Planning a wedding can take a lot out of a couple. Though a big, gorgeous affair can be the event of your dreams, many chose to keep at least part of their wedding celebration a little more private. The coronavirus pandemic solidified this idea when the world, especially events, shut down. According to The Knot magazine, 93 percent of couples reported to move forward with wedding plans amid the pandemic, but many opted for a ceremony only, while pushing the reception to a later date. The same sentiment continued into the year 2021, with Town & Country magazine declaring it the year of elopements and micro-weddings, as the vaccines were slowly rolled out, and restrictions began to lift. Kelly here: Recently, a friend decided eloping was the best option for her ceremony and planned the entire thing herself. Because of its continued trend upwards, I wanted to see what she learned from her wedding experience and whether she would have done things differently.
What made you decide to elope or that eloping was the best option for you?
In the time of COVID-19 everything is so unpredictable. We knew we wanted to get married in the fall of 2021, but we were anxious about booking, planning, involving so many people in such a big celebration, just to have to potentially reschedule it due to the pandemic. We also loved the idea of the day being an adventure focused on just the two of us and our pups.
What was the best thing about eloping?
The best part of eloping is freedom. Freedom to go wherever you want, to wear whatever you want, and to make your vows and ceremony as unique as you want. We had the total freedom to spend our wedding day doing what we love in a place that we adore. It was also a lot of fun to plan together.
What was the worst thing about eloping?
The only downside to eloping was not being surrounded by our loved ones on such a special day. We were lucky to have the full support of our families and knew we were going to have some type of celebration with them afterwards, which made our decision to elope a bit easier.
What is something you didn’t realize before planning an elopement?
Before planning and researching our elopement we didn’t realize we would need a permit to get married in a national park.
What is something you wish you knew before eloping?
Wishing we would’ve known the weather on a typical day. Not sure if knowing it was windy would’ve changed anything; maybe we would’ve worn our hair differently, but it also added a little comedy to the day, so it wasn’t all bad.
Were there any last-minute things you realized you didn’t think about before getting to the actual day?
Thankfully, we are both big planners and did research on just about everything so there were no ‘aw I forgot about that’ moments.
What would you tell someone thinking about eloping?
Envision how you want your elopement to go, research the area and do everything you can to make it happen. Remember what you are there for, things don’t always go exactly as planned but the unexpected makes the day even more special. Most importantly, cherish every second. People say the day goes by so fast but believe us when we tell you — you have no idea!
Kelly here: Many of our top wedding locations around New Orleans that are ideal for elopements do require a permit or have some limitations.
A few popular locations include City Park, Audubon Park’s Tree of Life and Jackson Square.
To have a ceremony in City Park, you must obtain a permit. The permit is $250 for up to 10 people – if you’re choosing to let a few friends and family come along – and $10 per person after 10 and up to 20 people. Conditions and who to contact can be found here.
Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter has a few other limitations, however, the fee for a wedding for 2-25 people is $250 with a litter/damage deposit of $100. The booking form and the additional guidelines can be found on the city’s website here.
In Audubon Park there a couple options: There is a $75 permit fee for any gathering in the park or the Riverview for any “parties.” Additionally, to reserve the Tree of Life – you can just show up to the Tree of Life, but reserving it ensures that you will have the space for the time you’d like – there is a $150 gathering fee for any set up and addition of 25 or more guests. They suggest you submit a reservation request at least one month prior. You can do this by calling 504-212-5420. On the Sarah Becker Photography website, Becker writes that when she shoots elopements at the Tree of Life, with a simple setup and just the couple, if there is another couple the ceremony usually takes no more than 20 minutes. This gives the couple ample time to take pre-ceremony photos.
These are, of course, only a few popular locations around the city. There are many bars and restaurants in the French Quarter or Garden District that will rent out their courtyards or small spaces for your event. We suggest visiting before your elopement and finding the spot that speaks to you as a couple.