Liz and Matt were originally going to have a family-only, 20-person ceremony in South Lake Tahoe in July 2020. They had already done quite a bit of planning when the coronavirus brought an abrupt halt to their progress. They hemmed and hawed for a few months about what to do. After giving themselves the space to grieve the loss of their original plans, they decided to move forward with their lives and elope! Liz later confided, “I’d always secretly found the idea of eloping so romantic.”
Liz and Matt’s photographers, M and Rob with VILD Photography, helped them find a spectacular alpine setting to wed in true Tahoe style. And of course, they also photographed (and even officiated) the couple’s mountaintop marriage.
After she came down to earth from her amazing nuptial experience, Liz was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme or style?
Since we were eloping, the possibilities were really endless. Did we want to hike? Go to the spa? Chill on the beach? It was totally up to us. Matt and I knew that we wanted to hang out with our dog, have some drinks, listen to some music, and watch the sun go down. (This is basically our weekend routine living in SF.) Our photographer took that information and scouted a completely awesome mountaintop location. While it was tricky to get to, we have a Jeep Wrangler, so we could get there!
The entire vibe of our day was adventurous, casual, spontaneous, and rustic. I threw on my hiking boots after our ceremony, we popped champagne, and watched the jaw-droppingly beautiful sunset. We got to hang out with our dog. We filled in the details as we went, and the evening flowed so organically. We NEVER could have enjoyed that moment, in that location, together if family had been there. It all worked out the way it was supposed to.
Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception?
Well, given our nontraditional elopement on top of a mountain, there wasn’t much to consider in terms of decor. And that’s exactly why we did it that way. I was never interested in having a big wedding (our pre-COVID plan only originally involved immediate family). When we changed our plan to truly elope, there was nothing to think about other than what we were wearing and where we were going. It’s cliché, but it really allowed us to focus on each other and be present in the moment, not fussing over external details. Our “decor” wound up being Lake Tahoe views, alpine forests, mountain vistas, and a pink and orange sunset.
What were the florals like in your wedding? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?
After stripping down our ceremony and deciding to elope, I knew one of the only things I still wanted to make me feel like a “bride” was a big, rustic wedding bouquet. My vision for the bouquet was an “undone” look, with pops of color and quintessential elements of California (such as pampas grass). Andi from Twine & Dandy brought my vision to life beyond my wildest dreams. She curated bright blue delphiniums and red ranunculus, with orange and pink touches and a few dusty elements to soften the palette. She called it my “Tahoe Sunset” bouquet. It was massive and asymmetrical, which lent itself to that wild, “undone” vibe I wanted. Andi also wrapped a piece of my mother’s wedding veil around the stems—a personal touch that meant so much to me (especially without our families physically present). In addition to the bouquet, we did a boutonniere for my husband and a flower hair piece for my updo. This bouquet ended up being such a large part of our pictures and really matched the adventurous, spontaneous vibe of our elopement. I felt so special carrying those flowers around that mountain.
Did you personalize the day in any way? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
Our sunset elopement had a few special touches 🙂 Our dog, Louie, wore a blue bowtie from The Foggy Dog. We brought champagne glasses from my brother and sister-in-law and a bottle of vintage Dom from my parents. We also drank Labatt Blues (a tribute to Matt’s hometown of Buffalo) and Sam Adams beers (a tribute to my Boston stomping ground). We got to give our dog lots of kisses and watch him run around like a maniac across the mountaintop. The best part of our wedding? Driving down off the mountain in the dark, with the top down on our Jeep, blasting Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey.”
How did you both choose your wedding day look?
Well, I never had a really specific vision for how I wanted to look on my wedding day. Unlike a lot of other women, I had never daydreamed about a particular dress or “fashion moment.” Once Matt and I got engaged and started planning our original ceremony, I thought I might even wear blue instead of white. When COVID happened, I realized that it was going to be really difficult to try on dresses with SF in lockdown and no boutiques open.
But then I had a thought: if we are eloping and I don’t have family there to help me maneuver a traditional wedding dress (AND I want to be comfortable if we’re riding in our Jeep up a mountain), I’m not going to be relaxed in a big, fussy gown. And I knew that the ONE thing I wanted to feel on our wedding day, given our unique elopement circumstances, was to feel PRESENT and relaxed. So I decided to order a few dresses online from Show Me Your Mumu, tried them on in my living room in front of my husband (we’re not super traditional!), and picked a short dress with flowy, lace sleeves. I bought some simple sandals from Soludo’s, some jewelry from Mejuri and Rellery, and had my little cousin paint my jean jacket with a classic Tahoe illustration. (Her name is Daisy Gulla and she’s an amazing artist. ) The Blundstones and high socks were a completely spontaneous, last-minute decision on the day of our wedding, but, again, I knew I wanted to be comfortable. I’m so glad I threw them in my bag because those boots are my signature look and the pictures are that much more “us.”
My husband bought a custom suit from Indochino (and did two road trips to Sacramento just to find a showroom that could do measurements during COVID). He opted for a beautiful, deep linen blue that complements his blue eyes.
What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
I think the most special moment of the elopement was getting to the top and seeing the views—and then having that space all to ourselves. We were so immersed in the natural beauty of the location that it took our breath away. It was a bit overcast at the start of our ceremony, but as Matt started reading his vows, the sun emerged from behind the clouds and beamed directly down onto us. As we drank champagne and the sun started to go down, we were basically just continually gasping at how beautiful the sky looked. Marrying Matt was the best day of my life, but to do it in such a unique way—in SUCH a beautiful location—was by far the coolest part.
Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
As a “COVID couple,” Matt and I chose to look at the pandemic—and ultimate decision to elope rather than postpone our original ceremony—as a silver lining. While it was bittersweet not to have family there, eloping the way we did was so romantic. Everything stripped away. Just us and Louie (and the amazing Rob and M, who were our photographers, wedding planners, location scouts, and hiking buddies all wrapped into one). Neither one of us had ever felt so present as we did on our wedding night. It was the most meaningful way to enter our marriage, standing on a mountaintop alone. All the bells and whistles of a more traditional ceremony are great, and those things may mean a lot to some folks, but at the end of the day, it’s really just about you and your partner. If I could tell engaged couples anything, it would be not to sweat the small stuff. Constantly reminding ourselves about what the day was REALLY all about—marrying each other—kept us positive and sane. When you’re looking into each other’s eyes, reading vows, you realize that none of the small stuff matters at all.