First of all… congratulations! You’re already engaged and you are now thinking to elope to Paris!
It could not be a more exciting and foolishly romantic idea… way to go! 🙂
My name is Pierre TORSET, I am a photographer in Paris specialized in elopement and weddings since 2012, and I have captured countless intimate weddings, elopements and ceremonies in Paris, so I created this guide to help couples with this beautifully crazy idea to travel half the world to get married in Paris!
Paris Elopement: Everything you have to know!
This guide is divided in 3 parts:
(click directly on the part you’re interested in, or start reading below)
LEGAL WEDDING IN PARIS vs SYMBOLIC CEREMONY
WEDDING PLANNER: Yes or No?
– ELOPEMENT PACKAGE:
Yes or No?
– WEDDING GOWN: Buy or rent.
OUTDOOR vs INDOOR WEDDING
CEREMONY AT EIFFEL TOWER
HOTELS, INDOOR & PRIVATE VENUE OPTIONS
CHURCHES & CHAPELS
LIST OF VENDORS
(which vendors you may need and some tips to book the perfect one).
INTRODUCTION TO PARIS ELOPEMENT:
What is an Elopement ?
It’s basically when a couple decide to go abroad and get married by themselves (or with a few guests) in another city or country.
Here you can see below an example of an elopement in Paris in video:
(Eloping to) Paris is always a good idea !
Part 1 :
BEFORE YOUR PARIS ELOPEMENT
Why eloping to Paris?
Well, precisely because it is a foolishly romantic idea, right?
Eloping in Paris is made for you if this is how you envision your wedding:
- NO STRESS: or at least not the stress of organizing a big wedding at home with hundreds of guests, not even mentioning the budget for it.
- BE IN THE MOMENT: you want to value this wedding as a key-moment in your relationship and want to be sure you can take the time to focus on each other.
- TRAVEL AND DISCOVER at the same that you get married ! You love traveling and it’s the perfect occasion to combine a wedding with having a great time in the most romantic city, and if you want to enjoy great wine, food & sightseeing at the same time, it’s a no-brainer. It’s getting the wedding and honeymoon at the same time!
- MAKE IT SPECIAL: So wether you’re doing it because you want it to be a fairytale or a stress-free getaway, with only with the two of you (or with a few guests), or just because it’s Paris… let’s get you married in the most romantic city in the world!
Can I get legally married in Paris?
Is a legal wedding possible in paris as a foreigner ? Technically yes.
You don’t have to be a French citizen to get married in France. You can be a foreigner, travel to Paris and get officially married here… BUT it’s rather complicated!
For example one of the main rules to get married in France is to ‘live’ in the city where you are getting married, at least for a little while before the wedding itself. So you have to stay and be a resident in Paris for at least 45 days in a row if you want to get married there. Well, it may be a great way to live the Parisian lifestyle before getting married, but not sure your boss or your business will agree with this 😉
You also have to keep in mind that you would need afterwards to validate the wedding between the French and your country’s administration. And talking from experience, I did shoot plenty of French weddings in some city halls, they are quite impersonal and not the most romantic ones, and can feel quite short and frustrating at the end.
So what to do? Well, it’s pretty easy actually… most couples choose to have a ‘symbolic ceremony’ for their Paris elopement!
The Best Option: Symbolic ceremony in Paris
I really think a symbolic ceremony in Paris is a great choice.
Here are a few reasons why:
- It can be CUSTOMIZED ! You want it with a religious touch? Or none? Including some poems or songs ? Some rituals? You got it, it’s YOUR ceremony!
- It is SIMPLE to organize (and no official paperwork needed!). Just a few vendors to book, but at the end it’s like booking a holiday trip with excursions.
- It’s ROMANTIC ! The ceremony about you 2! You can have a bespoke ceremony fitting with your personality and referring to your love story and its key-moments.
- It’s FLEXIBLE! You can it ANYWHERE you want. Well, almost anywhere actually. With a view on the Eiffel Tower, in a garden surrounded with flowers, with some great architecture in the background… there are so many possibilities. See the part below about locations for more details…
Actually, most couples coming to have an Elopement in Paris will get officially married in their country before or after their wedding trip, but by experience I can tell that their elopement in Paris and their symbolic ceremony is the one that is “official” to them.
(Eloping to) Paris is always a good idea !
Do you need a Wedding Planner for your Elopement in Paris ?
