Moe & Ken’s Unplanned Las Vegas Elopement

* Moe, Administrative Assistant for Grant-Making Organization & Ken, Teacher *

I’ve always been a spontaneous kind of girl. Plans that change on the fly, unexpected developments, surprises, either good or bad, have never really swayed me. Staying flexible has allowed me to roll with life’s punches. So to many of my friends it was no surprise when I returned from Las Vegas married.

I went for a weekend birthday celebration on the tightest of budgets. The hotel was already paid for. It was just me and my boyfriend, who had just completed his Master’s degree. We returned after the graduation ceremony to discover that his roommate had emptied the apartment of half its contents because he was moving out. The roommate didn’t want to worry my boyfriend, so he waited to spring the big news on him until after graduation. Gee, thanks! He was left in a lurch without a roommate and no permanent job. He had to give up the apartment eventually and move in temporarily with his mother across town.

My streak of unemployment had ended with a new job that paid below what I was used to making, but I was still thankful. At home, tension was growing in my family over what should be done about my elderly mother. I left my apartment, steady job, and independent life to move in with her. Taking care of her had become a larger burden than I could handle, and my boyfriend had seen me pushed to my breaking point.

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I can’t think of any worse conditions to get married in, but we did. While in Las Vegas Ken won about $200 playing poker. Rational people would have used it for gas money to drive home. But not us! The more we talked about everything the more we realized that we just wanted to be together even if it meant starting with absolutely nothing. We had no place to live. He had no steady employment. We had no rings, but we found two copper bands at a souvenir shop while rushing to the chapel. I didn’t even have a white dress with me.

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Getting married at that moment meant we would have the support of our conservative families. Neither of us wanted to live together without being married. We wanted to be married, I wanted a wedding, but the money, jobs, and right circumstances may never come. So why not start now? I knew that I didn’t want to live another day without this man being my husband. White dress, fancy party, catered meal, lush flowers, towering cake be damned. I was going for it!

After our chapel ceremony we called our parents first, then family, and about a week later made the big cyber-announcement on Facebook. (You know it doesn’t really count until it’s on Facebook, right?) By the way, our parents on both sides all married in Las Vegas too. Maybe it’s in our genes.

We came home to family that was surprised and happy for us, and we have begun planning a family wedding in April. For me, I need that public validation of our commitment, and the very vain glamour girl inside me needs to have a day in a white dress. It will happen, but it was more important that I didn’t spend another day waiting for my new life to begin.

It took us about a month to be able to move in together. It meant selling any valuable possessions we had and organizing a huge yard sale. I had the contents of my old apartment but sold everything so we could get the new place. Friends stepped in to help in any way they could by helping us move and donating furniture. The best housewarming gift I got was a gift basket with small odds and ends that included two sets of utensils. We started out without even a fork to our names!

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I repeatedly tell my husband that because we chose to get married that the universe has given us its blessing. His employment situation improved with a long-term teaching assignment. Our new life is simple and humble. Even though we live on a small budget, all the bills and rent get paid. We eat well. We clip coupons. In the first four months of marriage we’ve managed to furnish our home by visiting thrift shops and estate sales.

Only looking back now do I realize how love inspired us to take huge risks just to be together. I would have done it all over again in a heartbeat to be where I am now. A few weeks into living at our new apartment we sat on our sofa watching TV with our dog. (The Chihuahua is as much his now as she is mine.) I began to cry. I told my husband, “I’m so happy; this is all I’ve ever wanted.”

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We’re planning a wedding with the help of friends and families on the smallest budget. I call it “The Little Wedding That Could.” I planned out the details of the wedding down to the last penny, and based on my calculations my husband set up a savings plan to have it all paid for. We’re planning a big backyard Mexican fiesta with a karaoke DJ and a taco man.

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I don’t know if doings things any other way would have been better. I know that most people have an idea in their heads about how things “should” work out. Sometimes life doesn’t unfold that way though. My fabulous white dress is still on its way, but more than anything I have my husband. Together we are creating a life that has made me immensely happy, even if it didn’t have all the material things.

The Info—Photographer: Moe / Location: Las Vegas, Nevada / Venue: Chapel of Bliss

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