Have you read last week's Do?

Catch up now because this week, I’ve found a real-life bride who had to cancel her East Coast ceremony due to COVID-19 in March when everything in New York slowly started to shut down. Meet Malikah Kelly, a marketing executive, content creator and owner of malikahkelly.com. She relied on her creativity, savviness and research experience to create a last minute elopement.

Malikah has done everything and more that I shared last week when it comes to last minute planning, finding an event planner, decorations, plus sourcing her dress. Here’s what she has to say about planning her elopement:

Charisse: What made you decide on the elopement?

Kelly: We had both been so excited to get married and the idea of having to wait another few months was devastating for both of us. New York was out of the question, as it had quickly become the epicenter of coronavirus in the United States. Even if we were able to get married there, we would have never taken the chance of inviting our families out to join us. We agreed that we would just get married at the first chance we got, whether that was in Los Angeles even Las Vegas!

Charisse: How difficult was it finding an officiant? Marriage certificate?

Kelly: We worked with an elopement planner who has relationships with several officiants. It was the same official paperwork you would get at the bureau. After the ceremony he mailed it off to be certified by the state, and we hope to get the official copy back, usually in 6 to 8 weeks.

Charisse’s note: Chatham County residents can still apply for their marriage licenses online and at the Probate court. Have an officiant? Abide by social distancing or some officiants can conduct a virtual ceremony. Yes, those are being done!!!

Charisse: Was there a specific process to the elopement? (Vendors closed due to COVID-19)

Kelly: I started looking for photographers and stumbled upon Opus Events, an events and elopement planner here in Los Angeles. They pretty much took care of everything! Belinda had the officiant hookup, so once we knew we could get legally married, we just needed to find a location. Anything indoors was out of the question, but California has such stunning scenery that didn’t even matter. Since the state parks and beaches were all shut down, we were limited to outdoor spaces that were still open and didn’t require permits from the city. She coordinated all the details with the photographer and officiant and all we had to do was show up! I love to bake, so I made a simple little cake for us, decorated with some of the same flowers in my bouquet.

If you don’t have the budget for a planner, you can totally pull together your own elopement. Just research parks, community gardens, beaches, or even gorgeous streets with pretty doors! Once you have a marriage license and officiant, you can pretty much get married anywhere you want. And if you have a small group and fast ceremony you should be able to get it done before anyone interrupts you. But definitely spend on a good photographer! Pictures are the only thing you’ll have to remember the day by and share with your friends and family, so make sure they are good!

Charisse: Do you think other couples can pull this off?

Kelly: Absolutely! I think people get way too caught up in wedding planning and they forget the whole point – getting married! Eloping was perfect for us because we were both ready to start our marriage and were totally fine to delay celebrating with our friends and family.

Coronavirus may keep you from having the wedding you had your heart set on, but it doesn’t have to keep you from becoming a husband or wife. Whether or not your wedding is affected by coronavirus, elopements are a beautiful, intimate way to get married. Think about whether it’s right for you or not and research possible locations in your area for inspiration.