Is an Elopement abroad or oversea easy to organize? And should you need a wedding or elopement planner in Paris to help you with your special day? Well, it actually depends on the type of Paris Elopement you are looking for. Here are reasons for both cases:
You clearly won’t need a wedding planner if you have no guests (or a few) and want to keep it pretty laid-back with just a ceremony and photos around Paris ! Why ? Because it will be only a few vendors, with an average of 3-4 (photographer, officiant, make-up artist, flowers…) that you will need for a few hours only. So it’s usually pretty easy to book and coordinate them by yourself. You just need to book the good ones, set up a good timeline in advance and this should help you keep it relaxed on the big day.
TIP: book vendors who know each other and are used to work together. They know each other’s process and habits, and they can easily communicate together and coordinate in case of last minute issue, so you won’t have to do it. (((So let’s get you this A-team for your special day ! )))
From my experience as a elopement photographer in Paris, I always recommend vendors that I’m used to work with, and I also provide tips on what you should check with them to make sure all the vendors are on the same page, so that you have the most relaxed special day you can dream of!
A wedding or elopement planner can be a good idea if you’re looking to have a wedding or elopement in Paris that goes beyond a simple ceremony & photos around Paris. For examples in those cases:
- You will have guests. Up to 4-6 guests, it’s still fine to keep things easy and smooth, and not feeling like you’re coordinating everything. But starting from 8-10 guests, things can get more complicated. For example not everybody will enjoy or love the idea to wake-up early to go to an outdoor ceremony. It also depends on your relationship with them of course, and their personality. And it just will more complicated for elder people who may need more time to move around and find their pace on the Parisian cobbled streets.
TIP: Having a friend or family-member you can rely to help you, coordinating the guests & keeping an eye on the time can be great. Just beware, depending on the amount of work, that can take away some fun, and not everybody is up to this job 😉
- You have a reception or venue booked. You want to celebrate after your photos & ceremony in Paris in a nice restaurant or hotel. Will everybody be able to find the place and know where to go? Is there some coordinator there? A wedding or elopement planner in paris can help with that. That’s even more the case if you have several vendors booked around this event (musicians, decoration, cake, etc.)
TIP: Some high-end hotels in Paris have on-site event coordinators who can help you with the organisation of your wedding or Paris elopement. It’s sometimes enough to book the rooms or venue there to have this service included
- You will several locations involved and/or a very precise timing (for example with the ceremony & reception in different locations, etc.) and with a precise timing, then yes, a wedding planner would be a great help ! Unless of course if you love being involved in the whole process!
Is an all-included ‘Elopement Package’ in Paris a good idea?
Some online companies and wedding or elopement planners are offering some ‘Elopement packages’ including to coordinate and book all the vendors for you. It can look like a good hassle-free idea, considering that they would book the different vendors and coordinate the event. How is it in reality?
First of all, do you have a say in the chosen vendors?
It can happen that the Elopement package you are interested in includes some vendors that you don’t know about, until you’ve actually booked the package. That’s never a good sign, because you don’t know the quality you will get from your vendors.
For example you won’t know your make-up artist or your photographer before actually purchasing their services. Also, considering that you will pay the wedding planner or company (acting as a middle man) for this package, the chosen vendors may be picked based on their competitive price, which may reflect again the quality of their services.
Will someone be present on the day to help coordinating ?
Check if the Elopement package include the presence of the planner on the day to help coordinating? That could be good if you have guests, a precise timeline, or a reception at a venue. In case something unexpected is happening, it’s good to know you can rely on someone.
A few more questions to ask yourself:
– If no one is present to help coordinating, are the vendors used to work with each other? Who will be your main contact on the ground?
– Do you know what each vendor service include?
You also want your vendors to feel involved in making your day extra special, and making sure they understand your expectations before is part of this process. Booking them directly is helping to create a bond and help make the vendor feel more responsible, and aware of his own part in making your day successful.
TIP: If you’ve seen an interesting package online but are not sure, ask to know or see more about the vendors involved. You can also ask to customize the package (removing this, adding that). But remember that at the end an Elopement is made of only a few vendors, and taking the time to pick your own ones could be a key to making your day special.
In short, I recommend to book an Elopement package if:
– you are sure about who you’re booking OR if you don’t mind about the style and/or quality of your vendors.
– you have no time to look online and check several vendors.
– you are on a budget and it looks like a great deal.
Wedding gown for your elopement in Paris: Buy or Rent ?
Should you get your wedding gown at home, before coming to Paris ? Or is renting or purchasing one in Paris a viable option?
One of the down sides from having your elopement abroad is that you won’t have the comfort from home. You need to carry with you a lot of things you will need for your travels, but also for your wedding day… and this may include your wedding gown! Big, bulky, not easy to iron… there are several reasons why you may think that renting or purchasing one in Paris could be a good idea.
I’ll be straight with this question! I DO think it’s better to bring your own dress from home, even if it means taking this extra-dedicated suitcase only for your bridal gown. Here is why :
- You will have the time at home weeks or even months in advance to check, order, try and have the dress retouched if necessary.
