Our Dreamy $4K Bohemian Elopement at Lands End


Planned in a few days after the Big Sur flood

Stephanie, community college Program Manager & Rocco, director/producer

SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: A relaxed bohemian elopement surrounded by love.

PLANNED BUDGET: $5,000
ACTUAL BUDGET: $4,000
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 5
LOCATION: Lands End Park, San Francisco, California

Where we allocated the most funds:

Most of our funds were actually spent on our plane tickets to get us from Pennsylvania to San Francisco! And the other portion was allocated to ensuring we had an amazing photographer to capture our day.

Where we allocated the least funds:

Instead of a traditional reception, since we only had five guests, we opted for a beachfront dinner at the nearby Beach Chalet restaurant to celebrate our nuptials. It was a perfect setting, delicious, accommodating (we made reservations that day!), and memorable.

What was totally worth it:

Rocco and I both agreed that it was very important to us that our wedding day be captured in a way that we would cherish forever. We wanted a special photographer who could not only highlight the big moments of our day, but also spotlight the details that we incorporated. It was also important to us to have some artistic photo ops, and Joie used her skills and eyes to go above and beyond what we could ever have imagined. Since our wedding was an elopement, photos were all that we would have to show our family and friends back home our favorite memories from our big day. Joie was amazing at ensuring we had what wanted!

What was totally not worth it:

I really can’t think of anything. We made sure to incorporate exactly what we wanted. I would just say that, generally speaking, stressing out is not worth it. The day will happen exactly how the universe decides it should, so you can only do so much planning and worrying. Just relax and surrender to it all. It will work out.

A few things that helped us along the way:

Knowing that we had love and support from those that mattered to us. Also, Rocco and I would keep checking in with each other in the planning process to ensure we were on the same page. It can be a very emotional process so we wanted to be sure that we were making decisions together and based on both of our wants and needs. We also made sure to keep focused on our love for each other and not on making our day about pleasing anyone else. It was all about what we wanted, and that made it so special.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Keep an open mind and welcome the unexpected changes you will have to make; it may all just work out for the best. And focus on keeping your wedding special to you and your partner. Don’t pay attention to what others may voice their unwelcome opinions about. Do what is special and cherished for you.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Our wedding came with an unforgettable story and roller coaster ride. It led us to an unexpected ceremony location with the most amazing backdrop (Golden Gate Bridge, ocean, forest—we had it all!). And of course staring into Rocco’s eyes while simultaneously laughing and crying as we exchanged our most precious words to each other.

Other things we’d like to share:

Oh yes! A little back-story…

Rocco and I were living in Pennsylvania and decided about six weeks before our wedding day that we wanted to elope somewhere special. Rocco lived in California for many years and easily convinced me that we could find an amazing place to say I do if we wanted an outdoor wedding somewhere.

We settled on Big Sur, specifically Pfeiffer Beach, agreeing it was one of the most stunning places we had ever seen, and that was just from pictures on the Internet! We figured out where to get our marriage license, and we set up an officiant, hotel rooms, a restaurant for after the ceremony, and a photographer. A few days before we were to be married, we flew across the country to San Francisco to stay with Rocco’s brother and family before making our way to Big Sur.

Just before our wedding day, flooding rains arrived, bringing California out of a drought—and washing out the town of Big Sur, causing road blocks, landslides, and a complete closure of the area. No way in or out! We were forced to decide on a new location, officiant, and place to get our marriage license two days before we were supposed to be married! We quickly scoured the Internet for a local person in San Francisco to marry us (Reverend Don was amazing!), hauled ass to Oakland for our same-day marriage license, and picked our scenic ceremony spot based on a recommendation (the day before!!). We literally had to change everything that we had spent a month planning for because Mother Nature had different plans for us. Our day turned out to be even more special because of this and proved that we could get through anything together. We focused on our love for each other, knowing that was all that mattered. Now we have a crazy wedding story to tell that we will never forget!

Also, to make our day special and to honor my mother who passed away a few years ago, we started our ceremony by me (Stephanie) reading words to my mom. I also wore some of her jewelry and had incorporated symbolic dove items into our day, as they remind me of her. I also walked “down the aisle” to Rocco to our song, “In My Life” by The Beatles, which was really memorable.


The Info:

Photography: Simple Joie | Location: San Francisco, CA | Ceremony Venue: Lands End Park | Reception Venue: Beach Chalet Restaurant

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  • AsphodelJones

    This is my first comment on APW, and I’m leaving it because Stephanie is the *happiest bride I have ever seen.* The unbridled joy on both her and Rocco’s faces is making my day. Also, I am a native San Franciscan. Thank you for sharing your love in my city, even if by accident! <3 <3 <3

  • ART

    I love Lands End so much. And there are actual *ruins* down below that make it extra dramatic. Glad you were able to make it all happen!

  • Lovely images, the couple look so at ease! fantastic work!

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