Couple Who Met on Flight Ditched Destination Wedding to Elope in Paris

  • A couple who met as strangers on a plane left behind their wedding plans to elope in Paris.
  • Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg were due to have a 40-person ceremony in St. Lucia in July.
  • After delays caused by COVID-19, the couple found a French wedding planner and married on the Seine.

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A couple who met as strangers on a plane say they left behind their plans for a destination wedding in St. Lucia to elope in Paris instead.

Krystina Burton, 33, and Gabriel Solberg, 38, met on a flight from New York to Los Angeles in 2018 and fell in love. They now travel the world together and document their adventures on their Instagram account, @swirlthroughtheworld, where they have 18,600 followers as of Friday.

The couple became engaged in October 2019 on a trip to Italy and planned to marry at a St. Lucia resort on July 25, 2020 — their anniversary date. But the couple told Insider that, like many, their wedding was delayed for two consecutive years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of losing yet another opportunity to get married on their anniversary, Burton and Solberg decided to take back control and elope this year on July 25.

“We couldn’t keep asking people to save the date and then potentially have to cancel flights and try to get refunds,” Burton told Insider, referencing their disrupted 2020 and 2021 wedding plans.  

Krystina Burton having her makeup done in a Paris Hotel while Gabriel Solberg looks on.

Krystina Burton having her makeup done in a Paris Hotel while Gabriel Solberg looks on.

Ludovic Ismael/Wedding By L

The newlyweds, currently based in Stuttgart, Germany, where Burton says she is a dancer and Solberg is a digital nomad, put their 40-person guest list to one side and started to think about elopement destinations nearby. After toying with the idea of Italy, they decided on Paris where they had previously spent Valentine’s Day.

In January, the couple first started considering an elopement and researching wedding planners. It took them six months to finalize their plan of marrying in Paris.

Their ceremony took place by the river Seine, with the Eiffel Tower as their backdrop. Burton and Solberg were chauffeured from their hotel, Novotel Paris Vaugirard, to the outdoor location in a 1950s Citroen. The couple legally married in May at a courthouse in Virginia, where Burton’s family reside, so their Parisian rendezvous was a symbolic union.

The couple said they didn’t tell anyone about their Virginia wedding other than one close friend who recommended an officiant to them. They said they messaged the officiant the day before they hoped to get married and opted for an informal day with no guests. Burton wore a multicolored summer dress and Solberg donned denim shorts and a black shirt for the occasion.  

Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg at their legal wedding ceremony in Virginia.

Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg at their legal wedding ceremony in Virginia.

Courtesy of Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg

Meanwhile, their Paris union was organized by Ceremonize, a French wedding planning service, which charges clients between €1,399 to €4,299, or around $1,445 to $4,439, for one of three wedding packages. Burton said she hired makeup artist, Aissatou Mansaly, and that Ceremonize facilitated every other vendor including their photography, videography, travel, and food.

Burton wore an off-the-shoulder ivory dress with a fishtail skirt for the occasion. She said she bought the dress in from Ava Laurenne Bridal in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 2019. “I’m not someone that had an idea of what they wanted to wear, or ever fantasized about their wedding because I never thought I was getting married,” Burton said, adding that the store assistant told her she was the first bride to wear the gown.

Meanwhile, Solberg said he found his eccentric blue suit and patterned waistcoat at Da Vinci Brautmoden, a family-owned establishment in Stuttgart, a few weeks before the elopement. 

Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg being chauffeured to their wedding.

Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg being chauffeured to their wedding.

Ludovic Ismael/Wedding By L

After their riverside nuptials, Burton said they had their portraits taken by photographer Ludovic Ismael at the Arc de Triomphe, Petit Palais, and Louvre museum. 

The couple said they finished the day with a romantic dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant where, in Solberg’s words, “you leave hungry because the portions are tiny.” He added that they mailed their wedding outfits home for safekeeping and, still hungry, they sought out a cheap kebab and binge-watched “Snowfall” in their hotel room. 

Solberg said the elopement “allowed us to really make the day special and meaningful for us, and honor the commitment and journey we want to take moving forward.” Burton added that eloping removed the stress of making sure guests are having fun and allowed them to focus on themselves.

Although Burton and Solberg said they felt the societal stigma of not having family and friends with them for the celebration, they were supported by their loved ones. “People were surprised, but a lot of them were like, ‘Oh my gosh, finally. We’re so happy that it finally happened for you guys,’ because they’ve been along with us on the journey,” Burton said.

Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg on their wedding day in Paris.

Krystina Burton and Gabriel Solberg on their wedding day in Paris.

Ludovic Ismael/Wedding By L

Burton and Solberg are one of many couples choosing to elope

Even before the pandemic caused couples to reconsider their dream wedding, more people were turning to elopement to escape the pressures of planning a big event. In April 2019, Harper’s Bazaar reported that Pinterest observed a 128% increase in searches for elopement photography ideas. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Pinterest also found popular search terms included “elopements at city halls” and “elopements in forests.” 

Burton and Solberg have some no-frills advice for other couples who want to elope.

“If you do it, don’t tell anybody, because they are going to come in with their opinion on why you’re making a bad decision,” Solberg said. He added that this negates any relief you are hoping to feel by eloping, and warned that there will always be people who aren’t going to like your plans. 

Still, Burton and Solberg say they’re happy with their decision. They said they went on to have “mini fake honeymoons” in Sardinia and Mykonos in July, but they have yet to decide on the big honeymoon adventure they sau they’re planning next year. While the jet-setting couple didn’t marry in St. Lucia, there’s every possibility that they could unwind there as newlyweds.