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  • Writer's picturejulia Fulford-Kirby

Planning Your Destination Wedding Day at the Château

One of the advantages of a destination wedding is that the festivities don't just last for one day. This means that you will be staying at least the day before and after the wedding on-site and so you don't need to factor in any extra time for travel between the ceremony and reception, arrival and going home or even photography locations. You, your guests and everything else you need are all in one place. This gives you both more flexibility and extra time to enjoy your special day day.

Even so, making sure you get the timings right on your wedding day is a great way to make sure that you feel relaxed and can fully enjoy the day without worrying about your guests.

Here are a few things to consider when looking at the timings for your destination wedding day:

Planning for the weather​

With a destination wedding it is important to remember that the weather is likely to be warmer than at home… that’s one of the reasons you’re in love with the idea of a dreamy château wedding in the South of France after all!

Whether you choose a Spring, Summer or Autumn celebration, marrying in the South of France will mean your guests can feel the sun on their faces and wear those special outfits without needing to rush back inside for a jacket.

The wedding photos are going to look gorgeous and you can enjoy a ceremony and reception al fresco with a beautiful château and remarkable scenery as an unforgettable backdrop.

However, it is also important to factor this in when looking at the timings for your wedding day. Especially in high summer, the midday and early afternoon heat can be pretty intense and it’s important to consider children and older guests who may struggle with the warm weather.

Therefore lots of couples choose to start their celebrations later in the day and it is traditional in France to have a ceremony later in the afternoon, to ensure everyone is comfortable while watching the two of you tie the knot.

This may mean you want to move your timings around a bit…consider having a drinks reception on arrival rather than after the ceremony but don’t forget it will stay light and warm later too, so you won’t be short of time and can party late into the night!

It is also important to remember that, although less likely, it can sometimes rain even in this idyllic corner of Aveyron, so it's always a good to have a Plan B. Fortunately, with our Grand Events Hall at the Château, you are covered (literally!) whatever the weather and can decide closer to the event whether you will have your celebration al-fresco or move elements of the day inside if needed. Either way, you will be able to enjoy a beautiful atmosphere in glorious surroundings.

Your suppliers can set up well in advance

Having booked your French chateau wedding for perhaps a week or even longer, you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to decorate!

Make sure suppliers know that they can set up early and then return when they are needed. This again takes the pressure off the day and will make sure your timings run smoothly as everyone has plenty of time to get ready and be where they need to be when it matters.

Are you still looking for caterers, celebrants, photographers or other English-speaking French wedding vendors? Check out our recommended suppliers page for trusted local companies.

Keep your guests fed and watered

So, your guests have enjoyed a lovely breakfast on the lawn but have since spent a considerable effort getting ready in all their finery, been delighted by the moment you both say “I do”, potentially stood around for many, many photos, and then enjoyed a drinks reception…breakfast is starting to feel like a long time ago and stomachs are starting to growl.

If you want to follow this structure of photos and drinks after the ceremony, make sure you also offer canapés, or for a more relaxed vibe, nibbles, dotted around to make sure guests continue to enjoy their day to the full. The last thing you want is guests looking at their watches wondering how long it will be before the wedding breakfast!

Alternatively, you could have a drinks reception before the ceremony or after the wedding breakfast to keep things moving.

Also, while people are enjoying their drinks and nibbles as you sneak off with your new husband or wife for some photography, why not set up some lawn games like croquet, Swedish chess and giant Jenga to keep everyone entertained. You could also hire an entertainer, magician or band to make sure your guests enjoy every moment of the day even while you and your partner are otherwise occupied making sure you get those perfect wedding photos – something you certainly don’t want to rush!


It is crucial to find a balance between regimented timings and being relaxed if things don’t quite run to schedule. The last thing you want is to feel flustered if the food is late or the first dance doesn’t happen at a precise time. The nature of hiring a

chateau for your wedding should mean that you can relax. There’s plenty of time, there’s no pressure and your loved ones are not going to mind if things don’t go 100% according to plan… in fact, they probably won’t even notice!

Have a master of ceremonies or on-the-day coordinator

Assign a master of ceremonies to keep things on track. This could be your wedding planner, someone you hire for the day or even an exuberant member of the wedding party if you’re working to a budget.

If your timings start to slip, they can subtly get thing back to where they should be and also make sure that people are where they are meant to be. It also will hugely relieve the pressure on you because you know that even if the day’s proceedings alter slightly, someone will be there to still make sure that things run smoothly and that you and your guests are going to have an unforgettable day!

Wedding speeches

We recommend having the speeches before the wedding breakfast. If those giving speeches are a little anxious about being in the spotlight this means that the speakers will be able to relax and fully enjoy a delicious meal at their leisure, without pre-speech jitters affecting their appetite.

However this may depend on those taking centre stage – they may not be at all phased by the prospect! In which case you may like to have the speeches after the meal, but don’t keep a strict schedule with this as you want people to enjoy the meal without having to rush or, if things finish a little earlier, you don’t want people to feel like they are waiting too long.

So, without further ado, here is just one example of how your destination wedding day could unfold…

Example Wedding Day Run Sheet

Guests arrive from 11am, ready to take their seats by 11.45am. 12pm Ceremony ~ 1pm Drinks reception, nibbles and lawn games (Receiving of the bride and groom at 1.30pm) ~ 3pm Group photos at the front of the Château ~ 4pm Wedding breakfast ~ 6pm Wedding speeches ~ 7pm Cut the cake ~ 7.30pm Lawn games, music and evening photos ~ 9pm First dance Drinks & dancing until late!

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