Destination Weddings

How to plan a Destination Wedding or Elopement in Paris

Paris is an ideal location for a luxury destination wedding, and not just because it is known as the most romantic city in the world! With its stunning architecture, rich culture, delicious cuisine, and historic landmarks, Paris offers something to suit every discerning couple’s tastes.

Bride and groom walking on the pont alexandre III bridge in Paris

The city of love is also home to a wide range of luxurious and lavish wedding venues perfect for making your special day truly unforgettable. And, when it comes to photo locations, you are spoilt for choice! Paris offers everything from the architecturally regal-looking Petit Palais & Palais Royal, to the lush inner-city Luxembourg & Tuileries gardens.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional celebration or an intimate ceremony beneath the twinkling lights of the City of Lights, Paris provides an elegant backdrop that promises to leave long-lasting memories. It’s also my favorite city!

Bride and groom walking up the steps in front of the Eiffel Tower

In this article, I will discuss why the capital of France is perfect for a destination wedding or elopement, and what you need to know by covering the following:

  • What Paris offers for a Wedding or Elopement
  • What legal documents you need to get married in France
  • Choosing a Celebrant/Officiant
  • Finding an English-speaking destination wedding photographer
  • Where you can get married in Paris
  • The best time of year to plan your special day
  • Getting to Paris

Are you ready to be inspired? Then read on.

Bride and groom walking and holding hands along the trocadero in front of the Eiffel Tower

Why have a Wedding in Paris?

Paris, the city of love, has been the backdrop to many love stories throughout history, and today it continues to be one of the most romantic cities in the world. So it is no surprise that it is one of Europe’s most popular destination wedding locations. Not only does it have great transport links in and out of the city and incredible French cuisine, but it is also brimming with romantic backdrops making for a unique experience for your special day. From the iconic Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame to the breathtaking beauty of the Louvre Museum, you can easily create an unforgettable experience for yourself and your guests. If you would like to know my top locations for wedding photos in Paris head over to my Blog: The BEST 21 Paris Locations for Wedding Photography (2023).

Bride and groom on the steps of the Petit Palais

What legal documents do you need to get married in France if you’re from another country?

If you have always dreamed of exchanging vows in the City of Love, then there are some steps you need to take. Getting legally married in Paris is not impossible but it is a challenge! The process can be lengthy and involves collecting a number of documents from various sources, so it’s a good idea to start the preparation well in advance to ensure you have enough time.

If either partner is not a French national or resident, you must apply for permission from the local government before the proposed date of marriage and stay in Paris for 45 consecutive days before the date of the wedding or elopement. The documentation required includes proof of identity, such as birth certificates and passports, along with certified translations of any foreign language documents into French (if applicable). You will also need to provide evidence that demonstrates that both parties are free to marry under their respective countries’ laws.

Once all the paperwork is in order, you can arrange a civil ceremony at Paris City Hall (La Mairie). A ceremony at the town hall typically lasts about 20 minutes and includes legal declarations made by both partners, with two witnesses present.

Paperwork for getting married in Paris

What about a symbolic wedding ceremony?

Due to the complexities involved with a legal marriage, the majority of non-French nationals opt for a symbolic or non-legal ceremony. The couple will generally exchange their vows (legally) in a low-key service (often with just a couple of witnesses) within their home country before flying out to France for their official (non-legal) wedding with their family & friends. The biggest advantage of this is you are not restricted to any specific location, meaning you can have your wedding anywhere you choose, be it atop the Eiffel Tower or on an intimate boat ride down the Seine River!

Bride and groom kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower

Choosing a Paris Officiant or Celebrant

Another advantage of having a symbolic ceremony in Paris is that you can choose your own celebrant to conduct the ceremony or service. This could even be a family member or friend, as they don’t need to be certified in any way, which can make the celebrations even more special & unique.

If you opt for a professional, I recommend choosing an English-speaking officiant with knowledge of Paris.

Bride and groom have their first kiss in an outside ceremony

Where to get married in Paris?

In accordance with the marriage laws in France, you can only get legally married in Paris at the city hall. However, you are not restricted if you opt for a symbolic wedding or elopement and the options are endless! Whether you’re looking for a grand celebration, an intimate gathering, or something completely unique, Paris can provide a magical setting to start your lives together.

