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Road trip meets party August / September 2018

I'm a lurker - the type of person who just reads, doesn't respond or post. But it's difficult not to talk about wedding plans all the time. So here it goes..

How we met
At university just over 10 years ago. Things worked out. We bought a house after 7 years together and have never been in a hurry to get married.

The proposal
On a remote, rocky beach in the Caribean. I said okay then, we had cake and beer at a nearby beach hut to celebrate.

The plans
After initially thinking that maybe a UK wedding would be what we wanted, it quickly became clear that neither of us fancied a typical wedding. Neither of us liked the idea of saying vows in front of our friends and family. Why? We're not that type of couple. 


So - we're going on a USA road trip. 

It's all booked (was sorted last year) we're going for 19-nights, hiring a Mustang and going:

Grand Canyon
Monument Valley
Page (Lake Powell, Slot Canyons, Horseshoe bend)
Bryce Canyon
Death Valley
San Fran
Driving down Hwy1

Whilst in Page - we're having an outdoor ceremony at Lake Powell: 


It's less tourist-y so should be quite private.

We will then explore slot canyons and catch a good sunset somewhere. We will fit in a couple of food stops too!

It's just the two of us, our officiant and our photographer (

Reception Party

On our return we're throwing a party at Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield, complete with food trucks and a live band.


The date:
August / September 2018.

The invites:

DIY'd and printed at home. Useful when your job covers graphic design. Cost £15 including postage. 

The dress

Slightly more expensive than planned, it's a house of mooshki blue short and hopefully offset the desert heat.



  • Choosing a place to elope

    This wasn't easy. We did give a good go at the idea of a registry office followed by a party. But the idea of being center of attention wasn't good for either of us. So we quietly decided to go abroad and do it. Originally we were thinking somewhere in Europe, but found all the rules a pain! Vegas was mentioned but we thought that wasn't quite right. We looked at Red Rocks and Valley of Fire and loved the idea of the desert but wanted somewhere a bit more unique rather than a package wedding. 

    After a bit of research and the mentioning of the grand canyon, we stumbled upon Lake Powell and the Page area in Arizona. And figured we'd combined the wedding/honeymoon into one. "How hard can it be?"

    Well, not very hard as it turns out. We booked flights, car hire and planned accommodation and what we would do in each area and added an extra day for the wedding in Page.

    Choosing a photographer

    The photography is the biggest expense, it's the 'takeaway' from the day (obviously a marriage but that's a given!) we spoke to a lot of photographers who only focus on elopements, hiking, quiet moments. We loved a lot of them. Americans have a habit of wanting to really get to know you, which is lovely. Especially because they will also be doubling up as our witness! We really wanted an awesome lady called Maddie Mae who takes awesome photos - but was sadly out of our budget.

    We then found Amy Bluestar - she's lovely, actually under our budget and has a great knowledge of the area we've picked. Which is handy - given we've never been! She is being excellent - looking at locations for us to say our vows to help make sure we don't melt too much in the August heat (honestly - why did we decide August was a good time to go to the desert??)


  • This sounds absolutely amazing, looking forward to reading more

  • Wow what an amazing idea! Your photos are going to die for.

  • Thanks guys :) I'm doing the planning thread a little random - because it's already mostly sorted! 

  • i love this, arizona is beautiful and cant wait to hear the rest of your plans


  • Picking a Party venue

    Since we have been together since 2007 - I would say we have a fairly decent idea of what we like about Sheffield. We had always thought somewhere like Kelham Island Museum for the whole thing, but when we opted to 'elope' we just wanted a party. We had a look at Kelham Island Museum and was under whelmed. I mean, it's an awesome venue but not quite like we pictured.


    We had a look at Mary Street 99 - which is a empty space but we felt like it was just a bit too small for what we wanted. The cost is quite cheap though £1,200 so if you are after a awesome, small unique venue which you can put your stamp on, do check it out!


    We also had a look at a warehouse - £1000 for the hire, bargain but needs everything - tables, chairs, bar staff etc. So wasn't quite right for just a reception party.


    The 'one'

    Which led me to Yellow Arch, having ruled out empty warehouses (which also ruled out 92Burton Street, which again, is an amazing venue for the right couple - maybe an all day event) we walked based Yellow Arch, popped in for a drink. Yellow Arch started life as a Nuts & Bolts factory, then went into ruin. Was discovered in 96 and the team that runs it today got it up and running. It's a recording studio, band rehearsal space. It's played an important role in the music industry. Richard Hawley, Kylie, Jarvis Cocker have all produced albums there. It was also the birth place of Arctic Monkeys.

