Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine


I am in love with today’s wedding graduate post, just totally head over heels in love. Every time I read it, by the end I just want to roar (is that strange?), and jump on the couch while I cry a little bit. Jessica’s story is such a powerful one–it’s the story of totally throwing out plans for a wedding when they realized that they were not planning a wedding that they wanted. It’s the story of jumping off a fast moving train when you realize it’s not headed somewhere you want to go, and starting to walk. Plus, it’s such a good illustration of the non black and white nature of elopement. Can you elope but bring your mamma? Of course you can.

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

We eloped! Sort of.  You wouldn’t find what we did listed under “elopement” in the dictionary, but it was a surprise to most, and perfect for us! When we got engaged in June, 2010 we kept it a secret for a few weeks as we basked in the insane happiness that follows those four little words. We knew meddling family members would pounce as soon as they knew. First wedding in the family. Only child.

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

We glowed with our secret engagement. I enjoyed wedding porn on various websites. Stew would come home with the newest wedding magazine. I was in heaven. I was never one to dream of my “perfect” wedding. It never crossed my mind until I met Stewart (I knew on our second date). I happily dog eared magazine pages, clipping pictures of dresses, flowers, venues. The works. My ideal wedding, in the land where practical hides and money isn’t an option, was a destination wedding some place warm. I wanted to be surrounded by 40 of our closest friends and family. I dreamed of pre-wedding bonding events – snorkeling, boats, cocktails with umbrellas.  I had visions of long tables dotted with hurricane lanterns, shells. Cliche, maybe, but it was dreamy to me. All dreaming aside, it was clear to me that I wanted a small wedding surrounded by the most important people. I wanted to have conversations with those who celebrated with us, not just make the obligatory “hello” and “thank you” before moving on.

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

The backlash of my dream quickly followed the announcement.  I was told by one person that I “can have the wedding I want when I have a daughter, until then, it is my mother’s day.” I had people call a destination selfish. I was told who would be invited. The guest list ballooned. The wedding took on a life of its own and it became a monster. After the fact, I can now recognize that unrealistic expectations were the basis for all my woes. My own, and those of potential guests, family, and friends. Everyone expected something from me and my wedding, and the weight of it all was killing me. And worst of all, I lost track of the point: to marry the man of my dreams.

From my small destination wedding emerged something I didn’t recognize.  A 200+ guest list with all the familiar wedding trappings. I was in a haze, no longer planning a wedding for Stewart and I. I was planning a party for others. I was so far from my original vision and the train was moving so fast, I just didn’t know how to get off.  I no longer found joy in the planning. I wanted to “just get it over with.” I hid away my lookbook of clippings, avoided the wedding programs that filled my DVR, I avoided talk of the wedding, at best shrugging off the conversation and by the beginning of October it got so bad that I cried. A lot.

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

Stewart is amazing and the calm to my chaos.  He sat me down, no longer able to watch me unravel. He felt like we had lost touch with the point. He was worried that I would resent my own wedding and the people who I made changes for. He pointed out that we would be no less married if we went to city hall than if we had a giant wedding. He offered to do whatever I wanted but I needed to take back control.

After a good cry, we decided to abandon it all and start from scratch. We mulled the idea of elopement over for a few days and decided that despite how romantic a true dictionary definition of eloping sounded, we are both children of single moms and our mothers meant too much to us and sacrificed too much for us both to be excluded. For the first time, we made a wedding decision just for us and it was liberating.

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

After more planning than I realized an elopement entailed, all the loose ends were tied together and all the decisions were made. We settled on an elopement package at a local inn, found a date that worked for the inn and my photographer, booked his mom a flight from England. And then we waited. Six weeks.  During those six weeks, I actually reclaimed the joy of wedding planning but on a smaller scale. I made and stuffed favor boxes, which also served as place cards for the dinner. I commissioned Christmas ornaments for our moms as thank you gifts. We bought each other wedding gifts and wrote out a ceremony that was fitting to us as a couple and enveloped all our hopes and dreams for our future. We even splurged on a videographer. Our intentions were never to exclude people, but merely preserve my sanity, so a videographer seemed like a perfect option to capture the event yet still be intimate. I was excited about my wedding. I was excited to marry a wonderful man and I no longer cried out of stress and sadness, but instead out of sheer joy! I am a crier, what can I say?

