5th July 2019 | French Alps
With weddings around the world getting bigger and bigger (and therefore more and more extravagant) it’s getting harder to come up with an original idea. Especially one that reflects you as a couple. There are huge logistics around a wedding, whether in your home town, country, or abroad and navigating your way through this can be difficult. Of course, if money was no issue then all of your wildest dreams for your perfect day can be made into reality but that is not always the case.
More and more, we have clients coming to us asking about Alpine Weddings, and certainly in the last few years there has seemed to be more and more people getting married in The French Alps. Of course, nobody knows what will happen after Brexit so take the ‘ins and outs’ with a touch of salt as these may change after Brexit (finally) comes to fruition. Either way, if a ceremony in France gets much more difficult then there is always the option of holding an ‘unofficial’ wedding day in The Alps and just having your legal ceremony in your home town/country (after all, nobody needs to know that a mountain top isn’t a registered place to get married in France!).
It’s worth noting that there are wedding planners in each of the French Alpine Ski Resorts that we cover at FSA, and these are a great option if you are restricted on time or want somebody with their feet on the ground to organise for you.
The Legal Bit
One of the main things to consider is that in France you have to get married at the Mairie in your town, and the wedding will normally be officiated by the Mayor. Unlike in the UK, there are not venues which are registered to perform the ceremony and it must be done in a townhall or it will not be recognised as a legal marriage. If you want a religious ceremony, this must be done after the official ceremony in the Mairie. So it’s worth planning to incorporate this factor into your wedding day. And it also contributes to the fact that you may feel it’s as easy to do the official wedding in your country of residence to avoid the paperwork! To get married in France you have to have resided in France for a minimum of 30 days and proof of this can be things like electricity bills.
As for wedding venues for the remainder of the day, the resort is your oyster! But the main question that will impact this is what season you opt for.
Winter or Summer Weddings
One thing to consider about the winter in resorts, especially ones which have a smaller summer resort, is that you’re doing everything at a premium (even more so than the fact you’re already in The Alps). Restaurants and venues can often put so many diners through in a lunch serving that to ask them to close for a whole day you’re looking at a fairly large price to make it worth their while. It also leaves the chance for stragglers to be wandering in wearing ski boots thinking they’ve just popped in for a coffee or vin chaud! There is always the option of security in this situation.
A serious logistic to consider is skiing in your wedding attire. Now whilst a lot of people dream of skiing in their wedding dress or suit, shall we take a minute to think about this sensibly?! You’ve got your hair done for a start, and skiing in a dress without a helmet seems to us like you’re asking for trouble. If you rip your suit trousers then the rest of your day is going to be spent covering up your boxers (hopefully you’ll have on your best pair for your wedding day). To me, it’s just an accident waiting to happen. So if you’re dead set on skiing off happily married then I’d recommend you know what piste you’re going for, and don’t book your wedding during half term!
Nobody wants a bride in hospital with a broken leg on their wedding day (despite how good the pictures might look as you ski in your wedding dress)
The plus side to Summer weddings is that the resorts are generally much quieter and so you have more options open to you, even down to things like accommodating your guests without having to pay for all-inclusive chalet holidays for each of your attendees. Whilst the summer weather can be stormy, it is normally warm throughout whereas the winter weather can be much more volatile, leaving chance for a drizzly or even a whiteout day. Not being able to see your groom at the end of the aisle due to the white-out certainly will come with pros and cons!
But let’s not overlook the beauty of the winter. The snow sparkling in the sunshine, the white dress and luxury white fur bouncing off the reflection of the snow on the ground. Amazing wedding photos if the weather holds out. And hopping into a hot tub at the end of the day with a glass of champagne, I mean it’s a dream come true for many skiing-enthusiasts. And whether you want to get married in a restaurant, or a big terrace or just have an intimate wedding in a chalet there are a multitude of options open to you. Think big and you won’t be disappointed.
As for venues, look for venues which have private dining rooms and a great atmosphere. People who know how to organise a party are the ones you want to go for! Some of the restaurants which don’t ordinarily open in the summer will open for weddings so make sure to always ask the question. If you don’t ask…
The other great thing about summer is that some chalets which sit empty in the summer will let you rent the chalet on a help-yourself basis.
Think restaurants, terraces, churches, mountain clearings, and especially look for restaurants which spill onto open space where you have room to roam with your guests. Of course, decor is key to building a wedding venue, so look for venues which you can enhance with your own style ideas. We’ve had friends and clients get married in the mountains and add to the terrace with tipis or tents.
The last option is your local Salle (like a village hall) which will often be rentable. Perfect in summer or winter, but you will need the help of a catering company or flexible restaurant who are happy to travel to you. Again, you can decorate to your style and it gives you much more flexibility in terms of food and drink options.