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Wedding in Carcassonne

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Hi there,

So pleased to have found this forum, really. My fiance James likes to joke about the cyber trail I am leading with all of my online discussion accounts, but this is definitely my way;)

So, to begin, I am planning my wedding ceremony in the South of France on August 23rd, 2008. We have hired a Humanist Officiant to fly over from Ireland to "marry" us. We are a couple that met online (he lived in England, I lived in Canada and well, it was one of those "accidental" meetings that you hear about, but never see...) He has since moved to Canada and we are still wrapping up the immigration issues on this end of things.  We wanted to have a fairly intimate wedding without alot of fuss and will be travelling wi th just our 2 children and a friend that will be caring for the children for our 2 weeks in Europe.

I have very little interest in all the typical/traditional wedding plans and we lead a fairly "free-to-be-me" lifestyle. So that said, we are just taking our thoughts and gut instincts and running with them.

Having our dresses (50's style prom dresses) made in Canada and working on the groom's attire. Still on the hunt for something suitable for summer weather in France. Our first thoughts were something mod-suit like, but it may turn out to be too hot for this sort of attire.

Any thoughts on August weather?

We have been looking for information on Photographers in the South of France and were in touch with a couple, but as far as we can tell alot of what we were looking for is nowhere to be found online. I have noticed alot of Photojournalists in France, but we were looking for ALOT less, since it is a much smaller scale than the average wedding and have little need for 12-15 hours worth of photography.

I have looked at this place as an alternative to the wedding photographer:


This is more our style of things. We like the creativity and individuality of this studio, but sadly it will have to be done in a studio and not outdoors in front of the medieval wall lined city of Carcassonne or little french village :(

Any suggestions?

Also, I have had some difficulty locating both hairdresser/florist. I know that the expectation is that I will cave and hire a wedding planner to take care of these details, but the reality is, I would sooner do without. (I have also opted out of wearing shoes because we couldn't find what we wanted)  ;)

The holiday home we booked is actually about an hour out of Carcassonne, so we are ok to drive somewhere for either of these...the only one website I found that listed anything about a hairdresser was on a "gay friendly France" site and well, I am not sure if that means they are a "men's" stylist or not. Anyone know anything about El Salon?

I quite like orchids/ Calla Lillies and my children's dresses are mauve coloured... anyone know if either of these are accessible in local french markets? I'd be just as happy with fresh cut flowers, as I would a proper floral arrangement....and would be completely fine knowing that I had a typical France arrangement, if that was my only option.

ok, so down to my final thoughts...

We have been tossing around thoughts about where to have a wedding ceremony. We hoped for something earthy and fun. We are often pushed in the direction of "booking" a spot, which I would be more inclined to do if I had guests, etc to contend with, but since I do not...I am not bothered. We contacted the "city hall" for France and Carcassonne...both of which thought we were a little insane with our questions, but here in Canada you must get approval for outdoor weddings, photography etc. However France seems not to care whether I choose to stand outside of the medieval wall lined city and get married on the grassy bits and take photo's....has anyone any thoughts on this issue?

I was trying to locate a local vineyard that would back onto Carcassonne to see if we could get their approval to wed on their land, in order to have the Carcassonne scenery off in the distance, but have had little luck with finding something like this.

Perhaps someone here has some suggestions?

To be completely honest, Europe is so completely different to Canada that I would be happy stood on a street corner in a small french village, so long as it was picturesque:)

Thanks for reading, if you got this far...looking forward to any input:)




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I don't wish to pour cold water on your plans, but having investigated this in the past for friends, I am not sure that what you have in mind is very straightforward in France.

According to the British Embassy website:

"Three important points:

  1. A religious ceremony cannot be performed until AFTER the civil marriage.
  2. A French civil authority (Mairie, adjoint, or conseiller municipal) performs the civil ceremony in the town in which one of the parties to be married has resided for at least (40) days immediately preceding the marriage.
  3. Publication of the banns in the town hall (Mairie) where marriage will take place is compulsory in France.

    Most Mairies take approximately 4 –6 weeks to process an application.

    Requirements will vary for each Mairie, therefore, it is essential that

    you first meet with them in order to determine their exact documentary

    requirements and terms of validity (documents may need to be issued

    less than 3 months prior to date of marriage or publication of banns).

A marriage performed in France under French law is recognised in the UK."

If you are planning to effectively "fly in, get married and fly out" then the above would indicate that you need to actually reside where you want the civil ceremony (ie the official ceremony) to take place for 40 days for it to be a valid marriage under French law. If you just have a "humanist" ceremony in France without the official ceremony then your marriage will not be legal in France and I can't see how it could be recognised elsewhere.


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Thank you, but yes...we already know this.

This is why we are opting for a Humanist Ceremony (after a quiet civil/signing in Canada). We are not interested in a religious ceremony and realize that our ceremony will not be an official recognition of our marriage, but instead a celebration of our union.

This is indeed what we want and would appreciate some information about the other queries:)



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Have you tried the Office de tourisme in Carcassone they may be able to link you with a local vinyard and help with locating hairdressers, local Markets etc. What about looking at a Farm auberge for a meal after?

I saw a beautiful  wedding very earthy with the only decoration being bunches of ears of wheat/corn and Vine leaves, bridesmaids carring corn dollys

I think it is likely to be very hot in August in that area and or rainy, what about a white linen Mod suit ( if it exists!)

