As someone whose career consists of making women feel beautiful on their wedding day, you may be surprised to learn that I’ve never been one of those girls who has dreamt of her big day since she was five. My mother doesn’t have a photo of me playing dress up in a white gown and I just recently learned all the different diamond cuts and shapes. I think I was too busy dreaming up my next adventure or career goal to even start daydreaming about a ring, dress, venue, hairstyle and bridal party, to name a few. So when I finally met Mr. Right at the perfect age of 30, we were both so excited to just be married and spend our days together that wasting a whole year of life planning a big wedding and dropping thousands and thousands of hard earned dollars on one day sounded absolutely unbearable.
Once we started the discussion of marriage, we immediately realized we would have to either have a huge Nashville wedding with 300+ guests or else just simply elope with absolutely no guest list. Clearly, we chose the second option and I’m about to tell you why it will forever be the best decision ever.
A week after we got engaged, we closed on our very first house together and one week after that, we had a trip to Northern California planned to attend the wedding of our friends Matt and Mikaelaa. When we told Mikaelaa we were thinking of eloping, she reminded us that she happens to be ordained and said she would love to be the one to marry us. So as it turns out, she ended up being our officiant the day after her very own wedding. (Talk about a true friend!) Her hot pink hair and slight hangover made the day perfectly laidback and her new husband, Matt was our witness. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.
Now, let’s rewind for a second. I am a typical girl in some ways. I wanted to find a stunning location, an incredible photographer, the perfect white dress, write our own vows and do a first look. Even with less than two weeks to plan this thing, we did stick to those traditional wedding practices and I’m so glad we did.
I googled “Northern California Elopement Photographer” and by the grace of God, I stumbled upon the incredible Jess Rankin who happened to be available on our date. Her photos are so unbelievably artistic and unique that you can’t stop scrolling through them. That is exactly what we wanted for our photos and that is exactly what she gave us. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who have commented on the beauty of our wedding photos. (Jess, you are a true artist!) I also started googling to find resorts on the Sonoma coast that were close to Mikaelaa’s wedding venue so we wouldn’t have to travel too far the day after their wedding. A 45 minute drive took us to the extraordinarily stunning Timber Cove Resort. It was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some. I’ve told everyone I know to take a romantic weekend getaway there ASAP.
Now, let’s talk about the dress. I was planning on ordering a simple white long-sleeved lace dress that I found on Lulus.com for $70 until I found this one. I didn’t want to be overly glam, but I wanted something pretty and kind of simple that still looked like me. I happened to stumble upon the dress at UAL, which is sort of the TJ Maxx of designer clothing. They get last season items or department store returns, but it’s all different random designers, and you have to really dig to find all the hidden gems. This happened to be one of the few white dresses they had and it fit like a glove, didn’t need any alterations, and happened to be on major clearance for $14. Winning. (The designer is Jarlo London.) I asked my mother to mail me a simple necklace and ring that belonged to my Grandmother to complete the look. Oh, and yes I did my own hair and makeup. Obvi.
I made sure Jordan didn’t get a peek at my dress before our wedding day, and I didn’t see his outfit before then either. One thing I absolutely love about traditional weddings is seeing the first look photos. They get me every time, so I wanted to make sure he was genuinely surprised at what I looked like when we did ours. It ended up being one of my favorite images because Jess so flawlessly captured Jordan’s emotion. I remember him telling me, “You’ve never looked more beautiful” and then I’m sure he said something inappropriate when I turned around, like “Dang, that ass.” HAHAHA. But, really.
Moving on to the vows. Since I’m a writer, I obviously wouldn’t settle for some basic “repeat after me” vows. We were both on board for writing our own so they would be genuine, authentic and straight from the heart. I promised to embrace football (Go 49ers!) and he promised to be my personal photographer. Okay there was a lot more than that, but those were the highlights. 🙂
Our love story has taught me the true meaning of getting married. It’s not about a big fancy party with all of your friends and family. It’s not about a $5,000 designer gown that you wear once. When we decided to run away and get married two weeks after we got engaged, some people were genuinely shocked (although many weren’t) and others assumed I was pregnant (definitely not the case!) but when it comes down to it, we genuinely just couldn’t wait to start our life together. It’s as simple as that. We both knew God had worked in each of our lives and prepared us for each other before we finally met. So when we eventually had that first date (he chased after me for a year prior) it didn’t take us long to realize that we had each found the person we had been praying for and we didn’t want to live another minute without each other. That’s what getting married is all about. There’s no timeline you have to follow when God reveals His plan to you. And if you want to have a huge wedding followed by a wild party, please do and don’t forget to invite us because we’re like, really fun. But if you want to keep it simple, save your money and take my advice. Find a beautiful destination, run away with the love of your life and don’t worry what anyone else thinks because it’s not about them. Just make sure you have a photographer and plenty of champagne. 🙂