Canoe Elopement

If you love heartfelt weddings, you have to see this…

New York City couple Laurie and Brendan felt stressed out by the idea of a big wedding, so when her mom suggested they elope to Lake Placid Lodge in the Adirondacks, they jumped at the chance. They spent five days doing “nature-y things,” and then had a small ceremony, went canoeing and made s’mores. Here, Lauren tells their story…

What was your ceremony like?
Really quick and sweet. I gave Brendan his ring. It was super fun. The judge told us what he does during the day, throwing guys in jail. We had a whole conversation. But that was so us! We’re the most unromantic people in the entire world.

Where did you stay at night?
We slept in a lakeside cabin, where the lake comes almost up to the window. We had a fire every night. It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been—both the scenery and the hotel itself. When you stay there, it’s always part of your life afterward.

How long have you and Brendan been together? Thirteen years. We met when I was just 15, and he was 18, and we’ve been together ever since. It was just like, ahh, there we go, that’s done.

Where did you find your dress?
Ralph Lauren’s fall 2008 runway show had a buffalo plaid ballgown, and I always wanted it for my wedding dress. So, I had it made to look exactly like that. My friend is a designer, so he helped me find a guy who makes clothes, and we got Ralph Lauren fabric.

Your deep blush is so beautiful.
I’m absolutely terrible with makeup! I texted my sister for advice, and she said, whatever you do, go darker for the photos. I used Armani Eyes to Kill mascara (best mascara in the entire world) and NARS Mati Hari blush. On our drive up, I saw a pharmacy and grabbed a berry-colored lipstick; I was like, that looks fine!

Would you recommend elopement to other couples?
It’s the way! All our friends are like, we’re just going to do that. It was stress-free. At the time, I was helping my friend with her wedding; she’s the coolest cucumber, but just seeing the politics and expense of it, I kept thinking, I’m so glad I eloped.

Anything you’d do differently?
It would be fun to bring two friends—the best man and the maid of honor. Although we had a blast by ourselves as well.

Congratulations, Lauren and Brendan! What do you think? Would you ever elope? This makes it look pretty appealing!

P.S. A North Carolina elopement, an Australian elopement and colorful wedding dresses.

(Photos by Jon Zander Photography)

  1. It is really lovely and I want to buy a belt like this for my GF, I would like to get ideas from you guys and yes I gift her a leather jacket recently from and she liked her a lot. So, I would be grateful to you guys if you’ll help me in this like someone helped me to find this website for leather jacket :)
    Thanks in Advance ;)

  2. That dress: WOW.

    We got married at the city clerk’s office in NY. Our parents were there so I guess it wasn’t technically an elopement but it was small and perfect and we had lunch afterward at ‘ino in the West Village and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

  3. I love her dress!

  4. fires every night doesnt sound that ‘unromantic’. maybe this couple is more romantic than they think. maybe less so in the commercilised sold way, but that isnt real romance anyway!

  5. We eloped August 2011 in Monterey, CA on the beach. It was amazing and such a relaxed day. I felt literally no stress. A bunch of factors played in to our decision to get married this way–family living all over and not having money to travel, no financial assistance for a massive wedding (which I didn’t want anyway), and some family dynamics drama. All in all, it has to be the decision of the couple. We gifted our parents with a photo book of our day and they loved that keepsake. No regrets. Our dog was the ringbearer…and the most adorable one ever, I have to say. Our friend got ordained as I didn’t want a “hire-a-pastor” to show up 10 minutes before and leave 2 minutes after with no idea of who we were as a couple. I wanted someone who cared about us and about our future together. We had another friend take video and hired a photographer. And it was perfect.

  6. That does look like lots of fun. Maybe for an anniversary vow renewal?? We’re Catholic and very traditional so it wouldn’t be right for us though. We thought about doing a small destination wedding Austria with family and close friends where we met though. Ours will be fairly big but awesome =)(being Filipino you tend to have lots of friends), but the idea of a small, stress free wedding would be wonderful too, I’m sure.

