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Our $1.5K Low-Key San Antonio Riverwalk Elopement

With my great grandpa officiating!

Darian, Education Coordinator + Aj, Butcher
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: We eloped last minute at a historic and moody San Antonio riverwalk hotel and had a great time hanging out with family getting sweaty in the Texas heat.
Planned Budget: $1500
Actual Budget: $1500
Number of Guests: 25
Location: Hotel Havana, San Antonio, TX
Photographer: Peyton Mariah Photo

Where we allocated the most funds: We allocated the most funds to our venue and photographer. We decided to elope about a month out from our chosen date for a couple of reasons. One: our wedding had been postponed due to Covid-19. Two: my husband and I lived in Georgia but all of my family lived in Texas. I knew that a majority of my family members weren’t going to be able to join us when we had our wedding, so we embarked on a mission to elope on our original wedding weekend. This meant securing a venue last minute where we could host 20-30 people as safely as we could and for as small of a budget as possible.

Hotel Havana ended up being the perfect location for this! We ended up paying $400 for a ceremony space as well as a private dining room that was separated from hotel guests.

It was also very important to me that this day was captured by our original wedding photographer. We were SO LUCKY that she happened to not be booked on our elopement day. Peyton was, and is, so incredibly kind on top of being ridiculously talented.

Where we allocated the least funds: We spent about $30-40 for the roses and greenery in my bouquet at a wonderful flower shop in Austin called Austin Flower Co. I put together the bouquet myself which saved us money. When he and I first met, I was a florist, so it was a cool full circle moment. We also saved money on Aj’s outfit, which we got on sale at Dillard’s and ended up spending at $60 on.

Also, my grandparents paid for the hotel room we stayed at the night of, which was incredibly kind of them. We didn’t spend any money on decor as the hotel was beautiful as is, and they provided the chairs for the ceremony. For dinner, everyone paid for their own meals, which also helped us out a ton. We also considered a potluck when thinking of ways to save money, and I think that would have been a great alternative!

What was totally worth it: The most special aspect of the day, besides marrying my husband, was having the ceremony officiated my great grandfather. I couldn’t imagine him not being there as I got married, but he isn’t able to travel and won’t be coming to our postponed wedding. My husband was actually the one to suggest that my great grandfather officiate the ceremony, and I couldn’t believe it when he agreed! My grandma helped him get ordained, and he did a wonderful job on the day. That, more than anything, was worth it.

Another really worthwhile moment was having a first look with him. This was something our photographer suggested as Aj is more traditional and wanted to wait to see me. I was very grateful for the time with just me and my great grandfather as we weren’t able to talk very much after the ceremony.

In general, it was so worth having the elopement because we were able to celebrate with family that had never had the chance to meet Aj in the six years we had been together and to have my family surrounding us in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Our photographer was also definitely worth it because the photos are gorgeous and they captured us and our guests so well. Peyton was amazing to have around that day.

What was totally not worth it: The stress of finding a location was not worth it. I was spending hours and hours trying to find a venue after we had already booked Hotel Havana for the reception. I was worried that it would be too expensive, but I definitely should have inquired about a ceremony space with them so much earlier and saved myself the headache!

It was also not worth waiting until the last minute to try and schedule an appointment to get my marriage license. Schedule it early, and make it a priority, especially during this pandemic! There were several moments where we didn’t think we would be able to make that aspect happen.

A few things that helped us along the way: Knowing that this day didn’t have to be very structured or formal was so helpful in allowing us to just go with the flow and not get stressed out about the little things, like one of the guests being unable to find parking and having to push the ceremony time back a bit.

My grandparents were great not only because they got us our room for the night, but also because they played chauffeur for us for our entire trip. Aj couldn’t leave as early as I did, and my grandma ended up driving me from Austin to San Antonio to get a marriage license as well. It was a little unorthodox, but resulted in a truly hilarious story.

It also helped immensely that we went with a very minimal elopement—we didn’t have to worry about decor, set up, invitations, or a ton of coordinating.

My best practical advice for my planning self: It is ok to not have everything planned out. Plan what you can, and then focus on the big details like marrying your partner, celebrating with people you love, and being very intentionally in the moment during your day.

There were things that I maybe wouldn’t have chosen in retrospect, but I don’t remember those when I think about our elopement or when I am looking at the photos—I remember how good it felt to celebrate our commitment and how smart I was to wear deodorant in that crazy hot, fall Texas heat.

Favorite thing about the wedding: My favorite thing was having my great grandfather officiate the ceremony, but a close second was getting to watch my handsome husband interacting with family members we don’t get to see but once every few years.

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