Laura Beth & Jesse’s spontaneous fun-filled elopement and “drunch” wedding

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Some of you may have seen a sneak peek of this couple's fantastic elopement video from our Monday Montage. Here's the full story on this totally spontaneous wedding.


The offbeat bride: Laura Beth, Creative Designer (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Jesse, Applications Developer/Software Engineer

Date and location of wedding: Sevierville and Gatlinburg, TN — May 24, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Instead of actually planning anything, we decided the best way for us to enjoy getting married was if we just didn't know what was to come. We wanted it to be a completely spontaneous, fun-filled day with no stress or worry. That way we could focus on each other.

Off we go

The only thing we knew is we had to get married on a Tuesday (due to something in his proposal). On May 24th (our second anniversary which just happened to be on a Tuesday), we decided to elope to Gatlinburg, TN, with no family or friends by our side, and hired a photographer and videographer to capture everything from the day.


We didn't want to feel very formal clothing-wise since he's more simplistic in nature and I'm very easy going. So, I wore a reversible dress I knew I wouldn't have trouble peeing in with my favorite pair of pumps that he gave me for my birthday, and he wore dark jeans with a nice brown vest that complimented his skin tone.

My Shoes

We helped each other get ready that morning and wrote a special letter to each other that we would read after getting married. We went to the first flower shop Google pulled up in the area and got married in a spot we would have never guessed.

We took a ski lift to see a view of the mountains, rode a slide down the mountain (which isn't easy to do in a dress and four inch heels), got some great food and beer at a local brewery, played in a creek barefoot like little kids, went to the aquarium, and ended the big day on a playground at our hotel.

My Something Blue

Flower Pitt Stop

When we returned from eloping, we decided to do something small and laid back for our friends and family at our new home. We called it a “drunch” (drinking at lunch). We decided to wear our wedding attire again for the event, and saved our first dance for everyone to see. There was a live band, tons of booze, good home cooking, a photobooth, and probably the most fun our 91-year-old home has ever seen.

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Tell us about the ceremony: After receiving our marriage license from the court house, we were informed no one there could marry us. Oh no! What were two kids in their wedding clothes going to do? Thankfully, a lady in the building told us there was a county commissioner across the street who probably wouldn't mind doing it. So you'd better believe, hand-in-hand, we took off running towards where this person was located.

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Upon arrival at this two-story white home that looked like it was built in the early 1900s, we found an old man who was to marry us by the name of Mr. Temple. This guy was a complete character. His ceremony was touching, too. He told us a story about how he and his wife make the bed every morning since they've been married and emphasized that is what we should do as well. Little did this man know that our bed is on the floor against a wall so it's easier for one of us to do it, but the message of teamwork definitely brought me to tears.

Court House

He also made us repeat to each other four points to a successful marriage. As Jesse and I looked into each other's eyes, we repeated “My Love, My Trust, My Respect, And My Friendship for each other all the time.” Shortly after, he pronounced us man and wife. We stood up from our seats and for our first kiss, Jesse dipped me. Afterwards, we read what we wrote to each other from that morning and then ventured forward to explore the town as man and wife.

The Dip

Ski lift


Our biggest challenge: One of the hardest things to do was to look into our family members' eyes and tell them that we didn't want anyone there when we were married. I'll never forget the tears from Jesse's mother and the heartache expressed by many of our close friends once we told them our plans. We both never felt so bad for standing up for something we felt was so right.

After informing people and hearing their responses, we knew we had to do something for our friends and family. We wanted to make sure we could help them relive the moment they all wanted to see through more than just pictures. So, we immediately looked into a videographer. We also started planning a get-together at our new home that was to take place right after we returned from eloping. That way, no one felt 100% left out.

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Playing in the Creek

My favorite moment: When we were able to sit down and exchange the words we wrote to each other earlier that morning. This element was really the only semi-planned piece of the day. While neither of us knew what we were going to share with each other, we both knew it was going to be the exact thoughts we were feeling when we woke up that morning before we were married. Even to this day we both still tear up when that part comes up in our elopement video.

[Enough teasing — here's the vid! Use the password: laurabeth2011]

My funniest moment: During the middle of our ceremony, Mr. Temple, the man who was marrying us, literally stopped talking. At first we were scared. Was he dead? Did he pass out? What's going on?! We remained silent, holding hands, and staring at him. About 30 seconds later, he picked up right where he left off (thus letting us know he really fell asleep!). It was such a funny situation because we felt so unsure of what was going on. You can see this moment in our video at 1:18.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Actually, we thought the “drunch” that we were trying to pull off when we got back from eloping wasn't going to work. The fear arose because the first free moments we actually had to try to get things ready was when we returned the day before the event.

More Reception DecorThis basically gave us less than 24 hours to pull off making the decorations, finding a live band, cooking all the food, finding tables and chairs, and setting up. Needless to say the sleepless night and hard work totally paid off. Every piece was there and I couldn't have done it without the quick aid of my talented and resourceful friends and family.