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

Our wedding was perfect for us. I have never enjoyed a day more in my life. I remember every second with outstanding clarity and felt calm and serene throughout the day. I was blessed with amazing vendors, who I now truly count among my friends. Looking back, it is astounding to me how many of the elements from my original dream wedding found themselves, unexpectedly, into my elopement. The beach, long tables, conversation with those who traveled to spend the day with us, a glorious cake and amazing flowers, all there.  There were even hurricane lanterns on the wall!

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

We mailed holiday cards that doubled as wedding announcements the Monday following the ceremony. The reaction as a whole has been utterly supportive. Of course, there are a few bad apples out there, whose response was less than perfect (profanities and “how could you do this to me?! you are in so much trouble” spilled out of one such voicemail). But, I am relatively unfazed, and I am still married despite the limited discontent. I respect that my decision may seem foreign to some and downright selfish to others. I also appreciate that people may be disappointed to not share our day with us, but I hope they all know they were there in spirit, as each friendship and familial connection has shaped us and led us to each other.

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

I want to thank the APW community. Throughout this process, despite what other blogs told me (“201 must have wedding photos” “the people you have to invite” ect), the posts and comments here assured me that I was allowed to make choices that were good for myself and my baby family. I silently stalked the comments and sought solace in like minded women who took back control of their weddings and by proxy their lives. I unexpectedly learned a lot about myself through wedding planning, meltdown and reclaiming my marriage.

Jessica & Stewart Elope in Maine | A Practical Wedding

I still glow with post wedding happiness and eagerly look forward to growing and changing as we navigate through marriage, parenthood and life!

Photos By: Justine Johnson Photography

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  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    profanities and “how could you do this to me?! you are in so much trouble” spilled out of one such voicemail

    Ha. Illustrates the monster that can come out in others when you’re planning a wedding.
    a. It is not about you, it is about the couple; and
    2. How can you be “in trouble” when you are an adult?

    Lovely post. Lovely wedding!

    • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

      OH! And I can’t let this get away without a comment of the cute photo with the puppy dog! Love it. :)

      • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com/ Kinzie Kangaroo

        I love the puppy dog photo. Pure joy.

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    This is one of my favorite elopement stories on APW. I love that it really came out of Jessica and Stewart taking stock of how they felt and what was best for their relationship. And Jessica is really honest about the pressures that come with wedding planning. (I “can have the wedding I want when I have a daughter, until then, it is my mother’s day?” So if I have only sons, I never have a wedding?) But despite all pressures and drama, these pictures are gorgeous and show such love and happiness.

    • http://whenhoyametsaxa.blogspot.com/ Kathleen

      “can have the wedding I want when I have a daughter, until then, it is my mother’s day.”

      Can I just tell you how much I hate it when people say this? My fiance’s mother told me this just this past weekend, and I couldn’t think of a nice way to respond appropriately, so I just smiled and nodded. If/when I hear it again, I’m either going to use the “what if I only have sons?” line, or else point at that my mother was the 4th girl in her family to get married – I’m pretty sure Grandma had had enough wedding planning by then, and so Mom got her wedding in 1982, and doesn’t need another one in 2011.

      • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

        I hate this I HATE this I HATE THIS!!! I feel like it is both condescending to me and my mother. It implies that all mothers want is to take over the wedding and that they are crazy tulle loving wedding enthusiasts. And it implies that as a bride, I am an idiot who doesn’t know what I’m talking about and should hush up and look pretty.

        ldkngaigpoaegeamadmsd the rage.

      • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com/ Annie

        I can’t believe your fiance’s mother actually said this to you! How awkward. At least it sounds like your mother’s side is more sensible than that.

      • Sarah

        Oh man, I feel you. MY mother actually said this to me. Um, what?!

        It was not a pleasant experience.

      • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

        I had a classmate who once said this to me, not about my wedding, but about her own. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, she didn’t get to have the wedding she wanted — she let her mother do it all to the mother’s tastes and preferences — and plans to perpetuate the cycle with her daughter.

      • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

        the fact that people actually have this thought process just boggles my mind. my mother-in-law thankfully decided to end that vicious cycle – she said her mother planned her whole wedding and she had NO interest in doing that to someone else. she only had sons, so who knows if she would have felt differently about it for her own daughter.. But I’m just thanking my stars that I never had anyone even whisper a thought like that to me. I think rage could have been my only response.

        • Kathryn

          Yep, so I’m literally having nightmares about this because I saw my sister go through it and had a break down where she tried to figure out how to temporarily kidnap me (I was 6) so I could be at their elopement. She ended up having 20 people at the wedding and having the reception at my parents house, which was nice but not what she wanted at all, and all because she couldn’t reconcile what she wanted with what our parents and her in laws wanted. So sad.

        • RachelC

          DDayPorter – the same thing happened to me thank goodness. My mom said that her mother drove her crazy when she was planning her first wedding, and that she knew how stressful a meddling mother could be in wedding planning so she was standing back and letting me handle everything. (This is a miracle considering how meddling she was in every.other.aspect. of my life…but I digress). If someone said that to me I would have a serious discussion with them…a SERIOUS discussion haha.

      • Jessica

        I had honestly never heard this before and luckily I never heard it again. Bless you all who heard if from sources more closely related to you, I was hurt enough hearing it from a college friend’s dad. My mother had NO interest in planning, let alone taking over and my mother-in-law is 2000+ miles away in North East England! I lucked out in this aspect.

  • http://www.ohdeerio.com smallwonder

    You’re beautiful, you look so happy, and you absolutely did the right thing. It’s not selfish to get married the way that you want, no matter what “those people” say. Community is important, but at the end of the day, we are the ones saying the vows and towing the line every day after that. Thank you for being brave enough to take back your wedding, and for sharing your story.

  • http://thinkingwedding.blogspot.com Rhiannon

    That is so beautiful and well done! For sticking your neck out and doing what you needed (which didn’t actually leave anyone damaged!).

    And furthermore that WRAP!? Oh my! It’s really lovely!

    xoxo

  • http://realizingself.wordpress.com Krista

    I lovelovelove this elopement story. Joy and happiness just spills out of those photos. Could you just imagine the difference if you had stuck with the wedding everyone else chose for you? I’m sure you’d look just as beautiful, but that extra zing wouldn’t be there. Congrats on your marriage and thank you for such an inspiring and heart warming story.

  • http://miriamba.blogspot.com/ m

    Phewww, this morning started off for me with a wedding budget discussion/slight panic and I had that feeling “I just want to get it over with.” It was very helpful to read this and remember to keep it about us… and that we can get off the fast moving train if the scenery gets too unfamiliar.

  • http://www.queerskiesahead.com BirdRoughsIt

    What a wonderful way to start my day! Thank you for sharing this – and it’s so wonderfully written! Congratulations on having the wedding you wanted.

    I haven’t heard much talk before about a “secret engagement” but when I read how you glowed with yours I realized that that is what we had, too. We called it a “pre-engagement”, but it had an ask and a ring and all that – we just didn’t tell anyone. And even now, my wife will talk about how she wanted it to just be ours for awhile; I suspect we’re not the only people who feel that way or who kept things quiet so they could keep it theirs. Thanks for making me think! Congratulations again.

