This is the second instalment of our temporary series on wedding planning in Paris. I will be getting married to my wonderful fiancée this summer and we are sharing our planning tips and secrets with you.
Once you have all of the administrative papers being processed for the civil ceremony at the Mairie, the next big thing is to find a venue for the reception.
Nothing is more romantically French than having your wedding in a French chateau. This is common and there are some really beautiful chateaux for rent throughout France. Within Paris, there are still some royal options like the Pavillion Dauphine and Salon des Miroirs, but there are also other wonderful locations like rustic atelier lofts and boats along the seine.
There are a few sites that are incredibly helpful in finding any and all types of venues. ABCSalles and 1001 Salles both categorize searches for private or professional events and you can search by location, type of event, capacity, and more. Most venues in the Ile-de-France region are listed on at least one of these sites.
When contacting a potential venue, a simple phone call is your best option. Very little is done via email in the beginning stages and you could find yourself waiting weeks for a response. When venue shopping, here are some questions to consider:
- What is the capacity of the venue? Is that number seated or for a standing cocktail?
- Does the venue come with an imposed caterer or are you free to choose your own? If it is imposed, will there be a tasting offered?
- What is the price for the space? Be sure to ask for a price including all fees, taxes, personnel, etc. in a detailed quote (or as the French call it, a devis).
- What is included in this price? Cleaning fees? Tables, chairs, table settings, etc.?
- What are the hour usage restrictions? Some venues have hour restrictions on music, etc. so be sure that your dance party won’t get cut off at 10pm.
Be sure to ask all of the above questions before you see the venue so that you know what you are getting into. Most places won’t give you a full devis before you visit the venue but at least make sure you have a good idea of the price range to make sure it is within your budget before seeing the space.
After your visit, follow up with a detailed itinerary of the wedding day so that the venue organizer can make sure they have everything that is included. With this information, they will be able to write you up an official devis. This is a binding price estimate that you will be required to sign and return. They should also send you a contract that you should read carefully and sign as well, as it will outline the roles and responsibilities of the owner and of you/your guests during this rental period.
When speaking to Nancy of Fete in France about venues, she informed me that venues are generally more willing to negotiate with you once they know that you are serious about the venue. We experienced this as well. Many venues have set prices, some all-inclusive and some with everything separate. We found a venue that was pretty far outside of our budget but that we were able to negotiate down once we showed them that we really wanted the space for our wedding.
The venue has absolutely been the most stressful part of our wedding planning to date. We suggest, especially if you are not a French speaker, to have a wedding planner like Nancy from Fete in France or Kim from Parisian Events to help you with this step. They know weddings in Paris and have the negotiating skills that you need.
Happy Wedding Planning!
For my part, it’s still only the beginning, and I will keep you updated with our next installment “Finding the right wedding dress”.