We "Eloped" After Our Wedding and It Was the Best Experience Ever
Local laws may restrict service availability to all. See the Equality Index for more information.
As my fiance and I started to approach our wedding date, we felt things were less about us and what we wanted, and more about everyone else.
For us, COVID-19 heightened those feelings and when it came to our original wedding set for May 2020, what we had planned was no longer possible. So when we were trying to figure out what we would do after delaying it, I admit we were exasperated. It felt like we had three options: get married in a small ceremony with mainly family, wait another year for a big wedding with friends, or just run away and elope.
From the start, an elopement didn't feel like a real option (as enticing as it seemed) because I didn't want to spend the entire time feeling like I was missing out on priceless memories with loved ones.
As we tried to navigate planning a socially-distanced COVID wedding that was solely focused on the comfort levels and personal preferences of our loved ones, my partner and I had a serious moment of reflection. Instead of worrying about linens and color schemes like couples of past generations, we found ourselves agonizing over whether someone would be in peril after attending our nuptials. Like so many couples, we were conflicted with whether we were putting those closest to us at risk.
In the stress, we realized something else: we were losing our joy and sight of what we really wanted. We asked ourselves, if it was up to us without any outside factors or influence, what would we be planning? And the answer was a beach ceremony with sand between our toes and the least amount of stress possible. We decided to make it all happen.
We first married in a family-focused minimony. We then "eloped" during part of our honeymoon. While dating, our first trip together was to the Dominican Republic and we thought Punta Cana was our chosen destination upon receiving our vaccinations. After making it through the stress of minimony planning, we wanted to unwind and recover at a place with stunning beaches, equally impressive food and a sense of privacy.
Find your kind of venue
We landed on an elopement honeymoon at the Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana. After settling into an oceanfront suite with a private plunge pool , my husband and I woke up on our honeymoon for our second wedding.
We had officially married days before, but our elopement day felt completely different because the pressure was off. And because we already had that family-focused wedding day, I didn't have an ounce of regret, worry or fear that I was missing out on a special memory by not getting ready with my family, or grappling with not having my dad walk me down the aisle. I had already done all that days before.
Instead, I woke up with zero pressure with my husband and we got a massage. All of my minimony knots melted away and then, I was off to a private bridal suite to get ready. It was a completely different experience than our wedding. After all, I didn't have a suite filled with activity and I didn't feel the pressure to entertain while also suppressing my nerves. My toddler flower girls sprinkling pastry crumbs from one end of the room to the other were also noticeably missing. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade those memories for anything, but there's also something to be said for the complete zen I felt alone in paradise with two strangers. The only thing I cared about was the man waiting for me; not what could go "wrong."
It was also during this time alone, before putting on my dress, that I was able to reflect on what was happening (not the party but the life awaiting us ahead). In that moment of peace, I started writing vows to say to my husband, instead of the traditional script we had previously recited.
During my minimony, I didn't want to write my own vows in case I "messed them up." It also didn't seem appealing to share relationship details in front of so many loved ones. The resort's wedding planner, Albania, then stepped in to surprise me with my bouquet, and it was the perfect representation of the destination.
She then led me to the beach where my husband was waiting under another surprise: a beautifully decorated arch. As I walked to him, our eyes were only on each other. (Forget the would-be guests, the timeline, the photographer). Time stood still.
We read our impromptu vows to each other, the officiant jokingly asked if anyone had any objections to our union. (Funny, since nobody who knew us was present.) My husband struggled to slip the ring back on my figure due to my hands swelling in the humidity, strangers clapped from afar, and horses ran by splashing in the ocean right behind us as we sealed our union for the second time with a kiss.
After that, Albania revealed her final surprise: a private multi-course dinner on the beach complete with dancing under the stars and a beautiful cake for two. I proceeded to take off my uncomfortable shapewear. It was just us, the ocean and the kindest waiter you could ever imagine.
Honestly, this was a wedding I didn't plan, that most of our friends and family don't know about, that completely wasn't "necessary." It was, however, a special moment just for us—and that's exactly why it was more magical than I ever could have imagined.