  • http://townhousetohome.blogspot.com adria

    “I had people call a destination selfish.”

    We did, too. We still have people calling it selfish. And our “destination” is one hour away from our home, but it’s a whopping 2 1/2 hours away from theirs. (Mind you, I have people coming from 500-3000 miles away who haven’t uttered a peep about this being inconvenient for them…it’s the people who live closer who are having an issue with the whole thing. This, alone, boggles my mind).

    I constantly remind myself of the Dr. Seuss quote
    “Be who you are and say what you feel,
    because those who mind don’t matter
    and those who matter don’t mind.”

    I’m glad you had what you wanted, and you were able to include the important people in your day, whether they were there in person or in spirit. Lovely wedding…and I adore your fur wrap and must now find one for my wedding in November!

    • Carbon Girl

      Ours was three hours away for my family, across the country for his, and yes a lot of my family complained and complained while his did not. It’s awful how you can get up in others’ expectations and wanting to please these naysayers because when you step back you realize they are the people who always need something to complain about and it is not your responsibility to make them happy.

    • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com/ Annie

      These days, almost all weddings feel like destination weddings. All of my friends have been scattered across the country, and neither my fiance nor I live in the same state as our respective families. But we make the journey because we want to share a very special day with people we love. I don’t understand how people can claim that’s selfish and not just a reality of modern life.

      • http://www.missgiggles.com Giggles

        That is a great way to look at it too. For every wedding I’ve been to in the past many years, it was a destination for somebody.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      Our “destination” wedding was jokingly questioned when a blizzard showed up (we’re from Southern Arizona, no blizzards here). But that destination meant Grandpa could be there, which was the perfect reason to have a wedding in a blizzard, and made sense to everyone. Especially when we were back there 11 months later for Grandpa’s funeral.

  • http://sogladthatyouexist.blogspot.com nina b.

    YES!

  • Carreg

    So glad you pulled it off! I love the dog, what’s he called?

    I’m intrigued that this is an elopement. What’s funny is, I’m sure the definition of elopement I learned as a child was `running away to marry without the consent of your parents’ — stereotypically people over 16 but under 18 running away to Gretna Green just over the border into Scotland, where you can (could?) marry without the consent of parents from 16 up. Then on the internet I found that to elope is to marry with only a very few people present, secretly, possibly having travelled, ignoring wedding ‘traditions’. But it seems like this wedding is an elopement in that it was secret from some people, ignored some but not all wedding ‘traditions’, with a small but not tiny number of people present… Which is just another kind of wedding, right? Maybe apart from the being secret from some bit. It seems like you shouldn’t need a special word to not have other people barging in and writing your guest list for you. Words change their meanings over time, I guess.

    I know what you mean about plans changing and sometimes feeling like it’s getting out of control. Luckily mine hasn’t (yet!) got away from me in the way yours almost did — not sure if I’d have the nerve to reclaim it the way you did! Mine’s kind of grown and shrunk, been changed a little one way to suit others, a bit another way to suit ourselves, a bit this way for politeness, a bit that way for the sake of enjoying it, a bit further that way because my mum aided and abetted… We’ll probably end up with something that looks like we planned it whilst drunk. :-)

    • http://thisisjacksonriley.blogspot.com Jackson Riley

      “It seems like you shouldn’t need a special word to not have other people barging in and writing your guest list for you.”

      a million times yes! it’s funny… popular culture loves the image of bridezilla, but often times the families and guests can be the ones getting out of control and head over heals buying into the WIC definition of a wedding (not always, sweeping generalization, yadda, yadda, yadda, but you get my point.)

