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…

destination elopements

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…

eloping in paris

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…

how to get married in france

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


How to Get Married in Costa Rica

costa rica resorts

Today we’ve got a very special interview with our friend and talented destination wedding planner, Aimee Monihan of Tropical Occasions in Costa Rica.  Aimee and her team have been planning weddings in Costa Rica for over ten years.  They’ve seen it all!  So, before you wed in this magical country, take a few tips from them about how to do it legally and of course, while having the most fun with your friends and family!

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JF: What is one thing couples should know about Costa Rica that they may not before they book?

AM: We have 2 seasons in Costa Rica (high and low season).  In the low season rains are common in afternoon and at times erratic and heavy tropical rains can come out of nowhere. So being prepared with a rain plan and or tent is necessary during the months of Mid April – November (in the dense Rainforest areas a rain plan is necessary year round).

Also, Costa Rica is also still under Catholic rule. So any holiday that is celebrated by Catholics is a very good time to avoid having an event in Costa Rica. We will not even attempt to plan during holy week- week leading up to Easter as well as Christmas week.  These times of year vendors are not really willing to work, and if they are their suppliers are not working or services are just not up to par with the level of weddings and events we produce so we suggest to avoid these times of year no matter what.

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JF: If you want to get married in Costa Rica, what are the legal requirements in order to do so?

AMThere are only 2 ways in which a legal wedding can take place. Either via the Catholic Church and presided by a Costa Rican Catholic Priest (which means your ceremony will be in Spanish) both bride and groom must be Catholic and follow all protocol and paperwork through church for this to happen. The other way is a civil wedding presided by a Costa Rican lawyer (they can either perform ceremony or witness it).  This is the easiest way and consists of the couple as well as 2 witnesses sending very basic data from Date of Birth, full name, occupation, parents names, city of birth, as well a copy of a government issued ID, so a passport in most cases.

There is no time frame that they must be in country, they can literally walk off plane and get married. The day of the actual ceremony, the information sent is put into a sworn statement and couple signs this and lawyer then files their paperwork with the National Registry. Then once marriage license is recorded and sent to the lawyer, they must translate it to English and have it authenticated by the couple’s countries Consulate, then mailed to the couple. There is only one rule that continues to prohibit a legal wedding and that is if the woman getting married has been divorced less than 300 days – it is an archaic law that still exists to this day. 

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JF: If these requirements are too much for a couple or they can’t meet them, what do you suggest?

AMWe actually suggest to a lot of our clients to not do a legal ceremony in Costa Rica as it is a significant savings – close to $1,000. As well the time it takes to receive back your wedding certificate can at times be long. When the civil registry is backed up it can be several months of waiting for the license to arrive.

We have many types of ceremony celebrants from simple non legal celebrants to every known religious officiate. Many clients choose to have a family friend or relative oversee the ceremony, while others bring a spiritual advisor or family known (priest, Rabbi, Maharaj).  We like this idea as it gives the ceremony even more personalization as the one doing the ceremony knows the couple well and can personalize it even more.

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Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Aimee on the blog tomorrow!  To check out more of her amazing work, visit

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Four Destination Wedding Tips You Need to Know

laura grier photography

All Photos by Laura Grier.

Destination weddings are such a blessing – the chance to see the world and celebrate with those you love most.  But with that travel can come a few tricky planning elements to keep in mind.  Here are four must know before you go tips to planning your destination wedding with ease.

destination weddings laura grier

 1.  You may not be able to legally wed there.  Many couples opt for a spiritual ceremony at the location in which they choose to wed because the requirements locally are too cumbersome.  Some countries have residency requirements (you must be in the area for a certain number of days before you can legally tie the knot), while others require translation of documents that must be notarized both stateside and on location and if you’ve chosen a weekend or holiday, chances are those offices may not be open.  Be sure to check well in advance of booking a destination wedding to be sure you can legally wed there if that’s important to you.  If not, then simply have a small legal ceremony back home and the celebration and ceremony when you travel.

destination wedding photographers

2.  Shipping and traveling with goods to use for your wedding can come with taxes!  If you plan on bringing your favorite Etsy finds with you for your big day, be aware of all customs requirements to avoid any unforeseen taxes or delays upon arrival.  And know that when shipping (do so way in advance) or packing products, there is always a chance they may not make it so take anything you can’t live with you when you travel.  And don’t forget to ask your destination property if they charge to receive deliveries!  You want to avoid additional fees once the boxes arrive at the resort.

3.  Look for a location with an alternative location for your honeymoon.  Spending the weekend with friends and family is part of the fun!  But come honeymoon time, you’ll want to get away and sometimes that’s hard to do when loved ones extend their trips for vacation time.  Select a location with other hotels, islands, or areas that you can transfer to for a little time just for two.

destination wedding photographer

4.  Consider the difficulty of travel for your most cherished loved ones before you book.  If it’s important to you that your sibling with small children be there or a grandma or friend with kids in school or perhaps on a budget, consider them before you select your spot and time of season.  If the location is too costly for those you want in attendance, too far to travel to, or too risky with small children or the wrong time of year, then perhaps you’re better off finding a destination a little more family-friendly.  The location should be one you love but also one your loved ones can get to!

Happy traveling friends!


