One of the best parts of an elopement is the sense of truly being able to own your ceremony and make it yours. This can leave couples asking however, what in the world do you actually do on your elopement day?
Bucking the traditional wedding format means you can pretty much do whatever you want, but this is where confusion can set in.
When do you have the ceremony? Can we squeeze in a romantic photo shoot in the park beforehand? Do we have to have a reception at a hall on the same day? What about entertaining our guests?
The freedom that elopement offers can seem daunting when it actually comes time to plan everything, but that’s why I put together this handy guide.
An elopement doesn’t have to follow the typical structure of a classic wedding. In fact, part of the appeal is in mixing it up and adding activities and events that you wouldn’t normally be able to cram into a traditional wedding day, such as viewing a parade, a night on the town, or a whimsical garden photo shoot.
The possibilities are truly limitless and that’s why it’s important to plan your elopement day well beforehand to get the most out of it. Sure, the idea of spontaneity is probably one of the things that attracted you to the idea of getting eloped in the first place, but too much of it will just lead to a mass of confusion and headaches you don’t want.
Maximize the excitement, fun, and carefree feel of your elopement by structuring your day with some of these popular ideas.
Private Photo-shoot Before the Ceremony
Isn’t it bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the actual ceremony?
Not when you’re eloping!
In fact, a rising trend that couples love involves having your own private scheduled photo shoot before the ceremony even begins.
Not unlike an engagement shoot or something similar, couples work with their elopement planner or photographer to pick a romantic location such as a garden, public park, or hotel balcony just to have some personal time together before everything gets rolling.
Couples claim that pre-ceremony photoshoots (also known as "first looks") ease tension and can be extremely romantic. Even during an elopement, things can get busy, leaving little to no private time for the couple. Sometimes a little quiet intimacy goes a long way.
You can even incorporate the photo shoot location into the ceremony itself if you want. Just make sure to work it out with your elopement planner.
Museums and Tours
Why not see the sights while you’re getting married?
It’s popular to get eloped in cities that are rich in history and culture. Sure, you could wait a couple days to take advantage of these attractions, but nothing’s stopping you from incorporating them right into your special day.
If your ceremony is scheduled for the morning, why not spend the afternoon touring a famous museum or spending it exploring the historic streets of places like the French Quarter?
These are the kinds of perks couples love about eloping that you simply can’t get with a traditional wedding.
If you really want to go all out, you could schedule a tour or witness a parade before your actual ceremony. Embrace everything your location of choice has to offer!
Add in Some Adventure
Nothing says you can’t add some real spice to the day of your elopement ceremony. Just remember to dress for the occasion and plan accordingly.
Want to say your vows on a carriage ride or hop on a steam boat? Or maybe you want to visit an historic cemetery or have a picnic in the park? The choice is yours!
An elopement doesn’t have to mimic a traditional wedding at all, if that’s not your thing.
Time enough for the “Spa Treatment”
You’re saving time by not having to deal with a drawn out wedding ceremony, and you’re also saving a ton of money by getting eloped in the first place. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself!
Take a slice out of the day to splurge on your hair and nails at the finest place in town. Coordinate with your elopement planner and dedicate a solid block of time for a good pampering.
Not only will you look and feel great before the ceremony, this can also act as a stress-reliever.
Because you’re not going to be bogged down trying to corral 100 people at a wedding reception, eloping leaves more time open for you to unwind and enjoy life!
Romantic Dinner for Two
Yes, you can cap off the night with a classic candlelit dinner.
In New Orleans, great food comes with the territory. There are no shortages of five star restaurants and romantic locations to choose from.
Because you’re not flying out to your honeymoon destination right after you get married (since you’re already there!), the night of your ceremony is open for you to do what you want with.
This means less headaches and more romance.
After the ceremony is over, feel free to trot back to your hotel (or ride there in style with a rented limo or horse drawn carriage), get changed into something more comfy, and live it up with a night on the town.
What About the Actual Ceremony?
This is all up to you as well! Exchange your vows and rings, play some music of your choosing, share a kiss, or mix it up.
The beauty of an elopement is that there is no one right way to do anything. Include religious content or don’t. Include traditions like throwing the bouquet or don’t. Or go all out with a unique theme and invent traditions of your own.
What’s important is that your elopement speaks to you and that you fill the day with purposeful and meaningful activities. Don’t include anything just because it’s tradition or you think you’re expected to. Own your elopement!
New Orleans is known for its historic landmarks and rich artistic culture. Due to its large amount of parks, hotels, aesthetic streets and historic landmarks, it is also a wonderful place to get married. There are many places that cater specifically to elopements in this exciting city, from beautiful plantations to magical parks overflowing with historic oaks.
One of the most popular places to get married is in Pirates Alley, where people come from all over the country just to visit. This simple “alley” is a part of the historic French Quarter and is known for its beautiful architecture and access to restaurants and other quaint shops, as well as bordering the gorgeous St. Louis Cathedral.
