top 5 tips for eloping in paris

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parisian elopement

I must get at least 3- 5 emails a week from couples who want to elope in Paris. There are tons of reasons why people choose to elope: to save money, to save time, to save their sanity! Couples that contact me about eloping in Paris also typically display a very strong romantic streak. Since I find myself answering a lot of the same questions week after week, I’ve decided to compile The American Wedding Planner in Paris’ Top Five Tips for Planning an Elopement in Paris

1. Start Planning Early

Gone are the days of dropping into town at midnight and waking the village parson to marry you (his wife, with her wrinkled overcoat pulled over her dressing gown, acting as pianist-slash-witness). As nostalgic and romantic as it sounds, it’s just not realistic in this day and age. There aren’t very many English-speaking celebrants available in Paris, and most of them work full-time at their own churches. They also have families, hobbies and other commitments, which leaves a limited amount of time to officiate weddings for couples coming from overseas. They, of course, try to be as accommodating as possible, but to be fair, you should plan on contracting your officiant at least 3 months in advance of your ceremony (longer if you’re planning on eloping during the high season).

2. Hire a good wedding planner

Well…this one is pretty simple. People tend to think that wedding planners are for big, elaborate weddings. That’s not true at all. A destination wedding is a destination wedding- whether it’s just you 2 or 200 of your closest friends! Do you know where to get a hand-tied bouquet of café au lait-colored peonies with a matching boutonnière in Paris? A wedding planner would. Do you know the name of an awesome, reputable, English-speaking Parisian photographer? A wedding planner does! I could go on for another 2 paragraphs, but you get the gist. Besides having access to top-notch local vendors, hiring a wedding planner based in the destination that you’re planning your elopement takes the pressure off of you and your honey, and gives you time to concentrate on planning your honeymoon. As when you’re hiring your officiant, keep in mind that most wedding planners need at least 3 months notice to book an elopement ceremony.

paris-elopement.jpg3. Try not to plan too much

So, my first pointer was to start planning early, but that’s not to say to plan every single second of your event! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- France is not America. France runs as it’s own pace, and to most Americans, that’s about 3.5 paces behind the U.S! Everyone is familiar with the stereotype of the American tourist in a Parisian restaurant, waiting…and waiting…and waiting for “l’addition” (all the while growing more red-faced and furious at the waiter for “ignoring” his table). I’ve had elopement clients send me their itineraries timed to the quarter hour, “Car Pick-Up at Hotel: 12:45. Arrive at Eiffel Tower: 1:05. Waiter brings 1st glass of champagne: 2:17, etc. etc…” If you learn nothing else from this post, learn this: You can pay a deposit, fax an excel spreadsheet, confirm, re-confirm, and re-RE-confirm an order, but it won’t really confirm anything. In Paris, “on time” typically means between 15 and 35 minutes “late”. So, if you’re expecting a car to pick you up at 1:00 to get you to the Eiffel Tower for your ceremony to start at 1:30, just know that the car will probably arrive at 1:15, but it’s no problem because the ceremony probably won’t start until 1:50 anyway! It all works out in the end, and the wedding ceremony will be just as lovely 20 minutes later than planned.

4. You can not get married on top of the Eiffel Tower

Let me just say that once again for the girls at the back: You Can NOT get married on top of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is a national monument which occasionally rents the top out for corporate functions, but not to private individuals. If you want to host your wedding at the Eiffel Tower, you’ll be encouraged to rent rooms at one of the two restaurants in the tower. BTW, you also can’t get married at Notre Dame Cathedral or at Sacre Coeur, unless you have some pretty strong pull in some VERY high places in France. For starters, in order to have a church wedding at all in France, you will first need to have a civil wedding here. That comes with a whole slew of rules and regulations, which is why most foreigners who come to Paris to get married choose to have a religious blessing or a symbolic ceremony instead. With symbolic ceremonies, you have a lot more flexibility- so while you still can’t get married on top of the Eiffel Tower, you can have a very simple symbolic ceremony in front of it.

