This Couple Eloped & Spent Their Wedding Budget on a European Honeymoon

Take a look at this couple's travels through France, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece!

Take inspiration from this modern couple who took their wedding budget and spent it on what they really wanted: an elopement in Paris and a month-long European honeymoon of a lifetime!

real honeymoon photo bride natalia taylor and groom in all white attire santorini greece spent wedding budget on elopement honeymoon
Photo: Courtesy of Natalia Taylor

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Forgoing a traditional wedding, modern couple Natalia Taylor and Zachary Perkins chose to allocate the funds they’d set aside for their big day on what they truly wanted: the honeymoon of a lifetime!

Destination: Paris, France

“We spent our total wedding budget on a month-long trip to Europe, starting with France – we eloped in Paris!” declares Natalia. “From there, we spent 30 days in various countries, including Switzerland, Italy, and Greece. This experience was one to remember, and we can truly say we did what we really wanted!” Staying at Airbnb properties throughout their time in Europe, the newlyweds began their travels with six nights in the Montmartre district of Paris, known for its romantic cobblestone streets.

Bride & Groom Elopement Wedding Photo in Paris

Photo by Koman Photography; Bridal gown by Winnie Couture; Tuxedo by Generation Tux

As their dream was to get married in the “City of Love,” Natalia and Zach said “I do” during a romantic elopement, hiring a Los Angeles-based, husband-and-wife destination wedding photography team to capture the memories. The bride was glamorous in a ball gown, elbow-length gloves, and a veil affixed to her low coiffure, while the groom was handsome in a smart tuxedo. 

Photo locations took the pair all around Paris, with portraits taken at the Place du Trocadéro offering picturesque views of the Eiffel Tower, Pont Alexandre III along the Seine River, Jardin des Tuileries, and Cour Carrée outside of the Louvre Museum.

real wedding photo natalia taylor elopement in paris france bride in winnie couture gown and gloves veil

Photo by Koman Photography; Bridal gown by Winnie Couture


Dining at Parisian Landmarks. “Café de Flore has the best espresso and breakfast!”

Soaking in the City. “We loved lounging in the grass all afternoon by the Eiffel Tower.”

Trying Local Fare. “Our days were spent checking out local wine shops and tasting the finest bread from local bakeries.”

real wedding photo natalia taylor and zachary perkins elopement in paris france kissing portrait louvre museum

Photo by Koman Photography; Bridal gown by Winnie Couture; Tuxedo by Generation Tux

Destination: Brienz, Switzerland

For the next part of their journey, Natalia and Zach traveled by train to the village of Brienz in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland for four nights. “Brienz appealed to us because it seemed undiscovered. There were no tourists to be found in this quaint lake village,” confirms Natalia of the hidden gem.

Their flat was nestled in a traditional wood chalet with a terrace showcasing exquisite views of Lake Brienz and the surrounding mountains – perfect for dining alfresco. “The chalet was cozy and had an herb garden for cooking!” remembers Natalia of the unique find they called home for four nights. “The locals were some of the warmest people we’ve ever met!” she adds.

photo of lake brienz view from airbnb switzerland natalia taylor and zachary perkins honeymoon

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

While staying in the small village known for its hand-carved woodwork, the honeymooners took in the beauty of the destination on scenic walks along the lake and explored the shops and restaurants on Hauptstrasse, the main street in town. 

Favorite excursions included renting a boat through Pirate Bay Nautical Center to experience the beauty of Lake Brienz from the water, as well as taking the Brienz Rothorn Railway. As the fourth-highest railway in Switzerland, the steam train climbs from Brienz to Brienzer Rothorn – the highest summit in the Emmental Alps mountain range.

photo of natalia taylor and zachary perkins on honeymoon in brienz switzerland at top of the alps

Photo courtesy of Natalia Taylor


Cruising Lake Brienz. “We rented a boat for the day to explore the gorgeous turquoise lake.”

Experiencing the Alps. “We saw native goats and herds of cattle during our train ride through the Alps. It was absolutely stunning!”

Trying Traditional Bites. “We had a great time enjoying local Swiss fondue!”

Natalia Taylor in Brienz, Switzerland

Photo courtesy of Natalia Taylor

Destination: Rome, Italy

After experiencing a charming, little-known town, Natalia and Zach flew south to visit one of the most famous cities in the world: Italy’s bustling capital. “Because this was our first time in Europe, a major city like Rome was a must- see!” shares Natalia of the destination. 

They stayed in a second-floor apartment in the historic center of Rome for four nights. The comfortable accommodations provided easy access to sites such as Vatican City and the Pantheon, as well as evening walks along the Tiber River and the lively restaurants, shops, and bars in the neighborhood.

