- 6 years ago
- Wedding: November 2011
Before and after our Paris elopement I have received several PMs and questions on how to do this. I planned the whole thing myself and I wanted to share my tips for other brides considering this option. To make things easier, I added some websites I found during my planning.
How to find vendors: The best way to find vendors is to look at other Paris elopements on sites such as intimate weddings, offbeat bride, and style me pretty. Often times, the bride lists the vendors she used at the bottom. Then, do a quick google search to get the vendor’s contact information. Google is your friend! I found my photographer by googling “English speaking photographer in Paris.” If you book a particular vendor ask them if they have any contacts or friends who could provide wedding services to you.
Legality and hiring a celebrant: No matter where you marry in the world, for it to be legal in the U.S. you must follow that country’s marriage laws. In France, you must live there for 40 days prior (there are also many other complicated rules). Since it is unlikely that you will meet those guidelines you will need to have a civil ceremony in the United States before or after your elopement. In Paris, you can hire what is called a celebrant to perform your ceremony. It is important to note that your ceremony in Paris is considered “symbolic” in the eyes of the legal system. Because your ceremony will not be legal in the U.S. you do not have to pay someone who is ordained in Paris. A celebrant will not make your marriage any more legal in the U.S. I have also read about celebrants requiring couples to show their U.S. marriage license before agreeing to marry. This is why I recomend asking your vendors if they have an English speaking friend or if you have friends/family living in Europe asking them to perform it. We ended up only paying 75 Euros by going with our photographer’s friend and I was able to write a ceremony that fit our taste.
Location: There are hundreds of free outdoor spaces to use. The downside is that these places could be crowded with tourists. Photographers will recommend you have the ceremony in the morning. We had ours in at 5pm in a more secluded place, Place Dauphine. Our photographer was also amazing at hiding people from our shots. There are also some chapels and churches you can use.
Photography: I am obviously going to recommend our photographer, Juliane Berry. She was amazing. Our shots were gorgeous and she went above and beyond with helping me plan. Through her I was able to use her friends for chauffeuring and as a celebrant. She was also able to pick up on our vibe as a couple pretty quickly, even though she had never met us. Whomever you choose be sure to e-mail them several times before making any payments or agreements. I had one photographer who seemed very helpful and then stopped e-mailing me out of nowhere. Also, check their portfolio and reviews. You won’t meet them until the day of so you want to make sure you have some faith in this person. This is where I go back to checking out other’s elopements to see how their experience was. Ask if they have shot elopements before and if so ask to see the photos or get the bride’s contact information. I contacted at least 5 different photographers before making a decision. After you make a decision make sure you make your vision clear with the photographer. Tell them where you want photos and set up a timeline with them. You’re only going to have a couple of hours and Paris is a busy city, therefore choose which places are the most important for photographs. Decide what type of photos you want and make it clear to the photographer.
Stephen Zezza (he was the one that quit e-mailing me, other brides have had success)
A driver: Monuments in Paris are not very close together. Therefore, I recommend hiring a chauffeur. We used our photographer’s friend because we didn’t care what the car looked like.
Hair/Makeup: There are English speaking salons in Paris. Try booking them as early as possible. Some people will come to your hotel. I did my own hair and makeup so I have little to offer in this area.
Bouquet: There are local flower shops all over the city to get your flowers. I brought along a silk bouquet that I had DIYed so again, I do not have many tips here.
Dinner: If you can, go to a restaurant that has a “salon.” These are private rooms for rent. We were married on a Sunday, and unfortunately many of these places were closed. Instead, we did a dinner cruise on Bateaux Parisiens. We booked the service premier which gave us front of the boat seating, it was a lot more private. We had a great meal and the atmosphere is romantic. The downside if you won’t be alone.
Flexibility: It is essential that you are flexible if you plan to elope to Paris. On our wedding day it POURED RAIN all morning. We had to change our ceremony location 2 hours before. Even though the sun came out, it was very windy so I had to nix my veil. Some our shots are very, er, wind blown. There will also be people everywhere you go. They will take photos of you and may try to get you to pose with them.
Overall, our experience was magical. The planning was very low stress and I couldn’t be happier with doing it this way. We both had an amazing time and are happy to be married!