Image: One Love Photo


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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#44: Brave Wedding: Charlene & Derek

People! I can barely type right now because my fingers are all tingly with excitement. Oh yes, THAT'S how psyched I am to present this next wedding. Today's interviewee, Charlene, summoned her inner brave bride when she ditched all of her pretty plans and messy family politics to elope with her man, Derek. Theirs is a story of courage, prioritizing, and big love in the big apple. I was grinning from ear to ear as I read about this wedding, and I promise that you will, too.

Oh, and if you're wondering why everyone from Frank Sinatra to Jay-Z sings songs about New York City, you'll understand once you see these incredible photos...

I am a stereotypical girly-girl, so when it came to planning my wedding, I was not interested in skimping on ANY of the wedding luxuries...until I discovered that I would need to sell a kidney in order to get those baby pink ranunculus that I wanted (amongst other lavish "necessities").  It wasn't until the week that our deposit was due (at the Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo, CA) did I finally grasp the reality of planning a huge wedding; this stuff isn't cheap and my baby pink ranunculus won't guarantee me a drama-free day.  Inevitably, someone is going to complain that the salmon is too "dry", and Uncle Joe is going to take full advantage of the open bar and end up groping one of the bridesmaids.  

That's when I realized that it didn't matter who was invited, or what type of flower arrangements adorned our ten-seater tables - ultimately, it was a day to celebrate our love, and we only needed two people to do that. I set aside my silly expectations and made plans to run away with my one true love and elope :)

Before the decision to elope, I spent a lot of time obsessing about family politics.  Are second cousins invited?  Do I have to invite my maid-of-honor's douche-bag boyfriend?  What song is appropriate for a father-daughter dance, if the father was estranged from his daughter for 18 years of her life?  I would make myself sick, worrying about how to make everyone else happy on "my" day.  I wasn't receiving any support from my mother (presumably, because she felt guilty for not being able to pay for the wedding), and my BFF appeared to be giving me the silent treatment, for choosing my little sister as my maid-of-honor.  

Once we decided to abandon all of the family-induced anxiety, my biggest concern was whether or not it was going to be rainy in New York on the day of our elopement.  And it was. It POURED during our taxi ride down to the courthouse.  I thought, for sure, our photography session was going to be limited to the subway.  As we pulled up to the building, the torrential downpour ceased to exist and I didn't get a single raindrop on my gown.  It was miraculous.  

I would have to say that my favorite moment of the day was our impromptu first dance.  The first dance, for me, was one of the most stressful aspects of wedding planning.  When I was younger, I had always assumed that my grandfather was going to walk me down the aisle, and that we would dance the father-daughter dance to "Misty", a song that he would so eloquently play on his baby grand piano.  When he passed away in 1997, I knew that my wedding, no matter how grand, was always going to feel incomplete.  During our wedding dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea, a wonderful pianist was entertaining the guests.  As we were exiting the restaurant, I asked her if she knew how to play "Misty".  Right then and there, I shared my first dance with my husband, in memory of my grandpa.

I learned how to relinquish any preconceived notions I had about the "perfect wedding".  If someone were to hand me $100,000 and ask me to recreate my wedding day, I wouldn't change a thing. No amount of pastel Jordan almonds, or fancy letterpress invitations, could possibly enhance that already perfect day.  I got to spend the day with my best friend, in a city that I love, and I still have both of my kidneys. Elopement definitely isn't for everyone, but it was the right choice for me.  

Photography: Johnny Wolf
Gown: Dolly Couture


  1. Oh I do love me a girl that elopes! I am quite seriously toying with the idea. It makes me very happy to hear positive elopage stories.

    And how I love, love, love her hair. It is dreamy and magical. And those shoes! Yay love.

  2. Elopement stories always stress good old fashioned LOVE, plain and simple. That's why I dig 'em.

    And yes, major style points for this bride! I'm still recovering from the awesomeness of the photography, which has literally knocked the wind right out of me.

  3. Tears and Cheers for this one, here. Beautiful photos. And I'm proud of the bride for doing what felt right.

  4. What a beautiful story. And Kim, you seem to find all the fab Dolly brides :) I love the subway shot - I really want one like it!

  5. When he passed away in 1997, I knew that my wedding, no matter how grand, was always going to feel incomplete.

    I know how you feel. My grandpa died in 2005, and I'm heartbroken he won't be there on my wedding day.

    Beautiful wedding. I'm curious, though - how did your family react?

  6. Thanks for sharing this story with us.


Babbling about weddings is so much more fun when people babble back. :)

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