Wedding Part III: The Elopement
It was always my intention to share the photos from our elopement and explain a little on why this choice was right for us but it just never ended up happening so now (over 2 years after we got married) here it is!
When me and Andy met we both knew we were going to get married. It was love unlike I had ever know, it was real. Meeting him felt like the first day of my life and everything else before feels like it's the life of a different person. How did I live before he made my heart explode? Fun fact, when we first started dating Andy was in the Navy and finishing up sea school. We had only been dating 3, maybe 4 months and he was going to be sent to a new command soon but we had no idea where. Could have been Mississippi, could have been Italy, we weren't sure. So we talked about the possibility that if it was overseas we would get married so that I could be with him. Fortunately for our families, it ended up being Mississippi so we just moved in together instead of getting married. I know people thought we were nuts even just moving in together that quickly. That it probably wasn't going to last but we both knew what we felt was real. He waited until we knew each other a year to propose and 6 months later we got married.
It was shortly after he proposed that we started to realize that a wedding, no matter how big or small, was not right for us. Both of us are pretty private people and while currently I am a lot more comfortable talking about my emotions. At the time, I was not interested in gushing about my relationship with anyone outside of my best friend. In addition to not wanting to talk about feelings in front of people, there was the fact that since neither one of our families live in New Orleans we really didn't spent a ton of time with them as a couple. Because of that neither one of us acted like our true selves in front of the other ones family. So the idea of sharing this extremely intimate ceremony in front of people neither one of us are entirely comfortable around yet was nauseating. I wanted to be with the real Andy and not a ball of nerves on my wedding day and vice versa! So we decided to elope and it was the best decision we could have made. For the most part, pretty much everyone was extremely supportive of this decision.
Once we made the decision to elope we almost immediately decided it should be in another city. It would have felt really awkward to go and get married with our friends only being 10 minutes away. I'm not even kidding when I say that the reason we picked Arizona is by looking at the list of direct flights Southwest offered from New Orleans and decided that Phoenix was the least likely to have weird weather problems in March. After the city was decided everything else just kind of fell into place. I happened to work with someone who was originally from Phoenix and she suggested I check out Saguaro Lake. When I looked it up I found this awesome Ranch we could stay at and booked it and that was literally the end of our location planning. We figured Arizona is a pretty enough state, we'll just find a nice cactus on the side of the road to get married next to.
When Andy was still in sea school, one of his really good friends there was Mike. Out of everyone surrounding us he probably knew the most about our relationship. He saw it every step of the way and watched me and Andy fall in love. He was also casually ordained on the internet for no apparent reason. It was a running joke that Mike was going to marry us one weekend. We joked about it so much that one night (while we were all a little tipsy) we were talking yet again about how Mike should marry us but then decided wait seriously you HAVE to be the one to marry us. Sometimes the best decisions are made when you're drunk because we never even entertained the idea of anyone else officiating our wedding. Mike flew from Hawaii to marry us and it was perfect.
The only other person I knew I wanted was a photographer because photos are important and also they would double as a witness. We asked my friend Olivia who happens to have family in Phoenix. Which ended up working out because we needed two witnesses so her cousin came along!
Surprisingly, I'm not a big jewelry wearer and I'm really not a ring person. Because I work with my hands so much rings just feel like they get in the way. I have a really terrible habit of taking rings off because they annoy me and putting it down somewhere and then forgetting all about it. Thank god there are no heirloom rings in either family that got passed to me because I would surely lose it. So when we were deciding on our weddings bands I felt like it was more important to know the person who made them than anything else. So I reached out to my friend Madeline of Mimosa Handcrafted! Because not only does she make beautiful jewelry but she is an incredibly kind and generous person. I had initially wanted a design stamped along the side of the band - I can't seem to track down the inspiration photos I had sent her at the time! Turns out it was something she wasn't capable of doing with jewelry at the time and she recommended someone else who could. But I decided that the meaning of the ring was more important to me than the way it looked so I told her I wanted a simple solid band because it was infinitely more important to me that she made my wedding ring. And I can get real sappy here so I'll stop myself from gushing on all the reasons this was important to me. Just follow Madeline on instagram and you'll understand why I think her and her husband Dawson are literally the best.
In a dream world, I would have found a beautiful yet affordable vintage dress with lots of sequins and shiny bits to sparkle in the Arizona sun. BUT that never happened. I looked in vintage shops and thrift stores and online and at art markets everywhere and I couldn't find anything that I liked. It was like all of the pretty white dresses had vanished. I was even hoping to find two dressed I liked bits of and get a seamstress friend to Frankenstein them together but no luck. THIS is how I found my dress. I briefly worked at Forever 21. It was awful and I quit. But before I quit they had just got in these nightgowns that I really wanted because I'm 100 years old and I wear nightgowns to sleep. One had fried eggs all over it and one had t-rexes sleep walking (actually that make me more like a 5 year old and less like a 100 year old). Clearly I needed these in my life but I didn't want to go into the store that I used to work in so I was like whatever I'll order them online. I go to forever 21 website and the front page is THE PERFECT DRESS. Like who is this lacy, vintage looking, and affordable dress for?? Where is she wearing it? The answer is I'm wearing it to the desert to get married. I'm pretty sure it was $40. FORTY DOLLARS. Not even kidding, Andy's leather belt was more expensive than this dress. And because I'm extremely classy, I wore fruit socks and my favorite pair of boots which both happen to be from target because we were most likely going to be hiking.
Andy's outfit was much easier. He pretty much knew right away that H&M was going to be the best bet - it's affordable but looks nice and fits well. Also, dudes are so much easier to shop for. The shoes took a little longer to find but I think he ended up getting the shoes and the belt at Dillards. It was also easier to decide to get a nice pair of shoes and belt because he knew he'd wear them all the time (and he does!) Whereas, I'm not wearing a white, lacy dress again so the search took so much longer for me because I was really hesitant to spend a lot of money.
It's been a while so details are fuzzy but I feel confident that those were the only preparations we took for the wedding. I borrowed a curling iron from a friend and did my own hair and makeup. My bouquet was wildflowers me and Olivia picked walking to meet Andy and Mike. Olivia also tucked a few blooms in my hair on the walk which turned out to be super cute. The blanket we stood on was a gift from Olivia and her family - I believe her mom got the blanket in Mexico. It was such an unexpected treasure, I love that we have it as a keepsake from our wedding day.
We flew into Phoenix on a Wednesday. We went downtown to get our marriage license (it felt like a joke how easy it was). Then we drove to Saguaro Lake Ranch which is where we were staying. Once we got there we were totally blown away by how beautiful it was. I don't know if I knew it was by a mountain ahead of time but that was a lovely surprise. The grounds were so beautiful we decided to find a hike there to get married along. I think we did one hike that evening and then Thursday morning we went on a couple of different ones before deciding which one we liked best. Looking back that seems like so little time to figure everything out but I remember feeling super chill and relaxed in the moment. We ended up choosing a trail that led to the base of a mountain. It was by far the most beautiful view. When we first hiked there there was a tree with a bunch of teenagers and it wreaked of weed. So when we were trying to decide on where exactly to meet along the trail we laughed and were like we'll meet at stoner tree.
The ceremony itself was perfect. Short and sweet and I'm pretty sure we all cried. Looking at the photos from us saying our vows always makes me cry. There's so much emotion and love in our faces as we look at each other.
We walked around and took photos, signed the marriage license, and then we popped a bottle of champagne and celebrated!
I love that we eloped. That our wedding day is something so incredibly special and just for me and Andy to celebrate our love and life together.