Our Joshua Tree Elopement
Whenever I talk about having eloped, I'm usually met with the same response: their eyes get big and wide, a smile leaps onto their face, and they ask lots of questions. We're celebrating six months of marriage this Saturday, so I thought it'd be the perfect time to post a few answers!
Deciding to elope was a big + hard decision for sure. I've been to my share of gorgeous, traditional weddings - I mean, how else could I have gotten so interested in the world of WEDDING photography?! I was covered with goosebumps when my friends Tiffany and Matt exchanged vows during a Catholic ceremony, and equally so when Madison and Walt said "I do" at a 100-year-old southern home. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing something more traditional.
I believe a wedding should aim to be a reflection of your relationship. This is the very beginning of the new start in both your lives. It's a manifestation of the bonds you've built together and all you've been through. It's a bridge from where you've been to where you're going. Your wedding - and your marriage - don't have to look like any one else's.
It just has to work for you two.
We decided to elope for a few reasons:
1. Even though we're social, we're both introverts at heart. The thought of a huge wedding seemed so out of character for us. We'll take a vegan pizza loaded with veggies + a documentary on Netflix over going out to a club any day; something that felt super high-energy would have been really straining and felt unnatural.
2. We *try* to keep things pretty minimal. We're both passionate about sustainability and try to be mindful of that whenever we can. Traditional weddings can produce a lot of waste - from the bridesmaids gowns that will never be worn again, to an exorbitant amount of leftover buffet food no one will eat. A lot of more modern approaches have made great progress in reducing this waste, but again - it just felt like it would be forced and not in line with our values.
3. As big fans of travel, nature, and national parks, we wanted to choose a location that really reflected those interests. Neither of us was excited at the thought of having a church wedding, and by eloping we avoided that entirely! We researched a lot of different parks and places. We decided to stay in California because we had just made the big adventure out west and everything was still (and is still) so exciting to explore! Joshua Tree is incredibly picturesque and not as highly trafficked in January as many other California parks, so we knew we would have a little more intimacy in that space.
4. Financially! I recently read the average U.S. wedding costs $35,000. With us both having graduated college only last year, $35k wasn't something we were itching to add to the piles of student debt laying around. When it was all said + done, our wedding cost us about $1500. He wore his best suit but bought a new tie + pocket square, I bought a dress online + had it fitted. We bought locally-roasted coffee in Joshua Tree to drink after exchanging vows and picked up way too many flowers from the Downtown Los Angeles Flower Market (did you see that bouquet? so much for minimal!). We stayed at a super cute AirBnb in the desert + spent time enjoying nature.
5. We wanted to be married already, damnit! After dating for nearly 5 years and living together for almost as long, we both knew we were in it for the long haul. We had celebrated victories and mourned losses. We worked countless busy weekend brunches at one of Atlanta's top restaurants (shout out to The General Muir), which bonds even strangers in unimaginable ways. We traveled together, helped each other make big decisions, and supported each other through it all. More than anything, we were extremely happy and ridiculously in love.
The first month we were dating, I told him I'd marry him whenever he was ready. It took a little longer than I would have liked, but in the end I wouldn't change a thing.
**Photo credit to the amazing Victoria Bonvicini. So grateful for these beautiful images that captured the day, and for the inspiration she has always served for my own journey in couples photography!