I recently got married in Joshua Tree. When this news trickled out to friends and family before the wedding, I was met with countless puzzled faces and a common question: “Why?”
The answer is simple: why not?
The case for eloping overseas
Puzzled looks weren’t the only reaction we received after announcing our overseas wedding. We also received a few knowing nods and honest admissions from others that they wish they had done it that way. It was this honesty that cemented our belief that this was the right choice for us.
Weddings tend to be an elaborate parade of rules and traditions. And while I absolutely adore attending ‘typical’ weddings with plenty of friends, family, booze, dancing and speeches, this well-trodden route wasn’t for us. We still wanted the parade, but we wanted it done our way – without the rules.
We didn’t initally think this way. After we got engaged, in came the questions about where and when we would get married, and we tried in vain to plan a wedding that would include the ‘right’ amount of family and friends without costing a fortune. The wedding location and how long the celebration would run for was also a biggie. It became a constant balancing act of how we could plan a meaningful celebration in one day without spending an obscene amount of money on something that would only last hours. All these questions beat us down and made us wonder why celebrating our love had to be such a big song and dance for everyone else, but not for us. Call us selfish millenials, but we were tired of trying to keep everyone else happy, and chose ourselves, instead. After all, wasn’t a wedding supposed to be about our love?
Photo by White Lane Studio.
How to choose where to elope
While it may not seem apparent to outsiders looking in, Joshua Tree was the obvious choice for us. Despite some initial pushback from our family (yes, we semi-eloped, not fully eloped), once we had our hearts set on Joshua Tree, there was no going back. The southern California desert was somewhere we had always wanted to visit together and a place we wanted to initially go for our honeymoon. Heat, mysterious desert energy and the fact that Queens of the Stone Age – who hail from that area – have soundtracked much of our relationship were all factors that appealed to us. To find your ideal elopement location, I would urge you to ask yourself: where have the two of you always wanted to go? Where holds a special place in your hearts?
I remember a particularly frustrating morning trying to decide exactly what we were actually going to do for our wedding and how we could justify paying a crazy sum for one day. From this frustration, realisation struck and the road less travelled suddenly became very appealing to us. We still decided to spend a crazy amount of money, but a month-long holiday combined with a low-key wedding ceremony while we were there sat better with us than spending the same amount on one day that would go by in a blur.
PPhoto by White Lane Studio.
Should you invite family to your overseas wedding?
The easy answer to this is yes and no. It just depends on how much stress you want to endure – and I don’t mean that in a malicious way. The simple fact is that the more factors you add into a wedding, the more stressful it will be. If that’s something you’re trying to escape by eloping, it may not be worth it to invite friends and family.
For us, it would have certainly been easier to run off by ourselves and escape it all. There is something very romantic and appealing about the idea of really eloping and not telling anyone about it beforehand.
However, family is central to our relationship and we each spend a lot of time with our families. We wanted a way to have our cake and eat it too, and having a semi-elopment with only very close family and friends there (our total guest count was 10) made the day very special and memorable for us. My father even walked me down the makeshift ‘aisle’ (the desert floor). I still had bridesmaids and my husband had a best man.
Photo by White Lane Studio.
But what about the photographer? The dress? Do you still have a cake?
The great thing about eloping or semi-eloping is picking and choosing all the elements of a traditional wedding that you like, and leaving out those that you don’t like.
What’s even more awesome about choosing to elope overseas is the relative ease of organising it. The internet makes it pretty damn easy to research locations and wedding vendors.
We organised to hold our ceremony in Joshua Tree National Park with an amazing Minister that I found online – Minister Marie Burns Holzer of Let’s Get Married SoCal. We organised the ceremony with her completely over the internet via email and Skype.
Yep, we had a photographer and videographer. There was no way in the world we were going to have a wedding in the desert without someone there to capture the magic of such an occasion. We chose Ali and Sam of White Lane Studio to join us for our special day – they are two seriously creative Aussies who travel the world capturing love stories. And I think you’ll agree they did an amazing job!
My husband and I like to get dressed up, so that’s what we did for our wedding (duh!). I wore a gorgeous wedding dress by Grace Loves Lace – the Nia 2.0 – and my husband wore a full suit, even though it was 30°C+.
We held our wedding reception at Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. Yes, we had cake, speeches, dinner and dancing. Afterwards, we went in the pool!
The great thing about all of the above is that any of these steps are optional. When you elope, it’s like a choose-your-own-adventure Goosebumps novel. We didn’t feel like we had to sacrifice on anything by semi-eloping, and it felt completely customised to our preferences.
Photos by White Lane Studio.
Simple reasons for eloping
If you want the TL;DR version of this blog post, consider this:
- Money – do you want to spend thousands on one day, or would you rather spend it on a holiday, wedding and honeymoon all in one?
- Freedom – do you want to be free from the rules and restraints of a traditional wedding?
- Choice – do you want to pick and choose what you like about weddings, and forgo the things you don’t like?
- Love – do you want to have a meaningful ceremony that will actually be about your relationship?
If so, it might be time to consider eloping…
Photo by White Lane Studio.
What do you think? Do you vote for traditional wedding or eloping? Let me know, I’d love to hear about your experiences with planning a wedding!