WHY I DITHCED MY ORIGINAL WEDDING PLANS AND ELOPED INSTEAD; AND WHY IT WAS THE BEST DECISION I EVER MADE.
How I went from having an overseas wedding to planning a wedding in just 12 weeks.
Why I did it, how I did it, and why you should consider eloping too.
*Before I get into it- I would like to emphasize that the old definition of "eloping" has evolved from going off and getting married without telling anyone to having a very small ceremony usually in an outside setting. Eloping has been trending more within the photography community which is the main cause of the evolved definition.
For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to have a destination wedding. When I met my now husband, Zach, it was even more of a no-brainer because his father's side of the family is from, and lives in Spain. On December 21st, 2018, Zach proposed, and I of course said yes! Two months later we found ourself on a flight with both our parents to Spain, where I would meet Zach's Spanish family for the very first time. I did some research online and found a BEAUTIFUL venue in Spain that I just had to see. We made plans to visit the venue while we were in Spain. When we visited the venue it was an absolute dream. It was so enchanting, enriched in culture, and everything I could have asked for in a venue. However, this would lead to some decisions that didn't make everyone happy...
As a wedding photographer I have learned SO much; from what I wanted, to what I absolutely DID NOT want, and what I envisioned for my own wedding. One of the two biggest things I knew going into wedding planning was that I wanted to have a destination wedding, with a very scenic/beautiful view with a lot of botanicals; and secondly, that I wanted to have a VERY SMALL wedding. When I say very small, I mean max 25 people, and that was including the wedding party. This caused the biggest problem. Who would be invited? Who would be left out? Who would be okay with this and who would be heartbroken, angry, etc. And this is when wedding planning began to become overwhelming, stressful, and anxiety inducing.
Some of my family members understood why I wanted to have a small wedding. Other family and friends could not get past the idea of not being invited to the wedding. They felt betrayed, hurt, confused. My intentions were never to leave anyone out. I wanted to have a small, private ceremony, just me, my husband, our parents, Zach's small Spanish family, and my closest friends as my bridesmaids. My idea was to do this, and then have a big party in the United States following the wedding and have everyone there. This did not sit well with way too many people. Family and friends caught wind that we were planning on getting married overseas and started to invite themselves to the wedding, blocking off their calendars for the date, etc. I was at a loss. It wasn't that I didn't want these people to come to our wedding, that wasn't the case at all. I wanted me and Zach's wedding to be about US. Which almost EVERYONE forgets when planning their wedding. At the end of the day, this wedding is about YOU as a couple. It is YOUR love story, YOUR special day, and should be about the love and connection you two share. This is where I found myself at a turning point. I was feeling a lot of pressure to change my wedding for other people. I felt myself feeling badly about who to invite when I wanted a small amount of people in the first place. I even began to feel GUILTY for what I wanted as a bride. And that is when I decided, you know what, I am going to elope, I am going to cancel the wedding in Spain to uncomplicated things, and have a small elopement of my dreams in the mountains. And it was the best decision I ever made.
I do not think it came to a surprise to my parents or Zach's parents when I told them I was changing my mind. They could see how stressed out I was. I was not myself. I was anxious all the time, I was overwhelmed, I was unhappy. Luckily, my now father-in-law, mother-in-law, and parents, respected my wishes and supported my decision, even though it was a little...yes...crazy. July 2019 Is when I had been speaking with the wedding coordinator in Spain to plan the wedding, which would be held in Spain on May 21, 2020-so I had a year to plan. It came to a huge surprise to my family when I sprung it on them that I was going to get married THAT coming September; only 12 weeks away.
The main reason for this decision was because as a wedding photographer, I usually book my weddings 16 months in advance, and I knew, there was no way I would be able to get married in 2020 given all of the weddings I already had booked. So instead, I decided, let's get married now, why wait?
The two most important things I wanted when it came to my wedding in terms of vendors was first, a great photographer, and secondly, an incredible floral designer. I knew even when I was getting married in Spain that I wanted Apotheca Flowers to provided all of the floral arrangements and botanicals for my wedding. That is the first vendor I called once I switched my plans to get married September of 2019. Alyssa, the owner, was incredible and said she could make it work, and that we could meet and discuss details! I was beyond grateful and ecstatic. Next, I had to make sure I could find a photographer, that last minute, was nearly impossible. And as a wedding photographer myself, I bet you can only imagine how important this was to me. Luckily, I found KE-LI Photography on instagram, DM'd her right away asking if she had availability on September 7th, 2019; she did not, however she said she was free on Friday, September 6th, 2019; and that is when I decided we would have our ceremony on Friday, September 6th, 2019.
