Malikah’s Elopement

It feels really good to find someone to bring your words to life. What am I talking about? Blogger babe and boss (digital and e-commerce professional), Malikah Kelly planned her wedding . . . well she cancelled her New York ceremony and until the French (and the world) open back up for business, Malikah is a Corona Bride. Actually, Malikah is a Bride in the times of Corona (COVID-19) – that’s better. In my last bridal post, I talk about how you could find a small event planner and even buy a more affordable dress for an elopement ceremony.

Sure, I was being optimistic, but I knew it was possible. I caught up with the newlywed and here’s the dish on how she planned her elopement with assistance.

Elopement Weddings Due to Coronavirus

How long have you been engaged?

We got engaged in July 2019 but had been lowkey planning the wedding for a few months before then. We both had a vision for the kind of wedding we wanted to have to started sharing ideas and thinking about details pretty early on.

When was your original marriage date? (I remember seeing you were doing a NYC ceremony also?)

We planned to get married in late June near Bordeaux, France. Since destination weddings aren’t always legally binding or the requirements to make them legal can get pretty crazy depending on the country’s laws, we planned to do a civil ceremony at home in New York. We also wanted the opportunity to have a small celebration with people who wouldn’t have been able to travel to France. We were just going to have a city hall wedding then meet everyone out drinks at one of my favorite rooftop bars, but in March everything started shutting down and we had to cancel.

Is your Parisian celebration still on?

It’s actually in a small village in the French countryside! It is definitely still going to happen but we just can’t say when at this point. Right now France is on lockdown until May 11th (2020). After that point, restrictions should start to ease, but the borders may remain closed for a few more months. We have an amazing team on the ground and we are all following the news closely. If travel will be allowed by summer, we plan to carry on! However, Macron has hinted he may continue to restrict travel from non-European countries for several more months. If that happens, we will have no choice but to postpone until the borders are fully reopened.

Thinking of a destination wedding? Check this out!

How difficult was it finding an officiant? Marriage certificate?

Finding a marriage license proved to be pretty tricky! In most cases you have to get a marriage license in person, but marriage bureaus around the country almost all shut down by mid-March. We just hit a stroke of luck in our case. We worked with an elopement planner who has relationships with several officiants. She happened to know of one that had extra marriage licenses! He apparently had some that he was saving for another couple, but they ended up cancelling their wedding. It was the same official paperwork you would get at the bureau, and since it hadn’t been filled out with their info, we are able to use it! 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.

If you live in Georgia, specifically Chatham County, here are some online resources I found for you pertaining to your license. For anyone else, simply google your county/parish Probate Court website or give them a call.

Probate Court: Marriage Licenses

Application for Marriage License

Need an officiant? Some officiants are performing virtual ceremonies to abide by social distancing. If that is the case, just mail your certificate to the officiant with the appropriate signatures and they can mail it off to be certified.

Back to Scheduled Programming . . .

What made you decide on the elopement?

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.  NY was out of the question, as it had quickly become the epicenter of coronavirus in the US. 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 LA even Las Vegas!

I was also starting to become more aware of the fact that we might have to postpone our wedding in France, so I became more motivated to make our legal ceremony more special. I felt like we deserved it, and we had a small budget since we cancelled our NY plans. My husband definitely accused me of being extra, but at the end of the day, we both were overjoyed.

Was there a specific process to the elopement? (While vendors are closed due to COVID-19.)

I started looking for photographers and stumbled upon Opus Events, an events and elopement planner here in LA. 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 gave me a list of suggestions that were available, and we settled on Arlington Garden in Pasadena. It was a small but stunning garden and all they required was a photography permit that could be purchased online. She coordinated all the details with the photographer and officiant and all we had to do was show up!

Because I am a little extra and I really wanted wedding cake, she set up a gorgeous mini reception for us. I love to bake, so made a simple little cake for us, decorated with some of the same flowers in my bouquet. She bought in a bag of extra decor and wildflowers to make it even more memorable. We couldn’t do a champagne toast because alcohol wasn’t allowed, but we did get really great cake cutting photos!

Don’t have the budget for a planner? You can totally pull together your own elopement. Just research parks, gardens, beaches, or even gorgeous streets with pretty doors! Once you have a marriage license + 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!

Tell me, in as much or little detail about finding a dress, accessories, shoes…. but also what did the groom wear?!

I luckily already had my city hall outfit planned and altered since January so that was no problem! I found my ball skirt on Amazon and lace t-shirt from BHLDN (hemmed into a crop top in alterations). And I had to rock these blue satin Manolo Blahniks! I decided to add a pair of bridal gloves for a little corona accessory, so scouted those on Amazon. It was pretty hard to find gloves that weren’t awful and tacky! There was so much overly shiny satin, bad beading, and gloves that looked like they were straight out of my aunt’s church. Since shipping times are delayed, I ordered about 15 options (filtered for free returns) and ended up wearing this dainty tulle pair.

Read More about Malikah’s styling here:

How to Plan an Elopement

I definitely think bridal gloves should make a comeback, and hopefully next season the design options will get better! One of my bridesmaids sent me the hair accessory from Happily Ever Borrowed, which is basically Rent the Runway for bridal accessories. I did my own hair and makeup of course, and put together a bouquet with whatever I found at the grocery store. I finished the look with a combination of classic stud earrings. I have 5 piercings, so I wore a pair of Tiffany pearls he got me on Christmas, and a set of Swarovski studs.

The groom wore one of his favorite grey suits and red ties, and luckily his barber took a house call so he could get his hair cut!

Do you think other couples can pull this off!

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. You might fall just fall in love, again!

Thank you so much Malikah! Please, check out Malikah’s blog and catalog of goodness here! From more fashion, to travel and yes, wedding planning – you will not be disappointed. As much of a blOgG3r Malikah is, she’s a great teacher, inspiration and #blackgirlgoals.

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