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June 24, 2024

Why and How to Elope in Paris: A Guide to the Best Place to Elope in Europe

Travel Guides

Introduction

Oh, Paris. The city I will forever romanticize and eternally adore. Living and working there in my 20s before I became an elopement photographer was the best time of my life. And my mission today is to show you why and how to elope in Paris, the City of Love!

Hi, I’m Stacey, an elopement and destination wedding photographer based in the Midwest and serving couples from all over who want to get married in Europe. The allure of European cities has led me to move to both Paris and London at various points in my life, and every time I go back to photograph more couples there I’m charmed all over again by these enchanting cities. We’ll leave London for another post and focus on Paris today—in my opinion the absolute best place for a European elopement or destination wedding.

In this post I’ll walk you through the top reasons to elope in Paris and some tips on how to do it with style and ease. Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

  1. Why Elope in Paris?
  2. Iconic Locations in Paris
  3. Lesser Known Locations
  4. Weather & Seasons
  5. Travel & Accommodation
  6. Things to Do & Activities for a Paris Elopement
  7. Finding Vendors in Paris
  8. Legal Requirements to Elope in France
  9. Planning & Logistics
  10. Costs & Budget
  11. Conclusion & Bonus Freebie

Why Elope in Paris?

Paris is an amazing city for a plethora of reasons—anyone who’s ever set foot there can easily see why. From its stunning architecture, it’s incredible historical significance, and its general romantic ambiance and luxe vibe, you simply can’t go wrong with choosing Paris as your wedding destination. Some of my favorite things are just the sheer volume of amazing spots and landmarks to visit. It’s literally the most picturesque city on Earth, in my opinion, so you’re pretty much guaranteed the most gorgeous photos ever if you get married there.

See what I mean? There’s nothing quite like the charm of Parisian streets, cafés, and building façades. Plus, you can literally never stop stumbling on gorgeous hidden alleys and streets; they’re around every corner and just waiting for you to explore them.

And just a stone’s throw away from Paris proper you can access beautiful spots like the Bois de Boulogne, numerous châteaus, Monet’s gardens at Giverny, and the Palace of Versailles, not to mention the incredible day trips you can take from Paris to see other parts of France easily. Your honeymoon is basically done for you already if you elope in Paris!

For example: I recently shot a destination wedding at the gorgeous Château de Lésigny, about 45 minutes outside of Paris. This medieval château is insanely picturesque and perfect for an elegant and romantic elopement in France.

A bride and groom walk across a green lawn toward a château at their destination wedding in France.
A wedding reception at the Château de Lésigny in France.

The other great thing about eloping in Paris is the ease of travel. Traveling to Paris is incredibly convenient, with direct flights from major US cities. Once you arrive, the top-notch public transportation system and walkability make it easy to explore and enjoy. Paris is a city that welcomes lovers from all over the world, making it a perfect spot for a destination wedding in Europe.

The Best Locations to Elope in Paris

Iconic Spots in Paris

The Eiffel Tower – The most famous Parisian landmark, perfect for a sunrise or sunset ceremony, or just some gorgeous pictures in front of it!

Arc de Triomphe – Napoleon’s famous victory arch is at the end of the Champs-Élysées and surrounded by an awesome-looking roundabout (just be careful and don’t try to cross it!). You can also get ah-mazing views of Paris + the Eiffel Tower if you climb to the top!

Musée d’Orsay – Low-key my favorite museum in Paris, where most of the Van Gogh and impressionist paintings are! It’s a train station converted into a museum, and the giant clock faces and open air interior with the high vaulted ceilings are to die for. A simply gorgeous spot for wedding photos if you love the museum vibe, because there’s actually natural light which is a rarity in most museums!

Louvre Museum – Museum photoshoots are one of my favorite things. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the exterior of the Louvre (once a palace) is literally perfect for elegant photoshoots, too! Tip: Museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday of the month, but this also means they might be more crowded.

Luxembourg Gardens – A smaller but equally gorgeous garden in the left bank or rive gauche (south of the Seine) of Paris.

Tuileries Gardens – My favorite gardens in Paris (there are lots to choose from!). This huge manicured garden right in front of the Louvre has iconic rectangular trees, round fountains, and green chairs emblematic of Paris. Plus you’ll be able to take advantage of natural outdoor lighting and a bit of greenery with your photos.

Lesser known but incredible spots

Musée Rodin – This stunning mansion now hosting a museum of Rodin sculptures and incredible garden is right in the heart of Paris, and you can rent it out for special events. The staircase is to die for!

Musée de l’Orangerie – This is a close second for my favorite museum in Paris. It’s where the giant, wall-to-wall paintings of Monet’s water lilies are, and they make a stunning backdrop for wedding photos. Most museums in Paris will let you photograph inside for a small fee, so it’s easy to take wedding photos in front of all that gorgeous art & history!