      • RachelC

        you are SO RIGHT. That is what I’m noticing – people around me are reacting to my calm, thoughtful way of planning our wedding with incredulity. My most “nontraditional” friends are calling me “unorthodox” and my bridesmaids think I’m settling because I’m not freaking out about whether their dresses will match. It’s madness. My mom had a minor panic attack when I told her the guys aren’t wearing suits, also. Those around me are definitely more WIC-ified than I, and I’m amused to see how they react when it all turns out beautifully :)

  • http://explainingitall.blogspot.com Clarissa

    This might be my favorite wedding graduate post I’ve read so far. I am so afraid of my wedding getting hijacked by other people’s expectations that I think I’ve been deliberately avoiding giving specific information about what I want to anyone, even my fiancee. We are just starting on our wedding-planning journey and we’re both introverts who want a small, semi-formal brunch type of event; we’re also used to pleasing people and have some opinionated family members. It’s so inspiring to read about Jessica and Stewart recognizing that their wedding was no longer their own and deciding to create it for themselves. They look so unbelievably happy in the photos, it kinda makes me want to cry, too. Yay for self-determination, love, and kickass weddings!

  • http://www.notintentonarriving.blogspot.com Kristin

    What a great reclamation of your sanity, Jessica! Also, you looked absolutely stunning. The stole, your hair, everything looks beautiful.

  • http://recessionistawedding.blogspot.com/ Mallory

    “I unexpectedly learned a lot about myself through wedding planning, meltdown and reclaiming my marriage.”

    I want to print that on a shirt, no a banner, and look at it every day.

    I love this post. It echoes everything I feel regarding my wedding, and I love the peacefulness and joy that is evident in your pictures. Congrats!

  • Jessica

    As always, my beagle, Dash, steals the show!!! He utterly ruined our wedding video. He was probably 3 feet from me whining loud enough for the camera to pick up. There are moments where both Stew and I were laughing because the dog was especially loud or perfectly timed. The picture of him planting one right on my lips is the first time he was allowed near me or the dress after the ceremony.

    I am so touched by the warm reception of the APW responses. Thanks guys! reading the comments is making my day.

    We got this back after I emailed the post in, here is our first look. By far, my favorite part of the day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCvHUHFPdtc

    xo Jess

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      well that was amazing. and can I just say, that dress is even more gorgeous when you can see it in motion! ahhh!!

    • Sarah

      Aaaaaaaaand you win the prize for being the first to make me cry at this new job. =)

      I love that you wer e laughing and being practical (his suit) and crying from joy all at the same time. If you ask me, that makes it perfect. =)

    • http://akc09.livejournal.com Annie in LA

      Oh my gaawd, you guys are too cute. I’m also very sneakily trying to wipe my eyes at work. Congratulations. :)

    • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

      Seriously, though, it makes me jealous I couldn’t have my dog at the ceremony. He was there, just down the road, but he’s deathly afraid of people he doesn’t know (an 80 lb doberman mix … It would be comical if it wasn’t so pathetic). I tried to get a pic with him while in my dress, but he was deathly afraid of that, too.

      We got some good shots w/ him over the next couple days, in the grapes and also by the lake. My BIL had one of the shots matted and framed for us as a Christmas gift.

    • Danny Mannina

      stunning wedding. beautiful bride. amazing couple – you deserve all the happiness the universe bestows to your wonderful relationship!

  • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

    I loved every word of this post (I will sing the praises of elopements until I turn blue in the face) but then, THEN, I recognized where you got married and now I love it TIMES TEN.

    Congrats on owning your happiness.

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      i KNOW. I was like, thaaat looks like Maine. and then it was. yay :)

      • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

        Knew I could count on you. :)

    • Jessica

      yeah Maine!!! Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth was phenomenal!! We already have a room booked for our 1-year anniversary. The staff were brilliant and kind and interested and helpful. I cannot say enough good things about the place!

  • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

    I LOVE THIS WEDDING! (Of course – I’m all about a good elopement.) And I adore that last photo! I just love the joy on your faces – that’s what it’s all about. I’m so glad you guys were able to sit down and reclaim your wedding and do what’s right for you!

  • K.

