Planning your wedding in France - a guide with prices
Planning your destination wedding in France can be overwhelming when you don’t speak the language. After 14 years working in the wedding industry in France, we have decided to put together this article and list every aspect of planning a wedding in France including entertainment, wedding bars, cocktail catering, venues, sound restrictions, how much alcohol you need for your guests, and much more. We will also go over price expectations and how much it costs to get married in France.
Our agency Lion Stone Events provides bespoke corporate event planning. We know every aspect of planning large parties. In this guide, We will share everything we know about the wedding industry in France. Should you still have questions after reading this guide, feel free to send us your questions and we will make sure to include those in this article. Whether you DYI your wedding or you simply want to check that your quote and services seem accurate, keep on reading…
Headlines include: VENUES – CATERING – DRINKS – ENTERTAINMENT – HOW MUCH DOES A WEDDING IN FRANCE COST
Credit for the pictures we used in this post: Charlotte Palazzo, Neupap photography, Ian Holmes Photography, All rights reserved to the photographers, not to be used without their permission.
Finding a wedding venue in France
The first step to planning your wedding in France should be to find a venue. If you have hired a wedding planner, he or she can also help with this. It is an important first step, because once the venue is in mind it is easier to plan all the other elements around it.
Here, we will go over what you need to look out for when searching for the perfect venue. We will also take a look at prices and what you can expect for your money. A few things to consider asking when you contact the venue for a quote:
- What’s the fee and what’s included in the price?
- What is the capacity?
- Is there accommodation close by for your guests?
- Can you choose your caterer or will the venue supply you a list of preferred vendors?
- Are there any sound restrictions?
- What if it rains? Does the venue provide a backup plan?
- How many restrooms are there?
- List of items included with the venue (furniture, sound system etc..)
We find the personality of the venue owner almost as important as the venue itself. Some locations are big wedding factories, they rent out their beautiful château to 40-50 couples every season, they have hundreds of rules and restrictions, and they will simply not accommodate you should any problem rise. A good venue owner is someone that cares about feeling included in the process of making your wedding the best day of your life. Trust in your wedding planner, or find a couple who got married at the venue you are considering and ask about their experience.
What do I do if it rains? Plan B!
We have attended many weddings where it started to rain and plan B wasn’t sorted. How risky. Rain is not ideal, but it is not the end of a great wedding if you have alternatives. When choosing your wedding venue this has to be one of your first questions. What options do we have for the ceremony, cocktail reception, dinner and dancing party should it rain?
You want to party and you have a great band, so be very careful about noise restrictions in some venues in France. They can be very strict and unfortunately some venues are simply not suitable for live entertainment or a DJ, especially when they have a sound limiter installed. Check out our article about entertainment where we cover everything you need to know about sound restrictions in France: Booking a wedding band in France.
How do I find a wedding venue?
Once you have decided on which part of France you would like to getting married in, ask your wedding planner for a list of venues. You can also look online and on instagram for the perfect location. Get inspired by popular hashtags: #weddingvenuefrance or #chateauweddingfrance if you are looking for a beautiful castle, for example.
How much does a wedding venue in France cost?
You can hire a venue for the day from €6,000. Most weddings will last a few days and the venue rental will usually be for 3 days/2 nights from Friday to Sunday. Here are some prices for wedding venues in the high season during June, July and August.
Average cost for 2 nights/3 days:
Stunning château in France: €40,000
Luxurious villa: €20,000
Receive discounts by being flexible with your dates!
You will be able to sleep up to 50 guests at some châteaux in France.
This allows you to divide the costs with your guests who can pay for their own accommodation. This can be an enormous help in staying within your budget while planning your wedding in France.
Catering for a wedding in France
One of the most important parts of the evening is eating. Whether you choose a buffet style dinner or a sit down meal, there are important things to consider for a smooth service and happy guests. It is also important that there is enough food to soak up all the alcohol – a good meal will prevent embarrassing situations at the dancing party.
A few tips that you need to take into consideration:
Photo: Britt Rene
Choose your protein well
Avoid serving dry, cold steak. The problem with serving 100 guests (or 150, 200…) is that there will be a massive difference when test-tasting with 2 people and a caterer beforehand, to the actual food on the day of your wedding. The main issue is the meat, in our opinion. If you are going to serve a nice fillet of beef, for example, it is very difficult to have a perfectly cooked piece of meat at the right temperature served to all your guests at the same time.
Why not have a pig on a spit (€1,000). It is a great option because the meat is fantastic, moist and tender. It is also a bit of a showpiece. FYI it takes 8 hours to cook the pig. It is a great option for buffet weddings, where guests help themselves from a beautiful table filled with food platters. Should you choose to have a sit down meal then a spit is still a good option.
For a memorable dining experience we work with carefully selected catering companies that are able to serve delicious and perfectly cooked meat, they will impress with their professionalism attitude and skills in the kitchen.
