Just a few weeks after I met my wife, she threw down a future-state dagger that I wasn’t expecting. The topic: marriage. (reminder: I was totally getting friend zoned at this time, so I welcomed ANY talk of future-state us). She expressed that when she found the love of her life, she didn’t want a big wedding party. Instead, she wanted a National Park and her favorite photographer from Instagram, Phil Chester. As a Type A extrovert, I wanted the biggest wedding party imaginable, stating, “if I’m only going to do this once and wait this long to do it, I expect it to be a massive party.” Well, years passed and perspectives changed. And last Fall, we flew to one of my favorite places in the country (Big Sur) and said our vows; it was the most special moment in my life, and an unforgettable experience from start to finish. We did it quietly, only telling our family and close friends when we were taking off. Best of all, we spent just 3 few months planning out a trip of a lifetime for a small group of friends. While it’s safe to say this decision came with its fair share of skepticism from family and friends alike, both Jessye and I would say that it was the best option for us, and one that we haven’t regretted. Since, we’ve been approached by more than a dozen engaged or dating couples. And, whether it’s unfortunate or not, the same barriers or considerations that come up in conversation are what seem to keep couples away from their dream destination nuptials. So I give you, “5 Reasons Why You Should Elope Somewhere Beautiful”.
- Because weddings are stressful.
It doesn’t take an encounter with a bridezilla to know and believe that wedding planning is stressful. I’ve watched many peers sit on the struggle bus through their 16-22 month engagement, pulling out their hair and threatening the well-being of their in-laws over the logistics and seating charts of their perfect day. We took it upon ourselves to plan our entire experience on our own in a short amount of time; we love our families dearly, but didn’t want to add any additional stress to our planning process or on their busy lives. We made decisions thoughtfully, quickly, and with a weighted importance on each detail. Jessye was passionate about flowers that looked and felt like our scenic backdrop, so she invested a few more hours into California florists. I wanted an amazing house for our friends to hang out at leading up to the elopement, so I scavenged the internet for a mansion. We all have our things.
Pro Tip: Start a Google Doc for every component, from itinerary planning to checklists. Websites like “The Knot” have master lists of to-do’s that you can start from. Our list was about 10% of what was suggested.
2. Because weddings are expensive.
I recently had a colleague tell me that her wedding dinner was going to cost $150 per head. A family of 6 could have paid for a years’ worth of groceries all through my 20’s (I even had a paleo stint in there, too). Weddings are wicked expensive; and venues charge a premium because it’s a $53 billion dollar industry with the average American spending more than $33K on their special day. And while our elopment experience was far from cheap, we spent money on the things that we love; including private wine tastings in Napa for our friends and a beautiful house with a fireplace and two-level balcony overlooking Carmel-by-the-Sea. When we came back, we threw a party at our favorite outdoor venue in Central Ohio with food trucks, a DJ, a specialty whiskey bar, and 200 of our favorite people to party with. More like $18-$22 per head in that situation.
Pro Tip: Determine the 3-4 things that matter most to you two, then make some decisions.
3. Because nature.
As we stood on the cliffsides of Big Sur, California our photographer Phil Chester put his camera down, looked behind him in awe, and reminded us, “Guys, this is where you got married! This is your spot… Look how freakin’ beautiful it is here!” That unforgettable moment was then solidified by some of the most beautiful photos I’ve seen (note: we said we would never be those people that frame all of their wedding photos in the living room, but….well, do you see these pictures!?) Nature is the perfect backdrop for a special occasion. People end up paying thousands of dollars to rent out a church or venue, only to have to crop out the air vents, exit signs, or stale backdrops with large wooden crosses. We opted for a hazy mist and a soft fog rolling over the mountainside. Granted, you do you, but we’ll take the mountains every day.
Pro Tip: Find a backdrop that takes your breath away. Mountains, oceans, or even just a cool woods. It doesn’t have to be extreme either; rent an AirBNB a few hours away and scout a local photographer or friend to take care of the pictures.
4. Because no one will remember the small details, anyways.
Remember when your best friend got married? What did their centerpieces look like? What song did they play as they walked down the aisle as a couple for the first time? What was the party favor?
While the smart asses of the world will likely comment with a response to all three questions, it’s safe to say that the majority of people will never remember those details. What they WILL remember is the epic dance party, the killer cocktails, or that flash mob moment where Grandma did the splits (and you can’t put a price on that). Invest your energy in the things that matter most to you, those will be the most memorable parts for the people who are fortunate enough to celebrate it with you. And if you really care that much about center pieces, then it’s time for a new hobby. (Note: if your hobby is the very-specific details, you have total authority to sweat those things. Not my story, but the whole point of this is for you to do you!)
5. Because it’s your day, not theirs.
This one is probably the most important of them all. Your wedding/ elopement day is entirely about you and your partner. Everything else is either complimentary or unnecessary. Never feel obligated to do things a certain way, or follow a method of how it’s always been done. And don’t ever think that the long-term success for your marriage is dependent on how perfect the wedding day went. It rained all day and the clouds rolled in moments before we said our vows. We trashed her dress as she crawled down the side of the cliffs to get the photos you see below. Today, we’re still beyond blessed for this first year of marriage, rainy days and all.