Spring themed table setting for a small intimate wedding. Fresh flowers lie on the plates. Gold silverware and pink napkins gave the perfect happy touch

3 Tips To Have An Authentic Wedding by Oregon Elopement Photographer Black Salt Photography

“3 Tips To Have An Authentic Wedding” by Oregon Elopement Photographer Black Salt Photography


What is essentialism? Being an essentialist means prioritizing your life by the things that mean the most to you.

That’s a very generic definition, but it basically means you’re consciously deciding to do something – or not to do something – based on the value it brings to your current lifestyle or situation. I know that sounds a little self-conceited, but hear me out. Why have we convinced ourselves we have to be doing 800 things at once to live a good life? How is this practice *actually* helping us succeed?

Short answer: it’s not.

I believe our maximalist lifestyles and ideologies are what led to the wedding crisis we see now. Weddings started off small and slowly grew because the family could afford to give a few more cows* or you just got a raise so you’ll invite more guests. But now we’re stuck in this cycle. A cycle of thinking you have to have this huge monstrosity even when you can’t afford it. That’s a problem.

*In all actuality, weddings became what they are after WWII because the United States as a whole developed a new velocity for religion. More on THAT later.

Traditional weddings are SO EXPENSIVE.

The average wedding costs over thirty thousand dollars. It’s because we keep inviting more people we don’t know, clicking “add to checkout” on shiny things we don’t need, and falling under the massive peer pressure to have a good, better, best wedding than everyone else. More often than not, the wedding day becomes about all of the other people instead of who you’re actually celebrating.

Nobody sets out to do this. But because of the stress and pressure from outside forces, it can start to feel a bit silly to continue fighting for your own wants. We’re taught continuously to put others before ourselves, so anytime we stray from that we feel icky. If you’ve fallen prey to this mindset, don’t feel bad. It’s not too late to correct the ship.

Now, spending a lot of money on a wedding or elopement is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, if you can afford it, then I would encourage you to spend whatever you want – help that local economy.

The practice becomes poisonous by not thinking about what is being purchased and if you actually need it.

You can think of this as Marie Kondo: Wedding Edition.

Before you purchase something for your wedding, ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” “Will this truly benefit our day?” If the answer to these questions isn’t a resounding YES, then get rid of it. Trust me, you do not want to end up taking home 80 little favors that have your faces on them because nobody wanted them either.

If you’re more of a numbers person, think of it as anything that you love less than 90% percent isn’t worth it. In our day and age, with the inundation of products, it’s unlikely you will love everything with a full 100%. Some things you have to grow to love and other things will fade with time. That 10% buffer is your safe zone. Anything else and you definitely don’t need it cluttering your life, home, or wedding day.

Adventure elopements and intimate weddings are filling a need in the wedding industry.

Over the past few years, and especially 2020, elopements and intimate weddings have started to boom. Some people will say it’s because it’s cheaper (it can be). Others say it’s because the younger generation wants to go against tradition (perhaps). But overall, I think the biggest reason couples are choosing to have an elopement is that they are tired of all the shit.

People want to have a celebration of their unity that actually reflects who they are and what they care about. They are CHOOSING themselves over peer pressure. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

It’s beautiful to experience. If you ever have a chance to attend an elopement or intimate wedding, I encourage you to pay attention to the overall atmosphere of the day. It’s calm, loving, and intentional. It’s nothing like a traditional wedding.

What is an adventure elopement?

An adventure elopement is when the couple crafts a day around the two of them usually by doing something epic. You can almost think of it like a robust, glorified date day or combing a honeymoon and wedding day in one. All of the fun, none of the stress.

On your adventure elopement you could have a private chef cook you dinner (swoon) or go on a helicopter ride over the mountains (so cool). You can hike at sunrise and play in a waterfall at sunset. Your options are totally limitless.

One of the biggest things you can be essential about right off the bat in wedding planning is your guest count.

Having an elopement doesn’t mean you can’t include your friends and family. In fact, you can include them in a myriad of much more meaningful and intimate ways. Have them write you letters to read or record a video message for you and your partner to view on your wedding day. By narrowing down your guest list and removing all those extraneous cousins you haven’t seen in years or your parents’ random co-workers you can instantly save a lot of money (and headaches).

Essential wedding planning

Being conscious of what you spend your money on will immediately make you much more aware of the patterns you might be slipping into without even realizing it. Use these three steps to help you along the way:

  1. Ask yourself throughout your wedding planning, “Does this bring me joy?”

2. Make sure you have an actual reason for purchasing something. Even if that reason is just that you want it. Acknowledging that reason will help you feel more confident in your choices.

3. When you begin your planning process sit down with your partner and discuss the most amazing wedding day you can think of. Go all out with food, activities, and décor. From there, slowly walk back to what is actually feasible either because of budget or location.

View this amazing intimate wedding in the mountains. This couple knew exactly what they wanted for their day.

I also believe that living this practice will help you have a more meaningful elopement because you’ll be having full conversations with your partner about what you both want. Rather than one person deciding everything with little input from your spouse, you are both contributing, discussing, and analyzing. Honestly, it’s a great practice for what marriage will be like. Maybe my side-hustle should be therapy, who knows.

In short, being essential in your wedding planning comes down to you being aware of your decisions. Don’t just buy something because you saw it on Pinterest. Don’t have pink and cream colors if you really want yellow and taupe. It’s okay to respect your own wants and desires.

Choose what works BEST for you and your fiance. Not so-so, not “it’s okay.” Only the things that make you gush with happiness should be included in your day.

Want to know more about how I can make your elopement as meaningful as possible? Inquire with me here.

Black Salt Photography is an elopement photographer and intimate wedding photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Photographing in the surrounding PNW areas and traveling often for destination love stories. Specializing in intimate candids and editorial portraits to craft a one-of-a-kind wedding day for every couple. Her moody photography style plays with natural light and shadow, laced with raw emotional moments, to create an authentic narrative experience. She photographs you as you so you’ll love your photos authentically.

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