wedding style, budget, date, outfit, guests meals

What are the different stages in organizing a wedding?

Organizing a wedding is an important and eagerly awaited moment for a couple: it symbolizes union, sharing and commitment. It’s a major event in a couple’s lives, requiring meticulous organization and a budget that must be respected. No detail should be left to chance to ensure that the event is perfect and unforgettable. Here are the main steps to follow to make this moment memorable.

Choosing the style of your wedding

– The town hall stage is of course essential if you want an official wedding. 

– After that, you may want to go to church, or consider a secular ceremony (for atheists, people of different faiths, remarried couples, etc.).

– Marriage in France or abroad: some countries allow foreigners to marry even if they are not resident. You can also have a civil wedding in France and celebrate elsewhere in the world, a practice that is becoming increasingly common!

– Decide on the style of your wedding: in France or abroad, with your family and a few friends, or a large-scale wedding. Château, Provençal bastide, seaside, private villa – there are plenty of options to choose from, depending on your wishes and, of course, your budget.

Drawing up a budget

One of the most important stages in preparing for a wedding is drawing up a budget. It allows you to define a price for each area of expenditure and must take all financial aspects into account. Once the budget has been drawn up, you’ll need to decide what’s important to you, i.e. which items of expenditure you’re going to focus on. Is it more important to have a reception venue with a ‘wow’, or a live band that will take you into the night? Do you want a star-studded caterer or a designer dress? Not all couples have the same vision of their wedding, and even within a couple there may be differences over the importance of each item of expenditure. It is therefore very important to agree on this point before drawing up the budget.

You will need to take into account

– The rental of the reception venue over 2 or 3 days, with partial or total privatization.

– The caterer: welcome dinner or cocktail reception the day before if applicable, wedding dinner, brunch the day after. The caterer will not necessarily be the same. You can opt for a welcome cocktail the night before and a pizza party for brunch.

– Furniture rental if they are not available in the venue: tables, chairs, side tables, buffet tables, lounge areas, lighting, dance floor, nomad tent… depending on the venue you have chosen.

– Your wedding suppliers: photographer, videographer, jazz band for the cocktail reception, DJ or live music group, hairdresser, make-up artist, baby-sitters, performers, fireworks technicians, etc.

– Decoration: stationery (save the date, invitation cards, menus, place cards, table plan, thank you cards, etc.), flowers for the ceremony and dinner, bridal bouquet, groom’s buttonhole, candles and various accessories.

– Logistics: hire of vintage cars and (mini)buses to transport your guests.

– Outfits and accessories: wedding dress, groom’s suit, shoes, jewellery, wedding rings, guest gifts.

– If the wedding is taking place abroad, you should of course add the cost of flying tickets, town hall fees, translations, car hire and any outings you may wish to enjoy with your family and close friends.

Setting the wedding date

Reserving the date is a decisive factor, as you need to take several different factors into account :

– The availability of the reception venue: most of the venues are booked to n + 12 or 18 months, especially in the very high season (mid-June to mid-September). If you want to get married in 6 months, it’s best not to be too particular about the venue.

– The season and the weather: it’s all about the atmosphere you want. Summer weddings are “safer” in terms of good weather, and this can be a determining factor depending on the region where you want to hold your wedding. They are also more physically demanding, especially for the secular ceremony. Spring and autumn weddings are more ‘risky’, but they also allow you to vary the venues: outdoors for the cocktail reception, indoors for the meal.

– The availability of your guests: in summer, you’ll need to juggle with everyone’s holidays, while out of season, you’ll want to take advantage of the bank holidays in May.

Drawing up your guest list

– An intimate wedding or a big party? The guest list for an intimate wedding is limited to your closest family and friends. On the other hand, if you’re planning a large-scale event, you’ll want to invite lots of guests.

– Wedding in France or abroad? More and more couples are choosing to hold their wedding in a small group abroad. The advantage is that it gives your wedding a completely different atmosphere, which is becoming increasingly popular.

