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Iâ€™ve been planning events for about 10 years, first in the US, and then in Paris. Iâ€™m married to a French man, and decided to start a wedding planning agency after planning my own wedding in France long-distance from San Francisco. My agency, parisian events is in its 3rd year.
How many weddings do you coordinate a year?
Weâ€™re averaging around 20 â€“ 25 events a year, which includes weddings, vow-renewals, private parties and social events.
Are your clientele all from Paris or do many of your clients come to Paris to be married?
The majority of our clients are people who come from English-speaking countries- mostly the US, but also Canada, the UK, even as far away as South Africa- specifically to celebrate in Paris. Conveniently for me (ha ha), the beauty and romance of Paris is known worldwide! We also work with many bi-cultural clients- one of the couple is usually French, and the other from an Anglophone country. Often, itâ€™s the bride-to-be who is American, and is looking specifically for someone who â€œspeaks her languageâ€, both literally and figuratively- When it comes to something as important as your wedding day, you donâ€™t really want to risk not being understood.
What are some of the challenges of planning a wedding in Paris?
The biggest challenge that many people face when they first entertain the idea of getting married in Paris is the long list of requirements that are requested. In order to be legally wed in France, one of the couple needs to have been a legal resident in the district in which they plan to marry for 30 â€“ 40 consecutive days prior to their requested wedding date. And that doesnâ€™t mean buy a ticket to Paris and hang out for a month and a half and then get hitched. You have to show proof that youâ€™re legal- usually in the form of a utility bill, plus a plethora of other documents: birth certificates, doctor tests, etc., all translated and notarized within specific time frames. Also, youâ€™re not allowed to be married in a Catholic church in France without first having had a civil ceremony, soâ€¦back to square one. Itâ€™s a far cry from the Tunnel of Love Drive-Through in Vegas!
The good new is that it IS possible to have a symbolic ceremony in Paris without all of the run-around. The symbolic ceremonies that we design are just as sweet, romantic and inspiring as civil ones. They can also be spiritual- We work with members of various clergy in Paris who will perform a religious blessing for couples who have been married before they arrive in Paris. Another good thing about symbolic ceremonies is that, unlike civil ceremonies in France which can only be performed at City Hall, symbolic ceremonies can be performed wherever itâ€™s permitted to do so. So, while you wouldnâ€™t be allowed to set up a tent and trellis and 50 foot aisle runner beneath the Eiffel Tower (believe meâ€¦ the request comes in at least once a month!) by working with an agent with access to the right channels, you can have a sweet, intimate ceremony with a small gathering of friends and family within itsâ€™ shadows.
What do you see as the beauty of having a wedding in Paris?
Take a look around! Really, after living here for over 6 years, there are still many, MANY days when I am literally dumbstruck by the beauty of this city. As a planner, it seems that youâ€™re always scouting out locations- you pass a park and think, â€œHmm, I could set an alter space up over there, work some jasmine into that urn over there, etc...â€ Itâ€™s almost a curse being a wedding planner in Paris! EVERY turn is a â€œwedding opâ€! You walk along the Seine and see the beautiful bridges with the boats passing beneath you, and people strolling along and kissingâ€¦Itâ€™s almost like a movie set, but this IS Paris. And the history! Like many Americans, before I moved here I would see a building that was built in, say, 1892 and think, â€œWow! Thatâ€™s oldâ€. Here, itâ€™s possible to have your wedding in the room where Louis the 14th was born (1638, for the record- now THATâ€™S old!). You can have your wedding cake made by the same bakery that has baked for kings, you can dance your first wedding dance in Marie Antoinetteâ€™s sitting room, and on and on and on. Some cynics will try to call it a clich©, but Paris is what it has been for hundreds and hundreds of years. Donâ€™t hate it because itâ€™s beautiful!
What are some of the best views of Paris.
For most clients who get married in Paris, a big part of the event is to include a photo session around Paris. While the ubiquitous â€œEiffel Tower Shotâ€ is almost a prerequisite, I usually try to set up an itinerary that also includes some less obvious locales- ones that are just around the corner from the â€œClassic Paris Shotâ€. For instance, rather than have your picture taken on the steps of Sacre Coeur, why not try the steep steps of Montmartre ( also very dramatic in black and white). Instead of posing in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, cross the river and take some shots in front of les bouquinistes (the famous bookstalls that line the left bank of the Seine) with Notre Dame in the background. If you want portraits taken in the Luxemburg Gardens, try to schedule time to take a few snaps in front of the magnificent Fountain of the Four Corners of The Globe, located in the back of Luxemburg Gardens, just outside of the park exit. If youâ€™re planning on staying in Paris for even just a days before or after your wedding, chances are youâ€™ll have your own photos of most of the tourist spots. I think if youâ€™re spending the time and expense to have professional wedding photos taken, you should â€œlook outside of the boxâ€ and have something truly memorable created.
What sets your company apart from some of the other wedding planners in Paris.
Paris is a beautiful, romantic city- like I said, it seems that everyone dreams of getting married here. Even so, most American women have dreamed about their wedding since they were a little girl, and, subsequently they have a pretty long list of "must haves". There are certain elements to their wedding that they don't want to sacrifice- not even for Paris! Our weddings are tailor-made specifically with the American Bride in Paris in mind. We combine all of the romance and historical beauty of Paris with the traditional elements of an American wedding. Weâ€™ll design an American style ceremony, reception, wedding cake, favors, etc., and then tastefully introduce just the right touch of Paris to make the event unique- substituting the American wedding cake with a French croquembouche, for example. Or mix American and French gifts and treats to create a nice welcome basket for out-of-town guests...
Itâ€™s important to keep in mind that wedding consultants are a fairly new concept in France. The industry has only really taken off within the past 4 or 5 years. These days, there seems to be quite a few French wedding planning companies that have employees who speak English, which is quite convenient and miles ahead of what was available just a few short years ago. But just because you can communicate with someone doesnâ€™t necessarily mean that your intentions are being conveyed. Planning a wedding in a foreign country from abroad can be very stressful- you donâ€™t want someone who only speaks the same language as you, you want someone who understands what you mean. (How do you describe the robins-egg blue mini Chinese take-out boxes that you saw in the Spring 2006 edition of â€œMarthaâ€ to someone who has never even HEARD of Chinese take-out boxes? OR Martha??)
How can people find you for more information?
To find out interesting cultural tidbits about getting married in Paris, or French wedding trends, or even info on planning French-themed parties wherever you happen to live, you can check out my blog, â€œparisian party: tales of an American wedding planner in parisâ€ at: parisian party For more information about planning your wedding or event in paris, visit wedding and event planner in paris - parisianevents or drop me a line at email@example.com
Posted 12 December 2007 - 12:12 AM
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