Laura Beth & Jesse’s spontaneous fun-filled elopement and “drunch” wedding

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Some of you may have seen a sneak peek of this couple's fantastic elopement video from our Monday Montage. Here's the full story on this totally spontaneous wedding.


The offbeat bride: Laura Beth, Creative Designer (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Jesse, Applications Developer/Software Engineer

Date and location of wedding: Sevierville and Gatlinburg, TN — May 24, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Instead of actually planning anything, we decided the best way for us to enjoy getting married was if we just didn't know what was to come. We wanted it to be a completely spontaneous, fun-filled day with no stress or worry. That way we could focus on each other.

Off we go

The only thing we knew is we had to get married on a Tuesday (due to something in his proposal). On May 24th (our second anniversary which just happened to be on a Tuesday), we decided to elope to Gatlinburg, TN, with no family or friends by our side, and hired a photographer and videographer to capture everything from the day.


We didn't want to feel very formal clothing-wise since he's more simplistic in nature and I'm very easy going. So, I wore a reversible dress I knew I wouldn't have trouble peeing in with my favorite pair of pumps that he gave me for my birthday, and he wore dark jeans with a nice brown vest that complimented his skin tone.

My Shoes

We helped each other get ready that morning and wrote a special letter to each other that we would read after getting married. We went to the first flower shop Google pulled up in the area and got married in a spot we would have never guessed.

We took a ski lift to see a view of the mountains, rode a slide down the mountain (which isn't easy to do in a dress and four inch heels), got some great food and beer at a local brewery, played in a creek barefoot like little kids, went to the aquarium, and ended the big day on a playground at our hotel.

My Something Blue

Flower Pitt Stop

When we returned from eloping, we decided to do something small and laid back for our friends and family at our new home. We called it a “drunch” (drinking at lunch). We decided to wear our wedding attire again for the event, and saved our first dance for everyone to see. There was a live band, tons of booze, good home cooking, a photobooth, and probably the most fun our 91-year-old home has ever seen.

Tell us about the ceremony: After receiving our marriage license from the court house, we were informed no one there could marry us. Oh no! What were two kids in their wedding clothes going to do? Thankfully, a lady in the building told us there was a county commissioner across the street who probably wouldn't mind doing it. So you'd better believe, hand-in-hand, we took off running towards where this person was located.

Upon arrival at this two-story white home that looked like it was built in the early 1900s, we found an old man who was to marry us by the name of Mr. Temple. This guy was a complete character. His ceremony was touching, too. He told us a story about how he and his wife make the bed every morning since they've been married and emphasized that is what we should do as well. Little did this man know that our bed is on the floor against a wall so it's easier for one of us to do it, but the message of teamwork definitely brought me to tears.

Court House

He also made us repeat to each other four points to a successful marriage. As Jesse and I looked into each other's eyes, we repeated “My Love, My Trust, My Respect, And My Friendship for each other all the time.” Shortly after, he pronounced us man and wife. We stood up from our seats and for our first kiss, Jesse dipped me. Afterwards, we read what we wrote to each other from that morning and then ventured forward to explore the town as man and wife.

The Dip

Ski lift


Our biggest challenge: One of the hardest things to do was to look into our family members' eyes and tell them that we didn't want anyone there when we were married. I'll never forget the tears from Jesse's mother and the heartache expressed by many of our close friends once we told them our plans. We both never felt so bad for standing up for something we felt was so right.

After informing people and hearing their responses, we knew we had to do something for our friends and family. We wanted to make sure we could help them relive the moment they all wanted to see through more than just pictures. So, we immediately looked into a videographer. We also started planning a get-together at our new home that was to take place right after we returned from eloping. That way, no one felt 100% left out.

Playing in the Creek

My favorite moment: When we were able to sit down and exchange the words we wrote to each other earlier that morning. This element was really the only semi-planned piece of the day. While neither of us knew what we were going to share with each other, we both knew it was going to be the exact thoughts we were feeling when we woke up that morning before we were married. Even to this day we both still tear up when that part comes up in our elopement video.

[Enough teasing — here's the vid! Use the password: laurabeth2011]

My funniest moment: During the middle of our ceremony, Mr. Temple, the man who was marrying us, literally stopped talking. At first we were scared. Was he dead? Did he pass out? What's going on?! We remained silent, holding hands, and staring at him. About 30 seconds later, he picked up right where he left off (thus letting us know he really fell asleep!). It was such a funny situation because we felt so unsure of what was going on. You can see this moment in our video at 1:18.

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Actually, we thought the “drunch” that we were trying to pull off when we got back from eloping wasn't going to work. The fear arose because the first free moments we actually had to try to get things ready was when we returned the day before the event.

More Reception DecorThis basically gave us less than 24 hours to pull off making the decorations, finding a live band, cooking all the food, finding tables and chairs, and setting up. Needless to say the sleepless night and hard work totally paid off. Every piece was there and I couldn't have done it without the quick aid of my talented and resourceful friends and family.

My advice for offbeat brides: Be willing to compromise on things, learn to let the less important things go, and also don't lose track of what feels important to you.

For those who choose to elope, make sure to go the extra mile to make your family members feel important. It's going to be hard because not everyone will be on board with you on the idea. Make sure to still talk about your plans of what you'll wear or where you'll go, get amazing photos to give them, record a video of your ceremony to share with them, and have a get-together sometime when you return from your elopement so they can still come share how happy they are for you with you.

It really might seem like a lot, but when you see the tears of joy on your family members' faces from the video and feel the love and support oozing out of them for you and your partner, it's totally worth it.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I can say with confidence: no matter what you choose to do, as long as you put your heart into it, you won't go wrong.

Aquarium Kisses

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Comments on Laura Beth & Jesse’s spontaneous fun-filled elopement and “drunch” wedding

  1. This brought tears to my eyes – these two have captured the essence of marriage so perfectly! I hope so much that my wedding day is as genuine as this one was.

  2. That wedding video was the best! And when the groom choked up while reading the letter….well, that was a wrap for me.

  3. The river that they’re playing on is seriously one of my favorite places in the world.
    I actually got engaged down there, so this makes me a little nostalgic.

    This is a lovely wedding experience for you both!

  4. You’ve taken the core pieces out of a wedding and held them up in their unadorned glory. It was so beautiful, I started to cry.

    I shared it with my friends and family. I hope you don’t mind, but I think it could do them some good. Some are too caught up in the idea of a 300+ Catholic wedding with a backyard roast to see the happiness that can be had in our simple 30 max destination wedding.

    Which isn’t the point at all.

    Congratulations! I’m so glad things worked out as well as they did!

  5. I cried… I cried… and then I cried a lil more… So breath-taking… I love the idea of hopping across the creek. And Mr. Temple falling asleep-priceless!!!

  6. I think there’s a ghost couple in the ski lift picture. LOL!

    But truly, this was beautiful. The intimacy, the love, the joy….beautiful.

  7. This is one of my favorite weddings to date. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  8. The photos by the aquarium are just breathtaking. I’ve never seen that done before and these look fabulous!

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