If you are eloping to the city of lights, first off, congratulations! Secondly, don’t worry I did this in like 2 weeks, you probably have like a billion questions so don’t worry I am here to answer all of them for you!
So if you are looking for THE BEST and the most affordable elopement I have already put the list of people you should call and contact! You’re welcome. These come highly recommended because I’ve used them and they were amazing! Paris is so beautiful and romantic, you could botch this entire plan, get there, and it would still be the most amazing thing in the world. So let me go over the few things that I listed for myself to ensure that the day went off according to what I wanted.
4. Hair & Make Up
I really wanted something basic, and since it was just going to be Ryan and I, we didn’t need to worry about additional services like a driver or catering. We made things really easy for US, and we had a blast!
There are 2 ways to go about eloping in Paris.
-Hire a service-
Service’s are great, a bit pricy, but great! They give you everything that you need for your day worry free and hassle free! You usually send an inquiry to a service and they ask what you want and they give you a quote with all their services. Some even have packages to choose from so you can pick from their different customizations. They range from a full day to just a few hours! But it’s so magical and whimsical it’ll be worth every penny and you’ll feel like a million bucks! Downside to this, is that since they already have things figured out for you, you get what they provide. So make sure that you get samples of the vendors, because who wants to pay a “photographer” 500 Euro who takes pictures on a small digital camera? Or a “videographer” taking pictures and then putting it into a slideshow and calling it your wedding video (which was what I’ve seen). Not me, so make sure you know who your money is going to and if it’s worth every penny! (approx 3200 Euros)
If you’re like me, and want to really have control over everything then I suggest to DIY (Do It Yourself). I pretty much did the work of the service and tallied up everything myself. I really wanted to see the vendors and their work as well as know how much I was paying for everything. So I did all the research myself and drew up a budget and cut corners and spoke with the vendors directly. I for one am not tooooo picky especially when I am only having such a short affair. But I make my vision and timeline clear with all the vendors so that have a clear understanding of my expectations. The last thing you want is to be on the wrong page with someone and you don’t have a lot of time to correct it. I am literally cramming all my photos and ceremony into 1 hour. So if you have mad requests like that, stick to DIY.
If you are doing DIY, make sure that you have an idea that you are going for and move forward with it. If you want to hire a car to take you and the photographer to all the hot spots in Paris, then it’s best you research those things, or if you want more cinematography then hire one for a few hours. But everything is going to be happening so fast that really you don’t want more than half a day for your videos and a few hours with your photographer.
We really wanted to do cut as many corners on some things but not everything. We noted that a videographer was more important than pictures so we opted for just a couple hours with the photographer and more time with the videographer. So I started to tackle my list. The whole wedding part of this cost approx 2800 Euro.
4. Hair & Make Up – I initially started with this one because I really wanted someone who spoke English! So I found this girl Sanni Sorma (www.sannisorma.com & www.youtube.com/missmai27) through google who also has a YouTube channel where she does make up and it’s easier to see her work and get a portfolio of what she does! What’s even better is that she recommended other vendors that she’s worked with that also speak English so she pointed me in the right direction to our photographer. For her, I did not skimp on the price with her, but let me tell you she is worth every penny (520 Euro). She made me look and feel like a million bucks, not to mention that my hair was still amazing (even though it was raining!), yeah she’s that good!
1. Photographer -DO NOT SKIMP ON YOUR PHOTOS, I repeat DO NOT SKIMP ON YOUR PHOTOS. It is a necessity to have amazing photos when you are going to paris, so please do yourself a favor and splurge on the extra and hire her. Catherine O’Hara (www.catherineohara.com / https://www.facebook.com/cohara.photography / https://instagram.com/catherineohara.photography/ / https://uk.pinterest.com/catherineohara/ / https://twitter.com/catherineohara/). She is a member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association www.wpja.com which is an international, membership-based organization representing professional photographers skilled in the documentation of weddings and events in a candid, unobtrusive style. She is phenomenal, sweet, and she did such an amazing job capturing our day. She was also very reasonable! We wanted our celebration to be quick, so we only booked her for an hour. She has a really good eye and I told her what I wanted, and she really hit it out of the park! So if you’re in Paris, for vacation even, hire her for an hour or two, she will really give you some amazing photos to take home with you! I was even recommended 3 other photographers and she was the most affordable and the quality is the best so if you can book her do it!