“Our favorite ‘hole-in-the-wall’ restaurant was Masardona by Cristiano Piccirillo, where we dined on margherita pizza to our hearts’ content!” remembers Natalia of one of the couple’s favorite eateries in Rome. To keep cool, they also enjoyed sampling an array of tasty gelato flavors at Don Nino Gelateria + Pasticceria, which is conveniently located right next to the Trevi Fountain.

photo of view from buildings across from airbnb rome italy natalia taylor and zachary perkins honeymoon

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

As they were traveling through Europe in July and August – and the temperatures in Rome broke records in Summer 2022 – the newlyweds encourage visitors to consider planning vacations to their desired countries in the cooler months. Regardless of the weather, they suggest trying alternative methods of transportation to offset all of the walking that European destinations require. “When in Rome, it’s essential to rent a scooter to see the city,” smiles Natalia, who booked the fun and convenient transportation through Rent Scooter Roma. “We loved living la bella vita in Roma!”

photo of natalia taylor and zachary perkins on honeymoon vespa scooter in rome italy

Photo courtesy of Natalia Taylor


Seeing Rome by Scooter. “I believe everyone should enjoy their own Roman Holiday on the back of a Vespa!”

Touring the Sistine Chapel. “It was breathtaking! Although photos aren’t allowed, you can really understand why this holy site is so protected. It left us in awe.”

Having Gelato at Famous Sites. “Because temperatures were high during the day, we cooled down by visiting the Trevi Fountain at night and enjoying world-class gelato.”

"Roman Holiday" Bride on Scooter in Rome, Italy

Photo courtesy of Natalia Taylor

Destination: Zakynthos, Milos, Santorini & Athens, Greece

Natalia and Zach spent the last two weeks of their honeymoon island hopping in Greece, which proved to be their favorite experience of the month-long trip. 

Zakynthos, Greece

Their first stop was Zakynthos (also known as Zante) in the Ionian Sea for six nights. Accommodations in a renovated house featuring a private courtyard in the village of Agios Leon provided a relaxed setting, away from – but near to – bustling beach towns. “Zakynthos is famous for Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach, where an actual shipwreck washed ashore. We had to see it!” Natalia says; however, her most memorable experience was at Mizithres Beach.

photo of outdoor courtyard at zakynthos greece airbnb for natalia taylor and zachary perkins honeymoon

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Bride on Zakynthos Beach in Greece for Honeymoon

Photo courtesy of Natalia Taylor

Milos, Greece

A quick flight away, their next island destination was Milos, a volcanic island in the Aegean Sea known for its beautiful beaches, including the famed lunar-style landscape of Sarakiniko Beach with its picturesque white rock formations and the secluded Tsigrado Beach

Staying four nights on the island, the couple loved their seaside accommodations, spending their days at the beach and their nights savoring traditional flavors at local cafés and restaurants. “Medusa had amazing calamari,” suggests Natalia, encouraging visitors to also try octopus in Milos. “They dry it in the sun!” she adds.

Cycladic Home Airbnb in Milos, Greece

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

photo of zachary perkins on honeymoon with natalia taylor in milos greece sarakiniko beach

Photo courtesy of Natalia Taylor

Santorini, Greece

After a two-hour ferry ride to Santorini, Natalia and Zach checked into a traditional cave house for four nights. The domed Cycladic home features bright yellow windows and doors in the hilltop village of Pyrgos, next to the church of Saint Dimitrios. 

“We enjoyed spending time on top of the church outside our door,” affirms Natalia. With the busier towns of Fira and Oia, as well as the island’s famous red-, white-, and black-sand beaches, in close proximity by taxi, the pair’s home away from home provided an ideal setting to unwind, while still experiencing the lively ambience of the island.

photo of cycladic domed home airbnb with yellow windows for honeymoon in santorini greece

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

photo of bride natalia taylor on honeymoon in santorini greece with zachary perkins

Photo courtesy of Natalia Taylor

Athens, Greece

As their flight departed from Athens, Natalia and Zach spent the final day of their honeymoon sightseeing in Greece’s capital before heading back home to Palm Springs, California.

photo of groom zachary perkins taking photo of ruins on honeymoon in athens greece with natalia taylor

photo of natalia taylor and zachary perkins taking selfie with ruins on honeymoon in athens greece

Photos courtesy of Natalia Taylor


Visiting Mizithres by Sea. “It’s a must-see beach on the island of Zakynthos that’s accessible by boat!”

Exploring Sarakiniko Beach. “Zach loved rock jumping at Milos’ famous beach that looks like the moon.”

Sampling Local Flavors. “Zach and I couldn’t wait to explore local Mediterranean cuisine – our favorite type of food!”

photo of natalia taylor on sarakiniko beach lunar moon beach on honeymoon in milos greece

Photos courtesy of Natalia Taylor

“Thirty days in Europe was perfect!” exclaims Natalia of their unique wedding decision that paid off. “We will definitely be returning to Paris, Brienz, and Zakynthos!”

European Travel Tips from Natalia & Zach:

“Ask the locals! They always know the hidden gems – we found secret spots in every location.” 

“European cities in the summer are hot! Sightseeing is best done in the evening or at night!” 

“When hopping to and from multiple cities in Europe, pack light. We took one carry-on each... It reduces travel stress!” 

“Our trip went smoothly because we did lots of research. Proper planning is key!” 

“We recommend communicating what you enjoy with your partner during the planning phase to get the most out of your honeymoon! Zach loves to explore, whereas I enjoy rest and relaxation. We made time for both, making our trip a well-rounded one.” 

“Don’t be afraid to do what you and your partner genuinely enjoy – even if it’s a little untraditional!”

This story was originally published as a Travel Diaries feature in the Spring 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. To order a copy of the Spring 2023 issue, visit our library of Inside Weddings back issues available for purchase.