How to plan a destination wedding in under two weeks



How We Met: Brent and I had met in passing at various parties. I had a boyfriend and he had just finished graduate school and moved to Columbus. We had a lot of mutual friends, but never really talked. However, one weekend a year later, I was snowed in at my friend Danielle and Abigail’s apartment. They said they were going to “Songer’s” birthday celebration. The weather was TERRIBLE, but we put our boots on and headed to the Short North. I wasn’t confident that I knew who ‘Songer’ was, but there was bourbon to be drunk (sorry mom!) and taco’s to be eaten. Next thing I knew, this Brent Songer and I had hit it off, bellied up to the bar, ordered meals, and talked for HOURS (seriously 3-4 hours). We started dating shortly after and the rest is history.

Engagement: I will spare you ALL of the details of our engagement, but my husband did a great job. We had discussed going ring shopping after new years and I had even researched a few local jewelers. On New Years Eve, we were en route with two of my now brother in laws to go to the Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. I have been in downtown Pittsburgh quite a bit at this point, and my boyfriend was walking a strange route to get to Heinz Field. I questioned him but was assured we were going the right way! Nevertheless, we posed for a picture across from the stadium when this happened:



Mind you, I walked away for no reason other than pure shock. Please disregard the bud light bottle in my pocket- any Browns fan knows we need a lot of liquid therapy on the day we play the Steelers. Our engagement was perfect for us. We were so excited we didn’t even make it into the game! Afterwards, my mother in law threw us an engagement party and my parents surprised me by coming to Pittsburgh. It was a blast!


The Plan: Shortly after our engagement (I mean, less than an hour) my fiance informed me that we would be eloping in Charlotte in thirteen days. Of course, this was ultimately to be OK’d by me. The concept of eloping always seemed great to me, so I was elated. My first comment was “are we flying?”. He told me he had already booked flights, hotels (for us, our family members, and friends). My best friend had booked her flight to Charlotte from Tucson, Arizona (is she not THE BEST?) He and my cousin had gathered a list of photographers, restaurants, etc.  Truly, how lucky am I? My husband planned most of our elopement.

The Dress: This was the scariest part. How was I going to find a dress in less than two weeks? I cushioned this fright with the idea of potentially even wearing a sleek white jumpsuit or pant suit. Fortunately, Columbus is *surprisingly* a fashion hub. Thanks Les Wexner! My first stop (always!) was Nordstrom. I struck out quickly, which got my heart racing. My mother and I decided Saks would be our next stop, but decided to stop into Macy’s on the way to the car. To be completely honest, I was skeptical, but the Macy’s at Easton is truly a mecca. We stumbled upon Adrianna Pappell’s wedding collection and I immediately loved quite a few pieces. I ended up purchasing the first dress I tried on!

Grooms Suit: Brent had a custom suit made while we lived in Charlotte. The designer is located in Uptown Charlotte, at Abbeydale. Fortunately he was good to go in terms of a suit. We did go buy him a crisp white shirt from Nordstrom along with a Michael Kors tie.

Rings: We went to Diamond Cellar, where my engagement ring was made, the first open business day after our engagement. The stars aligned, because we were able to walk out with both his wedding band and mine in the correct size! I had been loving Kim Kardashian’s dainty wedding band she has been wearing and was able to get the same style. My husband picked out a brushed white gold band. My engagement ring would have to be sent to the designer to be remade due to my tiny fingers. I held on to it with a spacer to at least wear for elopement photos.

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The Restaurant: I almost instantly knew what restaurant I wanted to eat at after the courthouse. While we lived in Charlotte, I loved eating at 5 Church. The ambiance is great and it is the right mix of fine dining while still remaining hip. My cousin and I put feelers out to a few restaurants, but 5 Church was ultimately able to accommodate our group. We had just under 20 people, and chose a prix fixed menu. We had a separate room with its own private open bar. Most restaurants will require you to purchase food and beverage packages for larger groups. It worked for us, but be prepared for that! We also ordered a cake from Sunflour Bakery, which was close to our home in Charlotte. It was beautiful and delicious, but we got no photos. Trust me, you can’t go wrong with Sunflour! 

*Thanks to my cousin Suzanne for the photo! The cake was HUGE!


Hotel: My husband booked a block of rooms at The Hilton Garden Inn Uptown Charlotte, and when we let it slip at check in that we were there to get married, they gave us the top floor corner suite. It was…sweet (pun intended). The suite had a living space and a bedroom (which included a jacuzzi). The staff was great and our room was spectacular. We stayed there for two nights then moved to Le Meridien for two nights, which was also great. Sadly I didn’t take any photos at Le Meridien but our room was so cool. Definitely recommend both hotels.

View from our suite


Flowers: I ordered a ‘white’ bridal bouquet through The Blossom Shop. I found them via google (classic) and made a phone call. I apologized for the short notice, but they had lots of options and said they would put together something beautiful for me. The bouquet was $145 before tax, and my father in law picked it up the morning of our elopement. I loved it.

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The Photographer: This may have been the most difficult step. Photography is expensive, so it was hard to choose with such short notice and not meeting the photographers before our big day. My wonderful cousin (a Charlotte resident) had sought out a few photographers and done lots of research before our engagement. I ended up finding Ashley Steffens, and although she was unavailable the day of our elopement, she had recently started The Remnant Collective. This Collective is a team of photographers who work under the creative guidance of Ashley. She teamed us up with Kailyn Miller of KM Photography to shoot our day and then Ashley edited our photos. I’m obsessed!

Photographed Locations: Kailyn called us and got a few ideas of who we are as a couple and goals for our photos. We were willing to do something unique so we chose to have photos at the UNCC Botanical Gardens and some at an awesome brewery in Plaza Midwood, Legion. Legion opened 30 minutes early just for us to come and shoot photos. It was a blast having the brewery to ourselves. Our group was able to have a few beers while we all got photos.

Marriage License: When we arrived in Charlotte on Thursday, we went immediately to the Register of Deeds to obtain a marriage license. We needed our social security cards, licenses and some information about our parents like addresses and their city of birth. The process overall took us about 20 minutes. Here are the details.

Courthouse Wedding: We had a group of 20 join us for our courthouse ceremony. You need two witnesses and can have as many people join you as you can fit in the court room.

Would We Do It Again?: Absolutely. A million times over. The time frame of it made things a little hectic, but honestly, decision making seemed easy. Having a courthouse wedding really cuts out the frills of a big wedding. We focused on the major items that were important to us, such as having our families and close friends there. The rest just seemed to fall into place. We were able to drink at a brewery before the courthouse! What more could you ask for? But seriously, elopement is a realistic route that I would highly recommend. It was perfect and filled with love and we could not be happier.

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Photographer: Kailyn Miller Photography courtesy of The Remnant Collective

Photo Editing: Ashley Steffens Photography

Photography Venues: UNCC Botanical GardensLegion Brewing Company

Dress: Adrianna Pappell

Rings: Diamond Cellar

Hair: The Daily Details

Nails: Posh! Nails

Grooms Suit: Abbeydale

Brides Shoes: Steve Madden

Cake: Sunflour Bakery

Flowers: The Blossom Shop

Dinner: 5Church

Hotels: Hilton Garden Inn UptownLe Meridien Charlotte