Category Archives: Wouldn’t It Be Awesome

Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If… You Secretly Eloped in Vegas?

My friend Paula (of qreativequail) and her husband Brian did! Learn how they kept quiet while planning their adventure:

Name: Paula Riley
Age: 31
Occupation: Art Director/Graphic Designer

Why did you decide to elope?
The thought of planning a wedding terrified me. I’m sure a lot of couples think the same thing but rarely do they have the opportunity to consider eloping. We were lucky and knew our families would be happy for us either way. So we just decided to do it!

How do you plan a secret elopement? Why Vegas?
The best way to plan a secret elopement is to do it as quickly as possible. We gave ourselves 2 weeks from the day we decided to do it to the day we got married. No kidding! The less time you have to do it the less chance you have of spilling the beans.

We considered eloping in our home town or eloping in our favorite city, Portland, Oregon. After a little research, we found that both Wisconsin and Oregon had waiting periods to get a marriage license. Our goal was to make this as painless and stress-free as possible. Since we were already planning on flying to the west coast for our honeymoon, and after a curious browse of a few Vegas wedding chapel websites, we came to realize how easy and inexpensive it would be to fly to Vegas, marry, and take off on our honeymoon. It just made sense for us to do it that way.

How did you pull off the actual elopement?
Keeping the planning time down to 2 weeks was key. I don’t have a very good poker face so any longer and I would have cracked. Actually, I did spill the beans to a woman at Anthropologie. I was buying my wedding dress and she asked what the special occasion was. I couldn’t lie, and I immediately dove into my story of our secret elopement. It didn’t take long before she was in tears! She couldn’t believe how exciting and romantic it was, and I guess I didn’t realized it either until I saw her reaction. What we were doing is something you see in the movies, but rarely do real people actually go through with it. This was about to be a VERY memorable wedding.  So no one, but her, knew about the elopement. I did tell a few people that we were going on “vacation” but I didn’t dare tell, my sisters for instance, that we were flying into Vegas. They would have figured it out.

When did you announce your marriage to everyone? How did they react?
Right after the wedding we sent out hand-written “announcement” cards with a picture (same one you see above) to our family and our closest friends. A few days later we started getting phone calls as people received their cards. The reason why we did it this way was because it allowed us to tell everyone at the same time (well, as they opened their mail). Their reactions? Nothing but joy and excitement! This was our moment, and we did it the way we wanted to do it. They were incredibly happy for us and proud that we stuck to our guns and did it our way.

Did you have a reception so everyone could celebrate your marriage?
When we got home from the honeymoon we immediately called everyone to tell them all the juicy details. But we still wanted to provide them a chance to congratulate us, so three months later we threw a huge bash at our house. I’m still amazed and overwhelmed at how supportive everyone was of our decision. In no way did they treat us any less. They showered us with gifts and almost everyone we invited showed up! I guess its good motivation to attend a “wedding” when you can skip the ceremony and go straight to the reception.

What was the best part?
The whole experience was completely stress-free. So much pressure was taken off our shoulders knowing that our chapel was doing everything for us, and I mean everything. They even wrote our vows! And they were conveniently located across from the Marriage License Bureau. It’s worth mentioning that we only had to wait 30 minutes to get our licenses. The cherry on top was how much money we saved. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a wedding, we put it towards our honeymoon and were able to indulge in wine country, shop in San Francisco, gorge ourselves on seafood along Highway 101, and stay in a 4-star hotel in downtown Portland.

What was the worst part?
Keeping it a secret. I so badly wanted to say something, especially to my sisters. But I knew that if I told one, then I’d have to tell the other. So I told neither.

Any advice for someone who wants to do this?
Do it the way that makes sense for you and will make you both happy. Weddings have gradually gotten more expensive over the years. I’ve heard the average price is almost $20,000! So get rid of all the expectations and pressures of a typical wedding and let loose. We spent the morning of our wedding lounging in a hot tub, then after the wedding we had dinner at the In-N-Out Burger and spent the evening enjoying an incredible Cirque du Soleil show. Talk about an eccentric, crazy, but perfect day that only we could have fully appreciated. Only in Vegas, baby!

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Paula! I remember that Monday morning at work when everyone was crowded around your desk and you whipped out your hand and I said, “OMG, you got engaged on vacation!” And then you were like, “Nope. MARRIED!”

Photo from Paula Riley.

Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If … You Moved to NYC?

My friend Natalie did, and I e-nterviewed her to find out how she made it happen.

Name: Natalie Rhoads
Age: 25
Occupation: Programme Assistant, Child Protection, UNICEF

Why did you want to move to NYC?
I moved for a couple different reasons. One, I had lived in Madison, Wisconsin most of my life, so when I graduated I figured if I was ever going to move far away, that would be my opportunity.  Secondly, I knew I wanted to move somewhere that would be a challenge.  I knew moving to NYC would be difficult, but if I could make it there I could make it anywhere (as they say).  Lastly, I thought the job opportunities in NYC would be the most exciting.

How did you make it work?
I volunteered in Africa for the summer after college. I came back in August and decided to just buy a plane ticket that left for NYC two weeks later.  I called my friend who already lived in NYC and asked if I could stay with her for what I thought would be only a couple weeks. Little did I know it would take a month-and-a-half for me to finally get an apartment and two months for me to get a job. In the meantime, I worked with temp agencies, which I highly recommend!

How did you find a place to live?
Craigslist.  Finding an apartment in NYC is a completely different experience. This is a very long story within itself and only a year later do I finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it (after moving many, many times)!

What is most different about NYC compared to the midwest?
The hodge podge of people that live here.  There are so many interesting people that call this place home and all the new friends I meet have such different upbringings and backgrounds than my own. It’s great because we learn so much from each other.  Back in the midwest, most people had the same values and backgrounds, so I am learning a lot from new friends.

What is the best part?
Every day, at some point, I walk down the street and it hits me. I live in New York City! There are so many bars, restaurants, people to meet . . . there’s never a dull moment.

What is the worst part?
The cost of living and being away from my family.

Any advice for someone who wants to move to NYC?
Do your research! It is difficult to even get an interview without a NYC address. If possible, move here first after making some contacts. Ask around to make connections because that is the way you’ll find a job and an apartment.  Most importantly, know that it will all work out so remain positive!

Thanks for sharing, Natalie!

Photo from Natalie Rhoads