5. Think off the Beaten Path

If you’ve already decided to elope to Paris, chances are you’re a pretty non-traditional couple. So why settle for the same ole same ole once you’ve arrived in Paris? Sure, you can get married beneath the Eiffel Tower. It’s gorgeous, historical, romantic- everything that you could ask from a wedding in Paris. But wouldn’t it be really cool to exchange your vows on top of the Buttes Chaumont, with its amazing panoramic view of the city spread out at your feet? Or beneath the echo-y vaulted ceilings of the Place des Vosges? Or even at sundown in the dramatic shadows of the Pyramide du Louvre. Since you’re creating your own, unique elopement ceremony, the world (or at least Paris) is your oyster! Elopement ceremonies tend to be fairly short, so if you’re mindful of the legalities of your intended venue (no standing on the grass, for example, if you’re not permitted to do so), and respectful of your environment (i.e.: don’t hire an accordionist to serenade you in a busy restaurant), your elopement in Paris should go off without a hitch!

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elope in paris

30 Responses to “top 5 tips for eloping in paris”


  1. 1 Eric

    If you do, be sure to plan an extra day with your photographer to get some great shots at all the awesome Paris places!

  2. 2 ~Tina

    If you ever want to trade wedding sites let me know. lol I’ll take Paris & you can take Tucson. Love the page!!!

  3. 3 sarah

    Nothing can be worse than planning a traditional wedding in the states… i thought this was supposed to be fun, but all i want to do is take my couture gown out of here. See you in Paris!

  4. 4 Eileen

    Hello,

    My fiancé and I are planning to get married in September, 2010. As we are in Canada and are familiar with French laws regarding marriage, we plan to be legally married here in Canada before making our trip to France.

    Ideally, we’re looking for a simple ceremony to be performed for just the 2 of us on location. Do you know of any companies or chapels that offer this? I’ve been searcing online without much luck so far.

    Thank you!

  5. 5 Marthie Kotze

    Dear Mr./s, Miss

    Can you please help me with more information and prices?

    We are planning a trip to Paris in March/ April 2011 to elope, wich month will be the best weather?

    We are looking for something simple but special.
    We both love the sunsets, roses, candles and water as we are living on the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa.

    It will be only the 2 of us, when we come back we plan to get legally married here or can we do it legally in Paris?

    I hope to hear from you soon.

    Kind regards from
    South Africa

    Marthie Kotze

  6. 6 Barbara

    My husband and I will be in Paris for a wedding and would also like to renew our vows (privately) while we are there as well, is there anyone/anywhere in particular that this casn be done?

  7. 7 Lydia Koster

    Hi,

    My Fiance and I have recently been looking for some ideas for places to elope in france. we are both wanting a small delicate wedding in a smaller sized chapel of some sorts.

    would you have any tips on places to look at all?

    Regards from
    Australia

    Lydia

  8. 8 Timothy

    Hi,

    I have the same question as Eillen in the post above and plan to get married at the same time. Please e-mail me if you can.

    Thank you

  9. 9 kim

    Hi Timothy,
    Yes- I know a fabulous wedding planner who can help you with just that! Her name is Kim Petyt, and you can email her at contact@parisianevents.com. Her agency works with some of the best wedding venues and vendors in Paris- plus, she speaks English! Check her out! :)

  10. 10 Suzanne

    These are really great tips!

  11. 11 kevin

    Hi Kim-

    My fiance and i are planning to have a small, symbolic wedding ceremony with just the two of us - no guests. We are in need of an english speaking celebrant at a reasonable price to perform the ceremony near the Eiffel Tower. Can you help? Please let me know what your rates would be…thank you.

    Kevin

  12. 12 Jennifer

    Hi, Thanks for the tips.. I am planning to elope in May 2011. Just me my husband to be and our 2 beautiful daughters. We are looking for a church for a simple ceremony, then some where to go enjoy a meal.
    We plan on renting an apartment. and I’d like the Church to be by.My friend is a photographer and will be coming for the ceremony so I got that secured. Do I really need a planner? I know I need to get flowers and other stuff, (just kinda thinking out load as I write this…)
    Do you have any suggestion for florist? Restaurant? Church?

  13. 13 Jars

    Hi. My fiance and I are currently living here in New Zealand. We are planning to get married in Paris next year. Could you help me how to start planning it please? I dont have any ideas on how to start… Thank you so much.