Next important task was, who was invited and who would marry us? My family friend, and man I grew up with, Dave Liddell was our JOP, which was SO extremely special. His wife, Cindy, a second mother to me, and son, Cameron, a second brother to me, were also in attendance for the wedding. Being bestfriend's with my parents since before I was born made it THAT much more special to me to have them there, and for David to marry us. This is something I will never forget and will cherish forever. I can not emphasize enough, that if you choose to have a JOP, it is super significant to choose someone you are close to! Dave made me feel so much more at ease and less nervous on the day of our wedding, and there is something so memorable about having someone marry you who means a lot to you.
After the Spain fiasco I am sure you are wondering who was invited. I had a total of 12 people at my wedding. Dave, Cindy, and Cameron, 4 of my closest friends as my bridesmaids, 4 of Zach's closest friends and his brother for his groomsmen, both Zach's parents and my parents, my grandparents, Zach's grandma, and of course my brother Chase, and his girlfriend, Val (totaling a whopping 12!) And I was SO happy and pleased with this decision. SO may people are pressured into inviting more people then they want or anticipate. I cannot tell you the endless stories of Bride's and Groom's inviting Bob, who is friends with Jeremy, so you they feel like they had to invite Jeremy, but they couldn't invite Jeremy without inviting Sally, and It turns into a whole big thing, and a lot more people then they expected to have or want at their wedding end up tailing up the guest list to about 150+.
I am here to tell you IT IS OKAY to invite who you would like to be present, and please do not feel bad or guilty for doing what is best for you and your S/O on your wedding day.
I decided to get married on top of Pack Monadnock in New Hampshire. Mountains have always been my favorite place to photograph and my favorite environment to be in, so this was an easy choice. I chose to have very wild florals, a lot of greenery, and dark dahlia's and light colored roses and other boho-looking florals. I met up with Alyssa and Ricky from Apotheca Flowers with a print out of exactly the theme I was going for including a Pantone palette (the graphic designer in me), and my idea for photographs. I trusted them completely and told them to "go for it" and do whatever they thought would be most beautiful within the color palettes I gave them. They're experts, and I wanted them to have fun with it and have complete creative freedom, and BOY did they blow my expectations out of the water.
Next in line came the "fill in details" if you will. I know that a lot of these details are usually important to other brides, but to me, all that mattered was that my husband was there, my family was there, and that I had a photographer, a view, and my florals. I was NEVER that girl who "planned her wedding on Pinterest since she was 14) not one bit. However being a wedding photographer, I gradually somehow knew exactly what I wanted in-terms of design, details, and visuals. I needed a dress in only 12 weeks time, bridesmaids dresses, tuxes, a location to get married at, and of course the rest which I won't get too much into fo the sake of not writing a small novel over here (details about my wedding celebration, aka the reception I planned in only 12 weeks will be in another blog post, you can read it here). I set off to BHLDN the bridal line made by Anthropologie and tried on a good 11 dresses. I decided on a dress, didn't bother making an alterations, and it was shipped to me in 2 weeks. Zach found a tux, and I found some mis-matched cool floral ties at Nordstrom's Rack for his groomsmen. I wanted mis-matched bridesmaids dresses in the colors beige, maroon, and blush pink. I told my bridesmaids they could get whatever dress they wanted, and any style in those colors. And that was that!
I gained 20 lbs leading up to my wedding due to all the stress I felt I was under. I did everything in preparation for our wedding day to be as calm and stress free as possible. I decided to get ready at my parents house the morning of our ceremony with my bridesmaids, my Mom, and my Grandmother. It was perfect, super stress free, nobody of course told me we were super late, because they didn't want to make me nervous. Which ended up in my husband being super on time, and me, being super late to my own wedding...oops.
Zach and I decided to have a private vow reading preceding the ceremony. This is something I would recommend to all couples who want to write their own vows, but may not feel comfortable reading them in-front of all of their
guests to hear. Also untraditionally, Zach and I had a first look. Which made me feel calmer and comforted. I will get more into why I believe in first looks in another blog post. Zach and I had our first look, mountain top, and privately shared our vows to each other before we would gather in-front of our guests to commit our lives to one another.