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I now have a decade’s worth of hindsight and reflection.When I look back at my wedding day, the details I remember most vividly are the mistakes that I made.

All I can say is, my intentions did not match the outcome. I knew what I wanted. I wanted easy. I wanted simple. I wanted to enjoy my special day and for my partner to have the same experience—without all the hoopla of the big budget weddings that I had photographed over the years. Like so many brides, I equated more planning with bigger weddings.

From my first-time bride vantage point, I couldn’t see that many of my "simple" decisions wouldn’t necessarily yield a "simple" wedding. I knew that I wanted our guests to feel well taken care of and to rave about the quaintness of my wedding for years to come. I couldn’t grasp that someone would have to plan my simple, adorable wedding, no matter how small, right down to the nitty gritty.

And so with that, details were overlooked. Even with my wedding experience, I now see where I went wrong, and to this day, some of those snafus are the memories I recall first when I think about my wedding. Of course, wonderful moments and memories were made, too, I definitely lived and learned and made it my mission to help other couples avoid the pitfalls I fell into.

Professionally speaking, the biggest takeaway from my wedding experience is that it’s okay to turn to experts who really know how to orchestrate your once-in-a-lifetime event. You’re not “just eloping” or “just having a micro wedding”—you are planning one of the most memorable and unique days you will ever experience.

Here are a few examples of what i got wrong 👎

....as well as what i got right 🤘

When I started planning, I drew a line when it came to extended family. I was already having a very “un-traditional” wedding, so it was easy to explain to all the second cousins why they were not invited. But there were friends and friend’s partners who wanted to come. Once I invited one, I felt I had to invite more.

I don’t consider myself the type to get pressured easily, but in this case, I caved. I started out wanting no more than twenty people, my ride or dies, BUT at the end of the day, I ended up with thirty-eight—almost 2x the amount I originally planned.

I’m really into pies. Cake, I’m like, meh. But PIE? Apple, cheery, lemon crème . . . I LOVE all the pie. After our wedding dinner, we invited our guests to our apartment for a BYOP (bring your own pie) after-party.

It was really sweet to see all the love from our friends and family in the form of PIE and a fun and unique way to weave our guests into the fabric of our special day.

My best friend seemed the obvious choice to officiate. Back then, there really were NO options for officiants. Most of the wedding industry was organized around the traditional model. It was 2013, there were no “elopement companies” to speak of. Wedding stuff was still pretty generic and cheesy and that was not my style. So I asked my friend Mariliana to officiate, and we worked together on what that would look like.

The ceremony ended up being about twenty minutes but with no real arc or structure. To be honest, it was awkward and long-winded, and as sweet as Mariliana was, she did not “command” the crowd. At one point, I remember looking out at my friends and family and seeing their eyes glazed over with boredom. I honestly don’t remember any other part of the ceremony except that moment, and it stings. My motto now, after doing almost 1,000 elopement ceremonies, is ten minutes tops!

Keep it fun, engaging, and joyful—and THAT is the feeling and energy you and your guests will walk away with!

There was an option to book a private room at the restaurant where we had our post-ceremony dinner/reception. The private room was more expensive but also cramped and stuffy. There was a courtyard that had better light, was more scenic and beautiful but it was a public space.

The rule of thumb was always to book a private room. God forbid you have to celebrate with strangers. But i questioned this standard practice and thought i would give it a go.

We went with the courtyard and did not even notice the other restaurant patrons. If anything, they added to the vibe! and i ended up saving a ton of $!

We DIY‘d a lot, but I KNEW I did not want to deal with ANYTHING on the day of. So, I appointed a friend who is a professional event producer (oh, the perks of industry friends) to be my restaurant liaison. If something came up, they would talk to her, and I would be left to blissfully and obliviously enjoy my Neapolitan pizza and red wine.

I had such a fun, carefree dinner, and Allison dealt with the behind-the-scenes hiccups.

We had a plan, and we really thought it was a good one. I mean, I was a wedding professional. Of course, I could plan a basic backyard low-key wedding! Well, it’s one thing to have a plan, but its a whole other thing to have a person to make sure it was followed.

I arrived for the ceremony on time (a fashionable five minutes late), but just as I was about to walk down the aisle, I realized, Oh sugarplums! NONE of my family is here!

I didn’t want to be seen until I was literally walking down the aisle, and now I had to hide until my guests finished arriving. With no plan for this type of situation, I ended up grabbing a friend, running around the corner, and hanging out in a BARBER SHOP until my family was seated and ready to watch me tie the knot. I played it off okay, but, at the time, it was very stressful and annoying. Now when are are planning for others we set the call time for guests twenty minutes earlier than the ceremony time and always have behind-the-scenes coordination between the “guest team” and the “bridal team” so that NONE of my couples have to find a barber shop to duck into on their wedding day!

When I started planning micro weddings for others, I parsed a lot of lessons from that experience

The "venue" i hosted my wedding at had never hosted a wedding before. Before my wedding I personally did not know anyone who had pizza for their wedding dinner. At the time I was truly going against the grain of popular culture and what was expected. Yes there were a few raised eyebrows but everyone who knew and loved me know that on my wedding i was gonna do what i wanted to do. I caved on my guest list but i did not cave on wanting pizza on my wedding day!

I really wanted my wedding to be low-key, so I did not have a shot list. I quickly learned “no shot list” meant I wouldn’t get the photos I wanted. I wanted a photo with my brothers and with my two best friends but I left it to chance and fate and didn’t realize until after the fact that we did not take these photos. It’s true what they say, “It all goes by so quickly . . .” EVEN for small, intimate weddings.

Weddings are a one-shot deal. There are no retakes. It’s worth the investment to set aside twenty to thirty minutes to make sure you get the photos you are dreaming of. Photos are the ONE thing that live on after the wedding day is over.

It’s worth the investment to set aside twenty to thirty minutes to make sure you get the photos you are dreaming of.

I do not wish these mishaps on anyone. And now, with almost 1,000 elopements and micro weddings under our belts at Eloping Is Fun, we are ready to be on the front lines as your refined and experienced wedding-planning partner!

P.S. One of the bottom lines of this heartfelt article is this: It is, of course, okay to have a small, simple wedding—to elope or have a micro wedding . . . that’s what EIF is all about, after all—but even a micro for ten or twelve guests or an elopement for two takes planning plus orchestrating on the day of. And EIF can handle all of this for you. It’s what we do, so you don’t have to . . .

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