How to Get Married in Italy

capri wedding location

We’re so lucky to have the guest expertise of a very talented lady, Diana Sorensen, owner of Sugokuii Events on the blog today.  She specializes in destination weddings in Italy, is a regular on the scene in Capri, and has planned not only top secret celebrity weddings but private island elopements off the coast of Amalfi.  She loves the region so much she spends her summers there.  And today Diana is here to share with you just how to get married in the beautiful country of Italy.

capri wedding planners

Q: What are the legal requirements to host a destination wedding in Italy?

No residency is really required in Italy – it is more a question of being in Italy on the days that their respective consulate (you will need to bring your legal documents here) is open in the major town closest to where you plan to get married.  Most consulates are closed for both their countries’ holidays as well as Italian holidays, closed on weekends and typically only open a few days a week as well as being dependent on opening hours from the Italian authorities to have an apostille affixed. Therefore, check with your country’s specific information for Italy prior to your departure so all is organized well beforehand – and no surprises arise. 

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Q: Is there a difference between a religious and civil ceremony in Italy in terms of what the couple may be required to do before the big day?

If the religious ceremony is performed by a Roman Catholic priest, a separate civil ceremony is unnecessary but the priest must register the marriage with the “Ufficiale di Stato Civile” in order for it to be legal. Because of special Italian requirements for marriages performed by non-Roman Catholic clergymen, they usually insist on a prior civil ceremony before performing a religious ceremony to ensure the legality of the marriage.  

capri destination weddings

Q: Any tips or ways to make the legal process easier?

Yes! We work very closely with an amazing service in Italy (the only one in fact who offers this service) who not only can take care of all your handling and processing all the paperwork for the couple beforehand (all they have to do is show up 1-2 days before) but also offers legal ceremonies at all outdoor locations – should you choose not to get married in a church nor want to bother with the process of having to have a civil ceremony in the town hall beforehand. It is a little costly – but really worth the money and hassle that can be involved with all the paperwork and filing involved.  Also for the fact that your outdoor ceremony overlooking a cliff in Capri is legal!

Alternatively, most of my clients typically have their civil ceremony in the town which they reside in – and “just” come to Italy for the outdoor ceremony and are married by their officiant of choice. This is definitely the easiest and less costly option. The couple can have a small civil ceremony with closest family and then have the big fun wedding ceremony in Italy later on. 

 Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Diana tomorrow when she’ll expand on ways to get around and what to look out for when booking your date!

Photo Credits: Ceremony Shot: Simply Bloom Photography, All Others: Andrea Salvia


How to Get Married in the Cayman Islands

Aaron Rebarchek grand cayman wedding

We asked Cayman Islands wedding expert and founder of Crystal Blue Weddings, Danielle Cococcia about getting married in the beautiful country she calls home.  As an American herself, she had to learn the legal requirements, the do’s and don’ts and what makes for smooth sailing for a destination wedding in the Cayman Islands and today she’s here to share her insights with us!Aaron Rebarchek grand cayman weddings

 Q: So, what are the legal requirements to get married in the Cayman Islands?

The Cayman Islands Government makes it very easy for non-residents to get married.  There is no waiting period and you must be at least 18 years of age.  You will need proof of age (passport or your original birth certificate and a photo ID), proof of marital status (if you have been married before you will need to supply your divorce decree or death certificate), and your Cayman Islands Immigration Card (which you will receive upon arriving to the Island).  Lastly, you will need to hire a Cayman Islands Marriage Officer who will assist you in obtaining your non-resident marriage license and two witnesses over the age of 18 to be present during the ceremony.  That simple!

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Q: Do you recommend any sites, services, or helpful places to make this a smoother process and/or to gather additional information?

The team at Crystal Blue Wedding Studio is always here to provide guidance if needed.  In addition there is also the Department of Tourism wedding website, which is very helpful.  Personally I always recommend hiring a local planner to assist with the entire process, even if it’s just the two of you!

Rebecca Davidson Photography

Q: What about all you need on the big day?  Do you recommend shipping, buying local, or carrying on and how should couples plan accordingly?

The Cayman Islands has a huge array of extremely talented service and product providers.  The on-island providers can produce a wedding of 2 or 2000, from the most simple to the most elaborate, with the quality and service you would expect and receive anywhere else in the world.  There’s no need to bring anything in with you!

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Q: Grand Cayman, the largest and most visited of the islands is the place most people pick for their destination wedding.  What might we not know about Grand Cayman that can impact the planning?

On Sundays, there is a no music-no dancing law.  A special permit is required to get around this and must be applied for by your venue (i.e. whoever holds the liquor license).

Who knew!

grand cayman weddings Rebecca Davidson

Q: If someone is considering Grand Cayman as their wedding location, do you have any favorite places you recommend?

Seven Mile Beach is a favorite ceremony location – you just can’t beat the back drop!  For a reception, it’s too hard to narrow it down so I’ll give you my top four (in no particular order)…LUCA, The Wharf, Sunset Bay and Papagallos.   They are all very different, one from the next, but equally beautiful with amazing service, food, and ambiance!

Thanks so much Danielle for sharing your insights with us!  We can’t wait to come back and visit you very soon!

For more information, ideas and inspiration for your Cayman Islands destination wedding, check out Danielle’s site, Crystal Blue Weddings.

Photo Credits: Top Two Images: Aaron Rebarchek Photography, All Other Images: Rebecca Davison Photography