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Why We Eloped | A Personal Post

Weddings are a point of endless conversation & debate. Buffet or assigned seating? Unplugged or IG live? Toss the bouquet or no? Cake or cupcakes (or doughnuts or cookies or mini pies…)

One of the biggest decisions once you’re engaged is whether or not you will elope or host a traditional wedding!

I don’t share a lot of personal life things on my blog, but as a bride who just got married, I wanted to share a bit about why we eloped, our experience and our photos!!!

A million thank you’s to our amazing photographer Sarah Kathleen. You can check out her work on her website; be prepared to lose track of time in that wonderous space for a bit!

bride and groom exchange vows on a bluff overlooking the ocean

I want to start by saying, we DID NOT go about anything in the traditional way. We got engaged, then moved in together, got pregnant and bought a house over the course of five years. FIVE.

We got married 11 days before our 8th dating anniversary. We were engaged for five years and four months. AND we eloped.

So if you aren’t a traditional bride, no worries. I’m part of that club. *fist bump*

(It’s also my second marriage and we are raising a blended family, so there’s that too for “non traditional”)


bride, groom and officiant laugh during vows

The Story

Our elopement was a planned affair. We didn’t run off and get married in secret without telling anyone. Our families knew it was happening and Brandon had asked my father’s permission (half a decade prior…)

We picked a location close to home overlooking the ocean, booked a hotel nearby to stay at and even had dinner with our witnesses at a local restaurant after!

We decided that eloping could mean exactly what we wanted it to mean for us. No expectations, no restrictions, no etiquette.

I even went to work for a half day that morning to save some vacation time.

(In retrospect I do NOT recommend this! I was a basket case and forgot my dress so I had an extra 1.5 hour drive to go home and back to retrieve it after I got off work…)


bride stands on rock next to the ocean and looks out to sea

The Details

This being my second marriage, the vision of an all white gown didn’t appeal to me. I knew we would be hiking through sand and over rocks, so I chose a less traditional ensemble.

My skirt was ordered from Amazon and my lace top and jewelry was from BHLDN. I bought my sandal’s from a local mama-owned business, Rustic Rose Boutique. Brandon bought his outfit from Kohl’s.

The bouquet was made by my sister, using florals she bought at a local farmers market that week. I wasn’t too picky but I had an idea of what I wanted and she executed my vision perfectly.

I decided to get my hair done by a pro. This is not at all my area of expertise and I am so happy that I did. Mikayla Graves at Moon River Salon did a phenomenal job making my locks behave, she is a true artist.

My make up artist was a friend from work, Vanessa, who made me feel like a rockstar.


groom holds bride close with eyes closed

Why did we elope?

I get asked this a lot, so it’s something I know people are curious about.

Elopements are growing in popularity and there are so many different reasons why!! The why for us looks like this…

bride and groom exchange vows with the ocean and overcast skies in the background


1)  Simplicity.

I didn’t want a big show and neither did my husband, Brandon.

After being together for so long, doing “real” life together, we really wanted the focus of our wedding day to be on US. Our relationship as individuals, not as parents or siblings or children or friends. But just us.

Our marriage is the integral part of our family and it was SUCH a blessing to be able to focus on just each other that day. No distractions.

Eloping gave us the beauty of simplicity in a life that is already busy and bustling with a full household.


groom holds bride on a rock overlooking the ocean


2) Social anxiety.

Talking in front of a crowd doesn’t bother me. I’m weird like that.

But the same cannot be said for my husband. It’s not his thing. The thought of exchanging vows in front of a big crowd wasn’t appealing to him. The very idea would induce panic.

In fact, it’s one reason why we didn’t set a date for so long (along with life happening at the speed of light.)

When we talked about planning a traditional wedding, he wasn’t excited about it, he was just nervous. And I didn’t want that to be our day.

As his partner, I knew it was important to honor him and his feelings in regards to our vows.

At the end of the day, we decided that tradition wasn’t as important to us as our marriage.


bride and groom look at each other with ocean in the background


3) Money.

Obviously, that is a factor for 95% of brides. We all have budgets. Money doesn’t grow on trees, like my dad always used to tell me.

Eloping (generally speaking) is cheaper than a full blown wedding.

Now that’s not to say you couldn’t drop 20k on a destination elopement in Paris or Greece… but standard costs for an elopement are going to be a whole lot less than a traditional wedding.


groom twirls bride on a sand dune with overcast skies above

Are we happy with our decision to elope?

YES!! Of course, everyone is different and there is no wrong way to get married!!

I obviously LOVE weddings as a wedding photographer. But elopements hold a special place in my heart.

Our wedding day was intimate and stress free and I haven’t forgotten a minute of it. In my memory, it will always be a celebration of our journey, our commitment to one another and to our future together.

Additionally, my husband doesn’t look back on our wedding day and remember being anxious or panicked and that was so important to us both.


groom leads bride across a sand dune laughing with a hang glider in the background

Was it hard not having our families there?

It was. We both had mixed feelings about this at different times over the planning process.

We have two daughters. Choosing to elope without them was a hard choice.

But, I didn’t want to be in mom mode. And I was able to be truly present in a way that would not have been possible with my children there.

We also both struggled at different times with not having our parents there. We have very supportive families who live nearby, whom we are eternally grateful for!

It was hard to tell them that we would be eloping without them. I’m sure it was harder for them than it was for us.

But we also chose to have a small family reception on a later date, as a way to celebrate with our loved ones and this alleviated a lot of that internal struggle.

In the end, we chose to have two witnesses each, people who have walked through life with us, and who support and encourage us in our marriage, our family and our growth individually.

For me, that was my two sisters. For Brandon, it was his two best friends. My brother-in-law, who is also our pastor, officiated our ceremony.


bride holds bouquet and laughs with a sister on each side

Would you do it again?

1000x yes. It was the best decision we could have made. I was worried that Brandon would be nervous, especially with having our photos taken after exchanging vows.

We picked our photographer first and set the date based on her availability because photos were (not surprisingly) the most important aspect of the day for me.

Choosing Sarah was based not only on her work but also on how well she puts others at ease during a session. Brandon and I were both laughing the entire time and I could not ask for more gorgeous images of our elopement.


bride and groom walk holding hands on a sand dune with a hang glider in the background

Would you recommend eloping to others?

Our experience was a dream. Every couple is different, with their own priorities and visions of their wedding day. Being informed of the pros and cons is important when making the decision to elope.

Another important aspect is the vendors you do choose to incorporate. Just because you elope doesn’t mean you can’t have a gorgeous dress or romantic, timeless portraits.

Eloping doesn’t have to mean a court house. It can mean a redwood forest, a sand dune overlooking the ocean, a sun filled meadow, or a glacier in Iceland. It can be whatever you as a couple decide it should be.

The experience for us was liberating and idyllic. We wouldn’t change a thing. But it’s also a decision that no one else can make for you and your partner!!

groom leads bride down a trail between two sand dunes after they eloped

bride and groom dance on a rock overlooking the ocean after they eloped

bride and groom stand under Eucalyptus tree after they eloped

bride looks up at the groom laughing after they eloped

bride and groom stand on sand dune under overcast skies after they eloped

bride and groom eloped and embrace in the woods at sunset


For more personal posts, check out THIS blog post with some crazy adorable photos of our daughters.

3 Comments on Why We Eloped | A Personal Post

  1. Loved every word of this truly heart-warming story.

  2. Bre says:

    I love that you shared this <3 thank you so much! It's so beautiful!

  3. Heather says:

    beautiful story & images – what a beautiful collection of treasures!

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