Having ditched their original big wedding plans, Anitha and Daniel contacted me in early June for their August Puerto Rico Elopement . Being in Puerto Rico for Anitha's work, they decided to move the wedding date earlier for the Fourth of July.
Their elopement was my first one after the three-month lockdown. Anitha and Daniel's day was crazy, but at the same time, there was no place I'd rather be! I'll share their story below and some tips for couples planning weddings during the pandemic.
Their Love Story
Anitha and Daniel met through a dating app, talking online for a while before finally meeting. After the first couple of days, Anitha knew he was the one. Daniel says that although there was no particular 'a-ha' moment, he realizes she's the one for him every day. Anitha loves Dan's infectious smile. He loves her outgoing, also infectious, personality. I wholeheartedly agree, as I immediately felt at ease when I met them!
Having an Ethiopian and Indian background, they're always on the hunt for a good cup of coffee or chai, and love to add these activities when they're traveling. On the topic of travel, one day Dan gave Anitha a travel brochure. It had destinations they had both been alone, places they had been as a couple, and locations they had talked about visiting in the future. She didn't get it at first, but a few hours later, she figured out that each destination's first letter spelled out, "will you marry me?". She said YES!
A Pandemic Puerto Rico Elopement
Their love for travel and coffee put Puerto Rico on the map for their elopement. In their own words, Puerto Rico's good food, drinks, scenery, and history made it their destination of choice. Being within the United States, it made it easy to travel during these crazy times. They were okay with getting married in a "random corner" of Old San Juan, but I helped them select El Morro at sunset, just to make it scenic.
A few days before the elopement in Puerto Rico, they gave me the great news that both sets of parents were able to tag along and now we're joining us on their elopement. I was so happy we could make it extra special for them even during such difficult times.
On their elopement day, the 4th of July, the streets were packed. Although tourism hadn't officially opened in Puerto Rico, many mainland US visitors were hanging out at the Condado area for the holiday early in the afternoon. This made traffic insane! By the time Anitha and Daniel were ready to leave, we couldn't find any UBERs to take us to the location, so we had to take our cars and drive to Old San Juan. A 15-minute drive to El Morro took us about 1 hour, which took out a massive chunk of our time together!
They got married right at sunset, which made it so sublime, the cool ocean breeze, and the sunlight slowly fading out into a beautiful, romantic night. Anitha and Daniel kept a happy disposition, and I loved being trusted with their elopement memories!
Tips for planning an elopement during the COVID-19 emergency in Puerto Rico
Even if I'm not shooting as many events as I usually would, I've talked with couples non-stop during the pandemic. Many recently engaged couples are now using their extra time and energy in planning the wedding they've always wanted. Other ones are now changing their plans entirely to fit the local COVID restrictions. During these times, I've seen it all, and I wanted to share some practical tips for couples planning weddings, particularly elopements, during the pandemic:
- Book every service ahead of time. Typically, elopements feel a bit more spontaneous. However, during the pandemic, schedules are out of whack, and the availability of everything is limited. Try to book services ahead of time, just so you don't leave anything to chance.
- Hire transportation service. Ubers are not working as they regularly would. Some drivers have stopped working due to the emergency. Many are working on food delivery instead, which makes transportation for visitors a bit more unavailable. Rent a bus or a limo, and then you won't need to worry about driving or parking on your elopement day.
- Use a wedding planning or consultation service to help you find the vendors and set up a timeline that doesn't overlook anything. Just because there are no guests, it doesn't mean there won't be a lot of details to take care of. Also, having a local in your planning team will help you navigate through all the uncertainty.
- Be Flexible. Things are constantly evolving, and that might mean plans might need to change with them.
- You don't need to give up on your big wedding. You can have both things, but the smaller event can still be special even if the big wedding might need to wait. However, if you downsize your guest list, you could create a better experience for your guests under the same budget.
- Be self-aware. Don't commit to anything that isn't you. If you know planning an elopement or a big wedding during a pandemic feels too much stress for you, there's no need to go through it. Don't submit yourself to unnecessary anxiety. Listen to your heart and be kind to yourself and your partner.
- And finally, you're assuming a risk. When planning an event during a global emergency, all parties involved are assuming risk, primarily of contagion, but also of unexpected changes. There is a risk of postponements, downsizings, or cancellations we need to be aware of. Governments are doing their best to keep businesses open without exposing the population to the worse part of this disease. Still, as small-business owners, we're all subjected to the local rules and regulations. Please be aware of that before booking, and ask about cancellation and refund policies before signing, so there are no surprises later.
I hope these tips help and that you enjoy your wedding day as much as I enjoyed Anitha and Daniel's. Stay safe, everyone!