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Image: By the Wilde via Bitsy & Toby’s Romantic Hobart Mountaintop Elopement

When I think of eloping, I picture couples zipping off overseas to get married in exotic locations to take the pressure out of planning their wedding.

If I’m being really honest, I also picture Chandler and Monica in Friends when they nearly elope in Las Vegas only to be pipped at the post by an intoxicated Ross and Rachel.

The official definition of course, is a couple running away to secretly get married.

But like a lot of things this year, the definition of eloping needs a bit of a 2020 update, after all, it’s basically been impossible to run away anywhere as a result of (important) travel and gathering restrictions.

This got me thinking during the Elopement Issue here at Polka Dot: what have loved up couples been doing in 2020 when saying ‘I do’ just hasn’t been possible? Is it even possible to “elope” during a pandemic?

I figured there was no one better to provide all the inside gossip on how weddings have been functioning during this time than celebrants, so I went straight to the source.

Erica Evans and Melissa Polimeni are Melbourne-based celebrants who are able to provide an interesting perspective given they’ve been working under the strictest restrictions in Australia. 

Image: Agape Media House via Serena & Taylor’s Modern Hobart Elopement

Melissa, who has been a celebrant for more than a decade, said at the elopement weddings she has officiated, the couples were seeking “an intimate, no fuss/stress-free way of getting married with just two (or a few more) of their loved ones witnessing the moment.”

She also added that eloping is a cheaper option – something which I hadn’t considered as a motivation.

Erica, who recently celebrated her second anniversary as a celebrant, describes the elopements she’s officiated as “intimate and fun”.

“In my experience, the couples eloped because they didn’t want the fuss of a big wedding. Or they just wanted to get married privately,” she says.

So, elopements are intimate, fun and avoid the fuss of a big wedding, sounds a lot like many of the weddings being held in 2020 due to lockdown restrictions.

Melissa has officiated two weddings during the pandemic, both of which were live-streamed to overseas/interstate guests who couldn’t attend due to the restrictions.

The most recent of those two was attended (in-person) by the happy couple, two witnesses and Melissa.

“The couple had planned a big wedding in early April but when lockdown looked imminent in Melbourne, they chose an intimate ceremony at the bride’s parents’ home in late March.

“Even though there were only five of us present, it was still a very moving and meaningful ceremony.”

Erica has officiated three weddings during Melbourne’s lockdown, with two of them occurring during the first lockdown, which were impacted by what Erica described as “the party of five” rule and were held in the couple’s respective homes.

“One had the couple, the other two guests and 150 people watching from all over the world on Zoom. It was incredible,” Erica says.

“Although the weddings that occurred with the five-person rule were definitely different they were still so special and intimate for the couples.”

Image: Jenna Bryant Photography via Rosie & Kyal’s Fun & Colourful Las Vegas Elopement

Interestingly, Melissa and Erica said many of the couples were planning on holding larger receptions with family and friends later down the track, so why did they choose to get married during the pandemic, essentially eloping on their original wedding plans? Why not just wait until after restrictions have eased?

“For some couples, dates hold special significance, so even if guests are limited, they are still keen to marry on a certain date,” Melissa says.

“I also think we need to have hope and have wonderful and exciting things to look forward to when everything else looks pretty bleak.

“A pandemic can remind us what’s most important in life and for some, that means making their commitment to their loved one official. When the future’s full of such uncertainty, why not celebrate love?”

Erica agreed:

“These couples just wanted to be “married” and didn’t care if they couldn’t have the big day.

“For some, getting married and making that legal commitment is what is most important to them.

“They don’t care who can come they just want to celebrate their special day together. For one of my couples the wedding date was very special and important to them and they didn’t want to have it on any other day.”

So, there are definitely benefits to eloping, even during the pandemic, cost, intimacy and immediacy for starters.

And if you’re thinking about eloping, albeit in a restricted environment, Melissa couldn’t have been clearer with her message: “You have my full support!”

“If you’re okay with delaying/ditching a big celebration, then definitely go for it. A wedding is all about celebrating love so if restrictions allow, then don’t let a pandemic get in the way of your special day.”

Ms Floral Says: I think Melissa said it best when she said a pandemic can remind us what’s most important in life. If you want to be married, be married!

About Mr Houndstooth: I am a happily married man. I enjoy a fine whisky, a new suit and swashbuckling around town with my beautiful bride. Looking back on my wedding day always makes me smile, even though it began to rain just as I said ‘I do’.

About Erica Evans: My style as a celebrant is fun, relaxed and with no boring bits! I believe that everyone should marry the one they cannot live without. My aim is to give my beautiful couples a day they will never forget.

About Melissa Polimeni: I love my work and I’m told I always deliver ceremonies in a happy, engaging and polished manner. I would describe my ceremonies as relaxed and meaningful.” Fun fact: Melissa officiated Mr and Mrs Houndstooth’s wedding six years ago and she went on to officiate his brother AND his sister’s wedding. She’s the unofficial celebrant for the Houndstooth family!

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Does the thought of being the centre of attention on your wedding day make you a little bit clammy? Why not make current wedding restrictions work in your favour, skip the massive guest list completely, and plan a micro wedding or elopement!

Having an elopement or micro wedding means you can make the day as simple or elaborate as you dream, following whatever traditions you love, and leaving the ones you don’t. Your love deserves to be wholeheartedly honoured and celebrated, regardless of the size wedding you have, and this is especially true when it comes to wedding day florals!