2. Videographer – Through one of the other photographers I stumbled upon these videographers who are very well known worldwide. Deneemotion Luxury Wedding Cinematography (http://www.deneemotion.com/) Theses two guys are well sought after all over the US and in Europe but by some miracle I ended up getting these guys. They are the BEST at what they do and they know how weddings go. For me, since I wasn’t having a wedding and it was just Ryan and I only opted for a few hours, and they were able to work with me and my budget, so make sure that you ask what they can offer you based on your budget (I booked them at 1500 Euro with restrictions). Check out the wedding video I edited and they shot down below!
3. Officient – Another recommendation from another photographer. I was able to snag this person on a moments notice through a service, but after the fact I realized that I shouldn’t have. Let me tell you why, unless you have a U.S Pastor or if you are actually getting married under French Law, you are just paying someone to read a piece of paper. That’s right, a piece of paper. That you are mostly writing yourself! So save yourself 400 Euros and ask one of the vendors or their friend! I should’ve asked my makeup artist to read it for 100 Euro, because all you get with a symbolic officient is a piece of paper that you sign that has no actual legal value. Do yourself a favor and just find a friend to read it! Plus I’ve heard that some officients don’t even dress up, ours showed up in tights and a jumper and her cell phone rang in the middle of our ceremony! It wasn’t worth the 400 Euro, lets just say that.
5. Rings – I didn’t need another ring since I already had one. But we got Ryan’s ring before we left and he picked one out, so make plans accordingly before you leave!
6. Flowers – We decided to hit up a flower shop the day before and I picked the flowers I wanted and what’s great was that the place made it into a bouquet for me! I told them I was getting married a demain (ah – duh-man/ meaning: tomorrow) and they made it into a floral bouquet for me. I got to pick the flowers I wanted and they helped me choose what to put in it and wrapped it up and sent me on my way, they also made a boutonniere for Ryan as well so it was great. All in all around 97 Euro. What I learned from this (since 97 Euros was NOT what we budgeted) was that I SHOULD have had an idea of the bouquet I wanted and just had the picture of it. So when I got there I wasn’t completely clueless and just racking up our bill. Also, I would have had all the flowers that I wanted and brought them back to my hotel and made the bouquet myself. There are youtube videos on how to do it and it doesn’t take very much. I might have stayed within my budget of 30 Euros if that was the case. BUT my bouquet was bomb diggity!
7. Hotel – We were lucky ducks saving all our points on our credit cards and stays from business trips that we were able to afford the first few nights in a nice hotel room. After we spilled the beans of our elopement to our family, Ryan’s dad helped out with a few stays at some other hotels. If you aren’t as fortunate, you can always stay at an airbnb, which is pretty much like you rent out someone’s place for a week or whatever for a fraction of what the hotel costs! Or if you time it right, you can do a Home Exchange where you literally do just that, and even though you have an apartment, you can still swap with someone else too! The first hotel we stayed in was the Renaissance Paris Trocadero. It’s a beautiful Hotel, very quaint close by the metro and has a gorgeous garden in the courtyard. We saved up all our points and pretty much used all of them staying there and London. Because we had status we were able to eat breakfast for free as well as pack a sandwich for snack for later on. Also, make sure they don’t see you do that, it’s typically frowned upon. The second hotel was the most beautiful of all. The Westin Vendôme (suite 5036. If you’re able to reserve that room DO IT! Since we eloped and got married they were able to upgrade us to a junior suite overlooking The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the gardens. They also sent in complimentary champagne and macaroons as a treat! The view was especially nice in the evening when the Eiffel Tower would Light up and sparkle. We would sit on the balcony and drink wine and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle, it was VERY romantic! So we saved a lot of money on this trip for that very reason, on hotel and on food. (less than 100 Euro on just taxes)
