You guys! YOU GUYS! Today we have a real-true-honest-to-God elopement wedding. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee! I get a lot of questions about elopements that go something like this, ‘Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I? What if people hate me? Shouldn’t I? Ahhhh!” And I think this post answers the question about what the decision to elope should sound like. It should sound a lot like, “F*ck it.” (And don’t worry, if you don’t elope, you can still get to feel like this. I did, the week before our wedding). When I got the email from Nina this weekend about her recent elopement, I couldn’t have been more excited. And this week felt like the perfect time to run it – here is Nina’s super wise contribution to the ongoing discussion of weddings and tradition. Because, after all, what is more (and less) traditional than an elopement? Nothing. So here is Nina. I hope she makes someone braver today, and makes someone really embrace that f*ck-it feeling. Plus, I might be a little in love with their wedding. Just, you know, a little.
Richie and I planned our June 2011 wedding for six months. But instead of six months of progress, it seemed like on September 19th, we were exactly where we were when we first got engaged. Everything was going wrong. Our restaurant reception venue refused to give us a contract; the dress I ordered a size too big (and even lost weight while waiting for) came at least a size too small (irregular), and the manufacturer wouldn’t take it back because the style had been discontinued; caterers were asking for a minimum of way more dollars than we were planning (and able) to spend on the entire affair. And on top of all that, we had the kind of family drama that you only see in movies.
So after a particularly difficult weekend, Richie suggested (again) that I consider eloping. Before, it was something that sounded nice and romantic, but it just wasn’t for me. I needed my family and friends there to celebrate with us. But this time…I had finally had enough of things not working out, making me wonder if the universe was telling me not to get married. This time, I said I okay. We brainstormed where to go and decided on New York City because it’s just a short drive away, plus NY has only a 24-hour waiting period and it’s, um, New York City.
We found a married couple officiant/photographer team that specializes in elopements. I emailed them about their availability for Saturday, September 25th– the upcoming weekend. I heard back almost immediately, and it was a go. In the couple days leading up to the weekend, we finalized our ceremony with the officiant (we sent her a reading and our own vows), booked a hotel, and I even found a dress at a bridal shop on my lunch break on Wednesday. It was in these final days of wedding planning that I realized what was important to me.
Sure, I would have loved for my family to be there, but I knew that they hated how unhappy I was during the planning process. I knew that they’d want me to feel relaxed, sane, and like myself on my wedding day. While we were planning, whenever I was stuck, I’d ask Richie: “What do you want at this wedding?” and he’d always say, “To marry you.” And I felt the same way, but there were centerpieces to make! And menus to plan! And people to seat! The week before, though, I got it. Yes, I wanted to look beautiful and get great pictures– those things would be nice, but mostly, I just wanted to marry him.
We called in sick on Friday and headed straight for the Clerk’s Office, which was an amazing experience, as people were actually getting married, in dresses and suits (one couple was even wearing matching shirts) while we were just picking up our license in our sneakers. The process was painless and took a total of 17 minutes (we timed it).
The rest of the weekend was a lot like our Friday morning in the Clerk’s Office: easy and perfect. Everything that went wrong in our six months of planning was matched by everything going right the weekend of our elopement. We were calm, relaxed, zit-free and happy when we said our vows and exchanged rings (which we picked out online and had overnighted only days before) on some rocks at the Turtle Pond in Central Park. And our family was there, in part! I fastened a brooch that was my grandmother’s to my headband, wore pearls that have been in my aunt’s (by marriage) family forever, and Richie wore his grandfather’s cuff links. Our families were touched that we incorporated such details with so little time to plan.
I never envisioned that I’d elope when I would think about my wedding as a kid (and TRUST ME, I thought about it a lot). And after meeting Richie, I still never envisioned an elopement. But having grasped at so many different versions of the wedding I thought I wanted while we were planning and finally settling* on an elopement, I can’t imagine any other version of our union.
*Yes, eloping was settling because I thought I wanted a big(ish) wedding with our nearest and dearest around us, complete with a Welcome BBQ and family-fun-time woven throughout the wedding weekend. But while I never encourage people to settle, I also have to admit that settling can surprise you. It definitely surprised me, and I’m awfully glad it did.
Photos By: Guerrilla Weddings
PS Much more from Nina on her blog