When I called my father to say that I was engaged, he was at his girlfriend’s house, and they were both in good spirits. I heard her yelling in the background that she wanted to come to the wedding. “Of course,” I thought. She’s great, and I’ve known her for years, and I was puzzled as to why she thought she might not get to come until she shouted her clarification: “Weddings are wonderful! Don’t elope!”
Honestly, eloping had never even crossed my mind. Shawn has a big family. I have a relatively small family, but I was blessed to grow up with a strong sense of community, a motley crew of friends who feel like home. Family-oriented types that we are, we want these people with us as we enter marriage. I don’t have a concrete vision of my wedding, but I do have an abstract vision, and it includes a whole bunch of people. Eloping is just not my style.
And yet…and yet…a few weeks ago, I got out of class early on a Friday. It was a beautiful day, so I headed downtown to Shawn’s work neighborhood to sun myself in Battery Park until he got out of work. And there, in the middle of the park, was a couple eloping. She wore a black cocktail dress and two spiky white flowers in her hair, somehow reminiscent of angel wings. He wore a black suit with a white vest and the biggest grin I’d seen in ages. There were two obviously professional photographers, one officiant with a folder open before her, and one man and one woman getting married on their own, in the middle of a ring of bare winter trees, looking out on choppy water with ferries and swooping birds, Lady Liberty standing regal in the distance. This was no small wedding party, no “just our closest family and friends.” It was just the two of them, smiling, standing together on a Friday afternoon, and it was wildly romantic.
While I do not intend to elope, I have stumbled across a couple of eloping-oriented websites here in NYC. Guerilla Weddings is a husband-wife, photographer-officiant team that helps plan and photograph small weddings in wacky locations. Their site is worth looking at even if you are not planning on eloping, as they list many creative wedding locations, all of which are good for getting the old brainstorming wheels turning, and some of which can be used for larger, more traditional weddings. (Greenwood Cemetery Chapel! Why didn’t I think of that?)
Elope New York also has a list of locations suitable for eloping as well as a step by step guide to the logistics involved in making the whole marriage legal. I’m sure there are many more excellent resources out there, which will likely go unexplored by me on account of, you know, not planning to elope. But I’ll certainly spend more time poring over the locations offered on these sites for brainstorming purposes if nothing else.