Montmartre – Montmartre is historically the artistic part of Paris, and sits up on a hill overlooking the rest of the city. The charming cobbled streets and staircases found in this part of the city are endlessly romantic.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont – This is a lesser known park in the northeast of Paris, with a bit more of a rugged nature feel, if you’re wanting some more natural and lush photography. There’s also a super cool suspension bridge and access to high-up views of Paris.

Le Marais – Le Marais is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris (and where I used to live!). It has an eclectic feel as well as adorable boutiques, trendy cafés, and incredibly charming narrow streets perfect for urban photography.

Ile-de-la-Cité and Ile-Saint-Louis – These are the islands in the middle of the Seine where you’ll find some of the oldest architecture in Paris, the Sainte-Chappelle (the most breathtaking stained glass church I’ve ever seen), the Notre-Dame de Paris (the spire was still intact when I took this photo), and Berthillon, the most famous ice cream shop in Paris!

Rue Crémieux – This is the most adorable little pastel street! Tucked away and you’d almost miss it if you didn’t know where it was, it’s adorable for portraits with some bright color.

Place des Vosges – A historic square with covered arched walkways all around, once home to Victor Hugo, and now a gorgeous park lined with adorable cafés and a very picturesque spot.

Palais-Royal – this former palace now houses a lovely park and a super cool black and white column art installment that makes for incredibly cool photos. Not to mentioned the open-air galleries to walk through and gape at!

Bonus: the banks of the Seine – I could spend endless hours wandering the banks of the Seine River and across its many picturesque bridges such as the Pont Neuf (pictured) and the Pont Alexandre III. It’s totally possible to get the most incredible elopement photography of your life without spending a dime on entry fees to anywhere in Paris if you simply walk the length of the Seine!

Bonus Bonus: Want iconic photos with the Eiffel Tower but don’t want to be on a lawn full of people? I know several lesser known streets and spots to get the most amazing Eiffel Tower photos, but I’ll save that for my next blog post! 😉

How to Elope in Paris: Logistics

Finding Vendors in Paris

So you’re convinced that a Paris elopement is right for you, but don’t know where to start with vendors? I’ve got you. Hiring local vendors in Paris is relatively easy as many do speak English. You’ll easily be able to find a florist, officiant/celebrant, makeup & hair stylists, and caterers/bakers should you wish. Luckily, Paris is a common spot for elopements (city of love, after all!) and most local vendors will have experience working with international couples.

Weather and Seasons

What’s the best time of year to elope in Paris?

Here are some quick overviews of what seasons are like in Paris, and how to choose the best time of year for your elopement.

  • Spring (April to June): Blooming flowers and mild weather. My favorite season in Paris.
  • Summer (July to August): Hot weather and longer days (the sun doesn’t set until 10pm sometimes!), but also peak tourist season.
  • Fall (September to November): Beautiful fall foliage and cooler temperatures. Some rain as well.
  • Winter (December to February): Festive decorations and a cozy atmosphere, but colder weather. Winter in Paris can be quite gloomy as it’s nearly always cloudy and it doesn’t snow much.

Best Months for an Elopement in Paris

  • April to June: Ideal for pleasant weather and beautiful blooms.
  • September to October: Fewer tourists and stunning fall colors.

Travel & Accommodation

  • Flights: Book flights well in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Transportation: Use public transportation, taxis, or private transfers to get around the city.
  • Romantic Hotels: Consider boutique hotels or luxury options with Eiffel Tower views. Hotel rooms in Paris are tiny unless they are luxury, so keep this in mind!
  • Airbnb and Vacation Rentals: For a more personal and intimate stay. I’ve had good luck with Airbnbs in Paris, but I’ve also heard some horror stories so just do your research and read reviews, or go through a vacation rental company. Many airbnbs are in buildings without elevators (ascenseurs), and yours could be on the 4th floor (really the 5th floor in America).
  • Location Considerations: Stay in central areas like the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements (how Paris is divided) for easy access to key locations. You can definitely stay in the other arrondissements, and they may be cheaper, but keep in mind you will have to factor in travel times and traffic to see different sights.