  7. This is so beautiful – her dress is stunning. We eloped to NY from Edinburgh and then had a party last month – it was absolutely perfect for us and I wouldn’t change anything about the day we got married (apart from that it was super hot that day!).

  8. beautiful! i’m getting married next month and am seeing the perks of eloping (money, politics, compromises)…i love her shoes!

  9. What a lovely story!! Congrats!

  10. congratulations to all the readers who just got married! :) i think elopement seems lovely. oh, and i hear you, chloe, about some weddings having staged photos, but i think these seem really relaxed, real and beautiful; apparently the photographer–Jon–was in his twenties and super fun:)

    • Yes, theses pictures are lovely and they seem very relax!

  11. yes, the hotel was the lake placid lodge. doesn’t it sound amazing?

  12. We eloped just over a month ago. It was just me, my hubby and our three month old at a great B&B in Williamsburg. We wanted our focus to be on the marriage and not the wedding, so we thought this would be perfect. After the ceremony we dropped our son off at my parents and had a nice dinner at a great restaurant, lots of champagne and cake back at the B&B. It was perfect.

  13. This is beautiful.. Do you mind sharing the hotel they stayed in?

  14. We eloped, but certainly not with this gorgeous dress wrapped around me. Love it!

  15. Beautiful! One of my best friends got married in our other best friend’s backyard this past weekend while my husband officiated. It was a simple & beautiful backyard fall Iowa wedding.

  16. SUCH a beautiful dress! She looks stunning in it and I can’t believe she’s wearing so little make up! I had a big wedding and even though it was the best day ever, whenever any of my engaged friends ask me for advice I always tell them to elope!

    Maria xx

  17. that is so amazing! beautiful! so unexpected, loves it!

    x’s & o’s

  18. My husband and I basically eloped. At the last minute we invited our parents and siblings. That way no one had any time to be involved in the planning–they were just happy to be there to share the day with us. It was perfect.

  19. So beautiful! Definitely something to think about!


  20. Thanks for blogging about our elopement! Brendan and I had an absolute blast and its fun to see people thought it looked fun too!

    It was SO not lonely (to the people who said it looked that way)! We always have so much fun together so we were fine going off on our own. Our family and friends were super supportive too, plus we had a big bbq for everyone a few months later so everyone was involved!

    Thanks everyone for all the nice comments, so glad you love my dress as much as I do!!!

    Laurie xoxo

  21. Looks beautiful! But there’s something that makes me inconfortable with all theses beautiful wedding pictures, especially those of elopement. It looks a little too “mis en scène” (staged in english, I guess), sometimes it feels like people do things in ways it will make beautiful pictures for their blogs! Isn’t the spirit of elopement to get away completely free?

  22. I feel like she’s evading the politics of elopement, too! My family would be devastated!

  23. Omg!! These pictures are soo cute! I’m a total hopeless romantic:))!

  24. Such a sweet love story, I love how they’ve been together for 13 years. Just shows that there’s no need to rush, but only it feels right to you.

  25. As a bride, my most treasured memory is of my father walking me down the aisle to my soon-to-be-husband…so I would not have liked to elope. As a mom, I would be heartbroken if one of my daughters got married without me being there. It’s such an important day of your life. However, I agree with those who say each wedding is for the couple. Whatever makes them happiest is the way to go. This sounded like the perfect wedding for this wonderful couple. I wish them a lifetime of happiness.

  26. Thanks for doing this feature, Joanna! Photographing an elopement can always be a little scary. I had only spoken to these two via email prior to meeting them, so I didn’t have a very solid idea on what they would be like. As the photographer of an elopement, it’s just you and them… You’ll either have great chemistry with them and enjoy the afternoon, or you’ll be the awkward third wheel; there isn’t much room for buffer. You can imagine my elation when the lovely Laurie came around the corner in her stunning plaid wedding dress! When I discovered that she and Brendan had fantastic personalities to match, I was happy as can be. They were so fun! Congratulations once again, Brendan and Laurie!

  27. We eloped. Had everything but the guests, I like to joke. We had our ceremony at the Santa Fe Plaza, which we couldn’t have done if we’d had a big wedding. And because it was Tom’s Barefoot Day ;) we didn’t wear shoes, either.

