Some Crazy Press, Rumors and a Little Elopement Love Story, by Amy Jones
It's been about forever since I graced this blog with my thoughts, as my incredible Public Relations & Social Media Manager Lexi has been blogging away our weddings allowing me to design and tend to our clients. I've had some awesome changes in my life recently and also received some crazy press for it! The New York Times, a couple quick splashes on Good Morning America and The Times London to name a few. It's been fun, but potentially conveying that me, owner & creative director of Amy Champagne Events, a wedding planner, is telling couples to forget a wedding and to run away an elope.
That is not the case.
The term 'elopement' needs modernization. Considering the evolution of weddings and marriages, elopements should follow. Many of the clients I work with want awesome, unique weddings, with surprises and new traditions anywhere but a wedding factory. I love that; working outside of the box is what fulfills me. We have had clients that 'elope' with 20 of their closest family and friends and have a killer reception when they returned home. My high school boyfriend married an amazing girl (from high school!) in upstate New York and kept their marriage secret for A YEAR before telling friends and family. He shared a power point he had put together with everyone (it was awesome) and few months after they had a huge party. The reason to "elope" or have a less than traditional wedding largely depends on the couple, what they are looking to do and how they want to start their lives together
In May 2016, I met Rich rather fortuitously while on a surfing trip with my cousin Anna and friend Colleen in Costa Rica. The original plan was for us to fly back to the US on the morning I met Rich, however an overnight price surge forced us to bump our trip by a day. That day that would become one of the best in my life to date. Rich landed in CR the night before we met, which concurrently Anna, Colleen, and myself had some spur of the moment plans pop up which led us dancing the night away to old 90's hits and subsequently missing my 8:00am surf lesson. When I causally rolled in at 10:00am (I mean its Costa Rica, ¡pure vida! right?) my surf instructor wasn't thrilled. We grabbed some boards and we hit the water. My instructor basically left me in the water and I just surfed solo for a bit. Then, this exceptionally handsome man asked how I was doing. I turned around wondering if it was his wife he was talking to. No wife. Single. (in hindsight I should have played the lottery that day, but maybe not because you can't get that lucky twice). We chatted in the water, all basic first date questions, where are you from? What do you do? Kids? House? Did you watch Breaking Bad? oh and what's your name? Rich. The conversation was pretty effortless and in between catching waves and chatting, almost 2 hours went by. Anna & Colleen were on the beach just waiting (talk about wing ladies!). Rich had to get to his surf lesson and I needed to get some delicious Costa Rican coffee stat. We decided to meet up later with his friend and mine and he memorized my number as you generally don't surf with a cell phone or a pen.
In Costa Rica, there is basically one bar that is popular per night, Monday nights it was the discoteca and it doesn't even open until 10pm. Rich and I chatted a little earlier in the day and with being the last night we were there I was spent from surfing, being out late the night before and I fell asleep fully clothed at 9pm. Colleen was snoozing and Anna didn't want to spend the last night in the hotel (not that I blame her, its not exactly the Four Seasons in Tamarindo). At about 9:30 I received a text from Rich that gave me the equivalent adrenaline of drinking about 4 Red Bulls back to back. Long story long, we ended up meeting that night at the bar, talking for hours after we left and agreeing to meet in the morning to surf before my flight back. I challenged him to a wave competition and the loser had to drive to the other for the first date in the US. I lost. And never more thrilled.
After our first date at home, I called my best friend Liz and Will Talamelli on the glorious New Jersey Turnpike (where I would spend a calculable amount of time for that remaining year, and I suppose for the rest of my life now!) that I undeniably just went on my last first date and that I was going to marry him. I was in love from the beginning, and pepper in our made for a rom com way of meeting? I was done. I would marry him or become a nun. That's what I told people and I still believe it. We dated long distance for as long as we could, I made his kitchen table my satellite office and would frequently leave weddings at 12am just to hit the turnpike to be able to spend the full day Sunday together. One time while working a wedding in Virginia Beach with Cait & Jules I canceled my return flight, rented a car and drove 6 hours just to be able to spend about 5 more hours than I would have had I flown into LGA as planned.
By the time Fall rolled around, weddings began to slow down and the beach days came to an end, I met my now amazing step son (which while terrifying, went swimmingly). Things became very very real and discussions of the future began. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, I was going to move to New Jersey and we were going to be married. But when? And how? and a wedding? An important detail to the reason we opted out of a wedding was because we both already had one. My dad already walked me down the aisle and we had our father/daughter dance, which is still so special to me and didn't need to be repeated. Furthermore, when I told my dad that we were eloping he said "good, need a ride to the airport?" my goodness, I love that guy. Second weddings are some of my favorite to plan and they are awesome but it wasn't right for us. Additionally, for me to plan my own wedding not only would it distract from the weddings I plan for ACE, it would also have pushed out our nuptials out and complicate things for me. Who would I buy my dress from? Who would document it? Where would I have it? Who would we invite??! I have so many friends in the wedding world that I wouldn't want to make those decisions ever! We ran some numbers and played with a few options and ultimately landed on heading back to Costa Rica, where we met not even one year before. It was perfect. And for those personal reasons we decided to elope.
