Wedding Celebration

The Offbeat Bride: Dorie, Teacher

Her offbeat partner: Justin, Construction Worker

Date and location of wedding: Steep Rock Preservation, Washington, Connecticut — July 3, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Justin and I dreamed of eloping, but I, like most brides-to-be, was quite nervous about offending our friends and family. So when it came time to actually plan out our wedding, we began to brainstorm ideas on how to elope and make it out alive.

Wedding Celebration

We finally decided on creating an elopement music video. The idea was to create a video that showed us out on a date and slowly dropped clues that something bigger was about to happen culminating with our elopement. We contacted a good friend at Matley Productions who was able to make it happen.


We decided on eloping to Steep Rock Preserve, one of our favorite date spots. The best part about eloping here is now we go here often on dates and get to relive the happiest day of our lives.

Once the video was produced, we announced our marriage by sitting down with our friends and family members, one by one, and showing them our music video. As we did, we turned on our webcam and recorded their reactions (which we turned into a reaction montage, the perfect wedding keepsake).

Wedding celebration.

The friends and family we couldn't see in person were sent invitations to a wedding that directed them to a website with the video posted. A year later, we had a post-elopement celebration.

Here is the music video:

And here is the reaction montage!

Tell us about the ceremony: We are both from different faiths, so we thought finding a reading would be difficult. We ultimately decided on the Bible verse 1 John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”



Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was not spilling the beans of our marriage while we were waiting for our video to be produced. We overcame it by flaunting our secret without totally giving it away!


My favorite moment: I think so many people are afraid to elope because they worry how others will react. The best part of our elopement, by far, was the reactions from our friends and family. As you can see in the video, everyone was so happy and not a single person reacted negatively.

If nothing else, I hope that our elopement reaction video can help dispel the myth that all friends and family will all be offended if they are not invited to your wedding, and that you can soften the blow if you're careful.



My funniest moment: Despite the fact that we wrote our own vows, when it came time to recite them, we both messed up and couldn't stop laughing. Thankfully our videographers did some great editing, so the final video looks like we recited them without a hitch.


Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Jumping into the river. I had never jumped into that river before and I thought I would hit my head on a rock and drown. It turned out to be my favorite part of the whole thing!

Wedding celebration.

Wedding celebration.

My advice for Offbeat Brides: When struggling with decisions, get support and encouragement from like-minded people. If none of your friends and family can support your decisions, seek out some people on wedding blogs or discussion boards, like the Offbeat Bride Tribe, to see how they handled the situations.


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Comments on Dorie & Justin’s surprise elopement music video wedding

  1. I love how in the reaction montage, even though the one lady goes off camera, you can still see the hug in the mirror on the wall behind. This was brilliant. Way to go!

    • That’s my sister and that hug is one of my favorite parts of the montage. I always wondered if anyone else picked up on the hug in the mirror.

  2. OMG, I couldn’t even get through either video without crying!! Love it — congratulations, Dorie & Justin!

  3. What a brilliant and incredibly sweet way to involve everyone in your elopement! I’m totally smitten. Thank you for sharing, and mazel tov!

    • Yeah, Vimeo doesn’t work on mobile browsers. Come back later on a computer if you want to slurp up the goodness!

      • I did. So much sweetness! This makes me want to elope even though we’ve already got the big wedding planned! I just love how personal and intimate it is. Maybe for a secret vow renewal πŸ™‚

  4. Congrats!!! Sto lat!!!! I cried through most of both videos, the family reactions were so touching.

  5. I also totally caught the hug in the mirror and loved it! Loved the whole thing, actually. Beautiful elopement and the reaction montage is priceless!

  6. This literally made me cry. I’ve been dreaming about eloping, creating a film of the ceremony, then surprising friends & family with it at a low-key pot-luck.
    I’m a wedding videographer, & so often I see families that lost sight of the true meaning of what a wedding is to celebrate. This is so personal, so simple, and so perfect. Thank you SO much for sharing.

  7. I love this so much. Did you feel like you missed out on not having your father walk you down the isle? That would be my only thought keeping me from doing something similar.

    • This was definitely one of the hardest decisions. Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of my dad walking me down the aisle. And another big worry is that Justin didn’t even ask my father for my hand, so needless to say, we were worried about offending him when we showed him the video.

      Thankfully, my dad is the best (he the guy in the reaction video with the tie-dyed shirt). He loves the video so much and tells everyone he shows it to that I had the most perfect wedding because I relive it every time I show the video to someone new. In the end, I got to still have my father-daughter dance when we had our post-elopement celebration a year later, so I felt that pretty much made up for it. I can’t say that I “missed out” on anything – just did things completely out of the norm and ended up with something better than I had dreamed of.