Another important tip is to have food for your guests later in the night during or after the dancing party. Your guests will drink plenty of alcohol and with that comes the inevitable munchies at midnight. Set a food station and serve very easy to eat comfort food. Remember what you would dream of eating when you would come home after a night out in your 20’s!
- Hot dogs
- Sandwiches (use left over meat)
- Croque monsieur
- Food trucks
- Lamb meat balls with tzatziki
- Caramelised onion and goats cheese tarts
- Courgette and ricotta involtinis
- Charcuterie plate with various meats
- House made fig and onion jam, tapenade, hummus and mini brioche
- Roast vegetable Mediterranean salad
- Salmon gravlax with capers
- Lemon and garlic chicken brochettes
- Mini pork bely steaks topped with fennel salad and bourbon roasted apple
- Lemon and thyme infused baked ricotta with lavash bread
- Burrata salad with fresh basil and market tomatoes
- Mushrooms stuffed with ricotta and thyme
- Tortellini truffle salad
- Roquette salad with avocado, sundried tomatoes, shallots and pine nuts
- Ferrero Rocher chocolate mousse cups
- Mini tartlets with crème anglaise and fresh raspberries
- Chocolate ganache truffles rolled in coconut and hazelnuts
- Traditional tiramisu with toffee
How much is catering for a wedding in France?
Costs for 100 guests
You should expect to pay between €100 to €190 per head, depending on the caterer and the menu you choose.
Average price: €11,000 (€110 per guest)
The fee usually includes
- A 3 course meal
- Kitchen and floor staff
- Tables & chairs
- Linen & napkins
- Plates & cutlery
- Wine & water glasses
- Coffee & tea
- Some caterers will include 1 bottle of wine for every 3 guests during dinner.
At Lion Stone Events we have our own cocktail catering company for private events we manage. For weddings we offer delicious cocktails for the cocktail reception but also for the dancing party, and even the following day at the pool party. Now, we will talk about what kind of drinks you can offer your guests, but we will also go over quantities and prices – how much champagne do you need? What type of wine? How many cocktails? What will it cost?! We cover everything to help planning your wedding in France.
You will need wine mainly during cocktail reception and dinner. We usually cater for 4 glasses of wine per person, so for 100 guests we will need 66 bottles.
Rosé and white are very popular during cocktail reception and red during the meal, especially if you serve meat.
Here is how you can calculate your numbers based on 100 guests:
100 guests x 4 glasses of wine = 400 / 6 (number of glasses in a 75cl bottle) = 66 bottles.
When planning a wedding in France in the summer, with 1.5 hours of service during cocktail reception in the sun followed by dinner with meat you will need:
30 bottles of red (Example: Châteauneuf du Pape/Côte du Rhône: 19€)
21 bottles of rosé (Example: Château Font Du Broc/Côte de Provence: 16€)
15 bottles of white (Example: Chardonnay/Louis Latour: 13€)
We will also plan for a safety stock, as many wineries will take back boxes you haven’t opened. This ensures you will not run out and even have extra for the next day!
If you can organise tastings at local wineries, we would recommend to buy the red, white and rosé at the same château. Example: Château Rabiega: delicious rosé, white and red wine for €10 per bottle.
You will need champagne for the cocktail reception, speeches and perhaps 1 glass for dessert. 3 glasses of champagne per guest should be enough, but to be on the safe side I would cater for 3.5 glasses per guest – so 58 bottles for 100 guests.
Champagne Moët Et Chandon“Impérial”: €30
Prosecco is a great alternative!
€10 per bottle
If you decide to have a drinks reception with cocktails but you haven’t hired a professional cocktail catering company or mixologist, then keep it simple – only 2 cocktails that don’t require any shaking, for example:
- 75ml prosecco
- 50ml prosecco
- 25ml Soda water
Serve in a wine glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange slice
- 50ml vodka
- 10ml lime juice
- 100ml ginger beer
- 1 dash angostura bitters
Serve in a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with lime wedge
- 30ml orange juice
- 150ml prosecco
Combine the orange juice and the Prosecco in the glass and give it a gentle stir
Professional wedding bar in France
At the Buckrider, we would provide 2 bartenders for a cocktail reception, 1 bar manager and a barback (bar assistant and glass collector) for 100 guests.
We usually serve at the bar:
- 4 cocktails, spirits & mixers, soft drinks
- Soft drinks & water
Cocktail ideas at the Buckrider
- Whisky sour (whisky, lemon juice, sugar syrup)
- French 75 (gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup & prosecco)
- Espresso martini (vodka, kahlua, coffee)
- The 4pm (Tea infused gin, vanilla syrup and lemon juice)
- Clear colada (coconut infused rum, pineapple sherbet, lemon juice and soda water)
The cost of hiring an open bar cocktail catering company is about €40 per guest based on 100 guests and 2-3 hours of service.
The fee includes:
- 4 cocktails
How much alcohol do I need for my guests?
