These Two Nurses Had The Most Emotional Big Sur Elopement Ceremony

These Two Nurses Had The Most Emotional Big Sur Elopement Ceremony

It’s not every day we talk to two nurses who had their original elopement plans turned upside down because of a global pandemic. Sarah and Neil had the most emotional and romantic Big Sur elopement ceremony after changing their plans multiple times. They give us the inside scoop from their special day, and their photographer breaks down everything you need to know to plan your own Big Sur elopement.

Are you ready to start planning your elopement together? Team up with our featured elopement vendors to get started.

Planning a Big Sur Wedding Adventure

Big Sur is actually very restrictive when it comes to where you can elope and what you can and cannot do, Sebastian, the photographer, tells us.

“A special event permit is required, no more than 10 people, can’t block visitor’s access, no seating, no music, no flower except the bride’s bouquet, no other vendors more than 1 officiant / 1 planner / 1 photographer, no food or drink…” [Sebastian]

With more couples learning what it means to elope, comes the importance of popular places, like Big Sur, to implement strict rules and permit guidelines. At Wandering Weddings, we are all about leaving no trace (LNT). Make sure to ask your elopement team the importance of leaving no trace during your wedding day, and what you can do.

Check out our Big Sur elopement guide if you’re thinking about planning here.

Note to photographers shooting in Big Sur: “The light is always tricky when you are a more moody photographer. Make sure to time things right between the driving, the walking, and the time you need to make your couple at ease with you!” [Sebastian]

Details From This Emotional Big Sur Elopement Ceremony

This Big Sur elopement is THE inspiration if you’re planning to elope with just the two of you. Neil and Sarah got ready and exchanged vows with the most epic view. Then they had a romantic picnic at Garrapata Beach and explored some more.

“Sarah’s dream was to have her elopement cake on the beach. As we were not allowed to have any decoration during their ceremony, we decided to have one for their cake that was easy to set up and fold down. We made sure to leave no trace behind us.” [Sebastian]

Besides having a picnic, some other ideas you both can do during your elopement include having a bonfire, getting a tattoo together, camp in a van…The options are endless!

Picking an Elopement Location

At the beginning of their elopement planning journey, Neil and Sarah booked a trip to Santorini for their wedding. These two went full out and booked a cave house in Oia, planned to see a beautiful sunset, and then mapped out a European trip to Santorini, Amsterdam, the Amalfi Coast, and Barcelona.

However, when the pandemic started, and their plans changed. At first, they considered eloping in Rocky Mountain, but a lot of potential elopement locations were closed for the winter season.

“At some point, I recalled the Big Sur Marathon from back in my running days. It was known as one of the prettiest road races in the country. I googled some images, looked at elopement photography in the area, and was immediately sold. Then I texted my wife some pictures and that’s all it really took. I didn’t think it was possible for an area to be more beautiful than the pictures we had seen of Big Sur…I was wrong. The pictures cannot begin to do the area justice.” [Neil]

Are you thinking about eloping somewhere else in California? Check out our favorite places to elope in California.

Dealing With Last Minute Elopement Changes

Neil tells us Sarah and himself had to change their original plans multiple times before finally planning their Big Sur elopement ceremony together. He tells us it was “comical” how fast things fell apart. Their plans started in Greece and ended in central California.

After spending days looking through photographers, they found one, but he wasn’t available for their elopement day.

“Despite that, he built a list of photographers with that day available and sent me the list. Besides one name he noted ‘amazing, I would let him shoot my own wedding…’. That person was Sebastien. Man, did we get so damn lucky? Honestly, in the days I had looked at photographers, Sebastien never came up. He lived in Sacramento, nearly 4 hours away, and I was mostly looking at photographers closer to Big Sur and the Bay area. I contacted Sebastien, we set up a zoom meeting, and my wife and I got off the zoom call and just smiled at each other and said, ‘Yeah, this is going to work out’.” [Neil]

Even hours before the ceremony, these two had to switch locations in Big Sur. It was a gorgeous day, but the coastal winds on the cliffs were intense! Despite last-minute changes, this Big Sur elopement ceremony is everything. This comes to show you how important it is to go with the changes during elopement planning and trust your vendors entirely.

Eloping During a Global Pandemic

For Neil and Sarah, even eloping was a little complicated because they are both nurses. Sarah works in the oncology (cancer) ward, and Neil works the Covid-19 unit full-time. However, these two wanted to elope even before the Covid outbreak began.

Neil tells us that their vendors were amazing at making their elopement come to life, despite the uncertainty during the start of the pandemic.

“I had concerns the people involved were going to be worried about Covid, especially considering I worked with that patient population. I was very upfront about that. For about a month before the wedding, I sat alone in a corner at work while an N95 mask for 13+ hours to avoid getting sick before my wedding. I wanted everyone involved to understand the risks, I wanted everyone to be safe. Everyone was 100% on board and made it happen despite it all.” [Neil]

He also tells us how all their vendors worked so seamlessly together, despite never working together previously. Make sure to check out the vendor list below to learn more about the team that helped this couple put everything together.

After all their changed plans, this couple’s elopement costs them under $10,000 including photographer, videographer, dress, ring, rentals, flights, Airbnb, hotels…everything. “And it all happened because everything fell apart for us and all the people mentioned here picked us up and made our day the best day ever.”

Check out our breakdown on elopement costs to see what you should consider when budgeting.

Memorable Moments During This Elopement

Photographer’s Memorable Moment:

From popping champagne to their emotional wedding vows overlooking Big Sur’s epic views. Neil and Sarah had an amazing wedding day together, and you can see the beautiful emotion from Sebastian’s images.

“The first one was when they popped their Champagne bottle. The imagery is sensational. But more than that, it was the carefree feeling that Sarah & Neil had at that time: end of the day, after eloping, the adrenaline is going down, and you let everything go. Their smiles and happiness were contagious. The second moment is when Neil cried during the first look. There is something, again, about letting it go and letting yourself feel the moment. These moments are priceless. They are the reasons why we are getting married.” [Sebastian]

Couple’s Memorable Moment:

For Neil and Sarah their most memorable moment was spending a beautiful day in one of the most gorgeous places on earth with each other, but so much more than that.

“It wouldn’t be the whole story. As I said, we really had to laugh at how perfect everything worked out despite so much going wrong. Honestly, the story of this wedding wasn’t my wife and I exchanging our vows, it was how everyone that was part of our wedding somehow made our day perfect in the middle of a global pandemic and despite never previously meeting each other. Hundreds and thousands of miles separated everyone that made this happen, but they all came together…all I did was send off some emails.

Sebastien set a timeline, scouted the locations, and put together an amazing collection of memories that documented our day. Amy filled that day with all the wonderful tiny details you seen photographed. And I would be remised if I didn’t mention our Videographer, David with Capture Colour videography, who helped pack things around, managed multiple video cameras, including an old super-8 film camera I encouraged him to play with, and still edited an amazing 6-minute video documenting the day. Everyone coming together to make the day stress-free and perfect were my favorite parts. The fact I refer to everyone by their first name really says it all.” [Neil]

Are you ready to team up with the best? Search our elopement vendors to get started.

Videography From This Big Sur Elopement Ceremony

Photography | Sebastien Bicard Photography
MUA | Blush Monterey 
Flowers | fleurs du soleil
Videography | Capture Colour Videography
Rentals | Kiss Me in Carmel  

Photos From This Big Sur Elopement Ceremony

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