7 California Couples Share Their Pandemic Elopements – thebolditalic

all the things the pandemic has taken from us, I never thought weddings would be one I’d miss. But there’s something about the current state of the world that has me missing cheesy champagne toasts, sweaty cupid shuffles on the dance floor, and well — just getting to celebrate with your loved ones. These seven couples, however, didn’t let the pandemic stop them from tying the knot. Read how each couple decided what they would do in lieu of their original wedding plans, and the unforgettable moments they’ve actually gotten to experience due to the shelter-in-place restrictions.

Photo: Courtney Yee of Photoflood Studio

The Bold Italic: How did you tie the knot amid the pandemic?

We made the decision to postpone the big wedding reception to next year and still get married in a small, intimate ceremony on our original wedding date. We had a small ceremony at St. Ignatius Catholic Church on the campus of the University of San Francisco with eight guests. My husband, Alex, attended USF and graduated in this church over 10 years ago. Fortunately for us, it had a livestream capability available since they livestream their masses via YouTube already. We just had to pay an extra fee to have our wedding ceremony livestreamed to YouTube and recorded for other family and friends to witness.

What’s a memorable moment you wouldn’t have had if you had a larger, traditional wedding?
After the ceremony was over, we got in Alex’s truck to drive to the restaurant where we were going to have a small dinner outside. This was our first moment alone together as husband and wife. I remember we grabbed each other’s hands, looked each other in the eye, and told each other how happy we were to be married. We then got to share that entire car ride alone together until we arrived at the restaurant. Granted it was only about 20 minutes, but normally we would have been with the bridal party or photographer and videographer in a trolly bus or limo during this time. It was funny to see us all dressed up getting into and out of a red pickup truck so casually.

What tips would you share with other engaged couples during this time?
You have to decide what’s right for you and your relationship. If you are not able to recover the cost of your deposits, I recommend postponing to a later date. Many vendors are being accommodating and will let you reschedule to a new date at no additional charge. But most of all remember that this is a celebration of the love between you two.

Photo: Erez Harodi

The Bold Italic: How did you tie the knot amid the pandemic?

Our wedding had been planned for the end of June in Tel Aviv, Israel, where Eliya grew up and where his family lives. We had planned a multiday celebration bringing back traditions from Eva’s family from Iran and on Eliya’s side from Morrocco. We are still planning to someday have this traditional celebration of our union with both of our families, but this will not happen in the foreseeable future without a vaccine.

In the meantime, we felt that the progressive, adaptive thing for us to do is to become domestic partners. It grants us legal benefits in the state of California, (like being on the same health insurance, etc.), without feeling like we’re having a wedding without our family. We appreciate that the domestic partnership in California is nongendered — as we’ve always felt ourselves more as partners (and called ourselves partners even after getting engaged), then as gendered titles such as husband and wife.

We plan on driving to Sacramento to file in person in the coming weeks, and take photos by the stunning state capital buildings and trees. The day we’ve selected is known on the Jewish calendar as “Tu B’av” which is the Israeli’s Valentine’s Day or “day of love” (which is also Eliya’s parents’ wedding anniversary from decades ago). We met on the February 14, Valentine’s Day in the U.S., so the day is bringing things full circle for us, even though we won’t be practicing any Jewish traditions for this legal partnership.

What’s a memorable moment you wouldn’t have had if you had a larger, traditional wedding?

We’ve decided to gift each other domestic partnership rings. We are working on custom designs for rings with No.3 Shop in San Francisco, for our pinky fingers. Eva’s ring is a modern take on a Victorian design that was traditionally a unisex style, and Eliya is working on a custom ring inspired by the natural organicness of river rocks. Despite the major disruption of the pandemic on our wedding plans, we’re weaving it into our story as a couple by adapting and creating new memories that are unique to just us — a contrast from the more classic Jewish wedding we had planned.

What tips would you share with other engaged couples during this time?

Keep things in perspective and try to return to your core values as a couple. We are purpose-driven, and our suggestion is to think deeply about what your purpose is for progressing your relationship status and have that guide whatever decision you make. Sometimes wedding planning loses perspective on what is truly important. For us to have our big, traditional wedding day, all we care about is having our families together, and that’s all that matters. Remembering how lucky we are to have a supportive partnership, and honoring each other and continuing to support each other during uncertain times is the best preparation for marriage and life!

Photo: Meg’s Marvels Photography

The Bold Italic: How did you tie the knot amid the pandemic?

We decided to elope when it was clear that our planned 50-person wedding wasn’t going to be safe, especially with most of our guests and family flying from around the country. Our original ceremony location was in the redwoods, so we wanted to still make that a reality. We chose Big Basin State Park to exchange vows as it’s one of our favorite places to hike and one of the first places we hiked together after moving to California. We felt it wouldn’t be as crowded as other redwood locations. We then chose to celebrate along the cliffs at Shark Fin Cove in Davenport. We had never actually been here but we both find the ocean to be calming and it has been the location of other celebrations in our relationship, including our engagement where we hiked through a forest and then reached a beach to celebrate and call our families. Plus our photographer had shot here before and we loved the photos. Thankfully, both locations opened up the week before our elopement.

What’s a memorable moment you wouldn’t have had if you simply had a larger, traditional wedding?
Hiking around the redwoods to find a beautiful grove to exchange vows in just wouldn’t have been possible with a large group. An added bonus was being able to have our first dance along the cliffs overlooking the ocean.

What tips would you share with other engaged couples during this time?It’s unfortunate that this exciting time in our lives isn’t how we expected but out of that just may come something even better. While we missed having our family there, we were able to make the day truly about us while doing our favorite things — hiking, eating sushi, and “cheers”ing with good wine. I recommend eloping to anyone that’s considering it. It was a bright spot in an otherwise trying year and our family will be even more excited to celebrate with us next year. We also still included our family in the big day by having them send us cards with advice on marriage which we read at our coastside picnic.