One of the first things you ask yourself when planning a wedding in France is quantities. How much booze do I need to buy? Here is a detailed guide to help you:
Based on 100 guests
Cocktails: We cater for 2 cocktails per person for 2 hours service during cocktail reception.
Beers: 3 beers per person for the whole evening; mostly men will drink beer so for 100 guests with 50% men you will need 150 beers. Get a little extra to be safe.
Spirits and mixers:
Gin tonic is the most popular drink at weddings
With one bottle you can serve 14 drinks (50ml per drink)
I recommend 3 gin & tonics per person for the whole wedding party. Not all your guests will drink gin & tonic so let’s say 50%.
3 x 50 guests = 150 / 14 serves = 10.7 bottles.
- 11 bottles of gin
- 4 bottles of bourbon
- 3 bottles rye whisky
- 3 bottles of vodka
- 2 bottles of rum
- 2 bottles of tequila
Mixers: Juice – orange, apple and cranberry, soda (coke and lemonade), tonic water, and club soda
Garnishes: Lemons and limes
Water: Half a litre per guest. 50 litres for 100 guests, 70% still water and 30% sparkling water.
Ice: Have you ever been to a wedding and they ran out of ice? It’s a horrible situation. People underestimate the amount of ice that goes through a wedding. With a proper bar you need a lot of ice, for shaking cocktails but also for keeping all the bottles cold in big containers behind the bar.
We recommend 80kg of ice for cocktail reception + after dinner party if you also shake cocktails. Ice is also used to keep bottles cold.
60kg if you don’t have a cocktail bar.
We also recommend renting a refrigerated trailer to store all the champagne, beer, rosé wine, white wine and ice.
Make sure you store the bottles the day before the wedding and buy the ice at the last minute.
At Lion Stone Events we provide a wide range of entertainment for weddings in France. Since 2012, our agency has provided bands for hundreds of weddings all over the country. Having careers as musicians in a wedding band ourselves, we decided to dedicate a whole article called ‘Booking a band for your wedding in France’. Please click on the picture or on this link to check out the post.
Booking a band for your wedding in France – a complete guide
How much does a wedding in France cost?
The cost of planning a wedding in France will obviously depend on many factors – the time of year, the venue, the caterer you choose, the region you will get married in, whether you want low key or an extravagant wedding, etc. So, in order to give you a realistic idea of costs and to include as many of you future brides and grooms out there, we will cover 3 different wedding budgets, on 3 different dates, and in 3 different regions of France based on 100 guests.
- Dordogne wedding in October
- French Riviera wedding in September
- Bordeaux wedding in June
Venue rental: Château for 3 days/2nights
- Venue – 20,000€
- Catering – 9,000€
- Drinks (cocktail, dinner and dancing party) – 3,000€
- Wedding planner – 6,000€
- Photographer – 1,600€
- Furniture rental – 2,000€
- Live music (dancing party) – 3,500€
- Celebrant – 600€
- Stationary – 400€
- Flowers – 2,000€
- DJ – 1,500€
- Hair and makeup – 500€
- Child care – 500€
- Transport – 1,600€
French Riviera wedding
Venue rental: Villa for 2 days/1 night
- Venue – 18,000€
- Catering – 17,000€ (wine at dinner included)
- Cocktail bar – 4,000€
- Wine & champagne – 2,000€ (cocktail reception + after dinner)
- Wedding planner – 9,000€
- Photographer – 2,000€
- Videographer – 2,500€
- Furniture rental – 2,000€
- Live music (dancing party) – 4,000€
- Acoustic duo (ceremony) – 700€
- DJ – 2,000€
- Lighting – provided by the DJ – 1,000€
- Celebrant – 1,000€
- Stationary – 600€
- Flowers – 3,000€
- Hair and makeup – 700€
- Transport – 1,600€
The villa has 7 bedrooms.
Venue rental: Château for 4 days/3 nights
- Venue – 40,000€
- Wedding planner – (in house) 2,000€
- Catering – 12,000€ (wine at dinner included)
- Cocktail bar – 4,000€
- Wine and champagne – 2,500€ (cocktail reception + after dinner)
- Photographer – 2,500€
- Videographer – 3,000€
- Furniture rental – all provided by the venue
- Live music (dancing party) – 5,000€
- Acoustic trio (cocktail reception) – 1,200€
- DJ – 3,000€
- Celebrant – 500€
- Stationary – 600€
- Flowers – 2,000€
- Ceremony sound system – 500€
- Lighting – 2500€
- Hair and makeup – 1,000€
- Transport – 1,600€
- Fireworks – 1,500€
The chateau has 11 rooms. Food and drinks included during the whole stay.
Depending on the venue you will choose you can have many perks, such as a lot of accommodation for guests, in house wedding planner or even an in house catering service. This may or may not work for you for example you wish to be able to choose your caterer or a specific French wedding planner, some venues can be flexible but they may charge you for bringing in a different caterer!