    We both love music - we spend a lot of our time at festivals and gigs so it seemed like the perfect fit. It has a live venue - for gigs, open mics, raves and private functions. We mentioned it to the bar guy to see if they did do wedding parties, he was like sure do, here's a card for the person you need to chat to. 

    We had a look around - groom loved it and pretty much booked it before getting pricing. Unlike the other places it comes with tables, chairs, furniture, all the sound equipment, lighting, candles, table nibbles, welcome rum punches (to tie in with Barbados), and has a main room, cafe bar and outside space for food vendors. All for £1200. Which suited us, our budget and what we wanted. 

    image image image

    Food Vendors

    I'd say as a couple, music festivals / gigs, street food and travelling are our past times. So when I say we've managed to do all three in one for our wedding. It's true. We wanted to have food that's good for soaking up booze, that doesn't need plates or a seating plan and also food that we know people like. Poutine & Waffles. 

    image image image image

    These will be set out in the courtyard for people to go grab a bite throughout the evening to fill there tums.

  • You might have gathered, a lot of this is already planned - wheels in motion. I would say we decided late Jan last year to do exactly what we are doing. For one reason this question:

    But aren't you eloping?

    100% yes! We're deciding to keep our loves in life - travel, food and music, and go for travel and food one our wedding day. When we first started planning - I looked on forums - most likely this one. And read that people who elope shouldn't have a party because people won't see you get married. They may be p**sed off, annoyed and it's cheeky to expect people to care about a party. So I thought "So we won't bother with a party because the internet and 'rules' say so?" then I thought "Sod that!"

    For me, I am not a romantic, I have never dreamed off a big wedding day, heck, I didn't even think I was bothered about getting married. We'd talked about it. Friends started getting married but we would've been happy without marriage, it isn't needed to make us happy. It's just nice to declare that commitment to everyone else. 

    We both realised what we wanted was just us. That's how we started our relationship, and, whilst I love weddings and it's a honour to be invited to people's special day. I just want our vows to be - ours. I want to spend the day exploring with my best friend, the day being silly, seeing things on our bucket list and having a taco!

    So, why the party?

    Our friends and family mean the world to us. We want to give them a party, to say thanks for everything they do for us. That party happens to be a week after we get back from our wedding / honeymoon. We're calling it our 'wedding party' because - that's what it is. I'll be wearing the dress I'm dragging half way across the globe. We will be having a first dance and cutting the cake. They'll be food, drink and dancing. To say thank you to the people in our lives.

    I don't care about etiquette, the rules or how people say weddings should be done. It's spilt with a ceremony and a party. 

    After all, a wedding isn't about anyone else other than the couple. Do you. Have the most amazing day you want. And throw a party so your family and friends are included.

    It's the best of both.

    Almost like the perfect comprise - without comprising.

    How did the news go down?

    Not well. My mum was disappointed but expected us to do something a bit different. So came around to the ideas. Friends were just confused. Others were over the moon that we were doing exactly what we want.

    If I can give anyone starting the planning journey it's this - don't let anyone take away your initial idea. Eloping isn't cheaper for us. Heck, it'll be cheaper to get married here! But we don't want that. We want a road trip, a wedding day and a party.

  • VegasLouVegasLou Posts: 820 New bride

    Oh I’m loving your plans! The wedding location sounds amazing. We have done that road trip and the whole journey was just fabulous. We are getting married in Vegas and then doing a road trip to New York. House of Mooshki dresses are gorgeous, I set my heart on one, made contact with them and decided it was above my budget, I then bought a dress at around the same price so I probably should have tried on some mooshki ones. Can we see a picture of your dress? We are getting married at the end of July and I’m also wondering why we chose a time when it’s going to be so hot! 

  • Thanks VegasLou - I know the dress is the important part of planning.. so that's actually my next post. No pictures of my dress yet though :) thanks for reading. Also just read your planning thread and love your whole plans. My main nerves are around sunburn!

  • The Dress (Part One)

    I'm assuming they'll be a part two in a couple of weeks time!

    I am not a girly-girl. I'm much happier in jeans, t-shirt and some converse. I don't wear make-up, I don't often make an effort with my hair - so picking a dress seemed quite daunting.

    At first, I debated about a high-street dress, I love Chi-Chi dresses so tried on a couple but didn't like them. I also tried on a dress from Debenhams - wasn't keen on that either. Originally I had a budget of £800, but after I started looking properly - realised that I'd likely have to double it to get the dress I wanted. No big deal. We could always make savings elsewhere!

