Mandy & Luke

Seattle Elopement with an Afterparty

*Mandy, Graphic Designer & Luke, Mechanical Engineer*

In the early days of APW, elopements were still taboo (even here). We talked about them. We debated them. And I hoped, one day, that going to the courthouse would become a less taboo and more viable option for more folks. And these days, things are changing. There are photographers who focus almost entirely on elopements. The New York Times is writing pieces about people (APW wedding grads!) who eloped and had a party afterwards. The conversations about the courthouse seem less fraught. And if anything can push the conversation forward on elopements, it’s crazy-amazing weddings like Mandy and Luke’s. (And, cough, not to be shallow and all, but can we talk about her SHOES? And her NECKLACE?) And with that, Mandy…

I’m pretty sure we did everything wrong* in planning our wedding, but in the end, everything turned out just right.

We planned our engagement. We shopped for a ring together and picked one out that was perfect. We ordered it and had it shipped to my work. It stared at me from my desk all day. I took it home, gave the box to Luke (to give to me), went to work out, and came home (sweaty) to become a fiancé. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was incredibly romantic. This was a life changing decision that we were making. It wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, but it was one of the big ones. And we did it together.

We knew right away that we didn’t want a wedding. We are so so so lucky to have oodles of supportive family and friends that we share our lives with, but when it comes to undying confessions of eternal love, we are intensely private. We opted for the courthouse in the spring with a delayed reception planned for the summer.

We told everyone our plans in an effort to head off any hurt feelings a surprise elopement might cause. In hindsight, it didn’t matter how much notice we gave. Feelings were still a little hurt. Everyone says “it’s your day,” but we learned it’s a day for everyone else, too. Ultimately, we decided to do what was right for us, and went full steam ahead with the courthouse.

We got married in March. We woke up, went to breakfast at our favorite café, walked around the sleepy city, and headed back to get ready. We invited our friends Sean and Julia, an amazing photographer and videographer, respectively, to tag along for a couple of reasons. One, we knew we needed two witnesses and couldn’t invite some people and not others, and two, we knew we were going to celebrate this day months later with everyone and wanted to be able to share all of it.

The way Sean and Julia captured our day was so perfectly us—glammed up versions of us, of course—but us nonetheless. We will never be able to thank them enough. It’s funny to watch the transition from our comfortable selves to a nervous bride-and-groom-to-be as the pressure mounted—even without an audience. We headed to the courthouse with our paparazzi in tow, met with the judge, and then it was time.

Our ceremony was one minute long—which we think is hilarious. Then we were married. We all headed out for drinks (and more pictures). Julia caught my bouquet in our hotel room. And then Luke and I went and had a nice quiet dinner at our favorite restaurant to wrap it all up. The next day we left for our honeymoon.

Fast forward to a few weekends ago. We threw a delayed reception at a summer camp in Oregon—think bunk beds and horse shoes. We had enough food, drinks, and places to sleep for anyone that wanted to come. All they had to do was show up. The rest we covered. And they did not disappoint.

We spent the weekend floating down the river, getting our faces painted (my parents chose a new career path when I graduated college… seriously), making s’mores, and hanging out with our nearest and dearest. Everyone pitched in. Our moms made hundreds of yards of bunting. Our dads hung lights. Our friends moved tables and made pies in jars a la pinterest. And on Saturday we had as normal of a reception as we could muster.

We debuted the wedding video for everyone to see, which was a pretty magical moment. The pictures from the courthouse ceremony became part of our guest book so we could forever tie those two days together. I think that by the time all was said and done, any hurt feelings were dissolved. It was an ideal endcap to our months long celebration.

At its core, getting married is about you and your partner, so obviously you have to acknowledge your own needs when deciding how that will translate to a wedding (for us that meant a very private ceremony at the courthouse). But remember, there is probably a village of people that want to help you celebrate. Find a way to let them. In the end, I’m glad we did it the way we did it. The wedding day was just about us, which is what we needed. But the celebration at camp was so warm and lovey that I think we didn’t realize how much we needed that too.

The Info—Photography: Sean Airhart (Wedding Day); Friends and Family (Camp) /Venue: Seattle Municipal Courthouse (Wedding Day); Camp Lane in Walton, OR (Camp) / Flowers: Marigold and Mint (Wedding Day) / Videographer: Julia Welbourne / Face Paint: Surface Art Mandy’s Wedding Day Outfit: Dress: BHLDNSweater: Urban Outfitters; Shoes: DSW; Necklace: White Owl / Luke’s Wedding Day Outfit: Suit and Tie: Macy’s; Cufflinks: Oruaka / Mandy’s Camp Outfit: Dress: Urban Outfitters; Shirt: Target

*As the fairytale wedding is supposed to go

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