  14. 14 Haywood Gerney

    Good info here. I am still looking for more information on travel tips and would love any advice. Thanks!

  15. 15 Anna Sep

    Good evening,

    Same question as everyone else mostly…my fiance and I will be marrying in Paris next month, just the two of us, and we are looking for a symbolic ceremony. Do you know of any officiants that are very reasonably priced?

    Thank you so much,

    Anna Sep

  16. 16 Jessica Ducharme

    Hello and first may I say THANK YOU for making this website! It is very helpful! My fiance and I are interested in eloping while we are in France this April (yes, in just over a month) and though I understand a legal ceremony is unlikely, I’m wondering if you know anyone who could officiate a “symbolic” wedding? My fiance is American but has strong French heritage and this would be such a wonderful blessing for both of us if we can make it happen on short notice. Any contacts, advice or insight would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!
    Jessica

  17. 17 Merci Utr

    Hello and first may I say THANK YOU for making this website! It is very helpful! My daughter’sfiance and her are interested in eloping while they are in France this Noviember and though I understand a legal ceremony is unlikely, I’m wondering if you know anyone who could officiate a “symbolic” wedding? Do you know of any officiants that are very reasonably priced? e are in need of an english speaking celebrant at a reasonable price to perform the ceremony near the Eiffel Tower. Can you help? Please let me know what your rates would be…thank you. Also could you tell me if it would be possible to have dinner in a boat watching the sunset and where can I hire services for that.
    Thank you sincerely

  18. 18 Katerina

    Hello -

    I unfortunately did not start my planning very early, since me and my fiancee are a very non traditional, easy going, free bird couple.

    We want to get legally married in Paris and in doing my research I see that it requires a great deal of paperwork and approvals, and time!!
    We want to get married the last weekend of November if not first week of December, but not sure if there is ANY work around way or any way to legally make it happen, maybe in one of the outskirt cities, not necessarily Paris.. even Spain!

    Any help is appreciated.. thank you so much..

    Frustrated and disillusioned,

    Katerina

  19. 19 Vivi Gragnano

    best day of our lives, excluding the birth of our daughter last year! thanks Kim for a beautiful wedding day full of wonderful memories!

  20. 20 Cristina @thetravolution

    Fantastic post! This is my dream but my concern is that it wouldn’t be financially feasible for my guests. I feel I would be imposing on guests to make the long pricey trip :( Does anyone have any cost estimates so far?

  21. 21 Stacy King

    This wasnt just a dream of mine growing up, I so longed and ached for a French wedding. In the countryside renting a Chateau for all guests…

  22. 22 Jenny@tropical beach wedding

    I guess elopement to Paris is still considered as destination wedding. Paris is a good place to get married for the romantics. I still prefer wedding in the beach though.

  23. 23 Starr Hargraves

    My niece and her fiance want to get married in Paris in August 2013. They want a symbolic ceremony under the Eiffel Tower. It’s just the 2 of them, no wedding party. She needs a hair stylist. She will be wearing a gown and him a tux. Please let me know the procedure in Paris for such an event.

    Thanks.

  24. 24 Bronwyn

    Hi,

    I have been looking on your website which is quite impressive. My partner and I have a holiday booked for October 2013 and we were considering the option of a symbolic ceremony in Paris as we will not be legally married beforehand in Australia nor can reside in France for 40 days.

    What is the cost of your services? it would just be my partner and I, and 4 guests. I was thinking of getting married in a garden with a few hours for photos at various locations in Paris just my partner and I.

    I would also need an officiant, someone for hair and makeup, flowers and photography.

    We can book our own accommodation and also our lunch/dinner to celebrate afterwards unless you have some packages that includes this as an option.

    I look forward to hearing from you

  25. 25 Hollie

    Hi,
    My Fiancé and I are from Australia and would like to come to Paris to get married. We understand it will not be legal as we will not be able to stay in Paris for 40 days etc. We were planning on making it legal once we return from Paris. Can we still have a ceremony in Paris if we are not legally married before hand? We would need a photographer and and a officiant.

    Thanks,
    Hollie

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