– With or without children? This question can sometimes be a nuisance, but it can solve logistical problems if there are a lot of children involved.

Wedding Venue Provence Château des 3 Fontaines France

Choosing your dream reception venue

Your wedding will be the mirror of your love. It must be celebrated in a venue that reflects your image and must of course meet several criteria:

– It must be suitable for the number of people invited to the wedding. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding yourself dining in a cramped room. Also think about the waiters who must navigate between the tables and the DJ/music group who will need space for their equipment on the dance floor.

– It must be easy to get to: think about your guests who won’t want to drive 2 hours down a small road. Proximity to the motorway, train station or airport will be appreciated.

– Services included in the rental of the venue: daily or weekend rates, start and end times, on-site accommodation, swimming pool, furniture provided, list of approved service providers, end time for music, cleaning, etc.

The service providers for your wedding

You previously listed the services you wanted for your wedding in your budget. It is advisable to select your suppliers several months in advance to avoid any cancellations or unforeseen events. Select the most comprehensive quotes to keep last-minute extras and additions to a minimum. The aim when selecting wedding suppliers is to select:

  • Quality companies
  • Services that match your budget
  • Services that meet your requirements


Don’t hesitate to ask questions to the team venue you’ve chosen. They’ll be able to advise you on the best local and regional suppliers.

Choosing your wedding meal

Once you’ve chosen your venue, it’s time to select the dishes that will make up your wedding menu. First of all, talk to each other about the style of meal you want: sit-down dinner, buffet, , local meal, classic, refined, casual, vegetarian… Nowadays, caterers are competing to be the most attractive. It’s up to you to put them in competition with each other to get the best choice!

– Always select several caterers in the region and ask the reception venue for advice – they’ll always give you their best references. Simply because it’s their brand image that we remember when we eat well at a reception venue!

– Ask for a tasting, which can be deducted from the final price.

– Ask about the options, the length of the cocktail reception, the dinner and the price of the wedding cake, which very few caterers offer on their menus.

– Ask also about the staff (maitre d’hôtel, waiters…), who will manage the open bar, the departure time…

– Ask about the furniture provided… or not.

The bride and groom’s outfits!

It is generally advisable to start outfits research and trials around 12 months before the wedding date and to order them around 6 months before the big day. Make sure that the outfits are in harmony with the general atmosphere of the wedding. Wedding in a château or in an “old” Provençal bastide? Spring or summer? Make sure also that your 2 outfits match perfectly, both in style and colour. No tails coat for Mr if Ms has chosen a bohemian wedding dress! And if the bridal bouquet (and therefore the buttonhole) is in shades of blue-green, no brown suit for Mr!

To summarize

Organizing a wedding is extremely time-consuming for those who want a wedding that’s a little off the beaten track. The above is just a general outline, but the devil is in the detail! If you’re short of time, inspiration or experience, or all three, don’t hesitate to call on an experienced wedding planner who can take charge of the entire organization of your wedding.

– She will guide you through the various stages of the preparations, step by step.
– She’ll be able to advise you on the style of wedding, the design, the venue, the suppliers… and on everything else by the way!
– She’ll know how to ask the right questions of your suppliers
– She’ll know how to maintain your budget and suggest solutions
– She’ll take care of your guests as well as yourself
– She’ll be there on the big day with her team to help you enjoy the day and the day after.
– She will be available to reassure you from day to day, because no wedding is complete without a few bumps in the road!
– She will be your eyes, your ears and part of your thoughts for 12, 18 months or more of preparations.

Don’t forget that if this is your first wedding and everything seems insurmountable to you, it’s not the case for her! So, delegate and make the most of the preparations and the big day!

Nathalie Dalla Riva. Your Provencal and French Wedding Planner

Carpe Diem Weddings - French Wedding Planner. Organization. Nathalie Dalla Riva

Nathalie Dalla Riva, your Provence and French Riviera Wedding Planner

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