8. Flights – We’re cheaters on this end, we actually sought out the help from my aunt who works for Delta and she gave us 2 buddy passes to elope! Flight attendants are out there, so check craigslist daily because I know some of them trade for other services too. Make sure though that you are traveling on non-peak times. For us we needed to get out of LAX but it was spring break so getting on a flight on standby was nearly impossible unless you are going international direct. This is a high stress route, because there’s no guarantee that we were on any flight until they call our names. Our initial flight was to fly to Detroit then to Paris but it didn’t end up working out, so we flew to London then took the Eurostar Train to Paris, so worth the experience! Plus since the flight was empty we got to sit in Business Class! Why not kill two stones with one bird?…you know what I mean. (flights-just taxes and international fees $630.00pp/ Eurostar 250 Euro pp…fyi we booked the Euro last minute, so if you book ahead of time, you could’ve saved MUCH more than we did, but since we were stand by we didn’t book anything until we were on that plane)
9. My dress? $100 on sale David’s Bridal! Embellished with Swarovski Crystals ($100). I hate the idea of buying something so expensive to wear for one day, even if you destroy it afterwards. So I went to David’s Bridal and found this really simple beautiful new wedding gown for $100 (retailed at $450) If you don’t feel like buying a dress you can always rent one. That’s what I was going to do, but since our trip was so long I didn’t want to run the risk of getting a dress, having it not fit, then buying a dress out there, and lugging this dress around Paris…uh a headache I didn’t need. So buying one was a safer choice, and it cost just as much. At least I know what what works for me! As for Ryan, he just borrowed a buddy’s suit since it fit him so well. For shoes I wanted the works, I wanted Jimmy Choos, so where did I got to find them? POSHMARK!! How much did I get them for? $45!! That’s right and I also bought a pair of Badgley Mischkas for $38 as well! Then the veil? Borrowed from my sister. Aside from undergarments, that’s about it!
10. Location – Location is KEY!! I wanted to be married in front of the Eiffel Tower, I wanted the pictures, I wanted everything! So initially, we were going to get married at Palais de Chailot.
It’s pretty epic and it has the perfect background, and it’s just so magnificent and charming. But there were 2 problems. The day before we stopped by the area to scope it out, and there was MAJOR construction on the left side. There were barriers and gates and fences all around (not very romantic). Secondly, there were a lot of people there and random guys trying to sell 5 Eiffel Tower key chains for a Euro. So what started out as being super romantic, turned into stage fright, and then into an outright negative. So we opted for a nice quiet area in the gardens just below on a bridge by a stream.
Now… for the rest of the trip! Yeah that was only the ceremony, one morning! We go the rest of the trip to think about. So here’s a few info i gathered for you:
Marriage Licenses – If you are a US citizen, it is best for you to get married in the courthouse in the US, THEN come here for what they call a ‘symbolic’ ceremony. Here’s why: The requirements for you to actually be legally married in France by an officiant are far more than just paperwork. You have to actually live in France for a minimum of 40 days, just a french doctor to perform a physical, etc. Even after all that, if you go back to the US and you want to get a divorce, you fall under French jurisdiction, so your family and children will be governed by France. So just stick with the Symbolic Ceremony.
Visas – If you are a US citizen, your passport needs at least 6 months before the pass port expires and 7 months time after your depart date. You won’t need a visa unless you plan on stay for over 90 days.
Transportation – We took the train to Paris then the metro to the hotel and we packed light! If you are packing 60 bags, then good luck getting the through the metro! Trust me if I can pack a weddings worth with a carry on and a bag, you can too! I actually overpacked! Make sure to see my how to pack for paris in the spring time…coming soon. But if you do use the metro purchase their 5 day pass, you can get to the majority of the city as much as you want to see the sights (and you won’t need to pay a tour bus). You can use it anywhere on any public transportation system, check it out here. Also it’s best you plan out your whereabouts so that you aren’t buying passes for too many days and if you end up purchasing a tour that comes with transportation anyway. If you plan on renting a car, make sure you familiarize yourself with the street laws and signs. Just quickly, no need to re-take the DMV quiz again.