It’s up for contention whether or not there were ever really “pirates” there, but the alley was known for its colorful and intriguing variety of patrons, where it’s said everyone from General Andrew Jackson to William Faulkner paid a visit.
While the exciting origins of Pirate’s Alley are certainly a topic history buffs love to discuss, what there can be no question about is the overall appeal of the location for elopements. The atmosphere alone draws hundreds of couples every year to visit this very location just to tie the knot.
It is a photographer’s dream to capture a wedding at this historic location because the natural lighting combined with the antique architecture will create wedding photos that couples can appreciate years after their big day, which is one of the reasons why I love when couples pick this spot.
If you are looking for a photographer for your Pirate’s Alley elopement ceremony, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help you capture every magical moment of your big day. If you are interested in getting married at Pirate’s Alley but aren’t quite sure how to go about planning such an event, here is a brief guide:
How to Get Married at Pirate’s Alley
Because Pirate’s Alley is an actual alley, or walkable street, there is no need for a permit and you don’t technically need to notify anyone, but there’s still some logistics you want to factor in so everything goes smoothly.
How Much Does it Cost to Have a Wedding at Pirate’s Alley?
The cost of your Pirate’s Alley elopement ceremony will depend on the amount of guests you have and what kinds of extras you want to include.
Since there is no specific cost for the venue itself, that is a money saver, and keep in mind that there is limited room at Pirate’s Alley, so it’s best for more intimate elopement experiences rather than a large ceremony.
Generally, 15 or fewer guests are recommended for Pirate’s Alley. Keep in mind also that the location is standing room only, you can’t bring chairs.
When creating your wedding budget, don’t forget to include a photographer! It’s absolutely crucial that you hire a professional photographer to capture your special day so you can avoid the blurry or thumb-in-the-way photos that your family members might take. You deserve to have a wedding album full of high quality pictures that beautifully capture every aspect of your wedding.
I have shot many weddings in New Orleans and have several wedding photography packages available HERE
What Will Our Ceremony Look Like at Pirate’s Alley?
If you’d like to get an image of what your ceremony at the historic Pirate’s Alley might look like, here are the answers to some of the commonly asked questions I get from curious couples:
Who will marry us?
As Pirate’s Alley is a public venue, you will be required to provide your own wedding officiant. Ibay Photography packages include a licensed officiant who specializes in 24 hour waiver as well. See our packages HERE
How many guests can we invite?
Pirate’s Alley is a perfect wedding venue for smaller, more intimate elopements. Generally it’s suitable for 15 guests or fewer.
Is there parking?
As Pirate’s Alley is literally an alley, or pedestrian walk, it doesn’t have parking. However, there is easy access to public parking across from the St. Louis Cathedral on nearby Decatur Street.
What day/time is best to get married at Pirate’s Alley?
Pirate’s Alley is open to the public and has no official closing or opening times, nor any specific times where elopements can be hosted. However, it is recommended to avoid tourist times, such as during Mardi Gras, as well as Friday Nights and all day Saturday year round.
This is a public pedestrian street, so there WILL be tourists consistently walking thru the street. Most New Orleanians and tourist will respect the event and try and walk as close to the sides to avoid disrupting the event however we cannot "block off" space for the elopement. If tourists want to walk thru, we must let them. This is why choosing a weekday over a Friday and Saturday will help with avoiding large crowds. It is New Orleans and most couples welcome the fun, eclectic and vibrant people that will be surrounding their wedding ceremony.
I hope that you enjoyed this short, informative guide to getting married at Pirate’s Alley in New Orleans. No matter which city you decide to get married in, it’s important that you hire locals to help with the planning. This is crucial.
Locals know the best restaurants, flower vendors, decorators and more to make your big day the best it can possibly be. Hiring local is the only way to ensure that your wedding day goes as planned.
In addition to hiring local vendors and wedding planners, hiring a local photographer is also incredibly important. Local photographers know the wedding venues in their city inside and out, including the best spots for wedding photos. If you would like to hire an experienced local photographer for your wedding, you can reach me HERE.
I would be honored to capture your special day!
Click HERE to learn the 5 secrets to a successful (and stress-free) elopement and BONUS checklist!
The last few years have seen an explosion in popularity for elopement, but it’s shaping up to be a true mainstream trend as enter 2020, and no wonder.
Couples are looking for romantic and affordable alternatives to the traditional wedding. Elopements aren’t just about bucking trends and being rebellious, as its reputation in the past implied.
Elopements today are more about giving control back to the couple and letting go of some of the old traditions that have made weddings become headaches over the past few decades, such as crazy amounts of event planning, budgeting, and trying to make sure everyone that you’re inviting has a great experience.
In all of this wedding mayhem, no one ever stops to think about the bride and groom to be. Yet, it’s been shown that big wedding ceremonies cause serious stress, and this is more common than you think.