Outside of the Walls of the city is usually a large Carousel, of course you may already have tried or know of these suggestions but its a start.



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 I saw you this morning too Makelifehappen on Trip Advisor.  Good Luck, please do let me know if you would like details about a wedding car service in a classic car, I could put you in touch with a wedding planner who works locally if you need one. Have a terrific day.


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  • 1 month later...

Sally:) Thank you. Yes. It seems that the 2 of us do "get around"... :D Though I have not been to trip advisor in a while...I just stumbled across a blogspot of yours (by complete accident while searching images:) that led me straight into something I posted here earlier today. I am shocked and almost giddy with excitement...hopeful that you  will help.

So, your husband does wine tours? Do tell...

I am looking for a Vineyard that overlooks the medieval wall lined city for a good photo spot/place to have our ceremony.,,, do you have any suggestions?

I have had a sneak peek of this car you speak of, also....hmmm....


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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...
No didn't hear another word but it would be nice to know how it went.  I had someone else asking me about getting married in Carcassonne yesterday so I think I'll send her this link direct. Apart from the places mentioned can anyone else recommend a romantic setting for the venue ? about 60-70 guests.
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  • 3 months later...
About Humanism:)



My apologies for any delay in getting back here, thanks for prompting!! Our world is quite mad with children, work, etc, but we are so pleased to know that people were interested enough to want more:)

Hm...where to begin?

We were featured on a website for offbeat brides shortly after our return:


If you click any of the photo's it will take you to our flickr photostream where you will find many more.

We arrived to Nebias extremely late (or should I say early??!) one morning after 12 hours of driving and a terrible GPS detour from Paris! We had no idea we were high up in the mountains and were mystified with all the beauty when we woke a few hours later! We got up and headed out in search of fresh baked breads, cheese and milk. Took millions of photo's! (they we  have yet to add to our flickr account!)

We drove into Carcassonne and spent the day walking around the Cite's walls in search of the perfect wedding location and photo opportunities. Enjoyed all the sights, smells, foods and sounds. What a beautiful Cite! It wasn't until we were there, in the Cite that we were able to fully appreciate how unique this experience would be and decided to cancel our reservations for our more upscale meal at a restaurant outside of the walls and reserved a meal on the terrace in the Cite!

The next day we spent in Limoux. It was market day and we later enjoyed dinner in the town square!

Once we left Canada, we left all of our planning thoughts behind and decided that whatever will be, will be. We didn't make any special efforts whilst in Europe to arrange anything wedding related and packed all of our DIY wedding bits and pieces to accompany us.

The florist did not return our emails or calls, and while I loved them so...I opted to make a feather wand instead.

We uploaded all of our wedding music (I walked down the aisle aka the ledge along the medieval wall to La Valse D'Amelie from one of my favourite films!) and brought along an ipod player.

We were unable to connect with a hairdresser before we headed over either, so I spent days reviewing utube video's and was almost convinced that I would be able to pull it off on my own...until the morning of when every strand of hair stood on edge with frizz and my lovely (now) husband went searching the streets of Nebias for a hairdresser that could help. Turns out there is a lovely English woman that lives in the town and was kind enough to put off her housework to assist from home! Her home overlooked the pyrenees!

The forecast called for rain and it was fairly dark and dim looking that morning (hence the frizz!), but we were fortunate enough to have an offer to use this hairdresser's home, if we wanted/needed for the wedding! What an amazing woman!

We arrived to the Cite, with our wedding attire and goodies in hand and walked through the Cite to find yet another amazing woman/dressmaker who happened to offer out the common area of her guest home to prepare for our wedding at no cost to us and we too happy to purchase one of her hand made dresses for our 2 year old! We quickly found a shop selling local wine to use in the "Wine Box Ceremony" (that we wrote into our wedding ceremony) and hammered the box shut until our 25th Anniversary where we will share this wine together.

I strolled through the Cite in my wedding gown to the location we chose on a grassy bit between the 2 walls and awaited the "go ahead" from the Officiant to begin walking down the aisle! Whilst I waited, there were lovely children that stood around whispering "princess" and some families that asked for photo's with me as if I were hired by the cite. Afterall, I was stood just inside the draw bridge and it was very busy with tourists.

We packed bamboo mats and coloured tulle that we bunched and sat upon during the entire ceremony. The Officiant stood before us calling people to gather 'round.

After the ceremony we took photo's all around the Cite, with a simple point and shoot digital camera that our friend held! We opted to have a professional post- wedding photoshoot here in Canada at a waterfalls location instead of hiring someone abroad. We quickly realized it would be alot of work scoping out vendors etc and I was pleased to do away with researching much more than I had here on complete France!

We had a very casual, yet elegant meal and invited our Irish Officiant along for the evening. When we finished up, we strolled the Cite, checked out some shops and well, ate crepes from the street vendor of course! Can't have a wedding in France without crepes! :)

We had purchased enough tokens to enjoy a carousel ride to end of our wedding day bliss, but were too late, as it had closed before we were ready to call it a night. Oh well, we now have little tokens for my scrapbooks, I suppose:)

All in all it was the most incredible (though "fly by the seat of our pants") experience.

I wish I could live in such beauty day in and day out.

I am truly appreciative of all the support I received here on completefrance! and hope that you enjoy our tales/photo's!

if anyone is interested in names/places, I will dig them out when I am not so pressed for time.

Happy New Year!

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