photography

Wedding Vendors: Reception Venue: Relais Blu, Ceremony: Chiostro di San Francesco, Wedding Organizer: Sylvia Schiappa, Flowers: Flowers and Confetti, Invitations: Artcadia Stationery, Calligraphy: Castadrift, Paper Goods: Nerissa Eve Weddings, Guestbook: Etsy, Fingerprint Tree: Vespa Guestbook, Wedding Dress: Ian Stuart – Antoinette, London Bride Couture, Shoes: Harriet Wilde Shoes, Groom Suit: Chester Barrie Savile Row Hopsack Suit, Bridesmaids Dresses: Ted Baker – Saphira, Personalised ‘Mr and Mrs Gray’ Wedding Cake Topper + Heart Bracelet + Cufflinks: Noton The High Street, Lace Parasols + Luggage Tags: Confetti, Honeymoon: Mr and Mrs Smith Hotels, Flower Girls: Monsoon, Car: Sergio Spider Life Style

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