Kevin and I first eloped 15 years ago—almost to the day. We met in an AOL chatroom back in October 1998. After two months of talking online and then eventually on the phone, Kevin visited me on Christmas Eve. He was my handsome Christmas gift!
We had no intentions of falling in love, but after spending every day together before he left for Korea (he was active duty in the U.S. Army – Master Rated Paratrooper), things took a turn for the better. Our platonic friendship grew into becoming best friends and then blossomed into love. On Saturday, June 23, 2000, we got engaged!
I packed up, left my family and hometown of Baltimore, and moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Kevin was stationed. On a Tuesday afternoon, in May of 2001, we went down to the Cumberland County Courthouse and tied the knot. My math professor (who is also my sorority sister) and hair stylist were our witnesses. There were no pictures taken on our official wedding day, but this stunning shoot makes up for it all.
Now, back in the city I love, Baltimore, I launched an event design and planning firm, Ivori Nicole Events. Together with my awesome team, we plan weddings and events in locales from Maryland to Mexico and help couples in love plan, design, and execute their dream day—and occasionally Kevin officiates (yes, he is licensed to officiate any wedding or elopement).
When it came down to celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary, an elopement style celebration seemed the most romantic and special. We wanted to have a magical day on our milestone anniversary, pay tribute to our original nuptials, and at the same time inspire couples who want to elope in Baltimore.
We choose Federal Hill for our romantic day, overlooking the city’s harbor and skyline. Details featured blush linens with a sheer and gold overlay, a four-layered drip cake with gold icing, laser-cut ‘forever and always’ topper, multiple bouquets with blush roses, Phalaenopsis orchids, and hydrangea. To complete the look, I added a vintage-styled velvet ring box embroidered with our monogram.
The Planner/Designer Ivori Nicole Events
Photographer Terri Baskin Photography
Floral Decor Events by Ebone
Rental Decor (linens, flatware, stemware and china) Select Event Rental
Venue Federal Hill Park
Bride Eliza J
Beauty Dawn Newsome
Groom Michael Kors
Sugar Artist Couture Cakes by Sabrina
Ring box Mrs. Box
Tips for Planning a Modern Elopement
No longer considered the stepchild of nuptials, elopements can be the romantic, and intimate wedding of your dream sans the frou frou frills and hefty price tags. So, what are the dos and do nots of an elopement? Glad you asked. As both an elopement bride myself and planner to couples wanting to elope, I’ve seen it all. From courthouse nuptial to beachfront ‘I dos,’ here are my favorite tips from my personal and professional experience for a magical elopement.
1. Don’t downplay your day. You’re getting married! Regardless of the number of people in attendance or the surroundings, you are committing to share the rest of your lives together. This is a big deal and should be treated accordingly. It’s ok to get excited and go Big for this special day.
2. Hire a wedding planner. Just because your ceremony is intimate, you don’t have to wing it alone. A planner can help you coordinate all the moving parts and alleviate a lot of stress.
Also, a planner will have insider’s knowledge about venues (and vendors) you would’ve never know about.
3. Be realistic about your budget. When comparing an elopement with a traditional wedding there can be significant financial savings. Albeit, a small, intimate ceremony, there are still cost associated. Travel, officiant services, professional photography, attire, licensing fees are just a few expenses to consider.
4. Be clear about what you want. The beauty of eloping is that these are no rules! You get to do it your way. The thought of having that much freedom may seem overwhelming. The remedy to not getting in over your head is to plot out, with your partner, what you want your day to look and feel like.
5. Research the legal formalities. The road to getting a marriage license can be a daunting one if you don’t do your homework. A spontaneous elopement is romantic, but not always practical. Call ahead to get the requirements, a list of documentation needed, and waiting times. Yes, some places require you to wait as long as two weeks to marry after you apply for the license. If you’re looking to say ‘I do’ abroad contact the country’s embassy for requirements.
6. Hire a photographer. Photographs and videos are the best way to capture memories for any occasion. Your Big Day is no exception. The peace of mind will outweigh the cost if you skip this important keepsake. It will be well worth it. Trust me!
7. Journal your experience. In addition to pictures, journal the entire experience. You can jot down all of your thoughts and emotions. Unlike a traditional wedding, no one, but you two (and, maybe your witnesses) can say, “Remember when…” when it comes to your wedding day.
8. Have your cake and eat it, too. If there’s any day to splurge on something, this is it. If you love sweets, have a small wedding cake. If you’re a fashionista, go for the dress you’ve always wanted. Whatever you decide to splurge on, consider logistics, location and climate. It may be difficult to hike up the mountain in a ball gown or with a tiered cake.
9. Start spreading the news. In the spontaneity of an elopement, it’s easy to forget to share the exciting news. Although, it’s your day, you can invite whoever you want, or no one at all. But, you should tell your parents or siblings before or very soon after your ‘I dos.’
10. You don’t have to go to the courthouse—although they can be beautiful, too. Forget what you’ve seen in the movies. This country has some of the most beautiful courthouses. The grand city hall can make an amazing backdrop with its marble staircases, century-old columns, and oak details. The beauty of an elopement is the variety of venue options. From the white wedding chapel in Vegas to the beaches in the Caribbean and the mountains in Washington State, the selections are endless. The point is to pick a venue that special to you!
11. Send wedding announcements. Once you return from the elopement, consider sending wedding announcements. Share the news (and a few pictures) with your friends and family.
12. “After the party, it’s the after-party,” said Jay Z. If you really want to make the nuptials about the two of you, but still want to celebrate with friends and family, there’s no better way but to have a post wedding party. You can have a reception to share with loved ones and avoid the party being too stuffy or pricey. This event can be as small or big, formal or casual as you like.
The main idea is to have fun and do it your way. Most importantly don’t lose sight of what it’s all about: spending the rest of your days with the love of your life.
How to Have an Intimate Wedding at Baltimore’s Federal Hill
Federal Hill offers spectacular views of the Baltimore Harbor, and is an integral part of Baltimore’s history. Early in the colonial period, the area known as Federal Hill, was the site of a paint pigment mining operation. The hill has several tunnels beneath the park. For much of the early history of Baltimore, the hill was known as Signal Hill because it was home to a maritime observatory serving the merchant and shipping interests of the city by observing the sailing of ships up the Patapsco River and signaling their impending arrival to downtown business people.
Permit Coordinator: Anita James
Contact Number: 410-396-7070
Address: Permits Office, Ralph W.E. Jones Administration Building, Druid Hill Park, 3001 East Drive
Park Event Permits: http://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/rec-parks-permits/event
Procedures: Federal Hill Park is a public area. To reserve your wedding spot you must fill out the $35 non-refundable application and attach a site plan to send to the Baltimore Recreation and Parks Permit office.
Recommendation: Submit an application within 30 days of the event, just in case problems may arise so that they may be addressed.