Where do we even begin?? We have loved seeing how our “covid couples” changed up their original weddings plans from a huge soiree’ to micro weddings and elopements and this one is no different. When Covid came around and Whitney and Ryan knew their big wedding day would have to be postponed due to the pandemic, they switched things up and embraced the new “normal” in 2020. Their intimate micro wedding at Isla Del Sol Yacht Club was laid back and beautiful!
We were soaking in our last few nice weather days in Chicago last September, and Ryne suggested we go for a bike ride down by Lake Michigan near our apartment which is something we would do often. There is a beautiful bike path along the lake that leads down to a spot where you can see the entire Chicago skyline perfectly and during sunset it is really amazing. We hung out for maybe 15 minutes before it started to get chilly, so we stood up to leave and Ryne pulled me up onto an elevated part of the path and got down on one knee. I wish I could remember everything that he said but I basically blacked out from shock! The best part was that he had his best friend hiding out taking pictures of the entire thing, who then surprised us with a bottle of champagne and glasses to celebrate. It was a moment neither of us will ever forget!
I always wanted a fall wedding with lots of moody colored flowers and a modern industrial theme and lots of exposed brick. We found the perfect venue in my fiances home town almost immediately. We set our date almost exactly 1 year from the day we got engaged and had big plans to move to Florida after that. We had planned to have 200 of our friends and family there to help us celebrate, and then.. Covid hit.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
The pandemic hit Illinois the hardest in March, right after we had locked in pretty much all of our vendors. At the time, we thought we would still be in the clear for our big traditional wedding come September. We watched the news everyday as the numbers climbed and climbed. With no end in sight, we first decided we would postpone the wedding to Spring of 2021. It didn’t take long for us to realize that having a wedding next spring may not even be a possibility as Chicago went into lockdown for an unforeseen amount of time. We considered eloping just the two of us or doing a courthouse wedding in Chicago. I couldn’t swallow the idea of not being able to have both of our families there with us, so an elopement was out for me. Waiting in line to be married with a hundred other couples at the Chicago courthouse didn’t sound appealing either. I wasn’t ready to let go of the wedding I had spent so much time and effort into planning for us.
Then one day, Ryne (who is always the more sensible of the two of us) suggested very gently that we cancel our wedding back home and move to Florida this year instead of next year. He said we would save so much money and would be able to buy a house sooner. Although I knew he was right, I had to come around to the idea myself. After reaching out to our vendors and finding out we would get every penny of our money back if we cancelled our wedding, the decision came a little bit easier. I did some research and started to come around to the idea of doing a courthouse wedding in Tampa. We could still have our families there and get nice pictures since it’s less congested and a little more esthetically pleasing than the Chicago courthouse. We could also plan a dinner reception afterwards while avoiding the headache of trying to plan something in a big city like Chicago. The courthouse wedding wasn’t sounding so bad after all!
So we moved to Florida in August, and were so excited to start a new adventure together. We planned a dinner party at The Getaway and we were able to look forward to our wedding day again. Somewhere along the line I came across Elope Tampa Bay’s Instagram while searching for our photographer, Melissa with MAD images, to shoot our courthouse wedding. I think deep down I still was not totally content with the courthouse idea, so I reached out to them to find out more about their elopement packages. Although what they had to offer was everything I could have dreamed of and more, I foolishly passed on their services because we had just moved across the country and was overly concerned about finances. I seemed to have forgotten that we just saved more money than I’d care to admit by cancelling our original wedding! Luckily, they didn’t totally write me off.
Shortly after that, we learned that the courthouse was no longer performing wedding ceremonies because of Covid. We were back to square one and the first thing that popped into my head was Elope Tampa Bay. I thought surely that my date would have been booked by the time I emailed them again, but it must have been fate because they were still available! We spoke over the phone to get an idea of what exactly I was looking for and what my budget was. I immediately felt like Emily & Melanie genuinely cared about making our wedding day everything that we wanted it to be without sacrificing our budget. After a few conversations, our contract was signed and I had never felt better throughout the entire wedding planning process. An immediate weight was lifted off of my shoulders and Elope Tampa Bay literally took care of every single thing for me. They were more than I could have ever imagined them to be as wedding planners. The process was as simple as filling out a questionnaire about details and confirming them over the phone. It was so nice to be able to customize bits and pieces and felt nothing like your standard beach elopement. Their communication was amazing and I still felt like I was planning my own wedding without the stress involved. It was almost too easy!
YOUR OUTFITS AND ACCESSORIES
We stuck with our outfits that we had planned from our original wedding. I wore the Hart Gown by Grace Loves Lace, and Ryne wore a navy blue vest and dress pants from Express with a grey tie from The Tie Bar. I had rose gold accessories to match my engagement ring. My earrings were from Etsy and my hair piece was actually from Amazon and I LOVED it!
The entire day was so memorable, but I think one of my favorite parts was our first look and seeing how nervous but excited Ryne was. Popping the champagne after the ceremony was also super fun! It felt so good to have the whole thing go off without a hitch, thanks to Elope Tampa Bay!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
If you want to get married, then just get married. Don’t let something crazy like the pandemic get in the way of your plans. You may not be able to have the wedding you had always pictured, but at the end of the day you’ll still get to marry your person. Who knows, it may even turn out better than you could have ever dreamed of! Keep rolling with the punches and it will only make you stronger together. In the end it doesn’t matter how you did it, just that you did it. You’ll be glad you didn’t wait another minute when it’s all over!
Officiant : Wedding By Bonnie
Photographer : M.A.D. Images Photography
Coordinator & Permit: Elope Tampa Bay
Floral: Wonderland Florist
Venue: Isla Del Sol Yacht Club