What is it about Paris that makes so many fall in love with, well, love? It could be the undeniable charm of the café-lined streets, the rich history of royal weddings, or breathtaking sites such as the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur.
The point is: Long before Big swept Carrie off her feet in the Sex & the City series finale, or Rick told Ilsa "We’ll always have Paris" in Casablanca, the city was the center of romance, so it’s no wonder it serves to inspire so many nuptials. And if you’re thinking about hosting a Parisian-themed wedding, there’s no shortage of French-inspired details to incorporate into your celebration.
The Frenchification of your wedding day can start as early as your invites and welcome gifts (make sure calligraphy and macarons feature prominently!), and extend well into the reception with champagne cocktails, a chateau venue, and even a croquembouche in place of a traditional wedding cake. And don’t forget the crepe station and French fries for late-night snacks! You can also add a dose of French-girl cool to your wedding day look with strategic fashion and beauty choices.
No matter if you go full-tilt French or just add a dash of je ne sais quoi here and there, these Parisian-themed wedding ideas are sure to make your big day feel extra special. So feel free to steal as many as you wish!
Go Romantic With Your Invites
Deckled edges, watercolor, and handwritten calligraphy will give your invitations an elegant Old World vibe. If you’re marrying in a historic venue, incorporate a subtle illustration of the exterior for added effect.
Wear a Watteau Train
Named for the 18th-century French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, this elegant, ethereal gown style sees the train extend from the shoulders or the top of the back bodice of the dress.
Opt for a Ballerina Bun
The simple, sophisticated, slightly textured bun hairstyle is the perfect blend of polished and unstuffy. In the simplest terms: C’est chic.
Don a Dress Named For a Parisian Garden
From the Fall 2020 collection, the "Tuileries" gown by Monique Lhuillier is named for a famed French garden situated between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. The off-the-shoulder bouffant sleeves serve romantic Regency vibes.
Wed in a Chateau Setting
Not all couples dream of a fairytale wedding. For those that do, the best way to fully indulge in the fantasy is to marry on the grounds of a historic chateau. While Disney castles may have spires and towers, these majestic real-world structures often have more traditional shapes, but are no less breathtaking.
Give Macarons as Welcome Gifts
Clue guests into the wedding theme the moment they reach their hotel suite by welcoming them with a pretty box of macarons. Good to know: Famed French confectioner Ladurée has stateside locations in New York, California, Miami, and Washington D.C., and they offer custom gift boxes and delivery.
Opt for Opulent Interiors
Pro tip: You don’t necessarily have to spend big on flowers and décor when your reception space is adorned with intricate molding, gilded chandeliers, and beautiful flooring. Pick a venue that fits with your regal Parisian theme, and the rest of your details won’t have to work as hard.
Get Inspired by Manicured Gardens
A French theme also works just as well for an outdoor affair. To help a tented wedding feel more formal and rooted in the legendary manicured gardens of France, prioritize symmetry in your floral arrangements and line tables with Louis XVI-style chairs.
Use Bistro Chairs at the Ceremony
The slim silhouette of the classic bistro chair will allow you to fit more seats into your ceremony space, and remind guests of the quaint eateries and cafés of Paris. For an outdoor ceremony, the look is especially charming when paired with market lights.
Include a Lavender Toss
If your ceremony will be held outdoors, a fun way to Frenchify the rice toss is to swap the grains with cones of fresh lavender. The distinctively Provencal scent will add a note of sophistication, and the choice is also more environmentally-friendly.
Kick Off Cocktail Hour With a Cheese Display
To make the cocktail hour treat feel especially on theme, include slices of fresh baguette and creamy crowd-pleasers such as brie and camembert.
Model Your Escort Station After Parisian Streets
At a St. Regis hotel wedding in Washington, D.C., Grit & Grace honored a bride’s relationship with her mother and late grandmother by creating an interactive escort station inspired by the charming businesses found along the streets of Paris. Gentlemen received a custom cigar and a pint of beer with their seating assignment, while ladies were given a camellia corsage inspired by Chanel along with a glass of rosé. "It was a wonderful way to transport guests overseas," says Grit & Grace's Laura Ritchie.
Make the French 75 Your Signature Cocktail
The primary ingredients (gin, champagne, and lemon juice) are quick to mix, yet strike an immediately celebratory note. If that doesn’t make for the perfect signature cocktail, then we don’t know what does! To infuse even more French flair into the drink, garnish with edible flowers or sprigs of lavender.
Add in Berets
If your catering team is open to switching up their uniforms, berets and striped bateau tops are a classically French choice. Accent with coordinating neckerchiefs for a touch of femininity.
Start Dinner With Baguette Service
In lieu of traditional bread service at a Mayflower Hotel reception, event planner Laura Ritchie of Grit & Grace surprised guests—and the Paris-loving bride herself—with a chic French girl who rode through the reception passing out baguettes wrapped in vintage maps of the city. "It was surely a talking point throughout the evening!" she says.
Dine Under Market Lights
Dining alfresco becomes instantly more romantic when you hang market lights over the tables. Also referred to as café lights, the strings of bulbs can be found draped in front of brasseries that dot winding Parisian alleyways.
Go for Gilded Dishware
Place settings get the Versailles treatment with floral-inspired gold chargers and coordinating gold-rimmed dishware. Sophisticated muted linens and and a gilded crest on the menu amp up the royal factor.
Add In Antique Touches Whenever Possible
Tabletop accents such as candles and salt and pepper cellars are the perfect opportunity to incorporate a bit of antique patina into your wedding day aesthetic. Slightly tarnished gold and silver pieces will provide a laid-back yet luxe look that will blend in perfectly with your Parisian wedding theme.
Swap Your Cake for Croquembouche
Often drizzled with caramel and stacked multiple levels high, this puff pastry tower is an iconic French dessert. Whether you serve it alongside a traditional wedding cake or in lieu of, the dainty cream-filled treats will bring French flair to your wedding day.
Pour a Champagne Tower
Add more ooh la la to your champagne toast by kicking it off with a champagne tower. This multi-level method of serving is sure to strike a celebratory note.
Include a Crepe Station
These very thin pancakes are a popular Parisian street snack, and can be paired with sweet or savory fillings. For a dose of whimsy, introduce a made-to-order station later on in the evening, as guests grow hungry from dancing the night away.
Serve Frites for a Late-Night Snack
French fries are a cheeky late-night snack for a Parisian-themed wedding that all guests will love. To make the nibble feel more upscale, serve in monogrammed cartons that coordinate with your wedding colors.