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How to Get Married in France

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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…

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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…

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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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Paris Wedding Details

Eiffel-Tower

Paris. How do I even begin to talk about the city of lights? Paris is known as one of the most romantic cities in the world! So of course it comes as no surprise that hundreds of couples jet off to Paris to get engaged, married or to celebrate anniversaries. If you can’t quite make it to Paris, there are plenty of ways for you to have a Parisian themed wedding wherever you may be! Of course no French wedding is complete without a decadence of deserts! From macaroons to truffles, a dessert table is a must! One of my favorite ideas is using a favorite French perfume like Chanel No 5 as a vase to hold flowers. Wherever your ideas may take you remember that French decor is elegant but simple! Have fun!

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{Cover Photo: Clary Pfeiffer Fine Art Photographer via Elizabeth Anne Designs,Le Mariage: Pitch Engine, French Cake: Globe Trotting Bride, Invitation: Le Secret D’Audrey via Wedding Chicks, Chanel Centerpiece: Bridal Guide, Eiffel Tower: Agaton Strom Photographer via SMP, Photo Booth Props: Etsy}

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An Engagement in Paris!

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Betsy and Brian are Americans living in Paris who met in the city of lights, fell in love in France, and of course shot their engagement session with the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower to capture it all!

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The pair took to the streets of Paris for their shoot in front of several major landmarks and also enjoyed a few moments at a cafe – just for two.

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When night fell, it was time for a visit to the Eiffel Tower!

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The pair will wed next summer in Sicily.  Congratulations!

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Destination Wedding Photographer: Sarah Dawson Photography

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An Intimate Elopement in Paris, France

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Sophia and Bert were together for nine years before deciding on an intimate elopement in Paris for their destination wedding.  Enlisting the help of the team at WeddingLight, the couple had beautiful photographs captured of their wedding day.

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“Their day, (which is actually their anniversary of getting together) began at the apartment rue Notre Dame des petits champs in the heart of St Germain des prés, with getting ready and some shots by our photographer, Olivier Lalin from WeddingLight Paris.”

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“They then hopped into their chauffeured car to their ceremony location, the gorgeous Chapelle Expiatoire in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It is one of our favorite ceremony venues and is quite a gem of a location!  As they entered and walked the gravel path into the chapel, there was a violinist to follow and welcome them as they entered and met their officiant. Then, after taking some great photos on location, Olivier took Sophia and Bart a photo tour through Paris to finish their lovely day!”

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This couple reminds us no matter how much fanfare surrounding you on your wedding day, it only takes two to make it magical!

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: WeddingLight, Destination Wedding Planner: WeddingLight Events, Wedding Videography: Marco of WeddingLight Bouquet: Estelle Preston Flowers, Ceremony Venue:  Chapel Expiatoire, Shoe: Herring Shoes, Hair + Makeup: Murielle Palace and Frederic Leignadier

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Paris Wedding Vow Renewal

Paris Elopement

Mary and TJ had a very special day in mind when they set out on their destination getaway.  A vow renewal!  The intimate event included just one very special guest – their daughter Scarlett!  Celebrating ten years of marriage, the lovely pair planned a trip to Paris (their favorite city) where Mary would don a fabulous black wedding dress by Vera Wang.

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With destination wedding photographer Rochelle Cheever in tow, the family spent plenty of quality time together captured all on film.  “We met her during a trip to Rome and three years and three cities later, she’s practically part of our family.” 

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“We did a private reading of letters–just the three of us–in one of whimsical hot air balloon canopies in the Saint James’ garden.”

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“We spent the earlier part of the day visiting the sites together as documented by Rochelle. Of course, the carousel was, by far, Scarlett’s favorite stop along the way. But the Eiffel Tower brought out a little Eloise in her as well.”

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The perfect day, just for three!

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Congratulations Mary and TJ on your long lasting love!

Destination Wedding Photographer:  Italy Weddings | Rochelle Cheever Photographer

 Wedding Vendors: Dress Designer:  Vera Wang, Vows Location: Saint James Hotel, Hair Stylist: Pierre Francois Carrasco, Bouquet, Heirlooms and extras: Forever Adorned Flowers

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