Violent protesters almost robbed an Australian couple of the perfect backdrop to their nuptials but ultimately ensured Lisa and Tim Gillam had Paris’ most famous landmarks to themselves.
The 31-year-old Pilates instructor and her 34-year-old executive manager beau had travelled to the French capital from the Gold Coast in Queensland earlier this year to spend their special day overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
But almost 7,000 officers, including riot police, had closed down much of the city on May 1, arresting almost 400 people after 28,000 protesters grew violent on the streets.
The couple was devastated to think they wouldn’t be able to snap timeless shots at the Place De La Concorde, Champs Elysees and Arc De Triomphe which resembled a ghost town.
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Lisa and Tim Gillame were told they had 10 minutes to take their photos around the Place De La Concorde (pictured) but that quickly turned into an hour or so walking the deserted streets after almost 7,000 officers, including riot police, had closed down much of the city on May 1
They tied the knot on the balcony of their suite at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris (pictured) with the famous Eiffel Tower glinting in the background
What is the May Day rally?
The May Day rally is traditionally a union-led day of action which frequently attracts violence. This year, the government was expecting even more chaos as the event would coincide with Yellow Vest protesters and other anarchist groups.
When the rally got out of hand, police responded with tear gas and water cannon, arresting nearly 400 people.
Lisa, who was dressed in a stunning lace white wedding dress, bravely asked an officer standing guard if they could stage a photo shoot.
‘When we first approached the military guarding the area they were very hesitant and stern and wouldn’t let us pass,’ Lisa told FEMAIL.
‘So Tim and I said, “Please, we’re from Australia and we’re eloping!” and just like that the head of the military police completely changed his mood and let us through with the biggest grin.’
He only asked that the stunning bride give him a quick peck on the cheek – which she obliged – before the newlyweds were able to cross the barricades and capture footage movie directors and film producers would pay millions to obtain.
They were initially told they had 10 minutes to take their photos but it quickly turned into an hour, of which the couple will never forget.
The 31-year-old Pilates instructor (left) and her 34-year-old executive manager beau (right) travelled to the French capital (Champs Elysees pictured) from the Gold Coast in Australia earlier this year to celebrate their elopement
Sealed with a kiss! Lisa, who was dressed in a stunning lace white wedding dress, was asked by the stern French military for a kiss before she was allowed to walk through the blockades with her new husband
‘No one seemed to mind. We even got more photos with the cheeky guards when we returned and they were playing the Australian National Anthem on their phones upon our return,’ Lisa said.
‘When we were standing at the very bottom of the Champs Elysees looking up toward the Arc de Triomphe, with not a single soul or car in sight, it felt like the apocalypse.
‘Our videographer had never seen Paris like this and told us to just stop, look, and really take in this once in a lifetime sight.’
‘So many of our friends asked how we Photoshopped the crowds out of our photos and video. When we explained why we didn’t have to they were blown away.’
They stood out the front of the Eiffel Tower (pictured), which is normally teeming with tourists, without anyone in sight
After the wedding – which also featured a mini ceremony on the balcony of a suite at the Shangri-La Hotel (pictured) – the couple spent three months honeymooning across Europe, the USA and Japan
The Place De La Concorde, a popular haunt for tourists, was abandoned on the day of the May Rally in 2019
After the wedding – which also featured a mini ceremony on the balcony of a suite at the Shangri-La Hotel – the couple spent three months honeymooning across Europe, the USA and Japan.
‘We had a three-month around-the-world trip instead of having one big wedding day at home,’ Lisa, who runs her own online studio called Pilates by Lisa, said.
The couple has had a whirlwind romance that has taken them from the sands of the Gold Coast to across the world.
On their second date Tim told Lisa he was taking a year-long sabbatical from his job to travel overseas after working his way up the corporate ladder with no breaks in between.
He promptly asked Lisa if she would come with him.
On their second date Tim told Lisa he was taking a year-long sabbatical from his job to travel overseas, which is where their love of Paris and French culture began (pictured at the Place De La Concorde)
After they got engaged it was such an obvious choice that they would celebrate abroad, given much of their relationship was built against the backdrop of overseas travel (pictured at the Champs Elysees)
‘Usually I’m a very logical person and dropping my entire life to travel abroad with someone I’d only just met would be a hard “no”, but without hesitation I said yes,’ she said.
‘We hired an RV and went to every state across mainland USA and also travelled throughout Europe. It was the most life changing year of my entire life.’
After they got engaged it was such an obvious choice that they would celebrate abroad, given much of their relationship was built against the backdrop of overseas travel, and Paris was decidedly ‘the most beautiful city in the world’.
‘We discussed both having a big wedding day and eloping just the two of us and we knew without a doubt that travelling together trumped any other plans,’ Lisa said.