Embracing Nature’s Beauty & Culture: Jay & Caitlin’s New Mexico Elopement

Embracing Nature’s Beauty & Culture: Jay & Caitlin’s New Mexico Elopement

In the heart of San Ysidro, New Mexico, Jay and Caitlin planned an intimate elopement with their parents. Their ceremony was rich in culture, showing other couples how you can personalize your elopement experience, including traditions and culture how you want to. For more details, check out their elopement story below.

Are you ready to elope? Check out our New Mexico elopement guide to get started.

Unique Ceremonies and Traditions

Photography by Crystal Cousin Photo

Jay and Caitlin’s ceremony was a blend of cultural influences, featuring a Native American Four Direction Ceremony and an African tradition of Tasting The Four Elements—spicy, sour, sweet, and bitter. Crystal highlights the significance of these moments, emphasizing the couple’s desire for a ceremony that resonated with their artistic souls.

Jay and Caitlin came from New York to New Mexico to elope. They brought both of their parents with them who live all over the US, so NM was a great middle ground. They drove in separate cars and had their first look near the parking lot, and then we all did a short hike to get to their ceremony site. Their ceremony incorporated a few unique elements. First, they did a Four Direction Ceremony which is a Native American blessing of the four directions, and toward the end they also had an African tradition of Tasing The Four Elements (spicy, sour, sweet and bitter). After wrapping up their ceremony, we did some photos with the parents before they headed over to the dinner location, and then finally some really sweet couples photos with the beautiful views!” [Crystal, the photographer]

Check out these elopement ceremony ideas.

A Location Like No Other – BLM in New Mexico

Crystal shares insights into the elopement location, nestled on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. A 10-minute drive on a dirt road followed by a brief hike led the couple to their ceremony site. The couple’s decision to elope on a weekday allowed them to have a more secluded experience, surrounded only by the vast beauty of San Ysidro. As Crystal advises, a flat shoe for the walk is recommended, considering the rocky terrain, and extra water is a must to combat the New Mexico dry heat.

This area is on BLM land and you don’t need a permit. There are also no reservations here, so if you plan to get married here it is possible you may run into a different couple or group, though I have only seen someone else there once. Being respectful if there is another party there is key so you all can enjoy the beautiful space.” [Crystal, the photographer]

Learn how to leave no trace during your wedding.

Reason to Elope

The couple sheds light on their decision to elope, emphasizing the logistical challenges of gathering friends and family spread across the country. New Mexico held sentimental value, as it was the destination of their first road trip together. The planning process involved meticulous details, including choosing the right officiant, incorporating personal elements into the ceremony, and creating a mood board that captured the essence of their love.

New Mexico is a special place for us because the first trip we took together as a couple was a road trip from LA, where we were living at the time, to Albuquerque. That trip was my first time in New Mexico and It’s hard not to fall in love with the  beauty and vastness of the landscape. For us it’s a place of reflection, new beginnings, and also, I think, a scene that conjures the eternal in evoking the idea of geologic time. Choosing New Mexico for our elopement was also a good way for us to have another opportunity to explore—revisiting places we love and discovering new ones.” [Cait, the bride]

Explore these reasons to elope.

A Collaborative and Meaningful Experience

Caitlin expresses gratitude for the collaboration with professionals who took the time to understand their vision. The couple’s ability to focus on each other and personalize the ceremony made their elopement representative and unique. Crystal, their photographer, helped plan their day including location details and other logistics. While their officiant, Carrie, helped create a meaningful ceremony for them.

“Our officiant asked us some personal questions and wanted to know real details about Cait and I. It was great to share those moments with her before hand. We ended up paying homage to the land and incorporated this into our ceremony. The elopement felt like we were blending our natural aesthetics and our love of New Mexico together. It shows up in our Mood board we built to establish the stylings and wardrobe. “Between Earth and sky” was the idea and so it was real pretty medley of natural blues, sand, and earth.”  [Jay, the groom]

Memorable Moments During This Elopement

From the photographer:

I think it was really special that both of their moms and dads could make it out, that was important for the couple. I believe, including J+C in NY, they all live in 4 different states all over the US, so it was great that the travel plans all worked out.”

From the couple:

Jay: “For me it was the Four Taste bit in the ceremony. We adopted this West African tradition from the Yoruba tribes that represents the 4 aspects of a marriage- Sweet, Bitter Spicy, Sour.  Through each of these moments, our parent had to swear to support us through it all. Takes a village sort of thing…”

Cait: “We chose to write our vows, and I found it to be beautiful and clarifying in my own process and a special part to the ceremony to read those vows to each other. It was also just such a perfect day to be outside—we had sun and dramatic clouds, then right at the finish of the ceremony there was a sprinkling of rain and a little later we turned around and saw a rainbow!”

Planning a Elopement That is For YOU

I loved that they didn’t wear the traditional wedding outfits. I always like to encourage my couples to do what they want, where what they want and invite who they want on their day. There is no right or wrong way to do any of this, so I never want couples to feel like they have to do a certain thing because it is ‘traditional’.” [Crystal, the photographer]

Learn how to elope here.


Photography | Crystal Cousin Photo
Officiant: Carrie | Threads Celebrations
Hair and Makeup | Something Ginger

Photos From This Ceremony

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