    Jessica and Stewart, thank you for your beautiful post that really hit home today. I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve said that “I want all of this to be over,” that we’re really just trying to “survive” the wedding. Ostensibly our wedding is a lot of the things we said we wanted – fairly small, in our city, focused on bringing people together – but almost all of the key people in our lives (parents, siblings, etc.) have complained so loudly and behaved so poorly it’s not really worth fighting about any of the decisions left anymore. I had given up hope that a lovely day would make up for the hurtful things that have been said so far, but thank you for reminding me of what’s really important and that there is a way out of all the stress into the joy that’s just all over your faces in these photographs! What a lovely story (and a really fabulous outfit)! Congratulations on your marriage!

    • http://www.emlovesben.com Rose

      I’m at this place, too – just wanting to be on the other side, so the family crazy will settle down. I really hope that the wedding is worth all this.

      • K.

        A virtual hug for you. I was ready for stressful, but nothing could have prepared me for what this has been like. Here’s to hoping we’re happy in the end!

        • Jessica

          Hugs to you both! Remember the point and you will realize that it is all worth it. At the end of it all, you will be married! No matter how you do it, the point of it all, to be married, makes it all worth it. You will get through it no matter how you choose to do it!

  • Faith

    I had a very similar experience with planning a traditional wedding that just wasn’t “us” and feeling like the train was moving so fast with no way to jump off.

    We too stopped the train and are making our day we get married much more about us:)

    Congratulations!

  • maura

    i just love a bride with her mouth wide open smiling and laughing and being joyous.

    well done. and congrats.

  • NF

    The beginning of this post is pretty much the same as my story. I desperately wanted a 20 person guest list and a very quiet wedding, and was informed that this was in no way an option. I ended up with a more than 100 person invite list and a wedding that barely resembled anything I had hoped for and I was miserable for a lot of the wedding planning period. However, during the actual wedding weekend I ended up having an amazing time and don’t regret having the big wedding at all. I think the decision to elope was a very brave one and am happy it worked out so well, but for those of you in similar situations who don’t feel like you can elope, the wedding may end up better than you expected even if it’s not what you had imagined/hoped for.

    • Cathie

      I, too, wanted something small and simple. Which it’s not. I’m now 4 weeks out from my wedding and I hope that I have the same experience you had.

  • http://www.customtattoosusa.com Jen Green

    Amazing! Good for you. I myself have high (and wacky) aspirations, that I’m sure will not jive with the traditional view of what a wedding should be… You hit the nail on the head when you said that the point is to marry the man of your dreams. Congratulations, on not only succeeding in that point, but in doing it in a fashion that kept you sane and celebrated the two of you the best way you know how. Good for you, and the bad apples will forgive you in a few years… or when you have children… whichever comes last! Lol. Good luck, and thank you for sharing.

  • RachelC

    What a wonderful, beautiful post! This reminds me to gut check, and keep actively making sure we’re not going along with others but following our own wishes and dreams for the day. Hooray!!!

  • Jillian

    What a beautiful wedding and inspiring post. I think it’s so brave when brides just decide to do what’s best for them and their baby family despite people close to you voicing their disappointment. By the looks on your faces in these pictures, I’d say you guys made the right choice for you. Congrats!

  • april

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! My favoritest grad post here on APW. Just brilliant.

    The pictues of you laughin’ and smilin’ (and the doggie!!! cuuuuute!) clearly show your wedding was one that was completely perfect for you. Many congrats and best wishes to you and your beloved. XO

  • Ashley B

    Thank you so much for sharing. I especially love that last photo of you jumping on the bed! It totally captured the spirit of the day.

  • http://www.arewewedyet.blogspot.com Megan

    This post just makes me smile! Congratulations!

