Tips direct from the brides themselves for planning and executing a dream wedding in an exotic locale.
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The Location: The American Church in Paris, France
"Jeffrey is from Madison, Wisconsin and I am from Montreal, Canada. We could not agree on a city for our ceremony and either way our families were going to be unhappy, so we focused on what we wanted. We had traveled to Paris twice before and were completely in LOVE with the city, so when my husband suggested, 'Lets just go to Paris' I immediately replied okay! Within one week we had the restaurant, church and date all picked out. Our photographers (three!) were with us for over 12 hours that day. We had a very small wedding; with 16 of our most cherish friends and family members. This was truly the most magical day of my life."
First things first: "Legally, you must be married in the USA. Church weddings in France are not seen as a legal union, even for the French. A church wedding is always preceded by a visit to the courthouse to take care of the legalities. When preparing for your flight, don't pack the dress in your luggage, take it on the plane with you in a garment bag and upon our arrival have it pressed."
Do your research: "Finding a photographer, even in another country, is very easy with the internet. Paris has a large quantity of very affordable photographers. I wanted a more journalistic-style photographer. We found one that agreed to be with us for the entire day and evening. I wanted someone to just hang out and capture the day: the casual stroll in Paris and cocktails at a little café. You can find small, privately-owned hotels that will rent the entire hotel for the wedding party. There are so many 8-10 room hotels in Paris and most will do discounts for a group and include breakfast as well. Again here the internet is your best friend!"
Buy flowers at your destination: "Paris has flower shops at every corner. You can drop in with a couple days notice and have the must wonderful arrangements created at an incredible price. We had roses for everyone and spent about $100. Upon my arrival, I went to the shop nearest the hotel and made arrangements; it seriously was that easy."
Parisian-style reception: "Paris has many supper clubs where you can eat, drink and dance the entire night. For our reception, we made a reservation for our party of 16. They sat us in a private section of the dining room and we had such AMAZING food. One thing to keep in mind is that for a large group they will not allow several different meals. It will be a five-course dinner, but everyone must have the same dish. I understand this is the case at most restaurants in Paris. Our meal ran about $100 per guest, including aperitif, wine and most importantly the cake! In our case we wanted a chocolate truffle cake. One piece of advice — bring your own champagne. The restaurants will charge a corking fee per bottle, but in France you can buy Magnums, which are very large bottles, and the corking fee is the same."
Treat your destination wedding as a vacation: "Our wedding celebration was a week long. For the entire week, our family and friends toured Paris. We had arranged for cars only the actual wedding day. The rest of the week we all took the subway."