    I knew I didn't want a white dress, I also knew I wanted a short tea length dress. Something that I could move around in easily - also, I didn't want something where I could fall off a cliff with. Not ideal.

    I narrowed it down to two - purely from online searching does amazing, unique, one-off dresses. I emailed and explained that I wanted a tea-length dress, that was different. She sent back a quote that was just a little too much and sadly, it wasn't up for negotiation! (£1900 plus travel down to Essex)

    That's when I stumbled on House of Mooshki. The one I loved online had lace sleeves: 


    I found a lovely stockist called Lace & Co who are in Wakefield, not too far. I grabbed 3 friends and took them dress shopping. I explained that I just wanted quick yes or no answers, no fuss. Tried on the dress which I loved so much online - they didn't seem impressed, strange I thought. Looked in the mirror - I wasn't impressed. The sleeves added lots of pounds to my arms and it just wasn't right. Great I thought - no dress for me.
    That's when the owner started pulling dresses from the rack and just said "try these on" so I did. I tried on many house of mooshki dresses, then found Daisy. 


    I loved it. I said it was alright in the vanilla cream but ideally, I preferred the duck egg blue dress I tried on. She said I can have it in duck egg blue...


    With a quick chat with the groom about this dress, and that it was a  bit over the £800 budget. I fully expected a 'no, find something else' but he said 'sure, order it'. And with that, that is what I did. I ordered it in October last year and I got an email saying it was ready. That was quick - usually, it takes longer right?

    I ordered it in the size I am now. Rather than adding extra pressure to lose any weight, I'm not fond of! 

    So I'll be off to see the dress in a couple of weeks, this time with my mum and sister. I have made panics that I won't like it. But believe me, when I tell you, I am the picky-est person when it comes to dresses. 

    Now, I just need to find the perfect converse to go with it...

  • Loving this idea! your photos are going to look absolutely amazing! excited to hear more x 

  • I realise what's missing is the engagement story - a sentence doesn't build up a very good picture eh?

    Bare with me... engagement story

    In 2016 - he had the chance to go to the states with work - I told him to go for it. It's only for 5 months then we can sort out if we move there long term (we didn't)
    He brought the ring in July 2016, had it delivered to his UK office where it sat in a drawer until December. He had told most people, he gets carried away and is rubbish with secrets. 

    I had a trip to New York, was sending sunset pictures and food pictures to friends. Who were waiting for this proposal (unbeknown to me!) - didn't happen in New York.

    We also had a road trip around New England. Didn't happen then either. 

    Off we went to Barbados. I was looking forward to sunsets, exploring, Christmas dinner. Little did I know that the plan all along was Barbados, we hired a car and went to explore beaches on the Atlantic side of the island. Bit rougher than the usual beaches you see. I said that the beach was lovely and quiet. He said he needed to go back to the car for some water. So I wondered off down the beach, taking photos, taking in the sights etc. Little did I know that he had ventured back from the car, and opted to write in the sand 'will you marry me?' which is quite cheesy, especially by our standards. But he didn't get down on one knee. I said 'alright then' and he gave me a ring box which was wrapped in brown paper (turns out, it had been hiding in his bag the entire time, brown paper so I didn't spot it)

    We then had cake & beer at a beach hut. Spent the rest of the day exploring beaches like nothing had happened. 



    The ring


    It's a 18ct white gold bad, 18ct rose gold bevel and a aquamarine stone. I'm not keen on diamonds. I don't wear jewellery but he did a pretty decent job!


  • Wedding Rings

    I decided early on I wanted just a plain Rose Gold band to sit next to my engagement ring. Nice and easy. Can't get it on the High Street and I had a weird moment with a snotty lady in a high street jewellers who seemed shocked I didn't have a diamond ring. 

    That's when groom remembered university contacts. He got in touch with Jessica Flinn jewellers who is making our rings for us with her husband. 

    Groom is a designer / engineer so doesn't want any precious metal and wanted something machined. He stumbled across a cool wooden inlay which he quite likes. So that's that ticked off. 



  • Love the sound of all your plans ! Just doing it as a couple your way. Looking forward to hearing more and don't let any ones views dampen your plans. 'never apologise, never explain ' Arizona is beautiful and people are so friendly 


  • VegasLouVegasLou Posts: 820 New bride

    Beautiful ring and I love your dress choice, its going to look stunning in duck egg blue. I was set on a tea length dress and tried on a few but they just didn’t suit me. Yes sunburn is a worry, and strap marks! I shall make sure I only wear strapless tops for the few days before the wedding.

  • Thanks VegasLou & Martha13. I'm planning on just covering up before the wedding - long tshirts in Arizona is OK right? Invites for the party are all finished! Just need to post them out now. 