  • peanut

    I’m confused … so it was an elopement with you two and your Moms? Did you let the Moms in on the secret or surprise them with a weekend getaway? Were your Moms supportive of your decision (I got the feeling that one or both of them were pressuring you to have a wedding that you didn’t want)? I know that the Guilt from Mom is one of the primary deterrents for couples who are considering an elopement (it was my number one reason for not having one, to be honest), and it would be great to hear your experience with navigating this issue. Beautiful wedding!

    • Jessica

      Let me try to clear this up! Our moms knew. His mother was a bit more removed as she is England and we are in Maine. My mom, on the other hand, had daily bouts of tears to contend with. I got to such a low point in October that all I could manage when she asked how planning was going was a shrug of the shoulders. She knew something had to change but my mother is wonderful at not imposing herself, she is WELL aware after 27 years that I am capable to a fault of putting pressure on myself. After Stewart and I made the decision, we just knew deep down we could not do it in secret without our Moms. They were single moms. They worked SO HARD to raise us well and I think they did a fine job. We had to include them. My mom really is my best friend and it would have hurt her as much as it hurt me to do it without her. We told them in advance and swore them to secrecy! I cannot keep a secret to save my life, it would have spilled out eventually, so they knew a few days after we did. I still believe this qualifies as an elopement, maybe not a traditional definition, but elopements seem to be the most in flux in the wedding world. It was still a secret to 99.9% of our circle of friends and family.

  • http://www.karaschultz.com knschultz

    What a great post! I love that you took back control and stopped listening to everyone and had your dream intimate wedding, anyone who says negative things to you didn’t care about you, they just cared about the party you were throwing for them and that’s never what it should be about!

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Warm heart.

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    Congratulations! I’m so happy you had your wedding for YOU & Stewart, not others. I know how difficult it is to stand up for your baby family, it’s a seemingly constant challenge even beyond the wedding. & remember, no matter what you did, someone would been unhappy & complained. This is a fabulous post with lots of great wisdom. Best wishes~

  • kristen

    wow. i feel like you just gave me permission.

    • meg

      That’s because she did.

  • Brittany

    Jessica-

    You just described my life and my experience. To the details. Kinda creepy. Are we actually doppelgangers? Hmm…

    My fiance and I are getting married this Friday (!!) via “elopement”. Our immediate families will be there, elopement package in tow. We went through the same experience with out friends and family in an attempt to have a “normal (but small) wedding”. I felt like I was losing myself in the midst of everyone’s opinions and we couldn’t even see our own hopes and dreams clearly. Since we haven’t gotten to “the other side” yet and this is a week of great expectation/excitement/love/ahhhhhh, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about your experience. It seems so infrequent that I encounter someone who has had the same experiences in this department, and it is an absolute breath of the freshest air!

    • Cody

      Brittany– this was totally my life and my experiences too! Like, I sort of feel like I don’t even have to submit my wedding graduate post because…. she already said it.

      I wish you much love and peace on your upcoming day!! Yay!

    • Jessica

      BEST OF LUCK! You will not regret it! Enjoy every second of it!

  • Jessi

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I’ve sat on my couch crying for 20 minutes because I feel so overwhelmed by my own family and I’ve been engaged for 4 days. Yes, FOUR days. While I feel like I should be excited and happy, my family (particularly my mom) has made me miserable. She took it upon herself to announce to everyone via facebook that we were engaged. We specifically decided that we would wait to put it on there so we could tell people in a more personal way. So that didn’t start everything off really well. Today I was told that we need to get engagement photos done so she can put an announcement in her local news paper (please note, I haven’t lived in this town for 10 years). The icing on the cake was the list of 180 people she thinks have to be invited. I feel like everyone in my family are making assumptions and plans before we have even made one single decision.

    Your post gave me hope that if this does become to much we can toss all plans out the window and have a gorgeous wedding. Congratulations!

  • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

    What a lovely post! It really brings home the feeling that one can get so caught up in the WIC (or the Blog-Worthy Wedding Industrial Complex?) that you end up losing sight of what matters to you – usually not mustaches on sticks or Martha-worthy welcome packages (although power to you if those things are what matters, and don’t let anyone take them away from you!).

