Saying "I do" to an Officiant
An officiant or celebrant creates your wedding ceremony. That includes writing a script, planning and coordinating the flow of the ceremony and performing the ceremony. They are usually experienced writers and public speakers and they will be by your side with ideas, advice and support regarding the core moment of your wedding day.
We decided to share some useful information regarding the all-important "I do" and who better to ask than the lovely Laura Montorio, also know as The Paris Officiant!
1 | To get married, does one need to have specific papers?
Couples getting married in France don’t need any specific papers to have a symbolic ceremony officiated by a celebrant. Due to French marriage law non-French residents cannot have a civil wedding ceremony in France that is legally binding.
Instead they will celebrate their wedding with a symbolic ceremony officiated by a wedding celebrant. Most of my couples get a quick civil ceremony back home before or after travelling to France.
2 | What kind of weddings do you look after?
I mainly work with couples from abroad. Most of them come from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and other European countries.
I officiate intimate elopements and vow renewals outdoors in Paris for instance at the Eiffel Tower. And I also create ceremonies for all sizes of weddings in Paris or anywhere else in France, often in some beautiful French castles.
I really love meeting couples from all over the world and celebrating so many different kinds of ceremonies!
3 | Your ultimate favourite wedding places
This questions is almost impossible to answer. Because there are just so many beautiful ceremony locations! (lol) A few of my favorites are: In Paris I love the Eiffel Tower (of course!) as well as the beautiful parks such as Luxembourg Gardens, Tuileries, Parc Monceau or Parc de Bagatelle.
There are also so many stunning private venues in Paris such as the Eiffel Tower view terrace at the Shangri-La, the Salon Psyche at the Ritz, the rooftop of the Peninsula and so many more.
Outside of Paris I really enjoy officiating ceremonies at French wedding castles in the Loire Valley, Normandie or Champagne region such as Chateau de Chantilly, Ermenonville, Veaux le Vicomte, Carsix, Courcelles le Roy.
In the South of France the most gorgeous spot for intimate and romantic ceremonies are probably the Lavender Fields in Provence. ;-)
4 | What's the most memorable wedding you had to officiate?
Also this is a hard one! Because every wedding is special and every couple I meet is unforgettable. So also here just a few examples:
A surprise proposal followed by a surprise wedding ceremony at the Eiffel Tower.
An intercultural ceremony including Afghan wedding rituals.
A family ceremony celebrating that their little boy had overcome cancer.
A bilingual ceremony taking place in the ruins of an ancient church and castle.
A commitment ceremony under a heart-shaped tree in the lavender fields of Provence.
A wedding ceremony in Paris for a senior couple with their children and grand children present and contributing.
A vow renewal at the Shangri-La after 30 years of marriage - the couple fell in love when 13 years old.
A wedding in a French chateau in Normandy including rituals to honor the groom’s mother who had recently passed.
A same sex wedding at the George V in Paris where the grooms had each prepared surprises for each other and also the guests - I knew about it though. ;-)
5 | What happens on the day?
I usually arrive well in advance at the venue/location to prepare the ceremony space (if needed) and also to meet my couple beforehand in case of questions, last minute changes or just to calm the nerves. (lol)
When the bride and groom are ready and all guests have arrived we will start the ceremony. I will perform it the way I have planned and created it together with my couple.
Once the ceremony is over, I usually stick around for a bit to congratulate my newly weds and to share a few moments together if their time allows.
6 | What preparations are required?
Preparations for the ceremony mainly consist in a lot of communication with the couple as well as planning, writing and rehearsing the ceremony.
I am closely and frequently in touch with my couples in order to get to know them and understand how they envision their ceremony.
Also I always send my couples a rather detailed questionnaire to know more about them and to be able to create a personal and unique ceremony.
After I have created the flow of the ceremony and wrote the script I go through it together with my couple and we coordinate/practice the cues for the processional, guest contributions etc. And then we are wedding day ready!
7 | Is there a legal requirement?
No, as mentioned above. As we are talking about symbolic ceremonies there are no legal requirements.
8 | What language is the ceremony performed in
I write and officiate most of my ceremonies in English. Sometimes I also create bilingual ceremonies in English, French or German.
My Italian, Spanish and Chinese are a bit rusty but enough to at least add a few words in these languages. And I’m always happy to learn new things!
Last year for example one of my couples taught me a few words in Danish that I then said during the ceremony to the surprise of the guests.
9 | Useful things couples should know and don't know ahead of getting an officiant
Definitely take some time together to think about how you envision your ceremony and make sure you choose the right person as your officiant/celebrant.
Officiating a ceremony is more than just finding a ceremony script online and reading it out loud from a paper. It’s about creating an important and emotional moment in your life.
The ceremony should really make you feel like you have crossed a theshold and are now united in marriage. The ceremony is the core of your wedding day, because your wedding is about the promises you make and how you start your marriage.
I think it’s fair to say that when you have a successful wedding ceremony (in the sense that it feels perfectly you and also your guests feel emotionally involved) nothing much can go majorly wrong anymore on your wedding day. (lol)
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