Photo: Phoenix Wang

The Bold Italic: How did you tie the knot amidst the pandemic?
We had met in January of this year through Hinge. I knew the day I met him I was going to marry him, and he said he knew as well. We had just gotten engaged before everything shut down in March. We both started talking about how with the pandemic, maybe we should just elope, because we just kept saying we don’t want to wait. We started talking about it. We both love the woods and interior design. Parfait then mentioned, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we got married in the woods and then had a great place to stay that night?” We decided to look up treehouses in California and found this amazing one in Aptos, CA. The treehouse was right by the Forest of Nisene Marks, so we decided we’d do our vows at the base of the redwoods and go in deeper for photos.

What’s a memorable moment you wouldn’t have had if you simply had a larger, traditional wedding?

In a weird way, the pandemic was a great excuse to not have a big wedding. We wanted it to be intimate and spiritual, just the two of us exchanging vows, and we got to truly enjoy just being us. Parfait also surprised me with a personal chef who cooked us an incredible 7-course meal that night. Most people rush through the dinner at a normal wedding, so that’s something else you can only get at an elopement.

What tips would you share with other engaged couples during this time?

I’d definitely recommend they elope. I think it’s so special when it’s just the two of you and a photographer. That’s what I had to keep telling myself: don’t let the details overshadow what this is supposed to be — two people committing to each other . My other advice is to find a photographer. Some people may think they don’t want to do that because it’s just the two of them, including us. But then we realized we were going to regret it if we didn’t, and we loved how our photos turned out.

Photo: Danya Chen

The Bold Italic: How did you tie the knot amidst the pandemic?

We had been planning to have a larger reception, but I honestly always wanted a micro-wedding even before the pandemic. Once the pandemic happened, we decided to just do a micro-wedding. We hosted it inside one of the suites in a hotel in SF, with 10 people attending the ceremony. The room itself was about 1700–1800 square feet so it had a lot of room for us to social distance. We invited our siblings and parents, and a friend that was basically a brother to my husband. While the hotel ballroom had no special meaning to us, we wanted to get married in San Francisco — the city we fell for one another. A mutual friend had invited us to hang out one day, and we have fond memories of spending time and exploring the usual tourist spots together that day. After that day, we never stopped talking and hanging out and have been together since September 2011.

What’s a memorable moment you wouldn’t have had if you simply had a larger, traditional wedding?
It was less stressful overall. Since it was easy to keep track of things with a smaller group, it made it a lot easier for me personally. We honestly just got to really enjoy the company of those with us on the day. However, we of course were dealing with a new stress — the stress of someone potentially getting sick — which wasn’t great.

What tips would you share with other engaged couples during this time?
Be mentally prepared for everything to go wrong and to plan to cancel everything at the last minute. I hope those who want to get married during this time and do a micro-wedding can — but would only recommend it if they and everyone involved felt safe doing so.

Photo: Sarah Ching

The Bold Italic: How did you tie the knot amidst the pandemic?

We had a sunrise ceremony at Glacier Point, Yosemite. We have traveled to Yosemite together before, but never to Glacier Point. We love the incredible beauty of Yosemite Valley and couldn’t imagine a more perfect backdrop for our intimate ceremony. We invited our immediate family (12 adults and two kids) to our elopement and we all stayed in a cabin in Yosemite together. It was the first time some of them met and they bonded instantly—it was wonderful to watch our moms making dinner together, our dads drinking beers together, my sister playing with my brother- in-law’s children.

What’s a memorable moment you wouldn’t have had if you simply had a larger, traditional wedding?

At a regular wedding, I feel like the bride and groom get caught up in trying to mingle and spend time with everyone. It becomes a whirlwind of people and you don’t get to fully enjoy each other. We got to spend an hour and a half in private doing our first look and watching the sunrise over Half Dome. Our guests came later for the ceremony and it was honestly so amazing to share that moment with just our immediate family.

What tips would you share with other engaged couples during this time?
To all the engaged couples right now — I would definitely recommend eloping! Our private ceremony was magical and we get to officially be husband and wife right now instead of waiting. Plus, we are still having the big reception next year so we kind of get two weddings. How many brides are able to wear their dress twice? We turned an unknown and stressful situation into a golden opportunity and now we can’t wait to celebrate one year of marriage with all of our friends and family next summer.

Photo: Adriana Klas

The Bold Italic: How did you tie the knot amid the pandemic?
We eloped in my (Melanie’s) grandparents’ backyard in Danville, California. My grandparents both passed away in the last five years, and my Aunt and Uncle bought their house. My mom and all four of her sisters were married there — I also lived there as a child and my grandparents meant the world to me. We were married in front of the dollhouse my grandpa built for all of his grandchildren. To be able to have our elopement in such a special, meaningful place, surrounded by the people we love the most — I can’t even describe how special it was.

What’s a memorable moment you wouldn’t have had if you simply had a larger, traditional wedding?

Simply the fact that we were able to enjoy every single moment of our wedding without distraction. From the moment we woke up till the moment we went to sleep, the day was so relaxed. I’ve gotten advice from brides who had big weddings on how we should take as much in as possible because it goes so fast, but this day felt relaxed and every moment felt cherished. We were able to spend time with each family member individually, spend time with our adorable nieces and nephews, and ultimately just enjoy one another.

What tips would you share with other engaged couples during this time?
Covid may have brought on a lot of change, stress, and anxiety, but at the end of the day, your wedding is about you and your S/O. Doing a mini-mony or elopement really captures just how special marriage is.