  28. beautiful pictures
    If I eloped, I think it would be really fun to elope in Europe and travel along the Mediterranean, and meeting my fiancé in France of something. Or New Zealand& Australia… Or Chile… AHH so many places in the world!And I think bringing along another couple or two would be way fun too, but my days of getting married are long off…

  29. oh, i would’ve loved to, but my husband wouldn’t have it. he’s got a big italian family, so he couldn’t imagine it. for the most part, i enjoyed our wedding day, and i love looking at the pix, but i do wish we’d had something a little more intimate and less crazy-making. i guess that’s what a vow renewal is for. ( :

  30. It would really be nice to see some gay weddings featured… I love this blog but sometimes it is a real hetero-fest!

  31. i love this idea! i would rather elope, i don’t like being the center of attention, ha! the pressure would be off with a few dear friends and family. so beautiful!


  32. How fun! Her dress reminds me of a camouflage gown I saw at a Christian Dior store — probably the only time I’ve ever been in that store! I would have never thought of that for a wedding dress, but love the idea. Maybe for a fifth anniversary party next year… :)

  33. Be really sure you want to elope! I did and it was very difficult dealing with people’s reactions. Our families were really upset with us (his to this day, 10+ years later). We’re divorced now.

    While it was a beautiful day for us, I don’t think I’d do it again (if I ever get married again that is).

  34. I would totally elope! I have friends that said that their wedding was a complete blur and if they had it to do again they’d elope. They’ve been telling me this for years and I think they finally have me convinced. I’d love to have a beautiful elopement and then come back and have a big party/reception afterwards!

  35. I would totally elope! I have friends that said that their wedding was a complete blur and if they had it to do again they’d elope. They’ve been telling me this for years and I think they finally have me convinced. I’d love to have a beautiful elopement and then come back and have a big party/reception afterwards!

  36. I knew that had to be the Adirondacks as soon as I saw the first picture. I spent all my summers in college working about 20 minutes from there, it is so beautiful. One of of my favorite places in the world! And her dress, uh awesome!

  37. wow…she sounds so effortlessly beautiful. i love how laid back this is and how it matches their relationship. what a beautiful choice…thanks for sharing :)

  38. Great dress. And everyone should do what fits their relationship for their wedding- all loves are different, that’s what makes off-the-wall weddings so exciting and meaningful!

  39. This is so beautiful! I SO wish we had eloped, our wedding was super fun but also a waste of too much time and money.

  40. We didn’t exactly “elope”.. but we went to St Thomas for 6 days and got married there with no one else with us. We explored the island, went deep sea fishing and snorkled in the bay at the hotel. It was really nice to not have to worry about what someone else wanted to do.. it was just us! This wasn’t a first wedding for either of us, so maybe that makes it easier. My mother had also started to have some health problems and my father was a bit of a hermit.. so we figured we would just ditch all the family issue pressures and do something that didn’t pressure anyone else to show up or do anything.

    I don’t regret it at all.

  41. This is the cutest wedding! I love it :) and her dress is amazing!

  42. Such a beautiful setting!
    Love the photos, and the story reminds me so much of what I do everyday with wedding photos in the USVI!!! Elopements are my fav.

  43. Oh, this post is SUCH good timing! My husband wants to book a cabin for our 5th anniversary getaway, in the Adirondacks. We will definitely check this place out. It looks amazing, and I love the idea of this low-key elopement.

  44. I guess I’m going to be the oddball here who says that this looks really beautiful….but lonely. I guess I just love my family and friends and inlaws so much that I would have been sad, sad, sad not to share our wedding day with all of them. A bit of wedding planning stress was worth it in the end, at least for me.

  45. Absolutely love this! I remember that dress from the Ralph Lauren runway!
    Liz and Lo {}

  46. i agree— eloping was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We got married in Positano and travelled fro a couple weeks in Italy and France afterwards. My Mom and sister came for a few days of traveling after the wedding too, which was really nice. I recommend it to everyone and would definitely do it all over again!