  • Karin

    Jess, congratulations to you and Stewart!! Love the photos. It is such a trip (in a totally awesome, I’m-probably-not-alone kind of way) finding out that the smart, sassy women we all know around the world also read APW. Meg’s really started something awesome and transcendent here, but she probably knows that already. Cheers!

    • Jessica

      Karin!After we facebooked yesterday another friend from another circle of my life messaged me about it! It is amazing that my college and law school groups intersect here on APW! I love it and leaves me in awe.

  • http://weddingallabout.com Sabina

    They make such a lovely couple together…

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

    Yay. You guys are sooo cute, and so obviously heads over heels for each other. And that’s the point.

    I had similar visions of a destination wedding that were subsequently vetoed, and now I’m trying really hard to keep the upcoming not-so-destination wedding as in line with that vision as I can. So thanks for the reminder that you can always get off the wedding train if it becomes too much – I need it.

  • Jackie

    I wish I would have done this…when she says, “He was worried that I would resent my own wedding and the people who I made changes for,” that really strikes home with me. I do harbor resentment when I think of my wedding, and the person that took it over and made it huge and not what I wanted it to be. I don’t want to feel this way about my wedding. I want to be happy when I think back about it (it was almost a year ago). Any idea how to get over this resentment, for my wedding and for the person who changed my wedding so it wasn’t something I wanted it to be?

    • http://www.polkadotorchid.com/ Michelle

      The first thing to do is to admit that someone has done something that you resent or has otherwise hurt you. Admit that to yourself to get it off your chest. The next option is to try and get it out of your system. Options include:

      a) Writing it down in a letter you never send.

      b) Informing the person that after a year, you find that you still harbor ill feelings toward them for what they did. Presumably, this is a member of your family, so you could say that since they are family, you do not wish to continue harboring these feelings toward them and you feel that the only way to help get over your feelings is to tell them. Trying to open an honest discussion is an option that can work for some people and in some cases. However, sometimes it’s not a wise option, depending on how hurt you feel at the moment, what the other person is like, and your relationship to them. You’re the only one that can answer that question.

      c) Recognizing that the most important thing about getting married is that you are married. Yes, it didn’t happen in the exact way you wanted, but even if you get to make the plans you want, things can and will always go wrong. For example, I had one long-distance reception, so I asked my mother to arrange the food and cake. My only stipulation was that the cake taste good – I didn’t care if it was white, homemade, or fancy, just tasty. And of course, my mom didn’t bother doing any taste-testing and it was the worst-tasting cake I’ve ever had in my life. (No kidding! Not even the starving college students at my reception wanted to eat it.) So at this point, feeling bitter is only going to hurt you. Taking a deep breath and saying that yes, something hurts, but you’re going to let it go and not let it bother you anymore is really hard. It can take time, but it’s probably worth it.

  • http://thebluestmuse.blogspot.com/ The Blue Muse

    Beautiful! The last picture brought tears to my eyes.

  • http://www.itsahero.com/ Rachel {at} It’s a Hero

    I knew it as soon as I saw the 3rd photograph! I said to myself, “that looks like it was at the Inn by the Sea in Portland, Maine!” And then as I scrolled through your beautiful pictures, my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the picture of you two jumping on the bed!

    You got married at the Inn by the Sea! My favorite spot of all time! In fact, I recently told my BF that I want to get married there. It looks like you had a beautiful wedding/elopement! Congratulations!

  • Alexandra

    Awesome, Congratulations!
    We considered an elopement-with-one-parent-each, we considered a small destination wedding, but we eventually figured out a way to do a 60-person wedding in our city that works for us.
    I have a friend who had started planning the wine-country big-wedding, then realized they just wanted the two of them, and eloped in Hawaii. ;D
    Many congrats, and thanks for giving permission to all the people who needed it! :D