You got engaged! You got excited! You started planning! And then reality hit! It’s entirely possible you might be suddenly realizing how much work planning a wedding really is! How many expenses, how many meetings, how many vendors there are to coordinate, and how much time and money it’s going to take to pull this off! Suddenly the idea of just the two of you running away and getting married is starting to sound very tempting! For some couples, an all inclusive elopement is the perfect choice – but how do you know if an elopement is the right choice for you?!
Consider Your Goals
Every couple has a few main parts of their wedding experience that are most important to them. Take a minute and imagine your ideal wedding day. A day that includes everything you want, and nothing you don’t. Does it involve the fun of planning? Of making lists and interviewing vendors, of dedicating your weekends to meetings, tastings and tours? Or does the thought of all that arranging and organizing make you wonder how you’ll ever get it all done? Are amazing wedding photos the most important part for you? Are you wondering how to find a photographer who will be supportive, encouraging, positive and deliver amazing work? Does the idea of being surrounded by family and friends make your heart swell with joy, or does it make you feel nervous about everyone getting along, and stressed about “performing” to everyone’s expectations? Are you looking forward to designing the most Insta and Pinterest worthy wedding anyone has ever seen? Or are you looking for a day more focused on joining your lives together, than on fireworks and fancy decorations? There is honestly no right or wrong answer to any of the above questions. They are all worthy goals. My firm belief is that you should listen to your gut. If your gut reaction is a feeling of stress, or nervousness, dread at thought of how much this will cost, or how to have everyone in the same room and make sure they all get along…then an all inclusive elopement might be the perfect solution for you.
Consider your family
Families are amazing! They can also be a source of stress sometimes depending on family dynamics. It can be hard to please everyone…sometimes it feels impossible. Are you super close with your family? Do they support your decisions and want the best for you? Would it break your mother’s heart if she wasn’t part of your big day? Or would your parents be relieved that they did not need to fund a large event? Would family tensions be kept to a minimum by not forcing everyone into the same room together? I was barely 23 when I got married, and I don’t think I really understood that marriage was really the joining of two families, not just the joining of you and your partner. I think your wedding day and how it is handled can set the tone for your relationship with your in laws and other relatives for years to come. So whether you are deciding on a big wedding, or an elopement for just the two of you, sharing your plans, your hopes and your concerns with your immediate family, in an honest way can make sure everyone is supporting you, and on the same page.
Once you’ve made a decision to elope, here are some of my favorite tips!
Little details can make it special
Incorporating special mementos into your wedding day can bring beautiful meaning to your photos! Think about putting together a small box of treasures for your photographer to incorporate into your photos. Ticket stubs from your first date, an old love letter, the handkerchief your grandmother carried at her wedding, a locket with your dad’s photo attached to your bouquet (so that he is with you as you walk down the aisle!). Items that have meaning to you can enhance your photos, and really help personalize your wedding day. One of my recent couples included antique skeleton keys (the groom was a locksmith!) for me to use in their photos, as well as the first love letter the groom ever gave to the bride – it was so sweet and they made for beautiful photos. You can see more from that elopement HERE! A sweetheart’s table is another area where you can have the fun of special wedding decor without all the expense. Our Elegance Elopement package includes a special sweethearts table designed for each couple. A gorgeous little oasis to display your cake, incorporate your wedding colors and enjoy each others company over a glass of champagne!
Don’t overlook photography – it’s going to be really important!
I’m all for saving money, and you’re already saving a bunch by choosing to elope instead of host a full wedding (yay!). So one of my best pieces of advice would be to make sure you have a great photographer. Your wedding photos will be the main way for you to share this important experience with your loved ones. You’ll want all the big moments covered (first look! first kiss! first dance!) but you’ll also want the little details turned into memories as well (putting on your earrings, that first look in the mirror when you’ve put your gown on, the locket you’ve attached to your wedding bouquet). An important thing to remember is that the quality of your photos will be important, but the personality of your photographer will be just as important! Your photographer will be with you from the start of your experience until the very end (you may actually spend more time on your wedding day with your photographer than with anyone else!). So be sure to choose someone with wonderful work, and a wonderful personality that resonates with you. We have a motto at the Golden Horseshoe Inn “there are no bad days”, and what that means, is our whole staff is dedicated to giving 110% every time. We know these are days that can’t be done again, so we put our heart and soul into getting it right the first time!
Make it epic.
One of the best things about an elopement, is all the freedom you have time wise. There is no need to rush through photos because everyone is waiting for dinner to be served. There are no one else’s problems to deal with (no upset toddlers, or bridesmaid dresses with broken zippers, or groomsmen who forgot their tie!). A lot of our couples who choose an all inclusive elopement in the mountains, opt for epic mountain top wedding photos! The photo below was taken last summer. It was the most beautiful day for Cara and Bruce. We created a gorgeous elopement for the two of them, and loved the way they incorporated a little bit of whimsy and fun into their day (Bruce loves the band KISS, so they had a Gene Simmons cake topper!) You can see more from their wedding day HERE! My favorite part of their day was that we got to enjoy the beauty of a Virginia wedding day, and the amazing Blue Ridge Mountains without having to rush! So take your time, and really soak in the day, and all that the area you are getting married in has to offer!
Host a post-wedding shindig, without all the trappings and expense of a large wedding day
This is the perfect way to celebrate with friends and family, and make them feel included in your big life step, without breaking the bank on a full scale wedding day. Lots of our couples enjoy a calm, wonderful, adventure filled wedding day, created especially for the two of them. And they host a more informal gathering (think backyard bbq or picnic in the park) a month or so after their wedding day. This is the perfect time to show off your epic wedding photos, or wedding film if you had one made. If hosting an event isn’t your style, you can create really cute announcements to send out, share the love and spread the word! I love Shutterfly (I make a year in review book for my daughters every year through them!) and they have some adorable Wedding Announcements (you can even input addresses and they’ll mail them out for you!)