Beach Shoot 4

The Offbeat Bride: Liz, Freelance Editor/Media Consultant (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: David, Freelance Writer/Web Developer

Date and location of wedding: On the beach at Myrtle Beach State Park, Myrtle Beach, SC — July 29, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We were in Myrtle Beach visiting my mother for the summer while I got my visa paperwork in order for the UK (we live in London). We had been engaged for about eight months come mid-July, and we decided at that point to scrap all of our more complicated and expensive plans and just get married on the beach. We ended up with only 10 days to plan and needed to get absolutely everything together, as all of our planning had been under the assumption that we'd be getting married in London in the spring. After a series of (now-comical, then stressful) mishaps, we eloped on the beach with only my mother present.

Beach Shoot Detail: Hands

Everything was done on a shoestring in a span of 10 days. We bought our outfits off the rack, DIYed most of our accessories, and decided against flowers or other decorations in favour of letting the beach take centre stage. We spent a lot of time choosing and customising our ceremony from the selection that Don and Kathy (of Carolina Romantic Weddings) provided for us, which gave us the opportunity to really think about what we wanted to say to one another. Having to do it all so quickly allowed us to really focus on what was important to us.

7: Ceremony - Vows

Tell us about the ceremony: Our officiant was an absolute star. Don has a comprehensive portfolio of self-written ceremonies that can be customised and mix-and-matched to your heart's content. We chose to combine two that really spoke to us. Part of that included an exchange of shell necklaces to represent “gifts of the sea,” lessons that the sea can teach you about love and marriage. It was very in line with our spiritual leanings as well as a fun element to jazz up the ceremony. We also exchanged non-traditional vows — vows that we felt really reflected who we are as a couple — with a bonus unintentional Game of Thrones reference. (vows by Don Beach):

4: Ceremony - Toes

I commit myself to you and to our relationship. I promise to comfort and encourage you. I promise to support you in times of happiness and sorrow. You are my closest friend, my sun and my moon, and the wind in my sails. You are my true north. On this special day, I pledge to you my heart, my loyalty, and my honour. I promise to always share my feelings, to never hold anything back, and to hold your feelings and needs as being equal to my own. This is my solemn vow.

9.2: Ceremony - Married!

Our officiant also announced us in the traditional seaside manner of blowing a conch shell and shouting very loudly — something we loved to bits.

Beach Shoot 9

Pier Shoot 1Our biggest challenge: Here were our now-comical mishaps: we had to wait for documents to get mailed to us from Europe in order to apply for our marriage license. Our wedding date was booked for Sunday, July 29th, and our papers arrived on Wednesday the 25th. We went to the local probate court to get our application in only to discover that in THAT county, you have to have a green card or social security number for both parties (information that was not on their website until after our wedding). David, being a visitor, did not have those things. After a rather panicky afternoon of calling different county probate courts, we found one an hour and a half away that would do our license with the documents we had. We arrived with 10 minutes until they closed. Now, South Carolina has a 24-hour waiting period between application and pick up, so we had to return on Friday to get our license. It was close (as the office is closed on the weekends), but we got it!

You might think that would be the end of it, but Mother Nature had other ideas. On Saturday, the sky opened up and dumped heavy rain on the area for hours on end. I called the officiant, and he assured me that things would be okay to go ahead for our sunset wedding on the beach the next day. Well, on Sunday the thunderstorms started up around 2:30 and kept on. I did my makeup and paced to keep busy, in true stressed-out bridal fashion. The officiant called us at 5:30 to let us know that the storm was clearing out, but that another one was about two hours behind it, and how far were we from the beach? With 20 minutes' notice, we got our outfits on, our hair styled, and out the door to go get married between storms.

We arrived just as the last of the rain came to a stop, and the clouds cleared away. We had warm, breezy weather throughout the ceremony and the photo shoot (and very few swimmers in our pictures). At the very end, as we were parting ways with the officiant and photographer in the parking lot, we heard a low rumble from the sky. We had been in the car for about one minute before the sky opened up again. Talk about lucky!

My favorite moment: There were several really touching moments in the wedding. Looking up and seeing that a small group of spectators were watching the ceremony from the pier was lovely. I think the moment that sticks out the most for us, though, was when we were leaving the beach and saw that an American Bald Eagle had perched itself in the trees opposite the beach. According to some local birdwatchers, he had flown over our ceremony, circled, and then watched from the trees for its entirety. Nothing like a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of events to make the day even more special.

Beach Shoot 5

My funniest moment: When David tried to dip me for photos. Between the shifting sand under our feet and our general combined lack of coordination, it made for some very funny photos and a near bride-dropping into the sea. Oops.

Beach Shoot: Family

My advice for Offbeat Brides: If you're feeling really bogged down in the details, see if there's something that can be streamlined or taken out entirely. I found that there were a lot of things that I “needed” that I didn't actually give two figs about when it came down to it. If everything goes tits up (as it very well might) and you can do absolutely nothing you initially set out to do, just breathe. Breathe and figure out what your priorities are, then get to it. And keep breathing.

Lastly, Pinterest is fantastic for getting inspiration and ideas, but don't let it con you into thinking you need a mustache booth, gourmet macaron plates, or DIY burlap chair covers with Swarovski crystal button accents unless those things are really your style and doable on your budget. It's a great tool, but it's easy to make yourself feel bad because your wedding can't live up to an online fantasy shindig.

Pier Shoot 4

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Comments on Liz & David’s last-minute beach elopement

  1. Totally teared up!! You reminded me of my beach elopement (3 years ago) and seeing people watching from the bluff above us. It was great to have those strangers witness the moment!!

  2. I wanted to surprise my guy with a beach elopement shortly after he proposed, but I think it was important to him to be married by our Methodist pastor, so that’s what we did. I did get my outdoor wedding in their prayer garden, with just the 2 witnesses and a friend, and it was wonderful.

    However, I hear vow renewals are a great chance to do it all over again! 😉 Loved the spontaneity of this!

  3. Hooray! The time has just flown by since I wrote this up. Re-reading it has been a lovely trip down memory lane :).

  4. Gorgeous! Love the idea of it – always wanted a low key but beautiful beach wedding and you’ve really pulled it off here!

  5. “Our officiant also announced us in the traditional seaside manner of blowing a conch shell and shouting very loudly”

    That sounds wonderful! What a joyous, exciting way to announce your marriage!

  6. Yes, this! “Lastly, Pinterest is fantastic for getting inspiration and ideas, but don’t let it con you into thinking you need a mustache booth, gourmet macaron plates, or DIY burlap chair covers with Swarovski crystal button accents unless those things are really your style and doable on your budget. “

  7. What a beautiful wedding! (Congrats!!!) And what great advice!

    This post makes you think about what is really important about your wedding. (And whether your pinterest wedding board could use some early spring cleaning ;))

  8. This is just so lovely! And it’s really inspiring me to go the elope/beach route. 🙂 I can see one thread that runs through the most amazing elopement stories, and that is photography. So important to have photos to share with everyone back home. Thanks for sharing your sweet story!

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