- Your time in Paris will be precious. You may want to spend it differently (by enjoying yourself for example) rather than running around to find and try the good dress, make sure it fits, going back there to have it retouched, hoping it fits again, giving it back afterwards…
- You don’t want the stress during your travels to not have the wedding gown you’d like, fitting you the way it should.
- It’s more common in other cities but Paris does not have many options for renting dresses. And at the end it’s also quite expensive.
There are also the common reasons. You may want to keep it as a souvenir afterwards. And if you are thinking about traveling after Paris to other cities and places, you can always ship the dress back home from Paris.
TIP: Your wedding gown is considered as a valuable by most of the air companies. You have to check with them beforehand but most of the time they will allow you to take it with you in your carry-on luggage. Actually they will reject responsibility in case you checked it in, and the luggage is delayed or lost, which you of course don’t want to take the chance. So check with them beforehand 😉
Part 2 :
Which location for your paris elopement ceremony ?
The ceremony is of course at the center of any wedding or Elopement, in paris and anywhere else. So whether you want it with the Eiffel Tower in the background or in a location that feels intimate or scenic, you want it to be extra special, especially at the time you came all the way to Paris to make it happen! We will review here the different options and my tips about them:
Ceremony in Paris: Outdoor or Indoor ?
That may be the biggest question. Here are the Pros & cons:
|You’re in the heart of the city and right where the action is!|
Big choice of backgrounds and beautiful views that feel like Paris, perfect for amazing pictures !
|Possible traffic or noise|
May not feel intimate (with curious passers-by stopping for pictures)
Plans B are limited in case of bad weather.
Doing it by early morning is definitely the best. There are also a few spots or angles at the Eiffel Tower and other locations where there is less traffic or noise that I recommend as a photographer, or that your officiant can recommend too.
|No need to worry about the weather or to have a plan B|
– Feels intimate
No city noise & distraction
You’re not the center of attention
If you have guests, they can sit or hear the ceremony better
|View may be limited |
(depending on the location)
More expensive option
Pick a room or hotel with a balcony or even better : a rooftop terrace! I will list some of those options below : )
So there are no ideal options, but here are a few tips that help making it better or safer. For example if you want an outdoor ceremony but still can manage to have a plan B with your hotel in case of bad weather, that could be great.
View on the Eiffel Tower for your elopement ceremony
I guess that’s no surprise to say that the vast majority of the wedding and Paris elopement ceremonies I have captured as a photographer in Paris have been happening with the Eiffel Tower in the background!
Well, it represents Paris and the idea of romance like no other monument in the city, so it’s a logic choice for many couples. The good thing is that there are many options:
Best outdoor view on the Eiffel Tower: TROCADERO
This is definitely one of the most popular outdoor views, and for a good reason : the amazing open views it offers on the Eiffel Tower It’s a large area made of terraces, stairs, gardens and fountains. It’s also a very touristy place so early morning is the best. It’s actually the only possible time for great pictures there, before the crowds arrive.
Other great outdoor views on the Eiffel Tower:
There are a few noticeable views for oudoor pictures over the Eiffel Tower :
Private options for some Eiffel Tower views:
Here are some of the private options for photos with the Eiffel Tower in the background. They often have the best of both worlds : a great view over the Eiffel Tower and a plan B in case of bad weather, plus it feels more intimate and quiet.
Other iconic locations for a ceremony in Paris:
Garden views for your Paris elopement:
Indoor ceremony in beautiful hotels:
This is definitely a great option but also the factor that can change your budget for your Elopement.
If you want to book a nice hotel for your ceremony or simply because you want a great experience. The one listed below are mainly about the ceremony, so with great lounges, patios or views.
Churches and chapels for your elopement in Paris:
Part 3 :
THE VENDORS FOR YOUR ELOPEMENT IN PARIS
Of course, let’s start by the most important : ) The one who will deliver pictures and create the memories of your special time in Paris. This may look biased as I am a photographer myself but those are just a few things that I heard back from couples about why they specifically chose a photographer, or that I have also checked at the time to look for a photographer when I was getting married myself.
1-Make sure you like their style.
A good photographer is just not any photographer. You should be able to see in just a few pictures what their sense of aesthetics is about. Any decent photographer in Paris can do a photo of a couple on one side and the full Eiffel Tower on the other side. But what about the pose, the colors, the contrast, the light ? Does it feel special? Can they also capture great portraits? Emotions? Can you project yourself in those pictures?
