Why I’d Love To Elope

If I were ever to get married (again), I would elope to Tairua. It wasn’t something I ever would have considered, until speaking with Donna Brooke, owner of Sunlover Retreat and Celebrant by the Sea in Tairua, Coromandel Peninsula.

Of course, there are a few flaws in my plan. Namely, I live in Tairua, so chances of getting away with an intimate elopement would be unlikely. Elopement has an exciting, adventurous definition -  “The act of running off secretly to get married.” The running off part implies getaway, runaway, Bonnie & Clyde-style adventure. Alas, I can’t very well “run off secretly” in my own hometown. But maybe you could! If I didn’t live in the Coromandel (and if I were in a marriage frame of mind), I would definitely elope to Tairua. Here’s why.

Donna has created the ultimate elopment set-up for runaway brides and grooms. Along with her husband Chris, Donna has developed the purpose-built luxury B&B, Sunlover Retreat. She is a registered marriage celebrant and she works with a cherry-picked team of the very best Coromandel-based wedding professionals.  

A romantic at heart, with a soft spot for people of all walks of life and their colourful stories, Donna just gets it. “After officiating hundreds of weddings, I appreciate the authenticity of elopments the most,” she explains. “There is something so satisfying, so humbling and meaningful about witnessing and officiating this type of ceremony. They really are my favourite,” she admits.

She goes on to explain her take on elopements. 

“Years ago, elopements were cloaked in a veil of shame. There might have been an unplanned pregnancy, or negative judgements about the couple getting married, so they would have to marry secretly, and go far away to do it. Times are different now. Couples make a conscious choice to have an intimate elopement. They are driven by many different reasons and that’s their business. My role is to make sure their wedding day is worthy, authentic and special.”

The essence of elopement is to celebrate the occasion by honouring the couple in a way that best suits them. Without the vast crowd, the financial outlay, the dreaded speeches and the dodgy DJ, what remains is a genuine exchange of love and intent between two people. 

Donna says there are parallels to her roles as celebrant and accommodation provider. She brings a genuine duty of care to both roles, doing whatever she can to ensure her couples are comfortable, relaxed and happy.

She knows the Coromandel very well. For those who aren’t familiar, Tairua is on the doorstep of a veritable banquet of beaches and secluded natural beauty spots. It is literally a feast for the eyes, heart and soul and an amazing place to share an important day with the one you love. And if you don’t know where to stage your elopement, Donna does. She’s had a Tairua connection for many years and has lived permanently in Tairua since 2012. She’s often seen by locals out for an early morning walk with their dog Rover, and is quick to photograph and share a stunning sunrise. A keen nature lover, she is a sucker for a sunrise and, like the people she meets, she sees the uniqueness in every single one. 

It was those famous Tairua sunrises that inspired the name of Sunlover Retreat. With a vision to provide couples with a “knock-your-socks-off” getaway experience, Donna and Chris built Sunlover Retreat to accommodate couples in luxurious comfort. The retreat maximises the magnificence of the area, with vast views, spacious outdoor living and total peace and privacy. 

It is the perfect place to stay, following a very special day. Donna relishes taking care of all the details and logistics, drawing on her trusty team of collaborators to organise catering, photography, flowers and anything else you might want or need to make your celebration memorable.

Donna has enlightened me about the act of elopement. Just because you have chosen to elope, doesn't mean that your day isn't special. It is your wedding. There is reason to celebrate.  Donna will make sure of it.

8 Ways to Include your Family in your Elopement

The thing about eloping is that people are going to react.  Some people may feel like you’ve taken something away from them, or like you’re excluding them. At least a few will tell you that they always wished that they had eloped. Most will probably express at least some disappointment. This is natural. Let’s call it FOMOOALOW (fear of missing out on a loved one’s wedding).

My advice here is this: be prepared for people to react in all kinds of ways, be prepared to be surprised by their reactions, and be prepared to explain your decision, but don’t feel the need to justify, apologise, or hide your own excitement.

Along those lines, you should never feel like just because you eloped, you owe your loved ones anything. That said, if you and your beloved decide that you want to include your loves ones in the celebration, I've come up with a list of eight ways to do so. Pick and choose the ones that work best for you.

 

1. INVITE YOUR CLOSEST FAMILY TO WITNESS THE ELOPEMENT.

This is becoming more and more popular, bringing your parents and sibs along for the elopement.  Also, it helps if you have a young child involved - a babysitter!

 

2. SHARE PHOTOS AND STORIES.

Some couples fear that sharing the photos and stories of their elopement will only exacerbate feelings of missing out, but most families and friends are hungry for details!

 

3. SHARE A LIVE FEED.

Believe it or not, I've seen quite a few couples broadcast their elopements to friends and family with a live (but private) video of the event.

 

4. THROW A PARTY, OR HAVE A POST-ELOPEMENT FAMILY MEAL.

Lots and lots and LOTS of couples throw (or have thrown for them) a post-elopement reception. Even if you aren’t into the idea of a big (or a small, or any) party, why not host a dinner that brings together your newly-coupled families. Have all your parents over to your place, let one family host, or have it at a restaurant.

 

5. TAKE/CARRY SOMETHING OF THEIRS WITH YOU WHEN YOU ELOPE.

Maybe you’ll wear the tie tack your dad wore at his wedding or you’ll carry a bouquet your mum makes for you. Asking your friends and family for things you can include in your elopement can help let them know that you’ll be thinking of them on your big day.

 

6. HONOUR THEM IN THE CEREMONY ITSELF (AND GIFT THEM A COPY OF THE TEXT).

You might incorporate something that represents the family or a particular person (i.e. carrying your grandmother’s favourite flowers), use a family member’s favourite song, ask them ahead of time to contribute a special reading, or include family traditions (like breaking a plate).

 

7. HAVE THEM SEND YOU MESSAGES FOR YOU TO READ TOGETHER AFTER THE ELOPEMENT.

This one takes a little planning, but it can make your day that much more special. You might ask for advice, date ideas for the first year, quotes about love and marriage, or something else entirely.

 

8. HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER TO TAKE FAMILY PORTRAITS AFTER YOU ARE MARRIED.

A lot of families proudly display wedding photos for decades to come. Missing out on the wedding sometimes means missing out on the great family photos. Hiring a wedding photographer to take photos of you and your new spouse with your families can be a sweet gesture that helps everyone feel like part of the family.

 

 

5 Reasons Why Elopement is an Option

Freeing you from the stress of a large, event-style gathering, I am an advocate of intimate occasions that highlight the importance of the occasion – your love for each other.

Here are five reasons why I encourage couples to consider an intimate elopement: 

1. When creating an intimate elopement, by its very nature, you have fewer people, creating more intimacy between you and your loved one. As a celebrant, I find that I am talking directly to the couple instead of including the audience. It is very special and romantic.

2. An elopement allows you to think of a destination that suits you, without feeling the pressure to take into account how people are going to get there, where will they stay, how will they manage walking to this perfect spot you have found on a beach… You might choose a destination in the off-season and save money.

3. On the subject of money, fewer or no guests mean less expense – well, at least, less expense spent on others. It allows you to create a beautiful, elegant wedding just the way you want it. You can decide what is important to you and your loved one.

4. An elopement reduces planning stress. From trying to please others, managing seating with relatives that have fallen out, friends and family wanting to bring kids … And there are certainly couples I have married that simply don’t want to be in the spotlight.

5. Your wedding should signify you and your love story. It’s about your life, your relationship, and what matters most to the two of you. An elopement keeps the focus on where it should be ­– a beautiful love story of two fabulous people who have found each other and want to do life together.