Entertainment – They have the Paris Pass which is unlimited access for all the Paris attractions (approx 60) where you can go in the fast pass line and skip all the lines. Do this if you plan on a lot of sight seeing and it’s 122 Euro for 2 days for an adult. We DIDN’T do the pass actually, let me tell you why. We paid for the metro pass for 5 days and it still got us everywhere, so we didn’t see the use in buying a metro pass and then paying for a tour when we could’ve gotten there much faster so save yourself the trouble of paying for extra transpo around Paris. The Louvre always always has this ridiculous line outside, and it’s not the ticket line, it’s the security line. So if you have a ticket, you can breeze through the security line and get in right away. We actually asked our concierge to purchase tickets for us in advance and we skipped all the lines and just did the few sights we wanted to see. We saved a lot by doing that! So try it, and tell me how it went for you!
Communication – Pre-order your sim cards! Once you arrive in Paris and you need to communicate with people back home is a nightmare when trying to find WiFi. I used an ORANGE one and it was great. You can find local ORANGE mobile stores all around Paris, they usually call it a Holiday plan, where you can call and text and use gps and such while you’re roaming around the city, HIGHLY RECOMMEND!! When traveling abroad you want to use an unlocked phone and swap out your sim card of that of a carrier that is local for the region so that you can still make calls and send texts, tweet and snapchat without breaking your phone bill! This also has the benefit of not staying on airplane mode the entire trip and living off of free wifi. That way you can enjoy the sights and stay connected and not have to be worried about printing out maps! lol
Banks – First off before you leave the country you need to let your bank know so they don’t freeze your accounts! Let your credit card companies know as well. The last thing you don’t want is to get there and try to pull out money and you can’t, then you have no money for the rest of the trip. Happened to a friend of mine and he wasn’t too happy because they wouldn’t give him his atm card back! Since we were traveling our banks put a limit on how much we could withdraw each day, so if you have to pay your vendors cash, don’t run the risk of getting there and not being able to pull out enough. We found a place that had a really good exchange rate after we brought some money. Then each day we pulled out the maximum so we didn’t have to carry too much cash around.
Power Outlets – Always check the compatibility of your items to the wattage of the country. Paris usually puts out 230v-240v whereas the US is on 110v. So don’t plug your curling iron into a socket with an adapter and not convert it. It will explode and fry when you turn it on. I learned that the hard way in Thailand.
Food – Depending on the Euro you should estimate anywhere from $100-$150 for food and drinks. There are some ways you can cut down cost on that, like if you have status with a hotel you can typically get breakfast for free, but if you have a flare for gourmet food, it’s pretty much a stone’s throw away from anywhere so just budget on that when you go out there. We did a lot of baguettes and cheese for snacks, and let me tell you, that was not a bad snack to have!
My recommendations for places to eat in Paris:
1. Hot Chocolate/ Macarons – Angelina’s (http://www.angelina-paris.fr/fr/) Their African Hot Chocolate is World Famous, which resembles champurrado. It’s thick, it’s rich, and it’s delectable. Their brunch is good, but you don’t go there for the brunch you go there for their desserts. Don’t feel guilty splurging here, it’s well worth the caloric intake! (Side note: you CAN bring home macarons for family and friends and you can bring them through customs no problem, make sure you buy them the day you leave because they have a lifespan of about 3 days).
2. Dinner – Le Bébé (http://www.restaurant-bar-lebebe.fr/) It’s where all the young people go and eat, and it’s trendy hipster atmosphere is really nice. Their bread is fresh and the food is really really good (try the COD) book quick or arrive early because it is that good!
3. Lunch – Cafe Constante (http://www.maisonconstant.com/cafe-constant/) They don’t take reservations, but they fill up quickly! This place is super popular, so get there early! We arrived by 7 and by 8pm there was already a 45 min wait. So do yourself a favor and check this place out, the food is phenomenal and new and fresh, it’s everything you think a High End French restaurant is, but with a secret local feel.
Overall, we spent $6000 that’s with EVERYTHING. We also did stay there a good 9 days and had to travel to London first. Like I stated earlier, we could have shaved off a lot more if I knew what I knew now. But that’s more for your benefit! I hope this helps! That’s pretty much all you need to know when eloping to Paris, I hope that you have a lot of fun and you enjoy the day as a newlywed in the city of lights!