For as long as I can remember I’ve had a dream I never told anyone about. I have no idea where it came from, but somewhere along the way I created the daydream that before our big family wedding, my husband-to-be and I would elope to England.
I’ve always known I would want the traditional family affair, and never envisioned that as a destination wedding. First, those weren’t really a thing growing up. Then, even as they became more popular, they felt like something that fancier people with fancier friends do. Beau floated the idea early on in our wedding planning and I shot it down for that same reason.
However I’ve always loved travel and adventure, as well as romance and doing things my own way. For example for as long as I can recall I’ve envisioned having a winter wedding, precisely because it’s the season when the least people get married! So this elopement daydream let me have those more unique parts of my personality, with the classic traditional family wedding — gumption and grace, aka perfectly me.
My original vision was that I’d wear a vintage dress. We’d go to a small countryside village with a tiny chapel. In town we’d ask around for one of the couples who’d been married the longest, and ask charming Bert and Beatrice going on 61-years of marriage to be our witnesses. We’d ask the local vicar to officiate, have just a photographer and videographer with us to capture the day.
It’s one of those daydreams that isn’t terribly fleshed out, just a vague subconscious idea back in there with little details sprouting over the years, but has swum in your mind for so long you don’t even notice it as curious or unique. (Ahem, translation: When you do it, people you thought would squeal with instantaneous joy reply, "Wait, sorry what?")
Once I met Beau the daydream started to shift thanks to a trip to Paris.
It was our first real holiday together, and while I knew early on in dating that we would marry, we'd moved into that season where that feels peaceful and true. Throughout the trip we played 36 Q’s to Love (highly recommend as a travel game with your loved one or a dear friend) and one of the questions was to describe your ideal day.
Ours were almost identical: We were abroad, with a small group of friends, there was sunshine and water, food and music. During that trip to Paris we also found ourselves musing about how fun it would be to return with friends for a long weekend. We adore being together just the two of us, but also both value community and it was like the joy could only be more joyful if you added in more people we love.
Over the course of our relationship that conversation and trip subconsciously started to shift my elopement dream.
First of all it wouldn’t be to the English countryside. We needed the ocean.
Second what if we brought a small group of friends along...
What if we surprised everyone including them? Told them a different reason for the trip, then revealed last minute they were eloping with us?
There was even more impetus for this long-held idea once we had set a wedding date. We planned to get married in a year. (We had an original reason/plan that got changed which I’ll share in another post, but there was a specific date we had in mind.)
I thought I would spend a few months planning the wedding, then have it all done and have eight months to write and complete my first style book.
However, we didn’t want to wait a full year to marry, so doing a tiny elopement would let us marry earlier in a simple adventure, without sacrificing the big wedding, or the book, or going crazy rushing either/both.
Oh friend… I have no idea what happened to that plan!
I mean I literally don’t know. I’m like someone who woke up with amnesia and can’t remember months of her life. But somewhere along the way… the darling little elopement… turned into what we lovingly call my Best Worst Idea Ever.
The best answer I can offer to myself:
You don’t know what you don’t know. I genuinely (truly!) thought I was going to plan both weddings in the month of April. I’ve built a successful business. I can delegate, prioritize, organize, I'm hiring help. Wedding planning for me will be easy!
Umm yeah no. Monsters are not all the same. Yes I mastered the monster of auditioning in New York City in my musical theatre days. And starting and failing a non-profit. And building a thriving online business.
None of these prepared me for the physical and emotional obstacle course that is Wedding Planning (aka your one chance to pull off a lifelong dream that will make you and everyone else happy and there is no beta version to test first and how is the budget doubling and why are there so many tears and who are you that you have all these expectations you never even knew you had and PS four vendors quit within 48 hours 28 days before the wedding which is for another post and oh it's a secret so you have no friends to vent to or who can help so pass the Xanax pleaseandthankyou).
More on that in posts to come! But for today, I'll close with the verbal sneak peek that our little elopement was quite a pinch-me-worthy-adventure, photos and videos of which I cannot wait to share.
I learned a lot I'm dying to share with fellow brides-to-be to save them from my mistakes. Lessons that we can all learn from in business, parenting or life.
And while I wouldn't do it all over again if you paid me... it was also one of the most magical days of our lives. One more crazy idea from a visionary dreamer, championed by the very loving and patient gent who fell in love with her. (wink) To be continued...