My advice for offbeat brides: Be willing to compromise on things, learn to let the less important things go, and also don't lose track of what feels important to you.

For those who choose to elope, make sure to go the extra mile to make your family members feel important. It's going to be hard because not everyone will be on board with you on the idea. Make sure to still talk about your plans of what you'll wear or where you'll go, get amazing photos to give them, record a video of your ceremony to share with them, and have a get-together sometime when you return from your elopement so they can still come share how happy they are for you with you.

It really might seem like a lot, but when you see the tears of joy on your family members' faces from the video and feel the love and support oozing out of them for you and your partner, it's totally worth it.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I can say with confidence: no matter what you choose to do, as long as you put your heart into it, you won't go wrong.

Aquarium Kisses

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Comments on Laura Beth & Jesse’s spontaneous fun-filled elopement and “drunch” wedding

  1. This brought tears to my eyes – these two have captured the essence of marriage so perfectly! I hope so much that my wedding day is as genuine as this one was.

  2. That wedding video was the best! And when the groom choked up while reading the letter….well, that was a wrap for me.

  3. The river that they’re playing on is seriously one of my favorite places in the world.
    I actually got engaged down there, so this makes me a little nostalgic.

    This is a lovely wedding experience for you both!

  4. You’ve taken the core pieces out of a wedding and held them up in their unadorned glory. It was so beautiful, I started to cry.

    I shared it with my friends and family. I hope you don’t mind, but I think it could do them some good. Some are too caught up in the idea of a 300+ Catholic wedding with a backyard roast to see the happiness that can be had in our simple 30 max destination wedding.

    Which isn’t the point at all.

    Congratulations! I’m so glad things worked out as well as they did!

  5. I cried… I cried… and then I cried a lil more… So breath-taking… I love the idea of hopping across the creek. And Mr. Temple falling asleep-priceless!!!

  6. I think there’s a ghost couple in the ski lift picture. LOL!

    But truly, this was beautiful. The intimacy, the love, the joy….beautiful.

  7. This is one of my favorite weddings to date. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  8. The photos by the aquarium are just breathtaking. I’ve never seen that done before and these look fabulous!

  9. Laura Beth, how did you handle the backlash from family when you told them you were eloping? Any strategies or coping mechanisms you could share??? I want my wedding to be about my man and I…not anyone else’s vision for what we’d like….any advice?

    • Hey Amanda! Jesse and I found ourselves turning to each other the most for support to get through the rough bumps. For example, when his mother cried after hearing the news, I held his hand to silently remind him “It’s ok. She won’t love us any less for this.” And when I started to crumble saying “Maybe we shouldn’t do this, everyone seems disappointed.”, he would hold my hand and say “But is that what YOU want to do?”. …so in a sense, we were each other’s rock. ….So, advise wise in terms of coping through struggles from family members and friends, I’d say there is no better cure than the one you love. ..Advise wise with people and their opinions though, I’d say gracefully listen to them and then politely explain that as lovely as it sounds it’s just not what is right for you and your partner. When you explain what you want to do, saying in a way that makes sure no one is purposely hurt will help those understand and accept what you choose to do more. … I hope this helped you a little. If you have any other questions, I’ll be happy to answer what I can.

  10. This is beautiful! I love the whole fun filled day!
    I’ve been struggling with the fact that I feel like a wedding with just my man and I is what I want but I don’t think it’s going to happen. It would great if you could share more about talking to your family, how you explained it etc
    thanks! 🙂

    • Hey Kendra! FIguring out what’s right for you and your partner can definitely be a hard task. I know Jesse and I played around a lot with the idea of eloping before we decided it was right for us. Anyway, let’s get on to the family business. =) Due to the fact that all of our family is four or more hours away, we mostly had to deliver the news via phone, but our method of delivery didn’t vary much. We were honest on all accounts why we wanted to elope. In this case there were a lot of factors that played a role, but regardless of the reasoning we had to make sure we said it in a way that didn’t personally hurt anyone. With each person, how we worded it did differ a little (since everyone takes things differently). Let’s take breaking the news to my mother for example…When it came time to tell my her, oh I was so worried. I’m her only daughter, and she’s my heart and soul. I thought, she’s bound to hate me forever for this. So when I made the call I said “Mama, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. And you remember how originally I wanted to elope to Ireland but couldn’t due to residential restrictions? ..Well, I really tried my hand at this wedding stuff, but all of this stuff just isn’t Jesse and me.” ..Then I sent her a video I was in love with. (This one ->