  47. Beautiful. I think eloping is an excellent antidote to the Bridezilla phenomena. I’m not sure if what’s I will do, but I would gravitate more towards eloping than throwing a 300-person extravagant bash. Just not my style.

    Check out this horrible email from a bride to her potential bridesmaids (it was leaked to Gawker):

  48. Noooo way! Coolest wedding ever!

  49. My husband and I eloped to Alaska! We got married on the shores of Resurrection Bay with a minister, photographer, and the lady who owned the house we stayed in (we had to have two witnesses, and dogs didn’t count), and then we hiked to see a glacier and went camping in Denali. BEST TRIP EVER (we also make smores on our honeymoon, yum). Now I’m nine months pregnant and we made smores last night over our stove because I was craving them, and it took me back to our honeymoon in Denali…I highly recommend eloping. It is such a personal, intimate way to exchange vows and embark on a life together!

  50. I want to elope and this is the new way I want to do it. Thanks for sharing!

  51. What a beautiful and sweet wedding! And I never thought that plaid could be so beautiful!

  52. what a lovely story! my husband and i recently married and we eloped to a greek island to marry. it was just the two of us and a photographer we hired to capture our memories, best day EVER! i wouldnt have done it any other way. my mom was kind of sad to not have seen my on my wedding day, but we will have a party to celebrate with friends and family.


  53. That is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. Her dress is to die for! At the end of the day you are marrying your best friend and that is all that matters!

    -Sarah {}

  54. This looks very lovely. Did they have any family at all attend them with? I agree that an elopement with a best man and a maid of honor would be fun. But you would likely offend someone. I think elopements would just be so hard to pull off as far as who you have with you and who you don’t. I’m jealous when I see it done right, though!

  55. That dress is out-of-control-amazing! And I’m in love with this couple!

    We had a huge wedding, and I loved every minute of it and wouldn’t change it for the world. I come from a very large family and we are part of a very tight community, and it was really important for me to share our union with them all (more so because my husband and I didn’t live in my home-town and wont for a few more years).

    But, oh, the fantasy of this elopement will stay with me for a very long time!

  56. So stunning!! I love this!

  57. That dress & belt combination is the most incredible wedding outfit I have ever seen. What a lovely and inspiring story- romance can only be enhanced by canoes and smores!

  58. Plaid gown… gasp! plaid gown. plaid gown. plaid gown.

  59. I live in Lake Placid and I love your blog!!!! this is great!!! and my two of my friends are chef-sisters there!

  60. If we could do it over again, my husband and I both agree we would elope. While the expense wasn’t bad the family politics that came into play were so not worth it. Basically, our wedding was the beginning of the end for our relationship with half of my husband’s family.

  61. These pictures are beautiful, and I love how original it all is. Their wedding day was THEM, and that’s what makes it perfect.

  62. my husband & i eloped as well, we were married at sunrise on the beach, just us, the priest/justice of the peace, the woman who had helped arrange our paperwork long distance and since we needed one more witness a security guard who was standing nearby (who also became our last minute photographer for us!). we wanted a marriage not a wedding and it was such a good decision, one we don’t regret over 14 years later (; great post! and beautiful photographs… xo, t.

  63. KJ says...

    I agree with the first commenter – I think it’s beautiful when couples do exactly what they want. They seem so happy (and adorable)!

    I think it would have been hard to not have my family with me on my wedding day, but again – it’s all about doing what makes the most sense for YOU. :)

  64. Wow, how romantic!? And the photos are gorgeous. Would love to know who ended up making her dress—it’s spot on!


  65. Now that is quite lovely! The bride is gorgeous and groom is so handsome. Those pictures are filled to the brim with love. Just amazing!

  66. What a sweet couple and a brilliant idea:) I am so amazed by the whole concept and how awesome that they are together for 13 years. Also, her dress paired up with boots and that belt = totally cool! xoxo

  67. So lovely! I think the key thing is doing things your way, how you feel best and happy. We had a small civil ceremony and the whole day was so “us.”