Dads always joke with their daughters about passing them a wad of cash if they agree to quietly elope, right? Maybe that's just in my family.

I have to think somewhere, deep down, everyone who's been faced with planning a wedding has thought of eloping, even if it was a fleeting thought. There are so many pressures with wedding planning but when we are really honest with ourselves we think of eloping as the easy way out.



To be honest, we legally were married at the Chicago courthouse because it would make things much easier for our small destination wedding in Mexico. However, in hindsight our courthouse ceremony marked a very intimate and special day in our lives, one that I wouldn't have thought would mean as much as it did in the end.

Even my mother-in-law, who is known for throwing huge and fabulous parties said, "that was so nice we wouldn't have to have another ceremony." I took this as a compliment since I know tradition and large weddings are very important to both families.

The warm fuzzy feelings we now associate with our courthouse wedding and the intimate moments we shared with our parents have left me wanting to share small bits of this day. I wanted you to know, in all the flurry of weddings and fulfilling every obligation, often the small simple things are the most meaningful.



We've returned from our destination wedding in Mexico just two hours ago and thoughts about this little post have been churning in my head all week.

I have always felt strongly about saving and splurging. Sounds contradictory, right? Let me explain.

Fewer better things.

I've been trying to practice this mantra the last few years and it is a theme in our new life together and was in wedding planning as well. Especially our registry!



Here is the priority list Clint and I made before planning for our wedding.

1. Marry in a quiet and non-frilly way
2. Create memories with our parents and siblings on a warm and relaxing holiday
3. Have really amazing photos
4. Pick out classic wedding clothes we would still love in years
5. Write our own vows



Each of these priorities begin to show up on our budget, some with more dollar signs then others. I have rather strong opinions on what items should be splurged on for photography sake and where we could save.

Here's how that list ended up looking for our courthouse ceremony.

suit $$$
shoes $
boutonniere $
ring $$
watch $$ (old)

dress $
shoes $
hair $$$
make up $$
bouquet $
ring $$
coat $ (old)

black car service $
photographer $$
breakfast $
courthouse fees $


More behind the scenes notes:

Flowers : I choose to have silk flowers to save money and use on three events; courthouse ceremony, Mexico wedding and Chicago reception. I typically LOVE fresh flowers but I knew if I wanted to cut some cost I could here, plus I often cannot tell the difference in fresh over silk in photos.


Photography : A courthouse wedding (depending on the time of day) is short, ours was at 9:30am, lasting only 10-15 min. I REALLY did not want outdoor photos since it was February. The nice thing about the Cook County Courthouse is the interior has a European flair and we could stay in one location for photos. We took all of posed shots in less then one hour. Another savings was, I opted for a better/more expensive photographer but a more conservative time line. We spent a total of three hours with ours. I saved time also by getting ready in one location and riding together. I opted for only one really talented photographer instead of two, which is another savings. Most photographers are willing to shoot elopements on an hourly fee especially during a weekday. This is a big savings compared to an all day wedding on a weekend.

For more info on our photographer, Tami Paige Photography or Everyday Charming wedding photographers Charming in Love - don't miss these links.



Clothing : An exceptionally well fitting suit is key to great wedding photos. Clint completely agreed and found his in only ten minutes. We splurged on his suit knowing he would continue to wear it for years and the color and cut were perfect. This is an area that often is over looked. Even a little oversized or a poor color choice can be tragic. White shirt, bow tie and shoes we found at a great savings. His watch was a little more pricy (#fewerbetterthings) but a gift that he already had so it didn't add to our budget.




My dress I envisioned to be classic, fitted and simple. Pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie O came to mind. I found it right away and was even able to price compare online since it's a common brand at under $100. With a small embellishment I didn't need to spend on jewelry. I always seem to shop for Clint and I and many of our clients at Bloomingdales. They have the best end of season sales so my budget allowed for a nicer pair of shoes but on a 70% off sale, yes please! Nude kitten heals would be comfy yet make my legs look longer and slim. My coat I've had nearly five years so a good cleaning and minor alterations and my outfit is done!




Hair and Makeup : Take your time here. Find a style FAR in advance that doesn't look too unlike your everyday. The regret I hear most often is how a bride doesn't feel like herself on her wedding day. Take your everyday makeup and give it a special twist but be cautious getting caught in a trend or going overboard.  I did (and do) spend a pretty penny on my hair. I'm not ashamed to admit this since it is part of my budget. I do wear permanent extensions which need changed every 6-8 weeks and color that needs the same upkeep. I think well groomed hair is the best accessory a woman could have. Save your clothing budget and find a dependable hairstylist, this will make you look a million times better then one new outfit could ever.




Rings : Clint and I chose rose gold rings since it reminds us of two of my great grandmothers both named Rose, as well as my middle name. I have always loved soft pink and this ended up being an easy choice for wedding colors along with nudes, ivory, warm grey and tans, a palette for both winter and a beach wedding that all our guests would already own. Tossing in some blue and coral just as a pop in our outfits.




Breakfast : Tasty treats make for pretty pics and kept us full in-between our vows and flying out that afternoon for a quick beach getaway just the two of us.

I hope you can find some inspiration from a day that will be a strong memory in our minds for a lifetime. - xo Laura Rose Davis