Love is an Adventure: Elopement Inspiration

Style Story: Wanderlust Couple – Tulum

 I often run into couples who have been together for a while but never had a wedding. When I mention it, they always tell me “If we had the money to splurge on a wedding, we would rather travel than spend it on just a party.” But, sometimes I run into people who think getting married is too expensive, and I always respond to them with the same: “ELOPE!”
To be completely honest, traveling is my solution to every ache. As someone who left her country with one luggage and $21 dollars in her pocket, I know that more often than not, peace and happiness can be found abroad, experiencing other cultures and savoring food that we don’t have at home. The wedding and hotel industry have made us believe that in order to mix those two concepts, we need a closet full of cash; and it’s in part true, because getting married and having a big wedding cost money. But what if I told you that you can have an ethical wedding in a tropical paradise without hurting the environment? You could have a honeymoon, vacation, and small family reunion all at once–ELOPE!
Tulum is a small town in Mexico, 2 hours south of Cancun. A raw inhabited paradise, where the vibe is relaxed. The main road is a long narrow avenue, full of restaurants, gift shops, and the most bohemian hotels.

A little farther away, past those shops, is where I found Playa Esperanza an eco-sensitive beachfront hotel with 15 rooms, where nature gets mixed with the architecture of the palm-thatched roof cabanas, built using natural, local materials and decorated with vintage items. This is where I fell asleep every day to the sound of the waves and awoke to the songbirds. The cheapest room in low season is only $40, while the fanciest room in high season is $150.

As a socially conscious shopper, I support local, independent businesses as much as I can–even when a potential wedding will take place in Mexico. And since I am based out of Pittsburgh, I decided to bring a dress from the only local wedding dress designer in Pittsburgh, Kata Banko Couture, who immediately understood the concept, and offered me a flowy, light, silk dress that took literally 2oz in my luggage. At the beach, minimal makeup and no shoes is the standard, but I wanted a statement piece, so she was also able to provide me with a quartz crown  and the coolest dip dyed veil adding the touch of color that I wanted (total MSRP $2600). However, if you prefer to purchase in Tulum their offerings are extensive. Once I arrived in Tulum, the Mayan influence was strong, so I knew as a way to celebrate it, the bride’s outfit needed to include something that was quintessential to this area, so I added a hand embroidered belt from a Mayan lady, who made and sold them right there at the beach.  It was my contribution to the local economy built by hard working selfless women. The groom’s outfit was even simpler: The clearance rack at TJ Maxx — $3 for a white pair of shorts and $11 for a plain white shirt at Forever21. Not quite ethical, but all I could find at that (rushed; very rushed) moment.

I was not sure what the floral situation would be in Tulum, but at the same time, I wanted something that could be repurposed, so I brought with me Felted flowers from The Grey Rose that not only were AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL, but they could find a new life as a decorative element in your home and remain as a witness of your special day forever (good thing I did this, because I was unable to find ANY fresh flowers there). Last, but not least, the boho vibe was brought by Westward Notions, also local to Pittsburgh. They make stunning handmade macrame that I decorated my “dessert table” with. The table setup was simple. It included locally purchased Mexican pottery that also serves as a souvenir, fresh local fruits that later made a nice snack at the beach, and a romantic quote by Fresh Cut Prints

As you can see, less is more, and you don’t need an extensive array of things to put a wedding together. When the location itself is a gorgeous place, and if wanderlust is a priority in your life, all you really need is to connect with the right people who can understand your vibe. Luckily, Pittsburgh is full of kind, talented wedding vendors who can help you make this a reality, and these images prove my point.

Summary: $388 – Airfare; $1050 – 7 days at Playa Esperanza for the groom and bride in low season ($150 x suite); $150 – Taxi from and to the airport; $2620 – Bride’s dress + accessories; $30 – Groom’s outfit; $120 – flowers; $300 – Table decoration; $350 Lunch or dinner for 30 people (average $12 each); $2500 – Destination elopement photography by yours truly: Sandrachile; DJ service provided at no charge by the hotel. A week at the most amazing beach with the people you love the most: Priceless! Grand total: $7896+ Cash to spend drinking lots of margaritas, stuffing your face with Guacamole, touring the amazing ruins, swimming with turtles, and shopping around for a week–$500. If you plan during their high season (December or January), the cost goes up to around $10.000.


Photographer:  Sandrachile//Mens Apparel: TJ Maxx; Forever 21// DIY or Handmade Goods Designer: The Grey Rose //Invitation Designer: Fresh Cut Prints//Fashion Designer: kata banko couture//Other Location: Playa Esperanza Hotel//Etsy Designer: Westward Notions//

Submitted via Two Bright Lights