Our elopement was perfectly imperfect. However I was reminded of the stress but excitement my clients go through when committing their lives to someone. I didn't have a guest list but I still hired a photographer, an officiant, planned where to be married, bought rings, found a dress (after ordering no lie, 7), and I moved from South Norwalk, Connecticut to southern New Jersey into a house that was already being lived in. I sold/gave away/threw away SO much of my stuff, worked out our pre-nuptial agreement (we may be stupid in love but we aren't stupid) and all of the while maintaining the business with our current weddings and during design proposal season. It was busy but exciting and a good reminder of what clients are worried about aside from the wedding itself.
When we were in Costa Rica and "our day" was approaching, Richard turned to me in the cabana the day before and told me that he never formally proposed to me. He proposed, I cried a little and said no....oh, you're still reading, good. The next day was filled with morning surfing, I was stung by a jelly fish, and hanging by the pool until it was time for me to head upstairs to wash the sea water bird's nest of a mane I had brewing. It was in that moment that I missed everyone. I missed my mom, my best friend, I missed Linds and I wished she was there to confirm everything for me. I missed having a hair & makeup crew too! I had to write out my vows that were drafted on my laptop which elicited major waterworks. Our ceremony was a whirlwind blur, a mix of "is this really happening?" and truly never being more present in my life. I remember when we found the spot that we stood and exchanged vows I looked at Rich and an inexplicable wave of emotion went through me and I cried. When Rich said his vows, I knew that I would never remember what he said (he shot from the hip and I wrote mine out) but I would never forget the way that he looked at me, I'll never forget the crackle in his voice and his hazel eyes welled with tears. When it was time to say my vows I was thankful for having worked on them for the past few weeks otherwise I would have been Vince Vaughn in Four Christmases when he was interviewed on TV and just a few muttered sounds came out. I promised all of the normal things of course, I told him the special things that I love about him that maybe no one else notices and told him how much I loved his son, and our relationship and how thankful I am to now have him in my life. Que major, ugly, stomach gasping for air tears. After we kissed, we walked over to the water to one of the most incredible sunsets, we had planned to head over the Witch's Rock where we met to take a few photos but Rich dared me to jump in the water instead. Once again I lost when we defaulted to my means of making all major decisions: rock, paper, scissor and into the water we went.
Photo Credit to the amazing Christopher Alpízar of Crissorama:
The remainder of the night was low key having been truly emotionally and physically exhausted (and starving! I didn't eat all day - hello nerves), we had dinner at a very slow restaurant that took about 5 hours to get 2 meals out and we danced to "our song"- I Found You by Alabama Shakes in our skivvies on the balcony of our room. The rest of the trip I kept staring at my ring as if everything was a dream, it wasn't. I couldn't be happier, however we were on the brink of some adjustments when we were to return home.
When we returned home, I officially became a step-mom (whoa whoa whoa, more on that perhaps one day) and wife again, I needed to begin to expand (NOT MOVE) my business to the Philadelphia and New Jersey area. My new schedule of operating a Connecticut based business from southern New Jersey began to take shape. Once the announcement of our marriage hit my personal social media we began hearing some rumblings that:
- Amy Champagne Events is on a sabbatical
- FALSE, we are expanding our reach! Further more, we were fully booked for 2017 by about April this year and we are just about half way booked for 2018 already!
- Amy Champagne Events is moving out of Connecticut
- FALSE, we just re-signed our lease at our amazing Milford, Connecticut office. Linds is there plugging away about 3-4 days a week at least and you could see me burning the midnight oil every few weeks when I am Connecticut!
- Amy Champagne Events has shared office space in New York City & Philadelphia
- TRUE, ACE has had an office in midtown Manhattan since 2015, and while the address has changed we still do. Additionally, you could find me working in Center City Philadelphia as well! We are all over!
I love writing blog posts as if they were book reports, I'm not sure why but it makes me laugh. In case you perused this novel length soliloquy to the end here is the recap: I got married, if a couple wants to elope they totally should, if they want to have an awesome wedding with friends and family they TOTALLY should, Amy Champagne Events is expanding to Philadelphia and New Jersey however Connecticut and New York will remains our primary market. I love my husband, my step son, my family, my amazing Amy Champagne Events crew, my clients and my "job". I am grateful, and also grateful to set the record straight.
Until next time,
The Amazing Vendors:
Event Design + Coordination: Amy Champagne Events | Photography: Crissorama | Florals: Events ARTesanos | Amy's Ring: Custom designed & made by a client alum & 2018 client's family owned jewelry store: Addessi Jewelers | Rich's Ring: Peacefield Titanium (Made from a designer outside of State College where Rich went to Penn State and with wood that is from central America!) | Caterer: restaurant at the hotel | Music: Caribbean Sound Satellite Radio at the Restaurant | Hair & Makeup: Me & Costa Rica High Humidity| