Reasons to Elope - My Personal Experience
I've been an adventurer my whole life. When I discovered elopement photography, I was instantly intrigued. The incorporation of gorgeous backgrounds and genuine moments was captivating. I enjoyed looking at the photos and supported the concept but what really changed things is when I eloped myself. I also want to note that these aren't my photos. One of my bridesmaids, and very talented photographer, Karlie Larson took these. I just want to give you a glimpse into why I have chosen to do what I do.
My husband and I started with a pretty traditional wedding set-up. We just worked away planning the wedding we were supposed to have. We found a reasonably priced barn, hired a taco truck, and spent hours upon hours sending out invites. Probably the worst part of the planning was the overwhelming opinions. The longer we planned, the more we realized that the input of others was controlling our wedding more than what we wanted. We were told if we did that, we'd be sending this shameful message to our family and friends. We were told that we had to invite so-and-so as to not offend the person. They wouldn't come to the wedding but it would shame us to not invite them.
How did our celebration of starting our lives together turn into a check-list of hoops you have to jump through to have a socially acceptable wedding? We were just in love and wanted to celebrate. How did it turn into this?
We joked the whole time that we should ditch all of this craziness and elope. It was 3 months before our wedding date that we stopped joking. We had reached a point that our wedding wasn't ours anymore. It was a special ceremony for everyone else and not for the people it was actually meant for: us.
We changed all our plans knowing we probably upset some people. We kept all our original wedding plans and turned that into our reception. We decided we wanted to celebrate with everyone but we wanted our ceremony to intimate and private. We decided to have a ceremony on an Oregon Coast beach with only our family and close friends.
We ended up making a whole weekend of our celebration. We started by roadtripping to the coast with our wedding party. From my perspective, I took a road trip with a group of my best friends. We talked about life, what we were excited about for the wedding, and just enjoyed being together. We rented a huge beach house with the most beautiful view of the ocean. My side of the family and all my bridesmaids stayed there. So basically a sleepover with my best friends for the two nights before my wedding.
I had my bachelorette party in Portland the day before my wedding. We went to a waterfront restaurant, explored the city, went to my favorite bookstore (obviously Powell's), and then we bought thrift store outfits for each other. One of my favorite memories is when we first got out of the car. One of my bridesmaids had never been to Portland and within 5 minutes of getting there, a naked bike parade went by. I guess that's one way to be welcomed to Portland.
The next morning was our wedding day. My parents made my friends and I breakfast just like the old days. We went out for a hike on the beach. I started getting ready with the ocean view out of the house and Moana playing on my phone. I put on my wedding dress followed by a sparking necklace and hiking boots. It wasn't conventional but it was exactly what I wanted. I was running a bit late getting ready. But that's the beauty of eloping, it didn't matter. We just went with it and I didn't waste my day worrying about it.
We had our first look on the beach. We planned it so our first moment would be just the two of us and our photographer. Our next stop was the ceremony in front of the beach house we rented. There was 20 of us including the officiant and photographer (both of whom we knew). We set up lawn chairs in the middle of the beach for our grandparents and all our guests skipped wearing shoes.
Waves crashed behind us as we said our vows. There was tears, smiles, and laughter. It felt right. Rather than committing my life to my husband in front of 150 people, many of whom I didn't know well, I was opening my heart in front of the people that brought us there. The parents and grandparents that raised us and the friends who had carried us through previous heartbreaks. Sure some elopements happen with only the couple and a photographer, and that's great. For us, this small group of people had to be there.
After our ceremony was my favorite moment of the wedding. Everyone left except for us. Even our photographer left. There on the beach, we had our first dance. My husband sang "Can't Help Falling in Love." He had learned how to play the song on the ukulele on our first Valentine's together. It was perfect because at the end of the day, it really does come down to just the two of us and our love.
We returned to our "reception" that was really better described as a family dinner. We barbecued and enjoyed our time together. There's was no rushing to greet everyone. Just celebrating with the ones we loved most.
We finished our day with a sunset hike. We went to an overlook with jagged rocks and crashing waves. It felt fitting that one of the first things we did as a married couple was go on an adventure.
3 weeks later, we had our large scale reception. We did an alternate ceremony where we introduced our wedding party and why they were important to us. Our pastor said a few words about our beach wedding and the meaning of marriage to us. Then we just relaxed. This reception gave us a unique view of weddings. We basically had both worlds.
At our reception, we hardly saw each other. When we did, it was rarely quality time. We ran around from group to group to enjoy being with out of town family. We hardly saw our immediate family and bridal party. We were so thankful that we had gotten our intimate wedding experience before our reception but also got to celebrate with everyone.
Now I'm not telling you all this to try to get you to plan a wedding like mine. I want you to know there's another way. And there's not just one other way. Your wedding is your celebration and you can make it whatever you want. Your wedding is your day and no one else's.