Paris Venues for Large Luxury Weddings

If you dream of having a large wedding, then Paris is most definitely the place for you. You can take your pick from the range of luxurious 5-star hotels available, including the Ritz, Shangri-La, and Plaza Athenee, all of which offer a range of bespoke wedding collections to suit your individual needs.

The exterior of the Ritz Paris
The Ritz Hotel, Paris
The exterior of the Shangri-La hotel in Paris
The Shangri-La Hotel, Paris
The exterior of the Plaza Athenee Hotel in Paris
The Plaza Athenee Hotel in Paris

For the ultimate extravagant experience, consider having your wedding at the Opera Garnier in Paris, which is an iconic French building noted for its opulence and grandeur. Or, if you prefer a romantic & dreamy setting and don’t mind traveling a short distance from the city, take a look at Château de Villette, Chateau de Chantilly, or Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte.

The front facade of Palais Garnier in Paris
Palais Garnier in Paris

Outside weddings in Paris

There are so many options available when it comes to having an outdoor ceremony in Paris. Many venues have outdoor private gardens for such events, including inner-city hotels like the Ritz and Shangri-La. And after this, if you want to venture out into the city for couple portraits, which are in keeping with this theme, you could head to one of Paris’s beautiful public parks, like Jardin des Tuileries & Luxembourg Gardens.

An outside ceremony set up at the Ritz Hotel
Ritz Hotel Ceremony in Paris
The gardens at the Ritz hotel in Paris
Ritz Hotel Gardens in Paris

Elopements in Paris

Choosing to elope rather than having a large wedding can open up a whole host of exciting locations that would otherwise be unavailable. Weddings at many public locations, including historical landmarks and public parks, usually require a permit. However, elopements and micro weddings generally have much fewer people in attendance. So you can explore the possibilities available as it’s much easier to find intimate spaces that can be incredibly meaningful places if they hold special significance for you as a couple. If in doubt, reach out to a Paris elopement planner for help and advice.

Bride and groom posing with their heads together on the Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel Tower

Religious/Church Ceremonies

Some churches in Paris will allow you to have a religious ceremony, including the American Church and American Cathedral, which are beautiful spaces that offer English-speaking ceremonies. However, to have a religious service, you must be legally married in your own country and have documentation (marriage license) to support this. Please note: you may be required to convert a copy of your marriage certificate into French.

A church wedding ceremony

Hiring a Wedding Planner

When it comes to planning a wedding in Paris, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every country has its own unique set of traditions and customs that may impact the way your special day plays out. That’s why you need to make sure that you choose a wedding planner who has experience in planning weddings in Paris. During the planning process, an experienced wedding planner can help make sure all of the details are taken care of. In addition to their local knowledge, a planner can assist you with understanding any legal requirements associated with having your wedding abroad. They will be familiar with any local paperwork that needs to be completed and can provide valuable advice on matters such as visa requirements for your guests.

Your wedding planner will also know the best vendors that serve Paris and can help you source your destination wedding suppliers, including a florist, makeup artist, cake designer, and more.

A wedding planner arranging the table

Finding a Paris Wedding Photographer

Finding the right wedding photographer in Paris can seem like a daunting task if you live in a different country. With so many talented photographers out there, it’s important to consider your options before deciding on the perfect fit for you.

If English is your primary language (or you speak it fluently), and you know very little French, then it is essential to choose an English-speaking photographer. Hiring an English-speaking wedding photographer will eliminate language barriers and help make sure the photos capture all the beauty and memories of your special day. They will need to liaise with you in the lead-up to the wedding, on the day, and thereafter. You really want to feel confident in their ability to capture the moments you want to meet your expectations.

Bride and groom posing in an archway at the Louvre museum in Paris

Choosing a photographer with knowledge & experience of Paris is also important. They will know the best locations to shoot at and the easiest and most efficient way of getting there. Paris is a busy city; some locations have rules & restrictions and may even require a permit to photograph there. So for peace of mind, hire a professional with experience of where to go.

When it comes to finding an English-speaking photographer in Paris, you can ask your wedding planner or other wedding vendors for recommendations. Networking on social media is also a great way to find photographers who may have done work in Paris before. As is searching on Google. Just make sure you do all of the necessary checks before booking and ask to see full examples of their work.

