• Natalia Langsdale

How to Choose Your Wedding Venue & Iconic Venues on the French Riviera

Updated: Apr 21

It is ultimately always the venue that determines the date of your wedding, and therefore the ability to plan your wedding day with vigour.


There is not one particular aspect of your wedding that is the most important. But the venue, the associated decor, available space and even the configuration of that space will play a significant part in the overall organisation, styling and general flow of your day.


Thomas Audiffren Photography at Château Saint Martin & Spa


That is why it is important that your choice of venue ticks all the boxes and required consideration to ensure you feel comfortable throughout the rest of the planning process.

If you have a clear vision of how you wish your wedding to look, then it may be a fairly easy task in terms of confirming your ideal backdrop.


Whatever the style you are looking for;


  • Black-tie affair

  • Lavish fairytale castle

  • Laid-back rustic gathering

  • Urban warehouse

  • Intimate yacht ceremony

  • Dinner in the sky food feast with Michelin-star chef

  • ...


It's a case of simply where and when, but even then there are many considerations to keep in mind when selecting your venue.



LOCATION



Many couples seek out a venue in a location that is significant to them in some way, whether it be their childhood hometown, a favourite place from travels or the surprise engagement.


If you and your partner require a religious ceremony in your designated place of worship, you may feel that your search is limited to a reception venue that doesn't require a long travel time between the ceremony and reception location or the airport if the case is that you are coming from abroad for the destination wedding.


Unless one of you have French residency according to the laws of France then this prospect is not even part of the equation. Check out our blog post about the laws for more on that topic - WHY CONSIDER A DESTINATION WEDDING IN FRANCE.


One amazing alternative to going further afield and especially considering a destination wedding or elopement is that you could host a "weekend" or "holiday wedding."

These are becoming more and more popular, with guests taking the time to stay longer and making a mini-break out of the occasion.


It's a great excuse to extend the celebrations and a chance to catch up with your loved ones properly, before and after the wedding.





SPACE


Capacity is always a sticking point when it comes to choosing your venue. Once you have even general idea of the number of guests you expect, that will be the key to moving forward so that you don't risk falling in love with a venue, only to discover that you would need to slash your guest list by half.


If you wish to do the ceremony and reception in the same place, ensure that not only do they hold a civil ceremony licence, but also that the capacity works for both.


Another thing to watch out for is exactly where all of your guests will be seated; some venues will seat 'overflow' guests in an adjoining room or makeshift area if they do not have the adequate space. Not ideal.





AMBIANCE


If you have a very clear vision of how your day will look, then the existing interior decor features and architectural details of a venue can seem like a difficult hurdle to overcome.


However there are plenty of venues that offer very neutral foundations for the overall backdrop.


There are on a positive note, a great deal of ways that you can work with absolutely any venue to make it truly your own.


  • Florals

  • Papergoods

  • Uniquely personalised and decorative projects

  • The help of your wedding planner if they have stylist skills like MY RIVIERA WEDDINGS does


You may not be looking for a venue but rather a back-garden celebration, or if in the South of France, lavender fields. Such locations are easy to find but will require to be a bit more hands-on.


Some of the loveliest and most personalised weddings are essentially a marquee or wedding tipi, vintage-style tent or yurt in an outdoors space.





NOTE FOR THOSE CREATING THEIR OWN VENUE


This doesn't necessarily mean that the planning element will be easier simply because you are not restricted by rules and regulations that come with a venue.


All aspects of the running of the day and supplier coordination will be your responsibility, unless of course you enlist the help of a freelance wedding planner.




PLANNING PROCESS


The benefit of booking an established designated wedding venue is their invaluable experience and ability to assist with the majority of your requirements. From:


  • Exact timings of the day's events

  • Wedding breakfast menu choices

  • All in between

  • Selection of trusted suppliers


Important: ensure you enquire with any venue prior to confirming the booking what their policy is regarding the use of vendors that are not on their preferred list. With the exception of catering (the venue wants to ensure they could guarantee a high standard of food preparation, delivery and service on their premises) there shouldn't be any reason why you are unable to choose exactly who you want to make your day as special as possible.





THE COST


Venue costs can vary considerably, not least depending on the number of gusts you have in mind.


Prices inevitably differ depending on season and day of the week.


A Saturday in July, which is high season, will be more expensive than a Tuesday in January, low season.

Some venues offer fairly straightforward basic packages for daily hire, including all the tableware and on-the-day coordination, as well as certain food and drink allowances per person, with a minimum spend per person very often than not.


This gives you a general gauge of the overall costs and something simple you can do yourself when seeking out the cost for the wedding.


Other venues make it more complex, and why a wedding planner comes in handy as they are used to translating the awkward lists of this and that and minimums and your can's and cant's. They make it seem like anything and everything is an added extra.



The best thing to do is ask - serious - as many questions as you feel will satisfy your understanding of the terms of the contract. Remember to read the small print!


The venue is a big investment so you need to make sure there are no hidden costs or restrictions that are going to crop up when potentially too late to change your mind.


What could fall into this category you wonder:


Securing a prime date in the summer only to realise the venue being shared by one or two other celebrations (weddings, kids party, pensioners karaoke party...)


THE SMALL PRINT


Whilst some venues will let you dance and be merry until dawn, it is common for venues to only licence their bar until midnight. The same applies for music, but sometimes you can "pay" to extend these services (at a hefty price mind you).


Some places have rules about confetti, the release of balloons, fireworks, candles, lanterns and Chinese lanterns in areas surrounded by trees and forest for example.


Each venue has specific health, safety, noise and licensing regulations to abide with. It is important to be fully aware before signing on the dotted line.


That is why some couples like to consider hiring a villa for their destination wedding as certain limitations are then exempt.




SOME ALL-TIME FAVOURITE ICONIC WEDDING VENUES ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA



VILLA EPHRUSSI - SAINT JEAN CAP FERRAT


https://www.villa-ephrussi.com


Bluepineapple Photo



GRAND HOTEL CAP FERRAT - SAINT JEAN CAP FERRAT


https://www.fourseasons.com/capferrat/

Maddy Christina Photography



HÔTEL DU CAP-EDEN-ROC - CAP D'ANTIBES


https://www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/hotel-du-cap-eden-roc/


Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc



NEGRESCO - NICE


http://www.hotel-negresco-nice.com/en


Negresco



CHÂTEAU LA NAPOULE - MANDELIEU LA NAPOULE


http://www.chateau-lanapoule.com/en/


Château La Napoule Art Foundation



CHÂTEAU SAINT MARTIN & SPA - VENCE

https://www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/chateau-saint-martin/


Thomas Audiffren Photography



CHÂTEAU DE BERNE - LORGUES


https://www.chateauberne.com


Château de Berne



BASTIDE DU ROY - ANTIBES


https://www.bastide-du-roy.com


Thomas Audiffren Photography



CHÂTEAU EZA - EZE


https://www.chateaueza.com


Château Eza



CARLTON - CANNES


https://www.carlton-cannes.com/en/


Carlton Cannes



HELPFUL CHECKLIST TO DOWNLOAD


Here is a detailed list of every query we can think of to present to your prospective venue, but of course armed with all the knowledge in the world, as with everything, there will undoubtedly be compromises.


As long as you and your partner can truly envisage creating your dream day in the place that you love, that is all that really matters.










____


CREDITS


Bluepineapple Photo | Maddy Christina Photography | Thomas Audiffren Photography | Jérémie Bertrand | Photography Photos from tourist websites and venues


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