Michele & Michael | Dreamy Paris elopement in May
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Couple: Michele’ + Michael, Virginia USA
Photographer: Karina Leigh Photography
Celebrant: The Parisian Celebrant
Private Transportation: Fab Drive
Accommodations: La Terrase du 15ème