      ) I said “I wish we could do it just like that.” And then she said “Sweetheart, you still can.” Her endless support actually made me tear up. She eventually said “If it’s what you want girl, it’s what I want for you.” Talk about someone that deserves an Awesome Mom Award right?… And for another case, when it came time to tell Jesse’s mother…well we both knew she didn’t want this. She even told Jesse the last time we saw her, “As long as I can be there. You are my favorite son.” So you can only image…it was hard to pick up the phone. No one wants to make someone they love cry. But due to our strong emotions about what we felt was right, there was no other way but to just be honest. I held Jesse’s hand for support as he called and he said, “Mom we’re sure. This is what’s right for us. We’ve thought about it a lot, and it’s not that we don’t want to do something to celebrate our union ship together with everyone. We just think on our wedding day, we should spend such an intimate moment of our relationship with each other.”..and she did cry and oh how our hearts broke to hear it. I’m sure it almost read like “We don’t want you there” even though that was the furthest thing from the truth of why we wanted to elope. But ya know, she never hated us or loved us any less for our choice. Anyway, …with each call we made sure to mention that we did want to do something small to celebrate eventually and tried to still get our family members and friends involved by asking questions about “Oh what do you think would be fun?” …We felt it was very important to still give them something to look forward to because all in all, they just want to come be happy with you for you. …I really think if you or anyone chooses to elope, making your family still feel involved in a special way is vital. (Even if it’s just what food to make for the lunchin at your house kinda thing). I also recommend the things I said above in the “Advice for Brides” part of the article for eloping couples…I hope this helped a little more Kendra. If not, just let me know…I defiantly don’t mind rambling about every step we took before our elopement. =)

  11. Watching your video literally brought tears to my eyes. It is so beautiful to watch the love and silliness you and your husband bring to each others’lives.
    It is neat that you got married in Gatlinburg! My best friend honeymooned down there; I’ll have to share this with her. 🙂
    Also all your photos are just gorgeous!

  12. Now I’m torn about wanting to elope again…>_<

    The video and pictures were so beautiful! I might've teared up a bit. 🙂

  13. So lovely and sweet! Congratulations on doing it your own way…I have tears in my eyes!

  14. I’m getting married in Gatlinburg next month and this post made me so excited!!! It was definitely hard telling family of our plans to go by ourselves, but like you, feel the best way to spend our day is alone together!! I love the videographer idea!

  15. I’m in love with the shark photo. That’s is like pure romance in my mind!

  16. There are no words for how amazing your video was. There was so much love coming from both of you it brought tears to my eyes. Simply amazing.

  17. You two are just about the cutest couple I have seen! I love everything from what you wore to the flowers and even the cute old man who married you. Your video made me cry it was so sweet! We are getting married in Asheville, NC next month, and while we are not eloping and will have about 20 family members with us, I am inspired by your wedding to keep ours fun and somewhat spontaneous! Thanks so much for sharing your day with us 🙂

    • Thank you so much Kendra! Also congrats on the future wedding! It already sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to one day read your experience. I know it will be awesome! =)

  18. I loved everything about this wedding- and I teared up a few times because this reminds me so much of my fiancee and I. We have talked about eloping a few times because we just wanted to be married already, but this was just what I needed to see. Thank you so much for sharing. Congratulations and I know that you’ll have a wonderful lifetime with so many amazing memories!!

  19. So obviously I’m a little late to the party, here, but I wanted to chime in that I, too, literally had happy-tears rolling down my face as I watched your wedding video. I was in such a horrible mood earlier, but this just cheered me right up by making me remember my trip to the courthouse with my husband. (We joke about getting married twice- one for us, and once two weeks later for the families…)

    • Jenny, I’m happy our special day helped your day get a little better. =)

  20. Oh my gosh, my favorite wedding ever. Your wedding video made me cry. Not just tears in my eyes! on my face! Now I kinda want to elope. And also, hire your videographer! congratulations on your perfect wedding day.

  21. I’m a little late on this, but the video is password protected now! Is there any way for us to see it?

    • Hey Olivia! I apologize about the video being password protected. It seems the man who made the video didn’t pay a licensing fee for the music so he had to remove it from his list of works. Needless to say, he quickly learned his lesson. =P

      I’ve uploaded the video on my profile and made it public so that you can see it. Let me know if this link does or doesn’t work for you. We’ll be sure to figure something out so you can see it.

  22. This was an amazing, inspiring video..!! I like everyone else cried =) We’re eloping in 7 weeks and i had been feeling more nervous (about the reactions of our families when we return) than excited, but now i can’t wait!! When you’re doing something different (and SECRET) support and advice is vital, which is exactly what you have provided. Thank you for sharing!

  23. This! This is exactly what I needed to see. We’re planning to elope (with parents in tow, as a compromise) and then do dinner with our family afterward. Thank you for giving me a boost of confidence that we’re not crazy!
    PS: I love the aquarium photos.

    • Lol..You two aren’t crazy at all. =) Ok, well maybe crazy in love right? ^_~ …Congrats on your upcoming, awesome elopement and thank you about our photos!

  24. Really love what your photographers and videographer produced. They were able to portray such fun and great times!

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