A Romantic Parisian Wedding Doesn‘t Need to Incur the Clichés and Costs

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A Romantic Parisian Wedding Doesn‘t Need to Incur the Clichés and Costs
Often when we picture a dream wedding, Paris makes an appearance. Romantic architecture, champagne and a twinkling Eiffel Tower seem to be the perfect formula for a très romantic wedding. Sex and the City, Sabrina, An American in Paris, Something’s Gotta Give, Oneday, Anastasia and Charade are just a few of the movies containing iconic kisses in Paris. We have all grown up with images of the perfect Parisian romance and wedding but it is also possible to break with the clichés, however charming they may be, and have a wedding in the City of Light that is personal, laid back, quirky and not set to bankrupt you. I know, because we did it and, even at four months pregnant in the midst of a heatwave, we had the most memorable day ever. On my trips to Paris over the years, I had sat among many cheery Scouse or Parisian hen parties on budget flights from Liverpool, and you can never miss newlywed couples from the USA or Asia posing for pictures in spots such as the Trocadero, Montmartre or near our place on the Canal Saint Martin. I’d be lying if I said Paris hadn’t been top on my list of places to tie the knot long before I’d met my now husband, moved here or decided that marriage was for me after all. Simply put, there was no doubt, for my French fiancé and I, that we would get married in Paris because we wanted a laid-back city wedding that would be easier for people to travel to, plus an excuse for a weekend break for many. Sadly, at this point I may disappoint any die-hard romantics with our lack of a proposal story, as we simply decided during a discussion over dinner on a gloomy January evening. It felt like the right time and we chose the month of July because we wanted a summer wedding because we’d met during the Parisian summer, and thought that it would be best after the schools had finished and before the August scorch and mass exodus for holidays began. Romantics, as a consolation I will quickly tell you a little more about how we met; it was while I was doing my annual apartment sitting on the northern part of the canal. Our first date was on the canal, where we played pétanque at Paris Plage, hired a boat and went to watch a movie. After a first date like that, the rest is, of course, our history. Step one of getting married in France, like anywhere else, is the ceremony. France is a predominantly Catholic country and I was christened Church of England, while my husband is technically Catholic, although neither of us are practicing. A church ceremony was never on the cards to begin with, though, and to be married in the eyes of the French government, you can’t just wed in a church or private ceremony. We had to get married at the mairie (city hall) of the district in which we live, so the ceremony was already a given. We live in the 10th and having PACSed (a civil marriage that’s available to same and different sex couples in France) a couple of years before, we already had a lot of the paperwork, or at least knew the protocol involved in acquiring it. The rumors about how nightmare-inducing bureaucracy is in France are all very much true, so we got our stacks of papers together and braced ourselves for an experience straight out of The 12 Tasks of Asterix. Fortunately, we got to see someone straight away, but alas the woman was far from friendly and very thorough; clearly not a fan of “foreigners” she took great pleasure in announcing that my witnesses were not allowed to sign anything because they don’t speak French. I should mention at this point that I am British. By the time we left the town hall my nose may well have been as out of joint as Depardieu’s but we had a Saturday slot in July, so I sucked it up because that mission was complete and we could start planning and sending out the “Save the Dates”! It is important to mention that when it comes to wedding ceremonies, France adopts the same amount of flexibility it applies to restaurant opening hours: that is, total rigidity. If you decide to get married on a weekend you are limited to Saturday morning/lunchtime and usually there are only about 3-4 slots a day. We missed the golden 12pm but managed to secure a 11.15am start time. My idea of a fun morning casually getting ready with friends was quashed but we took solace in the fact we would have a long summer day to enjoy with all our friends and family, learning quickly that when wedding planning in France, it’s important to remain resilient and positive. When it came to the rest of the organization we checked all our resources, asking a friend to be our photographer, and decided to keep it as low-key and DIY as possible. Of course, the numbers rocketed from that initially envisaged quiet ceremony and a meal with a few nearest and dearest, but we kept it at around the 80 people mark. Our Paris, as in the one we live in day to day, is not the touristic center and so we avoided the incredible costs of venues around the Seine or landmarks, opting for a quirky
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Lead photo credit : Kerry Flint's wedding. Photographer: Fanny Roger

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Kerry Flint is a writer and blogger who hails from the north of England and, after living in London, has settled in Paris. A former film journalist, fashion writer and literary guide who has written for The Guardian, The Debrief, The Independent, City Metric, Clash, Yatzer, Twin, FRAME, Fiasco and others, she continues to contribute her music, culture, food, travel and lifestyle pieces whilst sharing her life in Paris on kerryflint.com.