Well, not a surprise anymore, but we did pull a surprise elopement in October & I’m just now getting around to sharing some of the photos & details today! We got married at Pristine Bay Resort in Roatan, Honduras on October 24, 2018.
The question I get asked most often is why we chose to elope instead of have a traditional wedding at home. We started planning an October 2018 cruise last May. Patrick’s parents quickly decided to join us & then my parents joined in. We had already been looking at rings & talking about an engagement at that time. One night in August, over dinner & drinks, Patrick & I joked about how funny & exciting it would be to surprise our parents with a wedding once we got on board the cruise ship. The more we discussed it over the next few days, the more it sounded like a fun, intimate way to celebrate our commitment with our families.
If you had asked me a few years ago, I never would have considered eloping. For most of my life, I wanted the big princess, church wedding. Maybe it came with age, or the fact that Patrick & I have been together since October 2011, but over the past few years, the actual wedding began seeming less important. Patrick has never been comfortable as the center of attention & a big ceremony just didn’t seem as important to me as it used to. As long as our parents were there to celebrate our commitment with us, that’s all that really mattered.
Because I’m an only daughter & his parents don’t have girls, I didn’t want to deprive myself or our mothers of the dress-shopping experience. So we opted to share the news with our families in early September. They were thrilled & my niece was so excited that she was there when we told everyone!
Once we decided to get elope & our parents were on board, we thought it would be fun to keep it a secret & surprise everyone else. This was much easier said than done! There were so many times that I just wanted to burst out with the news! Who am I kidding? I told a few random people, like a girl in the bathroom in Dallas because I couldn’t stand it anymore. But, it was so worth keeping it a secret from friends & co-workers to see all of the excitement when we first sent out the news from the boat!
After telling our families, I immediately made an appointment to look at dresses with my mother & Patrick’s mother at Happily Ever After Bridal Boutique. Since I was on a short time frame, I was limited to off the rack dresses, but they still had a huge selection & Dionne was so much fun to work with. I tried on so many dresses, but I ended up with the first dress that I tried on! I fell in love with the starburst beading & asymmetrical tulle skirt. Plus it fit so perfectly & only need the straps taken up slightly, a huge plus when you’re short on time! Since the dress was so intricate, I went with a crystal headpiece instead of a veil.
The second question I always get asked is how I planned a wedding as a cruise ship excursion. I knew that I wanted to get married on the beach, rather than on the boat. Roatan was our favorite stop on a previous cruise, so it was the perfect choice for our wedding. Then I got to work finding a local coordinator. The wedding planner that we used, Roatan Events, made the whole planning process so effortless. They handled everything from the set-up at the resort to my hair & flowers. Because it takes time to get a marriage license in Honduras & we were only there for less than a day, we had a civil ceremony at home before we left for the cruise.
Camilla, Michelle, & their team had everything set up when we arrived at the resort. The boys hung out in the restaurant while my mother, Patrick’s mother, & I went to a room downstairs to get ready. I did my own makeup, but had my hair done by the most lovely stylist on the island. I knew we were going to get along when she walked in with a bottle of champagne for me! Our photographer arrived while we were getting ready & immediately started taking photos. The mothers helped me into my dress, then we took some bridal portraits while the guys got dressed & everyone except my father & I went down to the beach. It poured earlier in the day & I was so worried that we would get rained on, but it cleared up just in time!
The ceremony was held under a pink fabric draped arch, accented in orchids. My grandmother raised orchids & I spent so much time in her greenhouses growing up, so it was incredibly special to have a little bit of her there. Although I loved my wedding shoes, I left them at the top of the stairs & walked barefoot with my father to meet Patrick under the arch. I was way too worried about falling in the sand in heels, lol.
After the ceremony & photos on the beach, we went upstairs to the resort’s restaurant for lunch & cake. Our cake may have been tiny since there were only 6 of us, but it was so good! I managed to bring my bouquet back onto the ship & through customs with me (not sure I was supposed to do that, oops!), but it sadly did not dry well. Patrick & I had dinner alone at the Italian restaurant on the ship to celebrate that night.
While there were a few small issues to work through, like missing our cab to the resort, it was a beautiful day that I will cherish forever. My only regret is that Patrick’s brother wasn’t able to make the trip with us, but he was able to celebrate with us afterward at home. We had begun planning a “Happily Ever After” reception for friends & family in Shreveport before we left for the cruise, so we immediately sent out the invitations to that when we got home.