It’s hard to believe that one year ago today we were standing hand-in-hand and exchanging our wedding vowels on a breezy morning, with a backdrop of red rock buttes, deep green forests, and white cotton clouds in Sedona, Arizona. The natural setting was stunning, our temperament was serene, and the ceremony was secluded. It was just the two of us and it was absolutely perfect.
For those considering an elopement in Sedona or anywhere, we’re sharing our story as to what drove our decision for our private nuptials. At the very heart of it, we wanted a day that was meaningful to the both of us, was relaxed, and of a course a day that was fun!
Stress Free Elopement
I am a people pleaser. I feel the need to make sure everybody is okay and everybody is happy. So naturally when we were engaged and started thinking about our big day… I worried about everyone else.
How can I make it nice for them? I don’t want to burden anyone with extra costs for our day! Where can we have a wedding that would be fair for everyone to get to?
Since I burden myself with everyone’s happiness, the idea of a traditional wedding became very stressful for me right out of the gates. To be fair, I know our friends and family would have been very accommodating and would have gone out of their way to make our day special. For me though, it didn’t matter. I knew I could never relax because I would want to be sure everything was perfect and everyone was happy. Lucky for me, Jimmy is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He is a man that knows what he wants and doesn’t feel the need to compromise or apologize.
Neither of us like being the center of attention and we both wanted the day to be as stress free and simple as possible. Eloping was appealing because we didn’t have to worry about anyone else but us. We were very fortunate to have the support and backing of our family and friends in our decision. To be clear, this was not an easy choice, but having their support and understanding made it easier. Plus, we were fortunate to have two wonderful receptions when we returned home!
Control the Budget
It is no secret that weddings are expensive. According to a survey by the Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2014 was $31,000. Wow! Now granted that is an average – so those that have lavish weddings skew the average for those Pinterest perfect budget weddings held by others. Regardless, we refused to go into debt just to say, “I do.” It doesn’t matter if you spend $100 on a courthouse wedding or $100,000 at a country club… at the end of the day you are just as married as anyone else.
I come from a big family and Jimmy’s family is all in Scotland, so even a simple wedding of family and friends would have been costly. By eloping we could control the costs and still have everything we wanted for our day. When all was said and done we set a budget of $5,000, which we paid for out of pocket. No need for credit cards or loans from parents. We certainly could have spent less, but we were comfortable with this amount and that’s what is most important when deciding on a wedding budget.
The most costly elements were the videographer and the photographer, both of which were important to us, as we wanted to share our day with our loved ones. We also contracted a wedding planner to cover all arrangements for the day. Sure we could have done things ourselves, but that would have meant more time and stress. Don’t forget we were also in the process of applying for Jimmy’s green card, which was more stressful than the wedding! Our $5,000 covered the following:
- Wedding Planner: consultations, photographer, minister, pink jeep rental, land use permits
- Videographer: Before and during the ceremony
- 4 nights food & accommodation: Sedona and Flagstaff for an extended wedding weekend
- Wedding attire: dress, hair, makeup (for the bride) + jacket, shoes, cravat (for the groom)
We sacrificed some of the traditional wedding costs by eloping. For example, I did not carry a bouquet, as I couldn’t justify the cost just to have something to carry around for 40 minutes. I’ll hold on to my husband thank you very much! Additionally, we didn’t find the need to purchase a wedding cake, get around in a limousine, or have any venue fees – the beauty of the great outdoors is free!
Enjoy the Day
For us, our wedding day started out like any other. We woke up and went to the grocery store to pick up some antihistamines to keep Jimmy’s allergies under control. We sat down and ate a low-key breakfast at Miley Café, then returned to the hotel to get ready. We were on our own time (mostly) and after the wedding we did whatever we wanted.
After the ceremony, we enjoyed walking around downtown Sedona. We talked about booking a nice place to eat a celebratory “wedding lunch,” but quite frankly it just wasn’t a priority for us. We happily ended up in a booth at The Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits. Granted, we felt a little funny being dressed up in a casual environment, but they were so nice and even brought us a baby bottle of champagne to celebrate!
We later drove north to spend the rest of the weekend in Flagstaff. Since Jimmy attended graduate school at Northern Arizona University he had several friends that met up with us in the lobby of the 1899 Bar and Grill, an upscale bistro on the campus of NAU. There was no plan or timeline, just friends (new and old) catching up and having a good time. There was even an impromptu toast, which made the night even more special.
To end the night we ended up at Alpine Pizza, which was only too perfect. Food, friends, and my husband at my side. Yep, perfect.
Make it Meaningful
Whether you decide to elope or have a traditional wedding ceremony, the thing we would recommend most is to make your day meaningful to you. We wanted the day to be fun, relaxed, and a bit adventurous. Incorporating the outdoors into our day was important to us, as we love to be outside and active.
We splurged on hiring a Pink Jeep to get us to our ceremony location. This was great because it added a little sense of adventure and we got a tour along the way. Plus, I’m not entirely sure how confident I would have been driving up that rocky hill in my car! It was an experience that we laughed about along the way and will remember for years to come.
Jimmy carried our wedding rings wrapped in his father’s handkerchief – one of the few mementos he has of his late father. While our friends and family were not physically there with us, they were certainly present in spirit.
We can confidently say our day was uniquely us and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There is no right or wrong way to get married, and eloping isn’t always an easy choice when you have so many people in your lives that you love. I would be lying if I said we didn’t miss having people there a bit, but there is not a thing we would change about our planned elopement. This was the right choice for us.
Happy Anniversary sweetheart. I love everything about our elopement and wedding day. I appreciate your support and love through our first year of marriage, and look forward to making a lifetime of meaningful memories with you!