  • Hi desert bride! Love the planning thread. Just curious about what the legal bits are that you need to do to get married in America? Something my H2B and I have discussed because we’re not sure if we can afford the day we’ve planned x

  • FutureMrsD2019 wrote (see post):

    Hi desert bride! Love the planning thread. Just curious about what the legal bits are that you need to do to get married in America? Something my H2B and I have discussed because we’re not sure if we can afford the day we’ve planned x


    The legal bits are fairly simple in the states. It's $78 for the marriage license. In Arizona the rules are pretty simple - 18 and over, you need to appear together in person at one of the offices in Arizona (we're opting for Williams, it's on the way). We just need to take along our passports and birth certificates. It's fully legal in the UK because we are following all the laws in the States. I have triple checked and got in touch with the office we plan on going to - just to check. They tell me it'll take maximum of 20 minutes and it'll be done.

    After we've had the ceremony - we get a souvenir certificate of the marriage and another is filed with the County Clerk. We're going to get one sent back to the UK which is proof of marriage - which is an extra cost. 

    Vegas is similar in terms of laws.

    What do you have planned?

  • The Band

    From the off - we knew the music was going to be an important part of the party. Music is a massive part of 'who we are as a couple' (we both enjoyed music before we met!) We go to festivals regularly and gigs as often as we can. Whilst we both love rock / metal / indie / alternative - we are not throwing a party for us to just enjoy. We're throwing a party for our friends and family. So it's super important they enjoy themselves too!

    Since I went massively over budget on my dress (oops!) costs needed to be saved elsewhere. So we opted for a cheaper food venue and cut the band budget. Which made it a challenge. 

    In the end we stumbled across the band called Monstaball. They're OK. They know how to get a dance floor packed - which is a major tick. And they're happy to play a little bit of metal for us too! 

    Not our first choice but we're happy with them. They'll be a great addition to the night and will do a DJ set for us until closing time! All for a decent price of £900. I think the reason for the cheapness for a 4 piece band is because we went direct to them VS going through an entertainment agency. 

    We thought long and hard about the security / safety net of an entertainment agency but decided that the testimonials are often for us to have faith that nothing will go wrong. 

    The venue include all the sound-system so the band don't need to bring any of that, same with lighting which makes things cheaper too!

    We just have to cover the cost of the sound engineer. But that's a drop in the ocean compared to everything else.



  • So I tried on MY dress the other Saturday - took my mum, sister and brother along (because honestly, it seemed mean leaving him out of it!) they all loved it which is good. I also had weird panicking moments thinking I'd hate a dress that I had tried on, twice, in a completely different colour. I didn't take any photos - but the duck egg blue looks incredible! And - the dress twirls amazingly well. 

    I'm starting to think about shoes. I don't wear shoes so regardless, I don't think it would be right for me to learn how to walk in heels for the sake of my wedding. It may be frown up on but I don't really care for tradition. I'm hoping to go with converse, at least for the states anyhows!

    At the moment - I'm thinking just some standard, customised ones, off-white with a hint of blue:


    But I'm not sure - I've started Googling what other brides wear with short dresses and I'm not questioning my own sanity! 

  • Been fairly quiet on the planning front because of a couple of major things happening in life. i had a minor car crash, lost my job as a result and needed to find another job sharpish. All good now.

    We have finally booked the officiant, sent off the deposit and have a Skype call penciled in for May. We've also found a slot canyon which seems quieter than Antelope Canyon. We're just waiting for our photographer to confirm she's happy with the lighting. 

    Also decided to have a sunrise ceremony - that means it'll be more expensive but we won't be as hot. Plus, Lake Powell looks good at sunrise. So we've decided on the 3 locations, timing, officiant and the photographer.




    It also means we can avoid the desert heat in the afternoon and explore some shaded slot canyons.

    All thats required now is:

    - The groom to decide what he is wearing
    - Shoes
    - Hair and make-up

    I am not a girly girl so shoes and hair and make-up will likely require help!


  • We've finally sorted the officiant out and she has now asked for vows to be sent across by 20 May to allow for any tweaks, I think Mr. Groom is having his first "Oh crap moment". The reason behind having our own vows is so we can say things to each other that isn't too soppy. 

    Weirdly - I don't believe in soul mates or 'the one', neither of us are romantic so why make the vows about those things that we don't stand for? Equally, Mr. Groom isn't the best with words, great at a jokey insult, but anything serious it isn't quite for him. 

    So, I'm thinking to take the stress away from having to write the vows separately - why not write them together? 

