Paris is known to be the "City of Love" and it offers the most romantic setting for your small destination wedding or elopement! It's hard to think of a better location to say "I DO!"
Getting engaged and planning your wedding is exciting and it is even more if you decide to get married in Paris! However it might seem challenging to plan an elopement in the City of Love from abroad, especially if it will be your first time in the City. As Paris Elopement Photographer, I love sharing my experience and recommend you the best vendors to make your elopement dreams come true. I would love to guide you through the whole process and help you plan a perfect wedding day in Paris.
Here's my "How to Elope in Paris" guide!
Will my Elopement have Legal Force?
The legal marriage ceremony can take place in a Town Hall ("Mairie") and is only possible if one of you officially resides in France for at least 40 days before your application. You also can't choose the location of your ceremony - it's based on your residence location.
So most couples coming from abroad have a symbolic wedding ceremony in Paris, performed by an English-speaking Paris celebrant or Paris officiant. They have the civil ceremony in their home country before or after their Paris elopement day. Even if your ceremony is symbolic, you can still exchange their vows and rings and it will happen in the most romantic city of the world!
If you wish to have a religious ceremony in France, it will require a marriage certificate delivered by the French authorities. There are some exceptions to this, but you will most probably need a wedding planner to have access to this.
Who is Invited?
Usually, an elopement is simply the two of you travelling to Paris to get an intimate wedding experience with a symbolic ceremony and wedding photos around the city. Sometimes couples invite a few of their closest family and/or friends to travel together and witness their ceremony. If you plan to invite more than 10 people, that might be called a small destination wedding rather than an elopement in Paris.
Some of our clients still through a party or have lunch / dinner with their family & friends back home to celebrate their elopement.
Timing and Duration ?
Be aware of the weather and seasonal temperatures. There are four seasons in Paris: meaning that we have a very different weather, sunrise and sunset time, and we do not have greenery on the trees all year long. The weather is usually quite chilly through November till end of March approximately.
If you decide to elope at an outdoor public location or would like to take iconic photos on Paris, then it should definitely be early morning. Paris elopements are typically starting at sunrise. I know it's hard but believe me, it's so much worth it. Paris is a very popular travel destination and a busy city. That means that it quickly gets crowded starting from late mornings. So if you don’t want to have tons of people witnessing your ceremony or walking around in the background of your Paris wedding photos, you should get up early.
Some couples elope in Paris with just a 1 hour ceremony and a couple of pictures at the same location right after. Others take time to travel around the city together with their Paris photographer during the whole day. It's completely up to you and depends on how you envision your day. Will it include just pictures (in how many locations) or do you want a full day coverage similar to a traditional wedding, including:
- getting ready and detail shots,
- first look,
- couples photos at different locations,
- romantic lunch/dinner,
- river Seine boat cruise or anything else you've ever dreamed of?
Just let us know how do you see your day and we will let you know the most appropriate duration for that.
Vendors for Your Elopement in Paris
You will most probably need to book a few different vendors while eloping in Paris. If you are looking for a luxury stress-free experience I would highly recommend booking an experienced wedding planner. You might need their help if:
- your dream elopement in Paris goes beyond a simple ceremony and photos around Paris
- you think about inviting quite a lot of people and not just a couple of close friends & family members. They can help you plan a lot of extra activities.
A Paris-based wedding planner can help you to book some exclusive venues or to have a religious ceremony in Paris. Here are 3 beautiful churches and cathedrals that host the majority of destination couples ceremonies in Paris.
- American Church (from 1350€)
- American Cathedral
- Chapelle Expiatoire (kindly note, the rental is quite expensive (over 2000€) and requires being represented by a planner or agency, meaning you won't be able to plan your ceremony there on your own)
Is booking an "All-inclusive" Package a good idea?
You might have seen a lot of offers online for an "all-inclusive" packages, including "everything you need" for your elopement in Paris. I would personally be very careful booking this kind of offer as it can be a low-cost option with vendors involved based on their low price and/or commission paid to the planner and not by the quality of work they deliver. I believe each couple is unique and deserves being able to choose their favourite vendors based on the style and budget they are looking for. If you have found one trusted vendor in Paris (photographer or ceremony officiant, for example), they should be able to help you find all the other vendors you might need! So the process of planning an elopement in Paris stays simple for you!
Outfits: are there many Rental Services in Paris or should we Bring our Gowns?
Most of our clients buy or rent gowns at home and bring them to Paris. This allows you to be sure to find exactly what you want and have enough time for any alterations or simply to get your dress shipped on time to you. Finding the perfect wedding dress, bridal shoes and accessories that make your wedding style unique takes a lot of time. Having everything ready before your trip to Paris will make this experience more stress-free. You can also enjoy the dress shopping with your mum or best friends and make them take part in your wedding experience even if you are eloping far from them.
I would advice to keep your gowns (at least the main wedding dress and suit) in your carry-on luggage to avoid any accident, like lost baggage, ruin your plans.
Rental is not a very popular service here, but it does exist. If you still prefer to rent, I will be happy to share a few addresses with you. A good quality rental will start from 500€ for a wedding gown.
A Paris Officiant or Celebrant in Paris
If you are going to have a vow and/or rings exchange, having an on officiant is a great idea. We do have amazing English-speaking professionals in Paris. They will be happy to create a bespoke and unique elopement ceremony script, incorporating your beautiful love story and prepare classic or personalised wedding rituals. They also deliver a symbolic certificate you can sign.
Otherwise, your ceremony can be also officiated by your close friend or family member that accompanies you to Paris.
