Simple and Elegant Paris Elopement

wedding against paris architecture

How many of us have the intention of planning a wedding day that is focused around us, but find ourselves being swayed by family and friends?  Today’s real life couple Rachel and Chris, researched a traditional wedding in San Francisco, but ultimately decided to celebrate milestone birthdays with a their elegant Paris elopement and a trip to Europe, captured by Claire Morris Photography.

The couples love story starts as Rachel and Chris met for the first time in the San Francisco airport. They arrived in January 2013 for a week of job training at Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley.  Rachel flew down the coast from Portland, Oregon and Chris arrived from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the midwest. They had the same job title but lived 2,000 miles apart. As fate would have it, they were assigned to the same rental car group. It became apparent within a matter of hours that this serendipitous meeting would end up being much more than anticipated. After a week of training by day and long conversations at night, it was clear that this was something special. They felt crazy. They knew they were in love.

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Before heading back to the airport, they walked along Ocean Beach in San Francisco and made plans to be together.

And so they returned to their respective cities. Upon his return, Chris immediately informed his friends, family, and coworkers that he was moving to Portland. Two months later Rachel flew out to frigid Milwaukee to help facilitate the move. She helped Chris pack everything they could fit into his car, and they drove across the country to start their new life together in Oregon.

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In late December, they returned to San Francisco to visit Rachel’s family and look at apartments. Rachel had received a job offer and they were planning their move back to the city where they fell in love. On Christmas Eve, Chris took Rachel back to Ocean Beach where he had made his first promise to be with her. This is where he proposed and made another promise to love her for the rest of their days. Ever after.

After some deliberation and research into having a full-blown wedding in San Francisco, the couple decided that wasn’t right for them. The idea of planning for months and spending tens of thousands of dollars seemed too stressful. They wanted their wedding to be something that was personal, private, and expressed their identity as a married couple. They decided to elope. They decided to get married in Paris. 

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Rachel and Chris: “We both celebrated significant milestone birthdays this year (25, 30) and neither of us had ever been to Europe. We figured that this would be the perfect way to celebrate our birthdays, get out of the country, have an incredibly romantic wedding, and an exotic honeymoon all at once. It was a chance to fulfill several life goals simultaneously and would ultimately cost less than a conventional large wedding.

We wanted the experience to be about us. We didn’t want to be consumed or distracted by family politics, the stresses of money, and didn’t want to fall into the trap of trying to accommodate everyone but ourselves. 

notre damechampagne bar parischampagne cafe parisThe hardest part of planning the wedding was that our only and greatest resource was the internet. We couldn’t scout locations or meet with anyone (photographers, planners, florists) in-person. So we used google maps, wedding blogs, and online reviews to find the picturesque little bridge in Parc Monceau. It’s absolutely incredible that the entire day went of without even a single misstep. 

We wanted to keep it simple, elegant, and yet traditional. Rachel found most of her inspiration from websites like Pinterest, The Knot, and wedding magazines. We started by selecting our wedding colors using Adobe Kruler. We chose champagne, rose, and royal purple.

elopinglovers in pariscarousel weddingwedding carousel parisThe overall goal was to express their youthful, modern style but we were careful to make choices that would stand the test of time. We wanted to be able to look back in 60 years and we proud of our wedding. Rachel had never envisioned herself getting married in a white dress and purchased a vintage inspired off-white dress.

After about 2 weeks, she realized that she wanted to look more like a bride while walking around Paris on our wedding day. So she returned her first dress and found the dress you see in the pictures. Chris drew his inspiration from one of his favorite films “I Love You, Man” in which Paul Rudd wears a dapper navy suit to his wedding. It’s silly, but true. 

 We found our celebrant, photographer, and florist online. Our photographer and wedding planner recommended some other suppliers and the rest is history. 

small wedding pariswedding celebrant pariswedding ceremony parisbubbles at weddingHere are some of our favorite moments from the day:

When we were taking photos by the Seine we got a lot of positive attention and many congratulations. There was a group of hipsters hanging out who were clapping for us and there was even a large boat full of people who cheered us on as they passed. It was so fun! 

We took photos before the ceremony so we were both very nervous and excited. At one point Lesley and Claire suggested that we stop in a nearby cafe to have some champagne to calm our nerves. We ended up getting some great photos and even met the owner of the cafe who happened to be from San Francisco (where we live). 

we eloped signsmall family wedding parisnavy grooms suitnewlyweds paris parkchivalry is not deadWhen we arrived at Parc Monceau for the ceremony there was a children’s carousel and I thought it would be fun to take a few photos there. We paid two euro and took photos on a whim. Those ended up being some of our favorites. We loved the spontaneous nature of the day and the flexibility of our photographer. It was a great representation of our relationship, how we met unexpectedly, and our journey to be together.

Wedding Credits:

Wedding Photographer: Claire Morris Photography  |Wedding Planner Day Co-ordinator: LKR International Events |  Wedding Venue: Parc Monceau |  Wedding Dress: Sue Wong | Bridal Accessories: A blue hand-knit handkerchief from Rachel’s great-grandmother and pearl earrings borrowed from mom | Bridal Shoes: Nina | Florist: Karine GarillonHair and Makeup Artist: Hair by Bar á Coiffures 365c Makeup by Rachel! 🙂 | Grooms Outfit: The suit and shirt are J Crew and were custom tailored. The bow tie is Calvin Klein.  | Wedding Rings: The bride’s rings were custom made by the groom’s step-father at Helzberg Diamonds. | Honeymoon Accommodation: We stayed at the Wilson Opera Hotel on our wedding night.

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