Couples are turning more and more towards eloping or having an intimate wedding as opposed to having a larger more traditional wedding, and that is exactly what we did! The decision to do so was made right away, or maybe even before we got engaged, we had no interest in having a big wedding at some venue that wasn’t us. The thought of going through all the stress of planning, deciding who to invite, and how much it would cost were all part of why we wanted to do it our way.
We lived in Florida at the time and did not like it, we wanted to go out to the desert and say our vows in a way that we would never forget. We announced it to our friends and families at our engagement party and it went smoother than expected. We figured if we did it that way we would not have to have the nerve racking conversation with everyone and be asked the same questions a million times. We didn’t know where we wanted to have our elopement, so we printed out a picture of the United States that said “We’re eloping, help up pick our perfect destination” and then everyone could put a pin where they thought we should do it. That is how we did it, and from there those people spread the word to anyone else.
A lot of the suggestions were not something we would do, like Hawaii or Alaska, and there were a few Florida suggestions of course. We were pretty sure that we knew we wanted the desert, but we had no suggestions for that area! My aunt and uncle who were not able to make it to the party actually picked Sedona later on and we were like, hey that is a really good idea! So we chose Sedona!
So, we had the general area we wanted to go to and knew we wanted to get married in October, but we were not set on any specific date. From there I reached out to a Phoenix based wedding photographer husband and wife team that I really loved, Jonnie and Garrett, and we picked a date that they were available for in October. Tada, it was that simple!
They knew the area a lot better than us, Dylan had never been to Sedona and I had once about 10 years prior, so we knew they would be perfect for finding a beautiful spot for us to say our vows and do our portraits. Jonnie was great and she recommended a florist and HMUA which I reached out to and got scheduled with them too. Getting a photographer was my main priority, and we got them and the other vendors booked pretty quick, so planning was essentially done.
Shortly after we decided we were not going to just elope in the desert, but we wanted to move too! We ended up moving to Albuquerque 2 months before we eloped, so our plans changed from flying to Sedona to driving a couple hours. Our plans to move and elope did not make everyone super happy with us, but they were generally happy FOR us to do what we wanted that made us happy.
My sister and her husband were our only two guests and they flew out the day before when we drove out. We are not completely heartless people, we had to have someone come along! A lot of people also ask me if we brought our dogs with us, and that is a big no! They are a little too wild and it would have been pretty stressful to have them all there, and we couldn’t just pick one to bring.
Anyway, Blake got ordained online so he could be our officiant and Madison was maid of honor and one witness. We were so happy to have them with us on our day and to be able to spend time with them for a couple days since we had moved. We had not seen them for two months so we were so excited to have them out.
We both got an Airbnb in the same neighborhood so we could walk to each others houses, and also have two places to get ready separate that were not to far away. Ours had a hot tub, so it was better!
We had planned to do a first look at a spot that our photographers suggested, but when they got to where we were getting ready they realized there was another spot we could do it in the neighborhood so we did not have to drive as much. The area was so pretty and we never would have known that it was literally in the back of the neighborhood that we were staying in.
When we left for our first look, I was SOOOO nervous for some reason! I was so happy that we decided to do that first, otherwise I would have been shaking when we were saying our vows. For anyone debating on doing a first look or not, DO IT! It was such a special moment with just the two of us, and seeing Dylan put me at ease and I felt a lot better being able to do the rest with him.
I was even nervous walking up to him because everyone (4 people) were watching us from a distance, but I could not imagine feeling that amount of nerves while walking down an aisle of people watching me!
The great thing about eloping is that you can do whatever you want and even change plans the day of. After our first look, we decided to go grab a beer at a local brewery we were staying next to before we went and hiked to the spot where we were going to say our vows. Note: if you are wearing a wedding dress, you get free beer!
Also if you are wearing a wedding dress close to Halloween people think you are in costume. We had gone to the store later and someone said, “happy Halloween!” in the parking lot. I am not sure why we would be celebrating Halloween on a Thursday that is not the 31st, but hey, they seemed happy for us.
It was time! We set off for a 10 or so minute drive and hiked about the same amount of time after. The spot that Jonnie and Garrett picked was so perfect and I could not have asked for anything else.
Blake did such a great job marrying us you would have thought he had done it 100 times before. I was so happy with how it all turned out and would have been so nervous with a big crowd of people watching us if we had done it some other way. Our wedding day is about us so I am glad that is all we really had to focus on.
The day seemed to have already gone by so fast, we were married, and we got married in the most magical and perfect way possible. It seemed so unreal! We signed our wedding license and took some pictures with Madison and Blake before our portrait session started.
Working with our photographers was such a fun experience and all the photos came out so amazing! People say that you won’t remember most of your wedding day and that is so true, even true for elopements. I am so glad that we had documentation throughout the day because every time I look back at these images I see something else that jogs a memory from our day that I totally forgot about!
We did a champagne shake/toast before it got too dark we hiked back down to our cars. I had never had acrylic nails before and also never popped a champagne bottle before (because it is scary!) so that was interesting!
Dylan did a lot better at spraying it around than I did, and when we took a sip from the bottle it foamed up in my mouth and I spit it out very ungracefully. Yes there are pictures, and no they are not on here! Jonnie let me use her pants to wipe all the foam off my face, haha! Did I already mention how great they are?! It was definitely a memorable experience from the day.
So much happened on this special day of ours that we will remember for the rest of our lives. We are both so happy that we did what we did where we did it and with the people who were there with us. We all had a nice dinner after and Madison had a little speech written up which was the first time I cried the whole day. The four of us spent the next couple days exploring Arizona together before we all went home again. It was an unforgettable trip.
For anyone thinking about eloping, you may think I will say to just do it, but honestly do what will make you two the happiest. If you want to be surrounded by 100 of your friends and family, do it! If your family or anyone is pressuring you to do your wedding day a certain way, don’t be scared to take a step back and rethink your priorities. You want to end your wedding day together, in love, and happy with how the whole day went.
After we eloped and posted about it on social media so many people commented or reached out saying that they wished they did what we did, or they want to do what we did but they can’t. You only have the best day of your life once, so make sure you are happy with it!
Photography – Jonnie + Garrett
Florist – The Petal Theory
Bridal Skirt – Sweet Caroline Styles
Bridal Shirt / Bridesmaid Outfit- Morning Lavender
Grooms Suit – Express