There are all kind of musicians that would be happy to accompany your ceremony (and why not your First Dance?) in Paris. Most popular options are violin and guitar.
For the violin, I can recommend you an American musician in Paris - Adrian Delmer from Your Paris Violinist, who can play alone or with a group of other talented musicians to make it a violin&guitar duet, for example.
For the guitar, I'd recommend Etienne Favier from Sunny Side, who can play guitar and sing. Email: email@example.com
I know, it might not be your priority and you might think it duplicates the photos. But I would like you to at least consider it. I can't stress enough how powerful the videos can be: nothing is as touching and brings the experience back so instantly and intensively than hearing each other saying your vows. You feel all the emotions again. Personally, our families also enjoy watching our wedding film again and again, especially when they miss us.
Make up and Hair Stylist
Booking a professional make up and hair artist is one of the most essential elements for a successful photo experience during your elopement. This will allow you not only to look your best, but also to have a more lasting and appropriate to a possibly challenging weather look and respect the day timeline. Paris MUaH artists are used to early morning start. They will come to your hotel or apartment early in the morning to make sure you look the best for your Paris elopement. Kindly note, that beauty salons do not open that early and hardly offer the same quality of service as freelance artists.
This can include the minimum of a wedding bouquet and a boutonniere. But you can also have a ceremony decor and your romantic lunch/dinner table decoration. Some brides choose floral crowns or wreaths. You should order it with a delivery in advance. Running around the city early morning trying to find some flowers at a nearby shop is not a good idea: you will most probably run late, spend more money and end up getting something that is far from what you initially envisioned as your wedding flowers.
This is not compulsory - Uber or taxi can be good enough for your travels on the elopement in Paris day. You might want to consider a private driver (from 60€ per hour) if you are looking for an extra comfort during the shoot. Though the driver will definitely spend more time waiting for you than actually driving.
I personally think renting a vintage car is a gorgeous add-on to your Paris elopement and pictures. These cars come with a driver so you can just lean back and enjoy Paris. You can choose the car rental duration: you do not have to book them for the whole day, unless that's what you would like to have. The driver can just pick you up at your hotel and drive you to your Paris elopement ceremony location and maybe a couple of first photo shoot locations.
Here are a few companies that can be contacted in case you'd like to reserve your transportation in Paris:
- Cute 2cv Citroen retro
- Retro Motors Collection has my favourite vintage cars for amazing photos in Paris
- White 1960 Rolls-Royce by Locarolls
- Vintage Rolls-Royce & Bentley by Paris Automedon Services
- Service Limo Car in case you are looking just for a comfortable transportation (not pictures with the car)
A small personalised cake can be another add-on to your elopement day. I've listed my favourite cake artists in Paris here.
I personally love shooting details and can only advice you to order a set of nice wedding stationery. This is something extra, but you can keep it as a keepsake and a tangible memory of your elopement in Paris. Some couples frame some stationery elements. It can include your vows, hand-written by a professional calligrapher, your "Save the Date" including your elopement day details, "Bride" and "Groom" name cards, a map of significant landmarks of your Paris elopement, a meaningful citation or French phrase, a nice envelope etc.
I've listed my favourite stationery creators here.
Ceremony and Paris Photoshoot locations
Outdoors elopement locations
Paris is full of famous landmarks, beautiful architecture, cafe terraces and cobbled tiny streets, Paris offers you behind every corner. The right location(s) for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your personality, as well as the timing and weather for your session. Some locations are a great plan B in case it rains, for example. Others looks beautiful in spring or summer when the trees have leaves on and everything is blooming around the city.
Check this page for some sample images to give you an idea of your location options. The most popular outdoors spots are:
- The Eiffel Tower (mainly from Trocadero side and from Bir-Hakeim Bridge)
- The Louvre
- The Alexander III bride
- Petit Palais Golden entrance
- Palais Royal
- Tuileries Garden
- Luxembourg Garden
- River Seine banks
- A café
- Place de la Concorde
- Pont des Arts / Bridge of Arts (previously known as "love locks bridge")
- Parisian hotel or apartment balcony or terrace
- Montmartre area
- Notre-Dame de Paris (currently under reconstruction)
You can always send your Paris photographer the images you like from their website or Pinterest and ask for the places featured on them.
Indoors elopement locations
You should also consider booking a private venue for your Paris elopement ceremony if you are looking for a more luxury or intimate experience with no tourists or passersby around. A private venue can be a great backdrop for your wedding ceremony, cutting-the-cake moment and dinner for two. It also means that you can have a more sophisticated decor for your ceremony and/or dinner, like flower arch, for example. Eloping doesn't mean you can't have something you like just because it "belongs to a classic wedding day". Eloping is about you and your partner and means you can have anything you want!
Paris is full of the most amazing hotels and apartments, many of which double as accommodation and great ceremony venues. Some of them offer suits with terraces big enough to fit a wedding ceremony paired with an amazing Eiffel Tower view. Others have intimate gardens. Their private salons are perfect to have an intimate ceremony. Treat yourself with a once in a lifetime experience - this is your elopement! Here are a few of my favourites:
- The Shangri-La Paris
- The Ritz
- The Crillon
- Plaza Anthénée
- Four Season Hotel, George V
- Le Bristol
- Hôtel Marignan Champs-Élysées last floor terrace room
- Beautiful Parisian apartments from Paris Perfect Rentals
You can see more details in my blog post "Ten Gorgeous Paris Wedding Venues. Part 2 - Paris hotels and mansions".
I firmly believe one of the most important investments you can make in your wedding will be the documentation. The photography (and videography) will be the one thing you’re going to have forever. If you elope in Paris, I will be happy to capture your beautiful day!