happy bride on her wedding day in paris france

Dreamy Paris Elopement Photoshoot at the Eiffel Tower and Luxembourg Gardens in May

Paris is the ultimate city for an intimate elopement ceremony and photoshoot, and I absolutely love meeting couples in Paris from all over the world. This is one of the reasons I was so thrilled to be contacted by this incredible couple, who planned to elope in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

An Elopement a Long Time in the Making

Wow, what a stunning Paris elopement, and a long time in the making. Back in 2019, pre-pandemic days, I was contacted by a lovely lady named Michele’, who lives in Virginia but is originally from Texas. She and her love Michael wanted to elope to Paris. What a terrific idea eloping in Paris is! It’s so beautiful, so much to do, and it’s like a wedding and honeymoon all in one.

For those of you not familiar with an elopement, and get confused between elopements and weddings, I can understand. Weddings are typically more traditional, held in event centers, churches, and with guests, sometimes upwards of 100 guests. Elopements are usually smaller events, usually the couple, maybe a few friends, but typically smaller and more intimate.

bride poses on bridge of pont alexandre in paris

Elopements Are Great for Many Couples

Since the pandemic started and traditional weddings at times have been challenging to go forward, elopements have become a big trend, but it’s one that’s here to stay. Many couples are choosing to focus on themselves and the meaning behind their vows, and many prefer to do that in a more private or intimate setting, sometimes just the two of them. Some couples then have a larger party upon their return home to celebrate with family and friends.

Elopements these days take place in national parks, by the ocean, in the forest, even in a back yard. Paris is the perfect place for an elopement because there is so much choice and it’s just a great place to spend time.

An Elopement on a Terrace

view of paris from a terrace

Michele’ did things a bit differently, she decided to research a home with a terrace where she and Michael could be married. The terrace had a distant view of the Eiffel Tower, and after the ceremony, we’d go around Paris for a half day to capture beautiful wedding day images of the newlyweds.

For those of you wondering if an elopement ceremony is legal in France, particularly if you’re from the United States, and the answer is no. It’s not a legal ceremony. The legal part is taken care of in your home country at the courthouse. That’s the legal part, but the emotional part, the symbolic and sometimes religious part can take place anywhere.

Can You Legally Get Married in France?

As an American, I can understand how this may be confusing. In the United States, if you get married at a church it’s legal and religious at the same time. Not in France, and many other countries, where there is a strict separation of church and state. In France, all couples must be legally married at the city hall where they live, then they’ll have another ceremony which is symbolic or religious in nature, and very important for most couples.

Michele’ and I kept in contact all during the really tough early parts of the pandemic. She was determined to have her special day in Paris, eventually, and she would wait until it was possible. I love this about her, she had a dream and stuck with it. I was so excited when 2022 rolled around and we would finally, after all this time, meet.

I met the couple where they were staying, very early in the morning, as we were to start the ceremony at 7:30 am. As I entered the room Michele’ was staying in, I was greeted by her and makeup artist extraordinaire, Alesia Solo, who I’ve worked with quite a bit, she’s wonderful.

A Gorgeous Bride

Michele’, for her part, was an absolute vision. What a gorgeous lady with a beautiful, kind and loving spirit. Michael, her husband, was one of the nicest people I think I’ve ever met. He had a calming presence about him and was just so lovely to be around.

bride gets hair ready for wedding
bride gets ready for her elopement in paris france

I captured images of Michele’ getting ready, Alesia had expertly applied her makeup and her hair, oh her hair! Simply magnificent, in a beautiful shade of red, Alesia added curls and a beautiful braid that looked simply stunning. Michele’ is a fashionista, I’d say. She’d traveled with an amazing wardrobe, and on her wedding day planned to wear not one, but three beautiful gowns. For someone like me who doesn’t know much about fashion, yet loves fashion, this was so fun.

The Ceremony

Finally, the bride was ready, the groom was ready, and it was time to get MARRIED! Michele’ and Michael selected a wonderful French celebrant, Naim (The Parisian Celebrant). He crafted a very personal and meaningful ceremony, and then Michele’ read her vows to Michael, and Michael read his vows to Michele’. There were no dry eyes! It was so sweet!

Michele’ had done her own decoration of the terrace, and despite the cloudy and a bit foggy morning, it was beautiful. After the ceremony, we went on a tour of Paris for the rest of the morning.

bride and groom listen to officiant at their wedding in paris
bride cries during wedding ceremony in paris
bride and groom hold hands during wedding ceremony in paris
bride reads vows to groom at elopement in paris
newlywed couple kiss during their elopement ceremony in paris

A Tour Around the Eiffel Tower

We visited the bridge of Bir Hakeim, with wonderful views of the Eiffel Tower, followed by the Eiffel Tower riverside, my personal favorite spot to view the Eiffel Tower. Then, with our private driver, we made a quick stop back at the couple’s accommodation, and then stopped on the beautiful and ornate bridge, Pont Alexandre.

Then, we were whisked off to the Louvre, where I photographed Michele’ and Michael in the courtyard and with the famous glass pyramid. From there, Michele’ did another change into her third gown and we went to my favorite garden in Paris (although I admit I have many), the Luxembourg Gardens.

bride and groom embrace on bir hakeim bridge in paris france
happy bride and groom walk arm in arm at the eiffel tower
bride and groom dance with view of the eiffel tower
bride and groom walk and laugh at bir hakeim bridge in paris
bride and groom walk along the seine river in paris
bride and groom laugh and dance at the eiffel tower
bride and groom hug and kiss with view of eiffel tower paris
bride and groom kiss on pont alexandre with view of the eiffel tower
bride and groom pose on the stairs at the louvre in paris
bride and groom hold hands at the louvre in paris
groom kisses bride's forehead at glass pyramid in paris
bride and groom share a laugh at the louvre in paris
bride and groom pose on the stairs at the louvre in paris

The Stunning Luxembourg Gardens

The stunning fountain in the garden made for beautiful photos and we ended our time together with a champagne toast in the garden. This beautiful bride and handsome groom had just lived our their Parisian wedding dream, and I left them, filled with joy and thankfulness. To be able to capture these glorious moments of a newly wed couple, and learn more about them, laugh with them, and enjoy Paris together, well, there’s really nothing better!

I take that back, the only thing better was editing these gorgeous images, and I hope Michele’ and Michael treasure them for a lifetime.

Thank you Michele’ and Michael for this wonderful day and CONGRATULATIONS to you both!

beautiful bride posing in luxembourg gardens in paris
groom kisses bride on forehead at medici fountain in luxembourg gardens
happy bride on her wedding day in paris france
happy bride and groom smile at luxembourg gardens in paris france
bride and groom kiss among greenery in paris france
bride and groom toast each other with champagne in park
bride and groom share a glass of champagne on their wedding day

Karina Leigh Photography

Is eloping in Paris your dream? Let’s make your dreams a reality, contact me below!

Couple: Michele’ + Michael, Virginia USA

Photographer: Karina Leigh Photography

Celebrant: The Parisian Celebrant

Private Transportation: Fab Drive

Accommodations: La Terrase du 15ème

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I adore capturing love stories in France! From the grandeur of the most romantic city on earth, Paris, to the colorful and lively seaside city of Nice, to the lavender fields and olive groves of charming Provence, France is filled with stunning beauty. To better understand my approach and my style, have a look at my work, by selecting a category below. Here, you'll get a better idea of how I can tell your love story, too!

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