My VERY Non-Traditional Elopement
When my partner Aaron and I set out to marry each other, we genuinely just forgot to think about other people. We are so fortunate because our friends and family were so supportive of our decision to have this day to ourselves. Because we only were thinking of ourselves - and had a limited budget - we got to dive deep into the celebration of our love in a way that was so meaningful to us.
Whether or not you're considering a non-traditional wedding (I suppose this is technically considered a non-traditional elopement), there's not a lot out there on the internet about how to do it. Almost every idea I found was SO DUMB - like "wear a different colored dress" - "go outside" - "go somewhere pretty" - like seriously? Human beings need a list of ideas so boringly obvious? My abs got a good work out between the laughter and the "NO!? Are they serious?" yells that came out of me while reading the absurd lists about non-traditional elopements.
So, as I'm still floating in the clouds from our 2-person wedding and wanting to document it all while it's still fresh and lighting up the cells in my body with joyous love, I realize that in the short run our friends and family can enjoy this blog post. But in the long run, perhaps you've stumbled here trying to find our own path to matrimony and you too found nothing but endless lists of laughably basic, uninspired ideas. If this is you, I'm sharing not only what we did, but also what we'd do differently if we knew what we know now when we were planning. Take these ideas and run with them, making them your own, using them as a springboard. Maybe add what worked for you in the comments if you want to help others!
The night before
I know it's tradition for bride and groom not to sleep together the night before the wedding but we wanted to wake up together on our wedding day, and our emotional intimacy was so intense at this point, why would we rob ourselves of getting to enjoy it? So I compiled a cute outfit and did my hair (AKA I straightened my type 2C curls for simplicity - if you're type 2C, you know what I mean, unless you've discovered the secret to waking up with them looking great in which case please comment below with the specifics of HOW). Photo below is of me straightening my hair while we started to get hit by the emotional gravity of the whole situation.
After I got my hair straightened, and donned my modest but beautiful nightgown of a white slip with a lacey bralette (from the Threaded Trunk) and a sheer robe from (Poshmark), Aaron got in his wedding attire (white button down shirt and blue jeans), to take a photo shoot with me. We found a pose we'd like to do every year on our anniversary for the rest of our lives to someday make a time lapse video for ourselves. I don't think we'll share this (but there's a similar pic coming up) as we want to keep that as a special moment just for us. But the idea is SO emotionally rewarding - getting dressed up the night before in more intimate attire and taking a very romantic photo to emulate every year for the rest of your lives? Check!
The Morning Of (Before Vows)
Our intimacy from the night before carried over into the morning - another perk to marrying each other at home! It was the greatest way to wake up - to both be eager to marry each other and totally smitten. I'd assumed most couples don't get to experience that feeling when they sleep apart. I'm sure that has upsides too, but holy smokes, the night before and the morning of were two of my favorite parts of the whole weekend because they were so full of emotional intimacy.
After we got out of bed, we started getting ready. Here you can get a glimpse of how we were dressed that night before for our photo shoot. We took another photo shoot in the morning - both of us together (just using a ring light stand and a timer), and of each other. My flower crown was something I made that morning from a headband wrapped with daisies and greens that were in a bouquet Aaron got for me. In fact, the Friday before our Sunday (spring equinox) wedding, I came home to find the living room full of bouquets of flowers! They played an important role in the wedding.
Taking photos of each other was surprisingly emotional. I highly recommend a photoshoot. We will both cherish the photos we took of each other that morning forever. I don't even want to share them publically, they're just so special to me.
While I got dressed, Aaron set up a big comfy blanket, pillows, and flowers on the floor in the living room for us to sit down and say our vows.
While he did that, I was donning blue overalls from Boomerang and a vintage lace top (is early 2000s vintage!?) from Anastasia's Closet. I kept the lacey bralette from the Threaded Trunk on underneath. While we planned on wearing more layers initially (including a top gifted to me by my best friend, which was a great way to feel her involvement the whole day!), for the vows themselves we stayed in more intimate attire.
For the vows, we both wrote them down on nice paper and took turns reading them. It was a mess of tears and snot and smiles and laughter.
After we both said our vows, Aaron took the $20 sterling and amber ring out and of its box from Beatnix and put it on my finger.
Bonus idea: We later decided we will frame the vows and put them somewhere special in our home.
A Note About Jewelry
I worked in an independently owned fine jewelry store for many years. I love jewelry. I know sterling and amber aren't meant to last through the years with daily wear, but since we're not at the place financially were we can make a durable custom ring from an independent goldsmith (the only way I'd want to do it), why stress? I'll take good care of this ring and if it starts to get worn down, I'll simply retire it for our anniversaries and such. No big deal. It's the love that matters, not the physical stuff. I know that's a big duh, but I've witnessed a lot working in a jewelry store and some people get really hung up on stressing over the jewelry. In my personal experience, it's not worth the stress if it detracts from celebrating your love.
Something else I did for jewelry was get a pair of seahorse cloisonné earrings for $6 at Cool Jewels in Montpelier VT. First of all, because they were gorgeous, but also because they mate for life. I couldn't think of more perfect earrings!
For a necklace I just wore a gold chain that originally belonged to my Bubbie (grandmother), for that special meaning.
