The West

Picture: Getty Images

From Kate-inspired lace dresses to towering wedding cakes - French brides-to-be are looking across the Channel, and the Atlantic, to make their day that bit more special.

"These past two years, we've been seeing girls pick and mix ingredients from English or American weddings," said Sophie Chastrusse-Peyronnet, who heads up a giant Paris bridal fair, the Grand Salon du Mariage, each October.

Start with the lingo: French couples no longer cut the "gateau" but a "wedding cake", they order "escort cards" to guide guests to their seats, and talk of "DIY", when it comes to Martha Stewart-style decorations.

"Our DIY workshop is one of the fair's most popular," Chastrusse-Peyronnet says. "Young girls go crazy for it."

Lifted from the movies, blogs, or last year's royal nuptials, Anglo-American styles and customs are shaking up traditional French weddings.

The really big business is in cakes - the traditional French wedding cake, the croquembouche, seems to be taking a backseat to the tiered cake that Australians are more familiar with.

Two years ago, Canadian chef Taylor McLoughlin and his business partner Krista Juracek opened the Sugarplum cake shop in Paris, offering stacked cakes, 80 per cent of them for weddings.

"It's going through the roof," the 33-year-old Juracek says. "During wedding season we book months in advance."

"Most French people don't want the same thing their mothers or grandmothers had at their weddings."

Australian, US and British lovebirds traditionally invest quite a bit more in weddings than in France.

An average French budget runs to 13,000 euros ($16,091), says the Salon, compared with to $US27,000 ($25,977) in the US, based on a 2011 study, and STG21,000 ($32,407) in Britain according to consumer group Which? - and according to Bride To Be, the average cost of an Australian wedding is $39,000.

Then of course, the dress.

This year's trend is for Kate-style lace gowns, with a deep scoop at the back - directly inspired by the much-copied Sarah Burton dress worn last year by the now Duchess of Cambridge, said Chastrusse-Peyronnet.

Jean Postaire, owner of an upmarket wedding dress store in Paris, Metal Flaque, saw brisk sales for a David Fielden model inspired by Kate Middleton's dress in the wake of the royal nuptials. Likewise a Jenny Packham model, this time based on an evening dress she made for the princess.

Postaire, who introduced both British designers to France three years ago along with US stars like Vera Wang, says brides come to him for styles they cannot find in the French market.

"Americans know how to create princess gowns that aren't meringues - big but not ridiculous," he said. "The British are good at linear silhouettes, it's English chic, a more demure look."

Hoping to tap into this new appetite, a group of upmarket British wedding designers crossed the Channel this month, hosting a showroom in a Paris mansion.

Nicki Macfarlane experienced the "Kate effect" first hand, having designed the bridesmaid gowns for the royal wedding.

"Lots of doors have opened, it's been very exciting," Macfarlane says. "People are looking to the UK much more."

One of her most popular designs, a little organza dress hemmed with English Cluny lace, was directly inspired by the royal dresses.

Macfarlane currently ships direct to France. Her goal in Paris? To identify "two or three perfect boutiques".

"We're not out to flood the market."

Stephanie Allin's handmade dresses also mine a vintage English seam, like one recent design, Rose Alba, a mid-calf silk satin gown under chantilly lace, intended to suggest "a chic English village fete".

"With it you have tea and crumpets - and lots of champagne," she joked.

The West Australian

Latest News From The West

Fremantle champion Paul Hasleby expects the Dockers to play finals next year on the back of their bumper recruiting haul, rating the trade period as the best in the club’s history.

Popular videos

Lifestyle Videos

Follow Us

More from The West