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When planning a luxury destination wedding in France, it can be difficult for couples who live abroad to know where to begin. Enter Fête in France. Famous for creating memorable multi-day events, this boutique planning agency handles everything from the welcome party to your farewell brunch, and helps you choose the chateau (or private mansion!) to host them at. As seen in the Winter 2018/19 Edition of the WedLuxe Global Trend Report, they discuss how they got started, their most challenging (and rewarding!) wedding yet, and the French traditions they encourage couples to embrace.
Fête in France is known for creating some of the most lavish weddings in Paris and across France. When and how did you get started in the event planning industry?
Fête in France is headed by Anne Mulvhill and Nancy LaTart and has been creating weddings throughout France for an international clientele for more than 12 years. Anne founded Fête in France in 2006 after organizing her own wedding in 2005. At the time, she was living in NYC, planning the wedding in Maine, and expecting guests from France because her (now) husband is French. She quickly realized the complexity involved, especially when planning at a distance. After their wedding, Anne and her husband moved to France since her husband was starting an MBA near Paris. After he finished the program and they settled in Paris, Anne decided to launch Fête in France. Having grown up with bilingual schooling, she felt specializing in destination weddings would provide a real service to people who did not speak the language and did not live in France. Nancy, a business school classmate of Anne’s husband, joined as a partner in 2009. She had studied abroad in Paris as an undergraduate and had a passion for the French language, which motivated the choice to settle in Paris after her MBA. She was drawn to the idea of bridging the cultural gap using her knowledge of the US market and French language skills. A post-graduation stint in consulting didn’t turn out to be the right fit, but the unexpected opportunity of wedding planning did!
Tell us a little bit about Fête in France’s signature design style.
Classic, Elegant, Refined. We love integrating our clients’ style and preferences. Our aim is for the event to have a sense of place – our couples want their guests to feel like they are in France! We want the event to feel beautiful and special, but the splendor of the venue really has to shine through.
From where do you draw your inspiration when planning a wedding?
Typically from the venue itself and from our clients’ personalities, but also from interior design and fashion trends, as well as our own personal travels.
Tell us about trends in your line of work. What trends have been big in 2018? What trends are you predicting will be big for weddings in 2019?
In 2018, we have continued to see more of the greenery trend but with a tropical twist, as well as a boho trend with pampas grass. In 2019, we expect more vibrant colors to make a comeback in a big way!
What are your favourite venues and locations within France for weddings?
We’re serious Francophiles, so this is a bit like asking us which is our favourite child. In Paris, our favourite venues are private mansions, which offer complete exclusivity and allow us to transition from space to space throughout the evening and keeps guests discovering something ‘new’ throughout the event. We also love chateau weekends where guests can all stay on-site and the couple can enjoy an extended period of quality time with friends and family.
What is your process when a couple ﬁrst contacts you about planning their wedding?
Most of the time, the people contacting us are far away, so we try to have a conversation with them via phone or video chat right away to better understand what it is they are really looking for. After that, we are able to respond with a proposal that more closely matches what they expect.
What has been your biggest event planning challenge?
We’ve been fortunate to have designed and planned many beautiful weddings, but our favourite one has to be the most challenging one – a four-day celebration on the estate of the bride’s family’s chateau. All of the parties (welcome cocktail, activity day & rehearsal dinner, wedding day, brunch) took place in multiple reception tents on the grounds of the chateau. We constructed glamping accommodation in a “teepee village” and the nearby priory church which had fallen into disrepair was renovated especially for the wedding ceremony. We had had beautiful hot summer weather in the weeks leading up to the wedding, but the week of the wedding, the weather took a turn for the worse. Temperatures dropped by 20 degrees (35°F) from heatwave to summer chill and rain all weekend. Luckily, we had truly the best clients who listened and trusted our advice and were sanguine about the weather. We also had an amazing team of vendors, who all pulled together to make the plans B and C and D go as smoothly and enjoyably as the original plan A. We, as service providers, remember being soaking wet all weekend, but the guests have no memory of the rain – just a series of fabulous parties where everyone was on the dance floor.
What is your favourite wedding that you’ve designed and executed?
Our favourite one has to be the most challenging one mentioned above. The bride and her father came to the table with some great initial ideas but then let us run with how to bring the event to life. They totally trusted us and trusted that we understood the type of experience they wanted to create for the wedding. Entertainment was a big area, as was creating interesting and unique spaces for each of the events: a “White Nights” welcome cocktail inspired by the ‘80s movie; a Texas BBQ-themed rehearsal dinner; an elegant country chateau wedding day…
Tell us a bit about the concept of a “wedding weekend” – what sort of activities do you plan for out-of-town guests to enjoy over a multi-day event?
Typically we plan for an off-site excursion to a historic chateau, vineyard, or local museum. We also bring in activities to the venue, such as lawn games, archery, yoga, massage therapists, and wine and cheese tastings.
Where is your favourite place to travel?
There are the places we return to year after year for family reasons – for Anne, she always spends time over the summer in Maine and for Nancy, she spends time in Brittany, France. But there’s a special place in our hearts for travel to new countries we’ve never been to before, the exquisite sensation of being in a foreign place and learning your way around, seeing and experiencing new sights, sounds, flavours…
What is your favourite part of working in the event planning industry?
Event planning allows us to wear so many different hats on a daily basis. There is always something new and different we’re faced with in our projects and we love to continue to take on new challenges every season.
What are some French wedding traditions that couples from abroad marrying in France should consider including in their celebrations?
In France, celebrations mean champagne! We love recommending a Kir Royale bar with different versions of this champagne cocktail: classic with blackcurrant liqueur, daring with poppy liqueur, subtle with vine-ripened peach liqueur. Another French wedding tradition couples enjoy is the the French wedding cake called a croquembouche: a tower of cream-filled puffs, held together with caramelized sugar and presented at the end of the meal with sparklers and fanfare.
What are the top three destinations or activities you would recommend to someone visiting France for the ﬁrst time?
You can’t plan a trip to France without spending time in Paris – the city itself is a thing of beauty and you could fill weeks, let alone days, just wandering the streets, popping into charming boutiques. Paris is also a great base for exploring the regions of Champagne, the Loire Valley, and Normandy. For another side of France, head south to visit Provence and the Cote d’Azur. Rustic Provence is filled with lovely tree-filled villages, bustling markets, olive trees, and the soft sounds of cicadas, while the Cote d’Azur has the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, with exclusive luxury hotels and villas along the coastline.
What is the number one reason couples from abroad should consider hosting their wedding in France?
France is such a romantic destination, filled with historic chateaux, beautiful landscapes, refined food and wine, and excellent local vendors.
What’s next for Fête in France in 2019?
We have big plans for international expansion through our new sister brand Fête Event Planning! Weddings will continue to be an important part of our business, but we are excited by new opportunities in the private and corporate spheres in Italy and Dubai.
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