The decision to get this amber ring was rather last-minute. It hit me that I'd want him to put something on my finger after we said our vows, so we popped into Beatnicks and after looking at a ring display for 30 seconds, I knew this was the ring.
It looks like two hands holding something special, precious and magical, much like how it feels to be two humans carefully holding our love.
Celebrating after the Vows
After we got married, we ran to the guest room where we knew Jordon Gordon Brown was sound asleep. He's 15 and a half. We hope he lives for many more years, but part of the reason we wanted to get married when we did is because at his age there's no guarantee we'd get to get married with him "knowing" about it (lmao, like he actually knows anyway). It was important to us for him to be a part of it because he was such a big part of our love story.
Aaron was the first man Jordan instantly loved, and their developing relationship deepened ours. A few months into dating, I went away to a retreat and when I came home they were inseparable from then on. Since Jordan was the most important thing in my life second to myself when I met Aaron, he was a huge catalyst in bringing Aaron and I closer together once Jordan fell seemingly more in love with his dad than me.
So, because of his age we didn't want to try to force him to lie down with us on the blanket while we told our vows, but after we were done we ran to go tell him the good news.
And then we went back to the living room for a DANCE PARTY!
For a long time we had been compiling songs that made us think of each other (I think my fave is Cutie Boots by Stepdad), so we just hit shuffle on that playlist and basked in our love while dancing on the blanket on the living room floor.
We like doing candle lighting rituals with the moon and season changes, so we thought it'd be great if we made a special candle the day of the wedding that we can use throughout the year for special occasions.
We didn't know what we were doing and pretty much winged it. If we were to do this again, I'd do more research first, but it all worked out perfectly!
While we started the candle (which actually took 2 days, since we made several layers), we kept the playlist going for intermittent dancing, and we enjoyed our coffee with Biscoff cookies - which always makes me feel rich and fancy and like I'm traveling.
Walking the Dog
I then got into the outfit I planned to wear the rest of the day, which included the perfect flouncey top my bestie got me. Honestly, I'm so glad the day was just about me and Aaron, but it gave me ideas on how to incorporate friends in the future when we reenact our day on our anniversary next year. I loved, however, getting to feel the support of my bestie through the day by wearing the shirt she got me!
We suited up and headed to the sleepy tourist town, Grafton VT, for our favorite (dry and tick-free) walking spot. We meandered around quiet streets and walked along the river, and in the community garden, all while swooning and melting into each other's arms while Jordan happily pranced ahead of us.
Note - my pleather jacked was also a Threaded Trunk find I got specifically for the day of because I realized in the cold weather I didn't have a jacket that would go with my wedding outfit. The jacket was the perfect combo!
On our walk we bumped into a couple that wanted to say hello to Jordan. This sounds like not a big deal, but you'll need this detail for later...
We planned to head to Birch Bark Eatery in Glens Falls NY for brunch, but by the time we finished the vows, the dancing, the candle, and the walk, it was already almost noon and Glens Falls is 2 hours away. So we stopped at Rockingham Roasters in Bellows Falls where Aaron got the last breakfast sandwich and I got a bagel to tide us over on the drive - the total cost? $7. I felt rich.
As we exited the coffee roasters, we literally almost bumped into the same couple that said hi to Jordan three towns over earlier that morning!
We gave each other this knowing look like, "yep, everything's gonna just keep being magical today."
I called the Birch Bark Eatery at 1 to make reservations for 2pm, and while it was packed at 1, we were the only people in the dining room when we arrived at 2pm. It felt like we got the whole place to ourselves.
We went here looking for vegan restaurants within a 2 hour radius and I'm not exaggerating, it's worth the 2 hour drive for a random day, let alone a big event. It was the best vegan comfort food I've ever had. In fact, it was easily the best pizza I ever had! (I got the Pino Popper Pizza, if you're in the area and wanna try it)
We also shared avocado fries, garlic knots, and cauliflower buffalo wings. And after our lunch we bought 3 giant and delicious donuts. We had enough leftovers for dinner that night and for lunch the next day - it was perfect!
From there we went to "The Fun Spot" - thinking it was an arcade with VR games.
This place is probably great if you're under age 13, but it was laughably bad for two adults. No skee-ball. No pinball. And the VR game that we paid $8 each for had no audio and no goal besides shooting "robots" (a term I believe will be a slur within 50 years). I don't know about you but I find shooting so boring. Give me an uplifting storyline and pretty scenery in a VR game! I just stood there connected to a headset confused and bored most of the game lol.
The best part was when we gave a dad our tickets to pass along to his kid. That kid was SO HAPPY! I mean, we probably only won like 45 tickets between the few games we played (mostly basketball and Jurassic Park), but those tickets went to much better use with that child than they would have for us.
From there we headed to Lake George to do a wine tasting at Adirondack Winery so we could get souvenir glasses for our wedding day. We planned to use the glasses for a champagne (technically sparkling hard cider) toast with our cake that night, but also ended up turning the glasses into candles too!
When we got home, I slipped into comfy sweats as we baked our own wedding cake and added more layers to our candle.
We may have failed at emulating the look of the cake, but it tasted delicious.
Stay tuned, I'll add the rest of the wedding activities soon!...