As a photographer who specializes in weddings, I like to imagine that I have a lot of insight on the topic ;) Even more so, as a married person, I can attest to my personal experiences and share with you my thought process and mine and Augie's personal adventure!
So here's the thing:
We planned a huge wedding and eloped anyways.
Yes! You can totally do it. There is a way you can celebrate with friends and family and still reserve your special day without the big wedding day "hassles".
Now, before we get too far down this post, I want to make a disclaimer: I love, love, love weddings of any sort. From huge Catholic weddings to small backyard ceremonies to elopements, I am a firm believer that it doesn't matter how you marry your best friend, it's that you marry your best friend. Every special day is incredible in it's own way. If anyone thinks they can shame you for making your wedding day your own, consider me as your Honorary Wedding Day Defender. ;)
And now back to our regularly scheduled broadcasting..
We've always expected to have a LARGE wedding. Between my family and Augies, we have around 40 immediate aunts & uncles, not including their spouses.. and almost all of them have lots of children. Let's just say, almost three years into marriage and I'm still reminding Augie what my cousins fourth kids name is.
Growing up, I imagined a beautiful, elegant wedding with fresh flowers permeating the air, floor length gowns, well tailored suits and champagne glasses never more than half empty. With a bajillion immediate relatives, this was never going to be a realistic dream for me. Weddings are expensive. I know. I've lived on both sides of the fold. I may have been young, but I knew four things for sure.
1. I didn't want to spend the 7k I was quoted for tents, chairs and tables (truth). At the time for me, that was a lot of moolah for butts.. and still is.
2. If I was going to invest in anything, it was going to be the only thing that I could keep from that ONE day for the rest of my life: photography.
3. All I wanted was to marry my best friend.
4. We still wanted to throw a party to celebrate with friends and family.
So, we did just that. Augie and I picked a day that we had off from work together and set up a date with the local Justice of the Peace. We married at 12:30 pm on a super brisk Thursday in March and were accompanied by our closest family members. After that, we walked to a local cafe for a late lunch and went home to soak it all in that we finally did the thing we had been talking about for so long.
Now, if you know me, you KNOW that I wasn't just going to let it end like that. I had only accomplished 2/4 bullet points on the things I already knew. I was missing key parts- the photography + the party!
So, we planned a party. We saved money by having at a family members converted barn + our parents and friends pitched in and made lots of yummy food. My mom also hired a band to come play for a few hours, but Uncle Donnie's juke box lasted long in to the evening. We were just out to have a good time and that's exactly what we did. To this day, we still get people asking when we will throw another party on the ridge!
Okay okay. If you've gotten this far in the story, you're probably thinking "Sooooo if you cared so much about photos, where does the photography come in?" WELL, I'm about to get there! Keep on reading, friend.
Augie and I have lived together since we started dating. We pretty much had all of the house supplies we'd ever need, so at our party a lot of people kindly gifted us cash which we used that towards our honeymoon! Two weeks off from life does the mind wonders, people. For our honeymoon, I hired the most amazing photographer who met us on the beaches outside of San Francisco for late engagement portraits, since we never planned any while we were home. Don't hold it against me, it was very, very, very early into my life as a photographer ;) The next day, we road tripped up to the Redwoods where the same photographer did our elopement portraits. These portraits are so incredibly special to me. They are also completely out of the traditional wedding order, and to be blunt, I do not care. Our Redwoods photos are so, utterly US. I even let Augie wear his favorite hat (ok, we forgot his nice one back in Wisconsin!) and *nice* jeans.. mainly because to this day he still won't let me buy him a pair of slacks, ha! I wore a lace shirt with a stunning hand made skirt, crafted by one of my closest friends from high school (thanks Fi, love you!). Shameless plug to her website: Fiona Con | NOT JUST A LABEL
Guys, trust me when I say this: the photos of you and your husband from whatever format of a wedding day you plan are going to be the ones you print to have in your home. Yes, of course family photos are super duper important heirlooms (don't worry, we took some on my camera the day of our party!) of loved ones to have, but your wedding day is about you two. Just the two of you. My most important piece of advice? Do not allow anyone make you loose sight of that.
So here we are. I love checklists, and I can confidently say that I accomplished all of my goals with the way we did our "wedding". To be honest, we were really doing marriage. There's nothing wrong with the way we did it, and there's nothing wrong with the most traditional way possible. Go through your day (or if you're like us- days) the way YOU want and what's best for your marriage. Get married outside under a big oak tree. Get married with a Justice of the Peace. Get married by priests. Keep it religious or don't mention it at all. Have your dog be your Best Man or your Grandma your flower girl. Know that I support you. We live in a wonderful world full of opportunity and creativeness. There is no wrong way to love, be loved or rules on how to celebrate it.
Photo credit to the effortlessly amazing Clara Ann Photography. Girl, you the best.