    We want a personalised, short ceremony. Obviously the vows won't be long. But we've had people tell us that they need to be serious, and they should make us cry. Blah blah blah. Neither of those things will happen! And, since it is just me, him, photographer, witness and officiant - why don't we just do what we feel happy with?

    So, I think writing them together would make more sense. It's a joint effort. We can write similar vows with our own input into them. It means we won't get any surprises, we will be able to share why we are both getting married, combined our values etc.  I can't see us failing out over the vows, because we will likely go for funny / sweet to the point anyway. 

    It also isn't like anything else about the day ticks boxes - we're a team, we've always been in everything 50/50. No one person has more control then the other, it's about communication and us as a team. With both willing to tell the other when they are being a bit of a idiot. Mr. Groom has suggested a mash up of lyrics from favourite songs, with some serious elements. I like that. It may / may not work but worth a look.

    Then all we have to do is pick the vows to say when putting on the ring.


    We've also asked a couple of people who, if we were having a wedding here, would be in the 'bridal party'. Whilst they will not be wearing bridesmaid dresses, we may sort them out with something which makes them bridesmaids. Mr.Groom has asked his two best friends to be 'non-best men' they'll be wearing similar outfits at the party and both have been nagging about doing a speech. I've soften a lot. Originally I didn't want speech or a first dance, I wanted to have more control over the music / entertainment. But I have realised that the reason we are having a party isn't for us. It's for our friends and family. We want them to have an awesome night, that means we will have speeches, short, sweet, on the stage before things kick-off with cake cutting and a first dance. 

    So, any suggestions on how to honour non-bridesmaids would be great! 

  • New to thisNew to this Posts: 226 New bride

    Amazing! I can’t wait for the photos after!!! x

  • New to this wrote (see post):

    Amazing! I can’t wait for the photos after!!! x

    Thanks - I'm hoping we get some good ones! 

  • Invites  / save the dates

    Luckily I work in Marketing and Graphic Design which made sorting out the invites easy, cheap and way under budget. We wanted to make sure people knew that they are important to us and that the wedding party is a proper 'reception'. We sent out Save the Dates quite early on, because September is quite a busy holiday time. 


    We opted to stick with the desert theme, we will have cacti around the place to tie in the ceremony (mainly for us really) these were printed onto some A3 sketch paper and became a7. We had the sketch paper lying around already - so it cost nothing put time. We handed them out to people.


    The invites - again, we had the paper lying around and opted for A5 so that was free, card for the RSVP and song request stamp - had already, information was printed on the same sketch paper from above. We cut them out with a scalpel. The ribbon was on offer at the range, end of the line - we got 7 2m rolls for £5. Got the envelopes for £1 from The Range too. Most expensive part was the £10 on second class stamps to those who we couldn't hand deliver to! Total cost - £16. 

  • MrsS85MrsS85 Posts: 688 New bride

    Your plans all sound lovely and good for you for sticking to what you really want from the wedding. Look forward to reading more.



  • VegasLouVegasLou Posts: 820 New bride

    Wow! You’re going to have amazing photos! I’m going to find out what time sunset is at the end of July and maybe get some photos done then. Love the converse idea, I think they’ll look fab with your dress. Far more sensible than my jimmy choos! 


  • Thanks VegasLou and MrsS85. I need to buy some converse sooner rather than later, I'm thinking I'm going to get a couple of pairs and see which works with the dress better and return the others! 



    I think I've ruled out the custom Converse, but I do like the Ombre converse, no idea if they'll go with my dress though! So I'm thinking if I get a couple of pairs, I can see what I prefer. I'll likely take pictures to get a better idea.

  • GinAndBlingGinAndBling Posts: 1,311 New bride

    Just caught up on this! 

    Love love love your dress- it's so beautiful and the pictures will look amazing. 

    Your invites are so cool- and such a bargain!

    Our planning thread: We're completely winging it.
    Our report: A fun, classic May day in navy and blush
    My weightloss thread: Diet denial! 
  • Elz2017Elz2017 Posts: 316

    Love the invites!!

    On honouring non-bridesmaids - I'm not having any either (OH is having 2 best men!), but we've got a few people involved in the ceremony who would have been bridesmaids/ushers if we'd done that. So we're thinking of getting them little amber brooches/pins to wear on lapels or dresses, which ties into my Polish heritage but also makes them all part of the bridal gang.  No one else will notice probably but we'll know...

    Depending on how your UK party will pan out, maybe you could have a couple of short words from friends/toasts that the non-bridesmaids/best men do? Makes it clear at the party that they are special.

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