TIP: Make sure to check a whole series of photos from a single event from the photographer, for example on their blog or by asking them. It’s always easy for a photographer to present its best work with a ‘best-of’ gallery, but you want to be sure he is up to the job and can do more than 1 or 2 great photos by event. It’s also a good way to check that their style and Editing is homogeneous through all their pictures, and if they are really experienced in shooting elopements in Paris.
2. Their communication.
It’s always frustrating to wait for an answer for days, especially when you’re in the planning process. An average of 24hrs is a reasonable delay to expect an answer (also considering the time difference).
Also, I feel it’s important to be in touch with the photographer himself directly, and have answers that come from his own experience. Office or studio managers are a great to way for some photographer to outsource their communication but it can lack this personal connection that you want to establish with the one who will be here to capture your special day. It also avoids any misunderstanding you can have by talking to a third-party.
TIP: Make sure you have a good feeling and some connection with the photographer. Through their website, social networks and emails, you should have a feeling about their personality, how they feel involved in your making your big day special, how they answer your questions about your Paris elopement.
3. Picking a local photographer!
Of course your photographer should speak English so you can communicate with him/her easily during you Paris elopement BUT it’s also a great resource to have a photographer who knows the place and can speak French. By shooting outdoor in a lively city including several locations, you always may encounter situations when the photographer has to understand, ask, negotiate or just have a local feeling to assess a situation. From my own experience as an elopement photographer in Paris, I feel there are so many photos I was able to do at the end because I was a local or because I also could speak French fluently.
This always comes very handy in a lively city in constant change, with renovation works, outdoor events & exhibitions (fashion week included) or even zealous security guards. And if something that was planned is not working because of those conditions, you want someone who has the local knowledge and demeanor to find a plan B.
The Officiant / Celebrant
A ceremony is the heart of any wedding or Paris elopement, so if you are looking to have a symbolic ceremony for your Paris elopement, the choice of your celebrant may be as important as the one of your photographer.
This is such a special moment, but I have seen so many ceremonies that just did not feel special at all, sometimes almost like a hard time to go through. This is your symbolic ceremony so you can have it as special as possible, by having the touch, rituals and content that you’d fancy. If you don’t have something specific in mind, it’s also fine. Just choose an officiant that will make sure to create a ceremony including your love story.
In terms of recommendation, the one and only celebrant in Paris for me is the celebrant in Paris Laura from ‘THE PARIS OFFICIANT’. This is such a biased advice because she happens to be my wife on top of being an amazing celebrant, even if I am used to work with others in town as well. She is organized and responsive, but most of all she has a talent for writing beautiful ceremonies. Just check her website and approach, you’ll love her!
By the way, she also wrote an article about some tips and recommendations about having an elopement in Paris, which could be a good addition to this one!
The Hair / Make-up artist
Unless you’re comfortable doing it by yourself, you will want to book a hair/make-up artist who will pamper you before your Paris elopement ceremony and photos around Paris.
I often recommend to do the ceremony and photos by early morning when it’s possible, and hair/make-up artists are used to that! They would come to your place (hotel or airbnb) beforehand to make sure you look best for your Paris elopement!
TIP: I recommend you to book one artist offering both hair & make-up services, so you don’t have to manage or book 2 different people. I would be happy to send you a list of wonderful hair/make-up artists I am used to work with and offering both services.
Also, from personal experience, remember that you’ll be outdoor most of the time during your Paris elopement, so you may want your hair-do to last as long as possible!
Photos with make-up artists
More vendors for your Paris elopement:
This is of course the #1 prop for brides, and I must say, I love a beautiful bouquet. Either you want something discret that won’t pop up or hide your dress, on something with a palette of colors fitting with your personality or make-up for your Paris elopement.
TIP: Order a boutonniere for the groom fitting with the bouquet.
A great Paris videographer can be a beautiful way to have extra memories for your Paris elopement. There are several great videography studios in Paris. But I’d recommend to make sure that the photographer and videographer are used to work with each other!
One of my main choices is the Paris videographer Pierre-Yves from 2P PARIS PROD. He is the author of ll the videos you can see on this page. On top of being someone fun and friendly to tag along, his style is clean and timeless. Highly recommended!
But I’d be happy to send you more recommendations if needed!
TRANSPORTATION / VINTAGE CAR
READY FOR YOUR PARIS ELOPEMENT!
That’s it, you’re ready to start your planning & bookings for your Paris elopement! Yayyy!!! Have a wonderful time in Paris, an if you have any question, feel free to contact me. I’m an english-speaking photographer in Paris, so I’d be happy to share my experience !
CHECK MORE ABOUT ELOPEMENTS IN PARIS:
Portfolio: Have an overview of some elopement pictures I did those last years.
Blog: If you want to see some examples of complete elopement. Here are some blogposts that could be of interest: