The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Paris Elopement
If you’re recently engaged and are now thinking about the next step, one that possibly involves running off to the city of your dreams and getting married then this guide is for you, particularly if that city of your dreams is Paris!
I’ve been a full time professional photographer in Paris for over a decade and have photographed countless Intimate Paris Elopements over the years so this guide comes from a whole lot of experience.
So, he finally proposed, it was the moment of your dreams and the words couldn’t have come at a better time. However now that that dream is accomplished, you should move to the next step. The one that involves the getting married part. But let’s take with things a step further. You decide to elope in your dream city, Paris. Yes, you read that right - elope…IN PARIS!
Be it a small gathering of you closest family or friends, or simply the two of you, few locations can compete with Paris as an elopement destination.
The famous landmarks, the narrow cobbled streets, the cafe terraces, the architecture, quite simply Paris exudes romance on every corner.
Wondering how this could be possible? Well I’ve put together some useful information for you to take that dream of running off to elope in Paris to the next step:
First things first - Can I legally get married in France?
So you’d love to elope to your dream city, Paris! Is it even allowed to elope and marry here? Fortunately, it is.
There is however a fairly big complication for most foreigners planning to elope here, that being you have to reside in France for 40 days before your big day.
So whats the solution?
Pretty simple actually, the majority of couples get legally married in their home country and have a ‘symbolic ceremony’ in France.
So where to begin? Start with great accommodation
This is your elopement, this is Paris, this is a once in a lifetime experience - treat yourself. Paris is full of the most amazing hotels and apartments, many of which double as great ceremony venues.
Here are a few of my favourites:
This luxurious hotel has certain rooms with large terraces looking over the Eiffel Tower. Not only great views but a potential location for a small intimate ceremony. Step out to the balcony, and the Eiffel Tower will stare right back at you, just the kind of view you deserve on your elopement. They also have stunning interior salons for larger ceremonies and to top it all the restaurants are highly regarded.
After a recent four-year, $450 million renovation the Ritz Paris is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. Home of the famous Hemingway Bar, along with the Chanel Spa, you can enjoy luxury without stepping a foot outside. However the moment you do you’ll be surrounded by stores from some of the most well known brands in the world. The Ritz is perfect for couples looking for a premium luxury experience.
Another recently refurbished 5 star hotel. This one in the centre of the iconic Place De La Concorde. Easy walking distance into the gardens of the Louvre, views across the city to the Eiffel Tower, and of course absolute luxury inside. Makes a wonderful base for your time in Paris as well as a great ceremony/reception venue.
Hotel Plaza Anthénée
Located on the prestigious avenue Montaigne (the ultimate area of French fashion shopping) the legendary Plaza Anthénée offers the very best in French style and luxury. From the unmissable exterior, with 1,900 red geraniums adorning the hotel façade, inspired by a love story, this hotel creates a fairytale setting both inside and out, for the most romantic moments.
Looking for a little inspiration regarding whats possible with the right team behind you for your Hotel Plaza Anthénée elopement ? Check out this beautiful editorial I photographed here.
Four Season Hotel, George V
Built in 1928 and located just off the famous Avenue Champs-Elysees (another perfect area for those who love to shop) the George V has different size salons available that are perfect for every type of elopement, from small and intimate to larger wedding ceremonies. With stunning floral designs in the foyer to welcome you, a decadent new Spa, three Michelin star restaurants and a swimming pool the George V should be on your shortlist!
Paris Perfect Apartments
If you prefer to live the Paris experience with real authenticity then your own Paris apartment could be the way to go. You’ll find hundreds of beautiful examples on AirBnB, there are also several companies specialising in short term rentals with some stunning apartments in the heart of the city. With the apartment option, not only do you get somewhere you can really call home, the right apartment can make an ideal ceremony venue for your elopement.
Looking to see an example of an elopement that I photographed in a beautiful, private Paris apartment overlooking the Palais-Royal? Click right here!
Will I need a planner to help me organise everything?
Whilst not essential an elopement planner can help cut down a lot of your work. They plan everything around your date and budget. So, if you plan to elope, but didn’t make further arrangements for the details, here are a few good reasons why you you may want to to hire a planner:
• Insider knowledge
These planners have knowledge and contacts from where to dine, to the best wedding venues in Paris, and everything in between related to eloping in Paris. What are some of the necessities of your dream elopement? A luxurious car (see more about cars below) to arrive at the venue and chauffeur you around the city, a Michelin starred dining experience, cake designer, hair and makeup artist and a celebrant, and of course a list of different wedding photographers each with a unique style ensuring you’ll find a good fit for your sense of aesthetics
• Stick to your budget
Eloping in Paris doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a fortune on your wedding day. An elopement planner understands your budget constraints. You can specify your budget so that they can stay within that range and make the best possible arrangements.
• Stress-free planning
The best advantage of working with an elopement planner is you don’t have to plan anything. You can focus on eloping and let the planner do the rest.
• Saves time
Planning a wedding, even a small intimate elopement is an incredibly long process. You have to chop and change your plans according to different situations. Working with a planner takes away the vast majority of this process allowing you to save precious time so that you can spend it more with your partner.
Think a planner sounds like a good investment? Here are some I work with on a regular basis all of which have extensive experience organising elopements :
Jennifer Fox Weddings
Luxe Paris Events
Fête in France
Rendez-Vous In Paris
Hair & Makeup
You’ve got the dream dress, those shoes and to finish everything off you deserve to be pampered by the best hair & makeup artists Paris has to offer. They’ll come to where you’re staying, ensure you’re feeling relaxed and looking a million dollars when you step out the door ready to say ‘I do’
I work with these artist regularly, they’re amazing at what they do and they all speak English, take a browse through their portfolios clicking the links below:
Modern or classic? Totally your choice but keep in mind this - a modern limousine is roomy, smooth, comfortable and air conditioned. A vintage car can be noisy, quirky, lacking air conditioning but full of charm and character, making it not only a stylish way to get around the city but also the perfect prop on the streets of Paris- it’s your call!
Many of the hotels I mention above make for the ideal ceremony location. They can offer rooms with balconies, complete with beautiful views as well as private salons in which to have the perfect intimate ceremony.
Another option is to have an intimate ceremony on the streets of Paris. This can be a great solution if you’re staying in a hotel or apartment that is less than ideal in which to hold a small ceremony.
A few tips and things to be aware of when planning a ceremony outdoors:
• Always have a Plan B
The weather in Paris can be temperamental at the best of times and as a photographer is something I’m used to having to work around. If you’re planning a ceremony in the open be ready to re-schedule to a covered location. There are lots of them so I can advise.
• Be ready for crowds of tourists
Tourists along with their iPhones tend to flock around ceremonies in public locations, just be prepared for attracting more attention than you’re probably used to.
• Be flexible
Paris is a city in a flux of constant change. Construction works, events, over zealous security guards that can all make the original location you had finalised unworkable on the big day. The good news - this is Paris, we’ve got a ton of options and I’ve had over a decade of experience as a photographer in searching out the best ones. Here are some of my favourites:
This ones a little different as it’s a small private chapel in the centre of the city. You’ll almost certainly need to be working with a planner to book this location but its stunning, both inside and out and makes a perfect location for your ceremony.
The Louvre/Palais Royal:
This location offers so many options. We have the back courtyard of the Louvre which is basically a stunning French Chateau in the centre of the city, covered passages in case of rain and the tree lined gardens of the Tuileries.
The Eiffel Tower:
The most iconic monument in the city. There are several locations to choose from all offering great views, however please note the area around Trocadero is only available for sunrise ceremonies due to the sheer number of Tourists in this area. Please note the sunrise in Paris in the summer means beginning the ceremony around 6am!
The River Seine cuts right through the centre of the city and certain areas along the quay can make for a beautiful backdrop for your ceremony. I particularly like the area around the island of Ile Saint-Louis as the architecture is perfect, traditional style Paris dating back to the 17th century.
For even more ideas regarding locations for both your ceremony and some photographs around the city I’ve made a blog post you may find useful here.
If you’re thinking of eloping to Paris and reading this I assume that you’ll want beautiful photos with which to remember this once in a lifetime experience. Google ‘paris photographers’ and you’ll no doubt be swamped with so many choices and styles it makes your head spin. How to choose?
• Sense of aesthetics
We all have our own individual sense of style and aesthetics so the first question to ask is do you feel a connection to the images on display in the photographers portfolio? Certain photographers are creative, others more classic, some dark and moody, others light and airy. What type of images really speak to you and your sense of style.
For example couples looking for elegant, timeless photographs are often drawn towards my work. I tend to stay away from trends with my goal being to offer a beautiful, printed album that will be a pleasure to look through for the rest of your lives.
• Is the photographer pro-active in communication
There’s nothing worse than finding what you thought was your ideal photographer, only to have to wait days for a response to an email.
I always respond to all emails within 24 hours as I know how frustrating and times consuming it can be waiting for a response when planning. All emails are answered personally by me, meaning you can get answers to all your photography questions directly from an experienced professional.
• Is the photographer experienced in both elopements and working in Paris
Intimate elopements in Paris require a certain approach to photographing. Your photographer should be adaptable and able to work around any unforeseen challenges that occur during the day.
I’ve been working as a full time professional photographer in Paris for over a decade now. That equates to a lot of experience shooting on the streets of the city and all the challenges that come with it. This allows me to work around any challenges, and implement a Plan B (I always have a Plan B) quickly and efficiently.
Your photographer is going to be a big part of your day from start to finish. It’s important that there’s a connection that goes beyond the photographs and you feel comfortable and at ease with them. If the photographer has a good website you should be able to get a feel for his or her personality through that. If you’d like to know a little more before you make your final choice then ask them if it’s possible to set up a Skype call to discuss your day with them.
So…on that last note…