Things to Do & Activities for a Paris Elopement

Now for my favorite part! The best things to do for your elopement in Paris are things you love and will have fun doing! Some couples just want to walk and enjoy the sights or relax at cafés by the Seine, others want to have a day packed with tours and museums. There’s no right answer, as long as your day fits you and your idea of awesome. Here are some ideas of things that can make a great addition to any Paris elopement:

  • Seine boat cruise: Oh my gosh, I LOVE cruising the Seine! It’s such a fun experience and a great way to see the city. Check out these adorable photos from a pre-wedding boat cruise photoshoot I did this summer on a Canauxrama cruise, and there are lots of other great boat companies as well.
  • Picnics in a park: Picnicking is literally one of Parisians’ favorite pastimes. As soon as the weather turns nice, the parks are laden with picnic-goers enjoying baguettes and wine on a leisurely afternoon. That could be you, but elopement style!
  • Day Trips: Consider day trips to Versailles, the Champagne region, châteaus in the Loire Valley, or the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy for a unique way to make your elopement even more special and like 2 trips in one!
  • Rooftops of Paris: If you’ve got a good connection, there are lots of ways to get onto the famous blue rooftops of Paris and take incredible photos overlooking the city. Try the Galeries Lafayette or Printemps department stores, which both have free rooftop access, and you can get some great photos overlooking the city. See the view from Printemps at the very end of this blog!
  • Get creative with photos: I love to shoot 35mm film in Paris. The city’s aesthetic works so well on that medium and adds such a timeless, classic vibe to your photos. Many of the photos on this blog post were shot on film, like the ones below!
A view of the rooftops of Paris shot on 35mm film by Stacey Vandas Photography.
A view of the Eiffel Tower through trees, shot on 35mm film in Paris, France.

How to Elope in Paris: Common Questions

Now that I’ve convinced you why Paris is the perfect elopement city, let’s pivot to all the questions that come with that idea. It can be daunting to plan a destination wedding or elopement, especially if you’ve never been there before, but I’m here to help!

Can Americans get married in Paris?

The answer is a resounding YES, but with a few caveats. To have a legal wedding in France, at least one of you must reside in the country for a minimum of 40 days, and you have to do quite a bit of paperwork with the local mairie to achieve this, as well has have an approved translation for all your American documents. However, many international couples opt for a symbolic ceremony in Paris and handle the legalities at home. This way, you can enjoy the romantic setting without the residency requirement.

If you choose to go the legal route, you’ll need several documents, including birth certificates, passports, and proof of residency. It’s important to check with the local consulate and French government resources for the most up-to-date requirements and to start gathering your paperwork well in advance.

Can we have a religious ceremony in Paris?

Yes, you can arrange a religious ceremony at a church or chapel, but it typically requires a legal ceremony first, and probably some meetings with the pastor/priest beforehand. Another good thing to arrange well in advance if you’re planning on that.

Planning and Logistics for Eloping in Paris

How far in advance should we plan our elopement?

Ideally, you should start planning your elopement at least 6-12 months in advance. This allows you to secure your preferred dates, arrange travel, book vendors, and take care of any necessary paperwork. However, Paris is a city that accommodates love at first sight, so even if you’re planning on a shorter timeline, it can still be done!

Do we need a wedding planner?

While not necessary, hiring a wedding or elopement planner can make the process smoother and more enjoyable. They can help navigate the legal requirements, recommend vendors, and coordinate logistics. If you prefer to plan on your own, be sure to research and connect with reputable vendors who can bring your vision to life. Or, opt for a vendor in your time zone but knowledgeable about Paris, European travel, and who speaks French—*ahem* I may know a photographer who can help you out there! 😉 I’ll work with you to create a customized timeline for your elopement from start to finish, making sure to include all the activities you love and the best photography spots for an epic elopement. Get in touch with me here.

Do you need to speak French to get married in Paris?

Absolutely not! While knowing the language of a foreign country always helps, you can totally navigate Paris with English. Just be respectful and learn a few phrases in French to show your gratitude—it goes a long way to show that you’re trying to embrace French culture. And it doesn’t hurt to have a French-speaking vendor on your team who can help bridge the gap and overcome any translation difficulties when planning logistics.

Costs and Budget

Is it expensive to elope in Paris?

Eloping in Paris can be as luxurious or as budget-friendly as you wish. Typical costs include venue fees, photography, an officiant, and travel expenses. Budget for those when you’re planning, but I think you’ll be surprised at how doable an elopement in Paris can be if you time it right.

How to elope in Paris on a budget

By choosing less touristy locations or off-peak seasons, you can significantly reduce costs without compromising on the experience. Consider eloping during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) when prices are lower, and the weather is still pleasant. Opt for intimate venues like small gardens or chic cafes, and explore DIY options for florals and decor. Many beautiful spots in Paris are free to access, allowing you to save on venue costs. Choose a planner or photographer familiar with the city, because they can help you find the most budget friendly locations and times of year to make your Parisian elopement a reality and get all those gorgeous photos you’re dreaming of.

Conclusion

Eloping in Paris is a dream come true for many couples. With its romantic settings, rich culture, and stunning backdrops, Paris offers an unforgettable experience. By following this guide, you can plan a beautiful and seamless elopement in the City of Love. If you have more questions about how to elope in Paris and want to chat with a Paris expert, contact me! I’d love to help design your perfect elopement in my favorite city in the world!

xo, Stacey

P.S. Did you know I have a free elopement planning guide to help you get all your ducks in a row and keep everything organized? Get yours here!

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