Ben Affleck would prefer if he could take a Dad-nap on the Seine in peace, thank you very much. During his recent Paris honeymoon with Jennifer Lopez, whom he married in an intimate surprise Las Vegas ceremony on July 16, the actor was reportedly “freaked out” by the swarm of paparazzi that followed him and Lopez around the City of Lights from the Louvre to the Musée d’Orsay to the Élysée Palace gardens to, famously, Sephora.
A source told Page Six the attention in France over the newlyweds was “almost Princess Diana-level,” a startling choice of words given the late princess’s final moments during her own Paris trip almost 25 years ago. “Ben was a little freaked out in Paris,” the source said. “This was a whole new level.”
Affleck’s concern is not without merit; the heightened attention around Bennifer 2.0 is hauntingly reminiscent of the pair’s first attempt at marriage. When the couple dated (and got engaged) in the early 2000s, they both cited unrelenting paparazzi as a major contributor to their eventual split in 2004. After setting their initial wedding date in Santa Barbara, California, for September 14, 2003, they postponed the event due to the fear of tabloid exposure.
“Due to the excessive media attention surrounding our wedding, we have decided to postpone the date,” Affleck and Lopez said in a statement at the time. “When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate ‘decoy brides’ at three different locations, we realized that something was awry…We felt what should have been a joyful and sacred day could be spoiled for us, our families and our friends.” The pair officially split in January 2004.
More than a decade later, in 2016, Lopez told People, “We didn’t try to have a public relationship. We just happened to be together at the birth of the tabloids, and it was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It was just a lot of pressure.”
In Paris in July, the couple was photographed sightseeing, cruising, kissing during dinner at Le Matignon, and even sharing an emotional moment at Lopez’s birthday dinner. “Ben is used to the flashing lights,” says the Page Six source. “But he felt that the honeymoon was a tsunami. Jen’s made out of steel and knows it comes with the territory [but] he still gets pissed off.” The same source fretted that the attention “reminded him too much of the first time he and the singer tried to get married.”
In the social media era, that attention is heightened, though the news cycle tends to move on faster than in the tabloid heyday of the early-aughts. But if Bennifer is feeling anything near “Princess Diana” levels of attention, that’s likely setting off alarm bells. Which better explains why the couple would choose a tiny, spontaneous Las Vegas nuptial ceremony over a Santa Barbara bash. The Little White Wedding Chapel celebration was “exactly what we wanted,” Lopez confirmed in her newsletter. “But in the end it was the best possible wedding we could have imagined. One we dreamed of long ago and one made real (in the eyes of the state, Las Vegas, a pink convertible and one another) at very, very long last.” After so many years of waiting, who doesn’t deserve a few minutes of quiet?
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers news and culture.