Karey and Ben
One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: With a little bit of lady luck and a lot of unlimited love, with only two weeks notice and some help from Elvis, our immediate families joined this unbeatable pair for our unforgettable Las Vegas elopement, and a neon boneyard wedding (photoshoot).
Planned Budget: $5000 (not including our flights to/from London)
Actual Budget: ~$6000 (we don’t know the final cost of dinner or limos—was footed by my father)
Number of Guests: 11
Where we allocated the most funds
My dress, food, and photography. A wedding dress was very important to me, great food was a high priority for my husband (we love Mexican food so had dinner at El Dorado Cantina), and photography we agreed was key for sharing the experience after with those who did and didn’t attend.
Where we allocated the least funds
The ceremony, which is quite ironic because we seriously consider it priceless.
What was totally worth it
Everything. But if I had to choose all our various forms of documentation from professional photography to disposable cameras to the video recording of the ceremony. Though we kept the actual event intimate and a secret before and during, it was very important for us to share after with ALL close to us. As we didn’t want people to initially find out via social media, and since I work in tech, I put together a webpage curating all the documentation and we sent out 200+ Vegas postcards with a custom web url to friends and relatives all over the world. The response to all the photos and videos together was so well received and really made those not there still feel like they were a part of it while also knowing their importance to us. My husband adds that flying to Vegas itself as a location was worth it (and I agree!). We spent an additional $3000 on our flights to and from London, but on a legal note, as two Americans, we legally needed to be married in the States.
What was totally not worth it
Can’t think of anything…
A few things that helped us along the way
Online reviews, our families, and disposable cameras. While planning a very fast (two weeks) elopement from abroad (London), we relied heavily on online reviews for literally everything. And as this was so crucial in both making decisions quickly and easing our stress levels, we also made it a point to write our own after. Our families were incredibly supportive, from some amazing email chains with my mom and sister while shopping for my dress online to everyone being very relaxed and willing to go with the flow. As I’m an obsessive documenter of most things, in addition to hiring a professional photographer (Gaby J), I asked my sister to pick up eleven disposable cameras. These greatly lowered the threshold for everyone to participate in documenting all aspects of the weekend while helping remove the temptation to post on social media until we announced it ourselves. I also realize I’m extremely lucky that my dress fit without alterations. This I attribute to the numerous weddings I’ve been a bridesmaid in recently and thus was very confident of my dress size.
My best practical advice for my planning self
Including our families and keeping the schedule simple with planned free time. We had been together for over seven years living happily as domestic partners and with future plans to have a destination family-only wedding in the next few years. That being said, we recently encountered a work Visa obstacle for me to remain in the UK (we are both American), hence the impetus for something so quick. Since this was initially based more on a legal formality, we debated whether to include our families or keep this between us and do something separate with them later. Once we started the minimum planning and it quickly became a reality in our minds, we realized how important it was to have them there, both for us and them. Additionally, doing a last minute immediate-family-only wedding provided us with an easy excuse to do the size and style wedding we’ve always wanted without feeling the need to give excuses or having any additional drama and stress that we unfortunately dreaded before. In retrospect, we were glad we listened to our hearts and committed to what felt right.
When we first officially decided to elope three weeks before, we made a basic list of the essentials our attire, ceremony location, restaurant for dinner, photographer, hotel and once we decided to include our families two weeks before, for a flashing moment I thought we needed to plan or arrange more events for the weekend and details for the wedding. Then I remembered one of the main draws of eloping was that we didn’t need to fit or fulfill any expectations but our own and we followed through with the original plan. Our families were told to arrive anytime on or before Friday and leave anytime on or after Sunday, with Saturday for the wedding. Saturday morning was left completely open with wedding events starting at 1:30pm and a break of sorts before dinner. Not over planning proved essential for a variety of reasons. On one hand, we were all arriving from a very wide variety of time zones, so free time before and during events allowed much needed naps, downtime, and opportunities for our families to bond (and gamble!). On the other hand, the free time resulted in some amazing ad hoc additions that we hadn’t had time to think of or arrange, like limos for transportation, vintage accessories, and boutonnières to name a few.
Favorite thing about the wedding
Elvis. He really encapsulated the exact vibe we’ve always wanted, and how I think we strive to live our life together an incredibly difficult and sincere combination of lighthearted yet meaningful.
I think we are really lucky in this instance that we both perhaps perform better under pressure than if given too much time. Keeping it a secret as well removed all society pressure, and it still baffles us both how honestly easy it was to make decisions and do our dream elopement in such short time when not concerned with society’s standards and external expectations.