Monthly Archive for March, 2012

tips for choosing a honeymoon hotel in paris

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If you were anywhere near the Champs Elysées this weekend, you know first hand that Paris tourist pre-season has officially begun.  If there’s one thing that Paris isn’t short on, it’s hotel rooms. Whether it’s for your wedding, your honeymoon- or just a much-needed family vacation, when you’re looking for a hotel in Paris, it’s important to be knowledgeable AND realistic. Here are some excerpts from a post from the parisian party way-back machine which may give you a little insight into choosing a hotel in Paris (*Prices listed have been updated to current 2012 rates):

Paris Honeymoon Hotels vs. American Honeymoon Hotels

By now, who hasn’t fantasized about being Carrie Bradshaw in her fabulous Versace gown, languishing in that gigantic suite at the Plaza Athénée. But with a rate of 4,500.00€ per night for the Prestige Suite, the Plaza Athénée is a bit hors budget for the average soon-to-be newlywed honeymoon-hotel-pariscouple.  But you still want to splash-out for your wedding night, right? $500 - $600 seems to be about the average price that many of my clients have allotted towards their honeymoon suite per night (which is roughly between 375€ - 450€). But where $599 will get you a 35 - 38 sq meter Superior Room on the 27th floor with a lake view at the Four Seasons Luxury Hotel in Chicago,  450€ will only get you a 18 - 25 sq meter Superior Room with a street view at the Westin Vendome in Paris.  The Westin Vendome is a gorgeous luxury hotel, right off the Place Vendôme, but it’s not the Four Season’s- that’s all I’m saying…

You can’t be too informed when you’re looking for a hotel in Paris. It IS possible to find functional, clean, discounted hotel rooms in Paris for $125 (roughly 95€)  a night, but they probably won’t have a view of the Eiffel Tower, and you probably won’t be greeted with fresh, fluffy towels every night once you get back to your room. One of the best areas on Tripadvisor is the section where guests can upload candid photos of their hotel, so you can see what the property really looks like (without the wide angle lens and lomo filter).hotel-before-after1

Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that size isn’t everything. I visited an adorable hotel recently called the Duquesne Eiffel Hotel, which was tiny, tiny, tiny. I can’t even tell you how tiny this place was, BUT it was so pretty, so clean, the staff were SO friendly, AND some of the rooms have a view right on the Eiffel Tower! And for Paris standards, it was pretty cheap- rooms start at 210€ (around $278) a night. I know that that’s not “budget-bride” prices, but show me another triple threat at that price! Actually, that’s a good idea- if you know of a cute, affordable, room-with-a-view in Paris, drop me a line! I’m curious to know what else is out there.

french wedding traditions: bread tastings

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Attention Bridezilla’s! I’ve just found a new wedding stresser for you, and it’s a doozie!  So, you and your planner have just left the final meeting with your catering manager. The meal has been dutifully pre-tasted and modified to your liking.  You’ve confirmed the lighting and decor of the dining room, made sure that the flowers will be vibrant and open (but not too open too early), the cake will be moist (but not too moist), the champagne will be cool and crisp and served in 6 oz champagne flutes (and not the 4 oz. ) but…what about the bread? My GAWD, WHAT-ABOUT-THE-BREAD????

At American weddings, not much fuss is made about the bread served with dinner.  It’s pretty much the same basket of rolls that you get in finer restaurants from coast to coast. But in France, where NO meal is complete without a baguette, it’s kind of a big deal. Big enough to warrant fairly detailed guidelines for choosing correctly when selecting your wedding menu, as outlined in this article on MarieClaire.fr. Here’s my translated recap. Who knew?:

Wedding Bread

“The bread served during a wedding dinner is often practical, but is unfortunately not always of good quality. For a successful dinner, take care that the bread that you offer compliments the meal. To make sure that everything goes smoothly during your wedding dinner, pay attention to even the smallest of details, which are, despite everything, very important- including… The Bread” (emphasis is mine).

“Indeed, each dish has its bread of reference, and the dish will taste differently whether you serve it with pain de campagne, rye bread or leavened bread…”

The choice of the bread

“It’s normally up to the caterer to decide which bread will be served with a meal. Usually, they will propose a more french-heart-breadobvious choice, like baguettes or bastards (huh? I swear it says that! What does that mean???) Ask your caterer if you can taste all of the breads that he is proposing: keeping in mind that just because a bread is called “pain de campagne” doesn’t mean that it will have the taste and quality of a pain de campagne….If you’re not happy with your caterers choice of bread, you can always order a different one yourself elsewhere.”

“If you want a specialty bread, like a fougasse aux gratons, originating in the Languedoc region, or Bretzels, from the Alsatian area, know that certain bakers will make them especially for you, if you order a large enough quantity of it. Don’t hesitate to flip through caterer or bakery brochures to get an idea of what types of breads they provide.”

And then the article goes on to describe the different breads: “Pain de Mie: Easy to slice, used for aperitifs, toasts and canapés. Pain de Seigle: Goes well with marinated fish, seafood, soft cheeses… Le Baguette or Batard (which does mean bastard, right?): Accompanies cold-cuts, red meats and raw veggies. Best seller in France, baguettes (or flutes, depending on what region you’re in) is indispensable in any meal…)”

I found this article so funny and so charming because it illustrates another subtle cultural difference between French and American weddings.  I’m imagining a French bride in New Jersey asking her American caterer to do a “bread tasting”…she’d probably be met with the same reaction as the American bride in Paris gets when she presents her French photographer with her “Wedding Photography Shot List” (a perfectly acceptable thing to provide in the States, but completely frowned upon by photographers in France.).  Ah, well. Vive les differences!

- parisian events, May 2007

vrai mariage du mercredi- a whimsical chateau wedding

There’s something about a French chateau wedding that can sometimes turn the biggest life-of-the-party couple into downright sticks-in-the-mud. After planning weddings in France for nearly 7 years, I can spot the transformation coming on from a mile away.  Once they start looking at manicured gardens, high ceilings, polished parquet floors and chandelier-ed ballrooms, the backs of the fun-loving, silly mustache-wearing, DIY photobooth-building couple that I met during the early days of planning slowly become stiffer, their eyebrows start to arch and their laughs diminish to mere titters. The Jazz Manouche band gets scrapped, and I find myself, once again, googling “affordable French chamber orchestra”.

Just because your wedding’s in a chateau in France doesn’t mean it HAS to be stately, if that’s not your style.  If you and your honey fall in love with a royal venue, but also have a silly or offbeat side, don’t feel like you need to squelch it in order to fit into a “serious” chateau atmosphere.   Take the wedding photos that photographer Celine Scaringi recently sent me.  Her clients, Remi and Amanda, held their wedding in a romantic, country Domaine in a small town less than an hour outside of Paris.  While staying true to their sophisticated side, they also added whimsical touches like a pop of pink and fun,”Mr Men” table cards to their reception decor, which lightened the overall tone of this weeks regal Real (French) Wedding:

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french wedding dinner

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