I have started so many posts and emails in the last 6 weeks with “in these uncertain times”, so I swore I would find a better way to start this. I’m not sure what else to say, since these are very uncertain times that we are living in, so I’ll just say Corona … you are making life really hard! All of us, in every walk of life, on every inch of the planet, have been affected by what Corona is doing to our health and to the economy. Couples trying to plan a wedding are having a particularly hard time trying to navigate the ever-changing rules, and my heart breaks for them. Also, the wedding industry as a whole has been turned upside down in the scramble to postpone all 2020 spring weddings. We have had weddings moved to as much as a year into the future, and some moved just a few months into the future that we are still unsure what they will look like. In an article from Biz New Orleans, Steve Caputo, president of Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association and the manager of Hotel Monteleone speculates ” … that a lot of things that have been pushed to later months may or may not materialize depending on what we’re allowed to do. For instance, if there are no large gatherings allowed until there’s a vaccine, well what is considered a large gathering? Is that 25 people? Is it 50 people? Can you have a wedding reception for a hundred people?”
Not unexpected given all of the uncertainty, we have had fewer than normal inquiries during these days of quarantine. But people will continue to get married, albeit for love, or health insurance benefits, or any number of reasons in between and we are noticing a trend in that couples are starting to inquire about elopements more than ever before. We have literally had one of our fall weddings bump up their October soiree to an April porch wedding complete with hand sanitizer and face masks, due to a need for insurance benefits brought on by COVID-19 job loss.
Every year we shoot a handful of elopements and small, intimate weddings and we absolutely love them! The vast majority of these are destination weddings, meaning that the couple come from out of town to get married in New Orleans, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Most have a connection to New Orleans, such as one grew up here, or they went to school here, but occasionally a couple will tell us they just “threw a dart” and it landed on New Orleans! We get it … New Orleans is a fantastic place to get married and this town really knows how to throw a party!! It is the perfect backdrop for a fun and memorable experience. And in these uncertain times (I had to say it), planning for a smaller, intimate wedding for just the two of you or for a handful of your closest people might just be the way to go. Planning for small may be the best way to adhere to the rules for social distancing for the immediate future and may even keep you from having to cancel or postpone if the rules don’t relax right away. Going small doesn’t mean that it can’t be special and may be just the perfect solution for navigating love in the time of Corona. It may not be the wedding you always dreamed of, but if you can keep an open mind, intimate weddings and elopements do have some advantages over big blowout events.
You Work Hard For Your Money!
Probably one of the biggest advantages to having a small wedding is the cost savings that you will realize. The bigger the event, the greater the cost … and it adds up fast. According to the popular wedding planning website, TheKnot.com
, the average cost of a wedding last year
was upwards of $30,000. Of course that cost can vary widely depending on venue and guest count, but suffice it to say that getting married with just the two of you, or with a handful of your favorites will land you with a lot more cash to put toward other things, like a honeymoon, or even a downpayment for your first house! It’s important to discuss your goals as a couple to see what’s important to you. When we reached out to our intimate wedding couples for input, one told us “We were able to do a few extra things with our guests since the cost was less than a big wedding. For example we took everyone on a swamp boat tour which was so much fun.”
Focus on What Matters Most
Although it can be fun and exciting, let’s face it, wedding planning can be stressful! Many of our intimate wedding couples expressed a desire to just want to focus on the love they have for each other and not get distracted with the stress of a larger event. As one recent elopement bride stated, “We have decided to get married in an intimate ceremony with just the two of us so that we can focus on what really matters—our commitment to each other and God.”
We are finding that even wedding couples that plan for larger weddings are trending toward smaller, or no wedding parties, and opting for just getting ready with their nearest and dearest friends, or “Team Bride” as one recently dubbed them, in an effort to keep their wedding day simple and stress free.
One of our couples pointed out that having a smaller event allowed them to focus more deeply on becoming a family. “We wanted to make sure all the parts of the day represented us a couple and wanted to be sure it was showing us coming together as a family. Having a small wedding which was just us and our close family was perfect. Both families got to know each other even better. We wanted to be sure we had a good time as well as our guests. Being a small event made that easier. A year and half later our family still talks about how much fun they had in NOLA.”
We Know, Planning is Exhausting
According to the Wedding Wire 2020 Newlywed Report, on average a couple will hire 15 vendors for their wedding day! Unless one of those vendors is a good wedding planner, that is a LOT of coordination. Eloping can certainly help eliminate many of those vendors, depending on how elaborate, or simple you want your wedding to be. Technically, all you need is an officiant. We’d like to think you might want a photographer around, too! For smaller weddings and elopements, the most common other vendors we work with are officiants, hair/makeup artists, florists, transportation, music and cake bakers. We maintain a list of vendors that we have worked with in the past on small weddings and elopements that we would be happy to share with our couples. We often also work closely with our couples to suggest timing of their wedding so that they can take advantage of the most optimal light to insure that their wedding photos are the best they can be.
Yes, You Get to Make it Your Own!
Just because you opt for a smaller wedding does not mean that you have to skimp on making it memorable! Pretty much anything that is done for a large wedding can be done for an intimate wedding. That’s the beauty of it … you can make it your own! Have a first look, take a whirl on the dance floor, have a tiny second-line, cut a cake, just make sure you schedule time to take lots of great photos! The memories you make will be yours to have forever between the two of you, and the photos are how you will share your great news with all of those who love you. We often recommend to our couples to schedule time for a “walk about” on the wedding day and we spend an hour or so either before or after the ceremony doing a fun photo session! Some of our couples even have us document their details and get photos of them helping one another get ready.
Can You Suggest a Venue?
You bet we can! There are so many places to have a small wedding in New Orleans. The city is so visually rich with wonderful architecture that almost anywhere can be a beautiful backdrop for a wedding! Restaurants, hotels, courtyards, backyards, front porches, all work well for small intimate weddings. Contact us for our free elopement guide and we will be happy to share a list of our favorites!!
Let’s Do This, How Do I Begin?
Getting started on planning your elopement in New Orleans is simple! Just fill out our contact form which can be found HERE! We will get started right away getting you all the information you need to plan your perfect intimate wedding in New Orleans!
You can also start by checking HERE for good information on how to obtain various licenses and permits, including a marriage license. As of this writing, marriage licenses are being issued by appointment only, so be sure to call before going to the courthouse. We remain hopeful that as more information is determined about COVID-19, life may not return to “normal” as we knew it, but that we will have a clearer picture of what the new normal will look like and can plan accordingly.