Our Wedding: An Exercise in Minimalism

The happy couple laughs after getting married on the beach.

Most of my life, if you had asked me what I thought my wedding would be like, I’d have nothing. Visions of your standard affairs with tables and chairs and creamy white or peach cloths draped and wafting in the light breeze would appear in my mind. Sure, that sounds fine. Whatever. I’ll deal with that when I get there.

The reality of the situation was that I didn’t take the idea that I might get married very seriously. And if that’s the case, well, the wedding part becomes pretty irrelevant. Heck, my parents always told us to elope anyway.

And because I never took it seriously, I never had to seriously think about it. Until I became engaged, then I did. And that reality of how absolutely, utterly terrifying and loathsome I found the idea of planning a wedding to be crashed in. I’d sit and plan and plan, browsing wedding websites and emailing venues, And the more I thought about the number of things I had to think about, the more depressed and overwhelmed I felt about the whole thing. “What’s your wedding palette going to be?” Like I care.

And one day, it finally clicked. The hours spent talking to my fiance about what we might do turned into “We aren’t doing this.” As much as we would have loved a big party to celebrate with friends and family, I loved what we did. I think it’s great. I think it’s perfect. I think it’s the only way I would have actually gone through with it. And because I love what we did, I’d love to share it with you.

Our Elopement: The Place -Tybee Island

Wedding Ceremony on Tybee Island

We decided to elope about three weeks before we did it. Ever since getting engaged on Facebook, the ads kept rolling in. One of them was for a company called Simply Eloped. We looked through their locations, saw that they did ceremonies near where we would be on vacation, and said, “Let’s do it.”

Simply Eloped provides packages for elopement ceremonies all over the United States. The packages range from simple, helping you pick a place and get an officiant, to the full deal of photographer, floral arrangements, you name it. Of these, the middle option of the Sprout package is the steal. Ours was $700 which included the enactment of the ceremony and a professional photographer during and after. When shopping for photographers, most elopement packages I saw ranged from $1200-1600. Half off the photographer so we basically get the officiant for free? Done.

We had the ceremony on the beach before walking down to the pier for photos. A sunny day in July, the beach was completely packed. My favorite part of the day is how in our photos, we look to be completely alone in our own world under the pier. In reality, the water to either side of us is chock full, and we’re giving a show to hundreds of people sitting behind us on the beach. Our photographer Karen Norian was outstanding and laughed along with us the whole time.

Our Elopement: The Clothes

A couple dancing nuder a pier at the beach.

Having chosen a beach wedding, both of us were much happier with the choice of attire. My husband Gardner got a new set of fresh linen shirt and pants to be classy but comfy in the 100% humidity of Tybee Island. Shoes? Ha! This is a flip flop only affair.

I bought my dress even before we had committed to the ceremony. I love the style of BHLDN, the bridal line of Anthropologie. But aiming to reduce my fashion impact as much as I can, I only buy new as a last resort. As with the rest of my clothes, I set up a meticulously curated search profile on eBay and Poshmark to see if I could find what I wanted secondhand first. After a few days of browsing, I found something I thought might work. With a guarantee to return in 30 days if it doesn’t work, I bought a dress. When it arrived, not only did it fit, I found it had pockets. A trip to my local tailor, the Alteration Queen, to shorten the straps, and I said yes to the dress for $126. Again, with pockets!

For what I saved on the dress, I decided to splurge on my jewelry. Long have I loved the Michael Michaud line I first saw at Blue Skies in Chattanooga. The collection is all botanically based with winding leaves and floral patterns, the perfect designs for an outdoor lover like me. I paired a Boxwood necklace with Carolina Earrings (now out of production) for my set. The cost of my jewelry was the cost of all our clothes, but I get to wear these beautiful pieces all the time.

And the bride’s shoes? I wore my leather Chacos when not barefoot on the sand.

Our Elopement: The Rest

A picture of a men's wedding ring of green elder wood and meteorite.

We already had my rings. A family diamond placed into new settings a la the expertise of family friends. My husband proved to be the picky one in the ring regard. He wanted something fun -read, not just a gold band. Wood was appealing, but not the Jack Daniel barrel ones we kept seeing. Again, Facebook ads provided the answers. While scrolling, we found a jewelry maker, Jewelry by Johan, who fashions rings out of dinosaur bones. Ding, ding! We have a winner. The one we wound up with is actually a meteorite combined with Elderwood which isn’t a dinosaur ring but’s still pretty cool. Unfortunately the lead time on a handmade meteorite ring is longer than 3 weeks, so we got an Enso for the ceremony.

For only $200 more, Simply Eloped will provide a bouquet and a  boutonniere of your choosing. We opted to use the Whole Foods floral department instead and picked up a nice arrangement for about $20 on the way out of town. This also provided us a chance to put our savings towards a bottle of champagne to celebrate with so an all around good choice.

We stayed on Tybee Island at the Hotel Tybee. We were a little late to book the honeymoon suite but did get to enjoy ocean views. After the ceremony, we headed into Savannah for a fine-dining dinner and drinks to round out the day. I wondered what the fellow guests thought of us sitting there at dinner on our own for our first dinner as a married couple. Were they concerned for us? Sympathetic of whatever circumstances brought us here to be without friends on family on such a special occasion? I wonder, but I didn’t worry. For as anyone familiar with either of us knows, there was only one option for what we would do. The ever Frank Sinatra style of my way.

Final Stats

  • Wedding Package $700
  • Clothes & Accessories $450
  • License & Flowers $150
  • Total Wedding $1300

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