  8. What a great idea! Your reaction video is what made my tears start flowing! Congrats. πŸ™‚

  9. I’m not normally one to cry at things, but seeing the genuine love in the reaction video totally got to me. I love it so much, and I’m really glad you guys had the wedding you wanted <3

  10. That was adorable!! What is the song playing while you are getting married? It’s perfect for my wedding!!!

    • The song playing when we get married is All I Want is You by Barry Louis Polisar.

      If anyone’s wondering about the other songs. The song playing in the beginning of the elopement video is Sunshine by G. Love. And the last song that plays in the montage video is You and I by Ingrid Michalson.

  11. Oh my! I think you two are in the most beautiful people on earth! Seriously! Amazing wedding!

  12. What a beautiful way to celebrate your love. It was a joy watching your private elopement — and seeing the joy in your eyes. Be well.

  13. Yay! for big smiles and and ingrid michaelson and happy famliy and friends!! congratulations!

  14. The video and way you recorded reaction was such a wonderful idea! My husband and I had similar issues…we wanted our wedding to be just us, but didn’t want to completely disappoint family. So we waited until the day before we left for Las Vegas to tell anyone. Then had the wedding at a chapel that streamed the wedding live. My family started a chat and watched it “together” from each of their living rooms. Also let them help pick out the photos they wanted…proofs were available online the next day.

  15. This is terrific. Thanks so much for sharing! My fiancΓ© and I are seriously considering an elopement as well, and it is a vote of confidence to see one go so beautifully. Congratulations on your lovely marriage!

  16. This bought tears to my eyes. So sweet. Hubby and I had a surprise wedding (married at the engagement party) and I can see a lot of friends and families reactions in that montage.

    Thank you for sharing. What a great record to have.

  17. So much cute!! I think my favorite part is the bouquet toss. It just made me feel like I was THERE for the whole thing, somehow. Happy to hear you got lots of positive reactions from family πŸ™‚

  18. This was soooo beautiful! Made me cry! This is what marriage is about…the love between two people – one with nature and God. Kudos to the videographer! Great job! πŸ™‚

  19. Love, love, LOVE this! We are considering eloping, but I really want a video and some good pictures that we can show at our reception. What a marvelous idea!

  20. That is honestly one of the most beautiful things I have seen in a long time. Tears are streaming down my face!! What a wonderful, sweet idea. So much love!!

  21. Hi! Congratulations to the beautiful couple Dorie and Justin. The idea is so lovely, joyful and inspiring.

    As much as i wanted to be all happy seeing how it turned out, it made me hold on to my tears while watching it here in the office. I am planning to have an elopement wedding with my partner. This is partly because both our families don’t go well together. My family doesn’t like him and vice versa with his family to me. If we’re going to have a normal family-friends wedding, it will probably not going to be a happy event so we both decided that one day we will have an elopement.

    How i wish we can have a happy family reaction like that should we announce our elopement.

    Anyway, Cheers to you Dorie and Justin! πŸ™‚

  22. Oh wow! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! It was a beautiful ceremony and I wish y’all the best!

  23. OMG. This was absolutely beautiful…
    I was struggling with how to handle our wedding. As this is the second marriage for both of us and I have two teenagers, we simply wanted to include my children and perhaps a few VIPs…my family is not close and a lot of drama would be created if we invited some and not others. I didn’t want my day to be overshadowed by bitter feelings. This was a PERFECT SOLUTION. It allows the family and friends to share a quick journey with you leading up to that special moment…giving them to opportunity to not feel so left out. Thank you so much for sharing Dori and Justin! πŸ™‚

  24. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful celebration of love! I admire you two for the uniqueness and undeniably personal touch to the composition of your elopement. Yours is a very empowering story and I will be forever grateful, as I too have been struggling with finding the strength to pursue my elopement. Thank you for the happy tears and I wish you both all the love, happiness and joy in this world!!

  25. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful elopement! This video is my inspiration behind my elopement video!!! I gave my videographers this link and told them this is exactly what I want! πŸ™‚

    I am currently having such a difficult time wording the videos I will be mailing to the outer islands (I live on Oahu, Hawaii) and to other family on the mainland. It’s difficult because I don’t want to give away the ending you know? The invite sounds something like, “You’re invited! Please play DVD for more.”

    Did you encounter this problem or something similar? Do you have any suggestions??

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