ALL FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARITY PARRISH, THE ELOPEMENT CO.
Generations ago, North Carolina couples wishing to marry quickly would hop in their cars and make the trip across the South Carolina border to the Dillon County Courthouse. I count my very own grandparents among those with whimsical tales of running off to elope before my grandfather deployed with the United States Army.
Since that time, the wedding industry has blossomed into a billion dollar industry. There are countless websites with checklists and registries and etiquette and budgets and… well… everything that you could ever possibly think of related to planning your perfect day. But sometimes that “perfect day” isn’t really how the bride and groom dreamed of beginning their lives together.
The average American wedding costs more than $26,000. For some, that’s more than a year’s take-home pay. It’s a new car or the down payment on a home. And when the big day arrives, many times the couple doesn’t get to truly enjoy the meaning of it all because they’re filled with anxiety over any number of elements they worked so hard to plan and pay for. It’s no wonder couples are returning to the romantic notion of elopements.
There’s one person in Charlotte who took notice of a missing link in the Charlotte wedding market. The Elopement Co. was created by photographer Charity Parrish as an answer to couples who want to keep their marriage ceremonies smaller than small. A concierge service really, The Elopement Co., run by Parrish, allows couples to have a very private ceremony (no more than 15 people allowed) within 4 hours drive of Charlotte. Whether at the top of a mountain in rural North Carolina, at a county courthouse or overlooking the ocean, she makes it exactly what you’re looking for.
Parrish provides the officiant; photography; bouquet; and cupcakes, cake pops, or petit fours. Because, let’s be honest, what’s a wedding without some type of cake? The bride and groom need only to be ready to say “I do,” and The Elopement Co. takes care of the rest.
Parrish is quick to point out that The Elopement Co. is a slight misnomer, as she often refers to them as tiny weddings. The ceremonies are bare-bones, meaning you won’t find overdesigned tablescapes and seating charts. There are no gold Chiavari chairs, or even folding chairs for that matter. The Elopement Co. is all about the couple and capturing their moment.
But a tiny wedding isn’t without hurdles. If you’re seeking to document your elopement at some of the area courthouses, you may be out of luck. Cameras aren’t always allowed in the magistrate’s office, so plan accordingly. Or maybe you’re dreaming of standing on top of a mountain to exchange vows in front of a few close family members, including your grandparents. Unless Nana and Pop are avid hikers, you may wish to think twice about your location.
The Elopement Co. is a breath of fresh air for those seeking something different. It’s part whimsy, part practical and part genius, really. While I certainly love the notion of grandeur that dominates the wedding market, there’s no denying the obvious fact that it’s just not for everyone. I’m eagerly anticipating how Parrish and The Elopement Co. become a staple for the unconventional Charlotte brides.
PHOTOGRAPHY, BOUQUET, CREATIVE: Charity Parrish, The Elopement Co. | www.theelopementco.com | @theelopementco
GOWN: David’s Bridal | www.davidsbridal.com | @davidsbridal
MODELS/REAL COUPLE: Hayley Huffman, Dalton Ray
LOCATION: Marshall Park, Charlotte, NC; Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Charlotte, NC
CONSULTANT: Therese V. Brooks, Charlotte Brides | @charlottebrides