5 Questions We Asked Before Deciding to Elope (and some other thoughts)

August 11, 2017 - we eloped!

I was not prepared for this day - I really wasn't. Our whole love story was a whirlwind, one that I'll share in a blog post series someday soon, but our wedding day was that of a dream, and better than anything I could have imagine. I firmly believe that the way we experienced our wedding day was exactly how it should be. This post is going to be one where I share my experience with eloping, how it shaped my first year of marriage, and why - as a wedding photographer - I think more couples should choose smaller, intimate weddings.

To sum it up for you, our first date was August 11, 2016. We became "official" in late October 2016, and said "I love you" the first weekend of November. I knew I was going to spend my life with him on our 10th date - I just didn't know how quickly that would happen. My little brother announced that he was joining the Marines in early 2017. He was planning on heading to bootcamp at the end of August. I cried a bit, the military is scary, and then I worried about planning a wedding in the future with my little brother (and first best friend, even though he's a stinker) being on the military's schedule. How would we do it? 

I'd always envisioned my wedding day the way that the world had told me to: big, overdone, necessary. It wasn't until my brother announced his enlistment and I realized that I was ready to be married, that I really started to contemplate it. I felt completely obligated to have a wedding for everyone else - but not for me. I remember thinking "maybe we'll rent out a boy scout camp for the weekend?" but even that seemed like too much work. It was at this point that I began to consider eloping, and how that might look for us. 

My husband's family is scattered throughout the south, primarily. The land of big weddings, large dresses, and lots of formalities. I love the tradition that comes with where he's from, and I love photographing traditional weddings in-between the small, intimate ones - but it wasn't me. I just couldn't get behind a huge wedding with literally everyone invited, but, I also couldn't figure out how on earth we'd have a "small" wedding where we had to pick and choose who was invited. Some friends, but not others? Some family, but ignore the rest? How do you tell people "you're not allowed to be here on this special day."?

I don't really remember when we decided we wanted to elope. My brother was set to leave for bootcamp on August 29th, and July was slammed with pre-existing commitments. I had the genius idea to get married on the 1 year anniversary of our first date, and there was no way a traditional wedding was being planned in that timeframe. So, I suggested eloping, or maybe he did -- I don't know. And, it stuck.

We got engaged on May 25th, and announced soon after that we were forgoing a traditional wedding. I was so nervous when I published that post on my facebook announcing it, but we were met with so much support for our decision. Someone asked me why I made a public announcement on eloping, and I really felt strongly about experiencing the process and the day like any other bride does, and I didn't want to have to keep a secret. Our wedding was more of an intimate wedding since we had 13 family members, but I really wasn't okay with being secretive. Plus, I wanted to own it. I felt that fewer people would have an opinion on how we were doing it if I just was straightforward about it. 

We're just a week or so shy of our 1 year anniversary, so I wanted to share some thoughts on how we decided to elope, because I think they may help you if you're on the fence.

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These 5 questions helped us decide if we were making the right choice. Here's our answers:

#1. Who are the most important people we want to be present?
Answer: Our parents and siblings, and my one set of grandparents. We both come from amazing families who have shaped us and who we are, and we knew our wedding day couldn't exist without their presence. 

#2. Will the people we invite hold us to our vows and commitment in hard times?
Answer: This is something I've always thought about in regards to weddings. Weddings should be more about the marriage, and less about the day. Lets face it: the first year (and the next 40, so I hear) are never going to be easy, because marriage is counter-intuitive to our selfish nature. So, in considering who to invite and how to limit that with our intimate wedding/elopement, we asked this question, and it affirmed that the people we wanted present would be the ones to hold us to our vows. It also helped us feel more comfortable in choosing an elopement, seeing that many of our family members are not present in our day to day lives, and while we love them dearly, they don't have a direct impact on our relationship. 

#3. Would a big wedding bring us more joy?
Answer: noooooooope. We were so stressed out at the thought of a large wedding. It just didn't fit who we are. A lot of people want the party aspect of a wedding - but dude, I say throw one later! It's a great excuse and helps remove some stress from the actual wedding day! 

#4. Could we spend the money on other things?
Answer: Yes, and we did! We were gifted money for our wedding by so many thoughtful people - and all of it went towards fun money on our honeymoon. On top of that, my in-laws blessed us with the gift of our honeymoon, and we felt so much better about spending money on experiences over the wedding day.

#5.Are we choosing what's best for our relationship?
Answer: heck to the yes. I personally have seen so many couples strugggggggggle through their engagement, fighting over details that just.don't.matter. Eloping allowed us to be in the moment during our (short) engagement and get to know each other better.

And, now that I'm a year into this whole marriage thing? I'm so grateful, every day, that we got married the way that we did. Seriously. There are so many metaphors to spending your wedding day in the mountains, and it was honestly amazing. I'm grateful for our family who supported our intimate wedding/elopement and the people who congratulated us from all over. It was truly the best day, and it changed my entire direction with my business. 

After we eloped, I was so inspired by the magic we felt, that I decided to pursue intimate weddings and elopements straight on. If you're reading this because you are on the fence about eloping, send me an email, I'd love to help you decide if this is the right route for you.

ps. would you like to see a blog post about our actual elopement day, from my perspective? Let me know in the comments!