If you’re reading this you’re probably already thinking about how you can make your wedding less stressful and more enjoyable, personal and unique. Well you’ve come to the right place – we’ve got 7 tips to having the most relaxed elopement ever – even when you bring 3 kids along for the ride.
A bit about us
If you’ve been following us for a while you may already know our story – if not, here’s the short version….
James and I met when I was 12 and he was 13 in a sleepy little town called Stillwater (the full story is over here). We dated (as much as you do at 12) and then broke up a month later. We stayed best friends for the next 26 years – each having our own children and leading our seperate lives. Until one day 4 years ago, when both of us were single, and we picked up where those kids from Stillwater left off…
Fast forward 4 years and James and his daughter Kiki have left the cottage in the Hauraki Plains and moved in with me and my two daughters Bella and Sophia. Now those of you who have blended families will know, it’s not easy. We’ve written so much about the challenges on our blog so if you want to feel a little less alone in these struggles head over here…
Getting married was always a big deal for James. He’d gone 40 years without ever walking down the aisle and the main reason was that he hated being the centre of attention. The irony doesn’t escape me that we have a blog with over 26,000 people following us but for some reason that’s different.
For me, I’d had the big wedding with my first husband. I was in my 20’s and about 3 dress sizes smaller! I looked and felt amazing and loved every minute of it. And even though our relationship ended after 14 years I don’t regret a second of it because I have my two beautiful girls. So for me, I didn’t need all the trappings of a big wedding either.
So for the first year and a half after we got engaged we went back and forward with a load of different options with none of them really sticking. It’s at this point I’ll give you my first tip for a successful elopement!
#1 Make a list of what’s important
You may be surprised at what is actually important when you actually write it all down. For us the list was actually quite small…
– Kids must be there
– We have to have our song (Leather and Lace)
– Our family have to be involved somehow
– I want one nice family photo of us all
So we knew what we needed but we still didn’t know how we would make that happen. That was until we stumbled upon Sunshine Weddings when we were researching our South Island trip. Which brings me to tip number 2.
#2 Outsource the tough stuff
For us – this was enlisting the help of Sunshine Weddings. Sunshine Weddings are a husband and wife team who specialise in Queenstown Elopements. For one flat fee not only do they take care of all the photography but they also organise the celebrant, get permits for where you are getting married and they’ll even bring along a bottle of bubbles for afterwards. It literally is a case of just turning up on the day.
From the first e-mail I sent them they made everything so easy. We’d already booked our tickets for the South Island so it wasn’t surprising that when I came home and showed James their website he said yes too!
And just like that we were getting married….
But it wasn’t like a regular kind of wedding where you are talking to everyone about it. Which lets be fair was part of the appeal. But it’s an odd dynamic all the same which brings me to tip number 3…
#3 Decide who to tell when
We made a decision early on to not tell the kids until 2 weeks out. It was torture not telling them but it was one of the best decisions we made. They were so incredibly excited and best of all they only had 2 weeks to wait. We packed all the months of shopping and looking for things into one really fun weekend and the kids never had time to “get over it”.
For me not telling anyone was just too much so I made a decision that work was my “safe zone” where I could talk about the wedding to my hearts content and that worked really well for me.
James and I both said we wouldn’t tell anyone else and then both admitted to each other that we had to tell one other person. I told my sister Jo, he told his best friend Gavin. But apart from that we did pretty well keeping it quiet.
We weren’t going to tell anyone else until after but then the practicalities and doubt started creeping in. We knew we wanted a party with everyone when we got back but to do that we had to tell them what it was for. And we got more and more nervous about not telling our parents!
So two weeks before we told our close friends and family about our plans. I really loved doing it that way because it meant that we got to share a little bit of the preparation with them (but because it was only two weeks out no one could change it!)
The fourth tip is around keeping your stress levels under control…
#4 Let things fall into place
If you are planning an elopement you are doing it because you don’t want the stress of a wedding. So it’s really important that you don’t create that stress.
I had my first wedding as a comparison and I loved the new stress free way of planning a wedding.
Rather than manage every detail I let everyone choose what they wanted to wear. James, the girls and me all chose independently and I reckon we all looked pretty cohesive in the end!
I just let things kind of fall into place and they did…
We found this amazing place – Camp Glenorchy – to get ready and switched the wedding to Glenorchy instead of Queenstown. And Sunshine Weddings just made everything happen behind the scenes.