You can find out more about how to choose your photographer in my article: What to consider when choosing a wedding photographer.

Bride and groom walking and holding hands along the trocadero in front of the Eiffel Tower

When researching potential photographers, take into account the approach & style they utilize. While some specialize in traditional posed shots, others may use a candid approach. Think about what images will best capture how you want your special day to be remembered, be it romantic, classic, or fun-filled. You can find out more about wedding photography styles HERE.

If you would like to know more about what I can offer you for your wedding or elopement, I would love to hear from you. Contact me HERE for more details.

Bride and groom posing on the pont alexandre III bridge in Paris

The best time of year to plan your wedding or elopement in Paris

The best time of year to get married in Paris is in spring or fall when the weather is pleasant, and there are fewer tourists. The best months are April & May, when you can experience the full range of Paris’s beauty and charm. Temperatures are mild, allowing you to explore all the city offers without feeling uncomfortable. And the famous gardens & parks come alive during this time as the flowers burst into bloom, providing wonderful aromas and colorful visuals. This is also a better time for wedding flowers, with more fresh varieties & options available.

It’s generally best to avoid late June, July & August as this is typically the high season and the busiest months for tourists. The temperature can also be hot and uncomfortable during summer months.

Fall or Autumn is another great time of year for a wedding in Paris as the light is softer, and the backdrops are warm & vibrant with an array of beautiful orange & red autumnal colors.

Bride and groom walking down tree lined pathway in front of the louvre in the Jardin des Tuileries

Getting to Paris

If traveling to Paris from overseas, the best option is to fly to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), which is located approximately 14 miles northeast of Paris. It is France’s largest and busiest airport and handles a huge number of international flights, including all of the major airlines (Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, and many more).

Once you’ve arrived at CDG, there are plenty of transport options to get you into Paris. The easiest and quickest way is probably by RER train; these run 24 hours a day and take around 35 minutes to reach central Paris. Alternatively, you can use one of the airport shuttles or a taxi, which are readily available from outside each terminal.

The metro train pulling into the station in Paris

In summary

  • Paris is the perfect location for a destination wedding, as it offers a variety of different locations & famous landmarks, making for unique photo opportunities.
  • It is possible to get married legally in Paris. However, you must fulfill the documentation requirements of the French authorities, be located in Paris 45 days before the wedding day, and your ceremony must be at the town hall.
  • You can have a religious ceremony in certain churches in Paris, but French law dictates that you must already be legally married (and present your marriage certificate) to do so.
  • Paris offers a whole host of romantic wedding venues for your ceremony and/or reception, including exquisite Chateaus and the most amazing hotels in the world!
  • If you plan on having a Paris elopement ceremony with just close family & friends, the possibility of wedding locations opens up, as you are less likely to need a permit to marry in a public space.
  • Hire a wedding planner with knowledge & expertise of the local culture and regulations in France. They can also offer a variety of different vendors to consider.
  • Make sure you choose a professional photographer that has experience photographing weddings in Paris or a Paris Elopement Photographer.

If you’re considering getting married in Paris, you certainly won’t be disappointed! It’s a beautiful wedding destination that offers the most romantic places, so it’s no wonder Paris is one of the most popular choices for tying the knot. The wealth of culture and history makes it a truly unique place to start your lives together and can provide couples with an experience unlike any other.

I hope this blog has helped shed some light on what it takes to plan a wedding or elopement in Paris, giving you the certainty you need as you embark on your journey into marriage! Have the perfect wedding day!

Photo looking up at the Eiffel Tower

If you’re looking for a passionate, experienced Paris photographer to capture the beauty of your destination wedding, please do not hesitate to get in touch – I would love to learn more about your vision.

About me

As an English-speaking photographer based in Europe, I specialize in photographing weddings and elopements in Paris. I have over 10 years of experience as a wedding photographer and am familiar with all the nuances associated with travel & destination weddings. I understand what it takes to create beautiful photographs in Paris and will develop a shoot plan that incorporates all of your must-have locations. I offer wedding & elopement packages, so please do not hesitate to contact me to get your Paris destination wedding photography experience started!

Headshot of destination wedding photographer Victoria Amrose

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