My advice? Keep it simple, and make the day yours!

Image: Haven Still and Moving Images 

The rules are there aren’t any

Is it really a wedding if the bride doesn’t have a bouquet? It sure can be!

Instead of a bouquet, why not crown your head with an ornate flower halo? That way, you free up your hands — goodness knows you’ll want to hold your honey’s hands all day anyway!

Image: Mike Semple Photography 

Avoid an enormous bunch

Still have your heart set on having a bouquet, lovely? Consider keeping it compact — depending on your location and guest count, you may be stuck lugging a heavy bouquet up a hill, without a bridesmaid to share the load! {That being said though, grooms holding bouquets make for the best photos!}

Choose a vibe or colour palette, instead of specific flowers

This will help your florist be flexible to choose the best available quality florals {local produce is positively BLOOMING right now!}, and will give them plenty of creative freedom to make something truly unique and beautiful for you.

Image: Smokey Oscar

You’re still allowed to have ceremony florals

Did you see the ah-may-zing entrance florals Princess Beatrice had for her micro wedding back in July? Of course you did, we all did! Mayyybe going *that* extra isn’t quite in the vision {or the budget!} but don’t be afraid to go a bit extra with your ceremony florals! The space where two souls are joined is sacred, and florals are the perfect way of elevating and celebrating that moment.

Think about your ceremony location, and work your florals in with what’s already there — an arch in a garden, suspended on a tree branch, a garland woven on a church altar.

Whatever you choose, ask your florist to make it easy to dismantle, so you can take your florals home and enjoy them, as you settle into newly-married bliss.

Image: Oh Hello Petal

Ms Floral Says: I love that the ‘you do you’ attitude extends to all parts of the wedding (or elopement). These are some great reminders!

About Oh Hello Petal: Ione Faragher from Oh Hello Petal loves to bring beauty and meaning to celebrations that honour all seasons of life and love. With a strong creative sense guided by intuition, and an emphasis on local and ethically sourced florals, Ione will guide and cheer you on, celebrating you in such a way that helps you feel seen, worthy and loved.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

Image: Miranda Stokkel 

We love reflecting on trends for the season! When it comes to our top three we can’t go past the following.

Sustainability

In our eyes, being sustainable never goes out of style. In the world of events we see beautiful and time consuming displays created for couples and guests to enjoy, only to be thrown away shortly after. So we’re seeing a big trend in couples making it their wedding mission to be conscious of their event carbon footprint and to consider ways in which they can be more conscious and sustainable. Especially when it comes to styling! Creating beautiful events that are also eco-conscious is extremely satisfying not only visually but for your peace of mind as well. It’s so amazing to see how the events world has shifted to be more mindful, and we definitely see that reflected in our couples views as well. A sustainable brand we LOVE here at Nudo is Bangin Hangins! Their epic installations are thoughtfully crafted and re-used event after event, meaning their is no wastage! Also any offcuts they have are donated to local childcare centres for arts and crafts. Talk about amazing efforts! We recently had an interview with Sarah, the talented creative behind the brand, and discussed how important sustainability is for Bangin Hangins over on the Nudo blog here.

Image: Nikita Pere Photography

Boozy Brunch Weddings

We are currently obsessed with boozy brunch weddings! They are such a fantastic way to take advantage of the sunshine and celebrate marrying your love with a non-stop flow of mimosas! They are becoming such a popular choice with plenty of time for those dreamy bridal portraits because day light is not a problem, a day time wedding ticks all the boxes for us! Plus imagine diving into a spread of all of your favourite brunch treats surrounded by your nearest and dearest. Another amazing perk of a brunch wedding is you aren’t restricted to a certain day. So if Saturdays at your dream venue are booked out from now until 2023, consider this the perfect plan! A boozy brunch wedding doesn’t revolve around the 11:00pm finish, so they are ideal for a Sunday or weekday! Our couples love the option of being able to choose from those more popular months, and not needing to compromise the time of year they envisioned getting married. Not to mention your dream suppliers are more likely to be available on a Sunday/weekday too. It’s a win win! Our couples also love that once the wedding wraps up, the day is far from over! Which allows them to continue celebrating on into the night at a new location or take the party back to their place.

Images: Nick Skinner Photography & Shannyn Higgins Photography

Long Stemmed Bouquets and Floral Only Arrangements

A floral trend we have loved through 2020 are long stemmed bouquets and floral only arrangements. There is something so powerful about the simplicity of these and how gorgeous the flowers look on their own. But we also need to acknowledge the time and care florists spend individually reflexing each rose to make sure it is puffed and pretty! A favourite from this year for us was Katie and Dean’s Valentine’s Day wedding at The Wool Mill. Nudo had so much fun styling this one as Katie and Dean really wanted to play off the Valentine’s day theme. We swooned over the ombre floral arrangements created by Anatomy of Flowers. The contrast of their floral only arrangements against the soft blush linens from Simmons Linen made such a statement. This trend is definitely a stand out for us!

Images: Hannah Gilbert Photography

Ms Floral Says: These trends are definitely a terrific trio and all work extremely well together!

About Nudo: Nudo are a dynamic team of planners and designers (and shoulders to lean on), effortlessly guiding you through your wedding journey step by step. Taking the time to understand your vision and what matters most, whilst also taking care of the million small (and sometimes tedious) details that you don’t have the time for. And when the day comes, they bring it all together to create the kind of experience your guests will rave about for years.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!