I found a great dress on a pre-loved wedding website for $500. The shoes I loved from an English Designer went on sale for $50 and Kiki and I found this awesome jacket while we were out shopping in Parnell one day.
There were only two things I couldn’t quite figure out. My earrings and my something blue. I bought a pair of earrings from Forever New just after I bought my dress but they didn’t feel quite right. So I found some at Michael Hill and bought those but I still wasn’t totally sold. And it turns out I was right. The right pair of earrings were still waiting to find me.
Two weeks before we got married my Grandma got really sick. The kind of sick that you can’t get better from so they sent her home to have her last few days warm in her bed, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
As we sat there 2 days before she passed away I was talking about my hunt for something blue and my Mum said “I wonder if Grandma has anything blue – she’d love you to have something of hers”.
And so we hunted through the room and found the most beautiful blue clip on earrings. I tiptoed over to Grandma’s bed and told her that I’d be borrowing them for the wedding. Something old, something blue and something borrowed all in one. And it meant that I had a little piece of Grandma with me all day.
So have faith that it will all come together and don’t stress. Which brings me nicely to tip number 5.
#5 Throw away your timeline
Throw away that timeline. You don’t need it. It’s only you there!
We had loosely decided that we’d meet up in the lounge at Camp Glenorchy first and all go down together.
And then with about an hour to go while I’m having my makeup done James calls me and says that he’d actually kind of like to see me for the first time as I walk down the aisle.
So we made a quick change. James sat in the front of the camper with the curtain drawn and I sat in the back. And he saw me for the first time as I walked down the aisle with Bella and Sophia.
James Mum had also given Kiki some presents and notes to read out after the wedding. Kiki, being Kiki, got a bit confused though and stopped the wedding mid way through to read out the notes and give us the presents from Granny. It was totally hilarious and made our wedding unique in a way we didn’t plan at all.
I don’t know what I’d thought I’d be doing on my wedding night but it probably wasn’t at the Te Anau pub with one of James oldest mates and the kids but that’s exactly what it was. And you know what – it was actually kind of awesome!
#6 You wedding, your way
The other great thing about an elopement is that really anything goes.
Krystal wanted to be James Best Man. Sure, no problem.
Sophia wanted to be Matron of Honour, Best Girl and Bridesmaid. Absolutely.
James is really allergic to flowers and we were travelling around the South Island after so we said no to flowers and I had an amazing bouquet made by Flaxation.
And the girls had lollipops from the Old Lolly Shop. And no, they didn’t get through the ceremony without starting to eat them.
And our last tip….
#7 Surround yourself with awesome people
In a wedding you are surrounded by people. Your family, friends, bridesmaids – so much so that you barely notice who is doing your hair or photos. An elopement changes all this.
The people you choose on your elopement become a massive part of your day. And by having fun, relaxed, down to earth people it makes the day so much more enjoyable.
We really hit the jackpot with the people we had around us on our wedding day and we’d like to give them all a shout out for being so amazing – each of them have links through to contact them if you’d like to choose them for your special day too…
Sunshine Weddings – awesomely relaxed photography with amazing results.
Salon Sylvan – quirky and relaxed – Chrissy is an amazing person to have around on your wedding day.
Two Sisters Hair and Makeup – we loved having Michelle do our makeup and she achieved a really natural look that lasted all day.
Phillipa Cook – an awesome celebrant who really understood us and made our vows so special.
Camp Glenorchy – for an absolutely magical place to get ready for our wedding. We really can’t rate them more highly and we’ve got more about our awesome stay over here.
Where did we shop?
We’re not aiming to be style leaders here but if you are interested in where we got our wedding digs from…
James shopped at Barkers for his blazer and shirt. The one in New Market is amazing! It’s filled with Triumph motorbikes and relaxed salespeople which is perfect when you are stepping outside of your comfort zone. James had definitely found his happy place here. His boots are from Harley Davidson and are his new riding boots (no point wasting a pair of shoes he said).
Bella and Sophia got their dresses from Forever New and Kiki got her skirt from Alannah Hill. The fur jackets for the girls are from Witchery. Kiki and Bella’s shoes are from Forever New (yes, they are high heel sneakers) and Sophia’s are light up Skechers!
My bouquet is from Flaxation – who got so excited about every part of our wedding and made the most amazing bouquet for us and packaged it up beautifully so it got to Queenstown in one piece.
The girls have lollipops from the Old Lolly Shop.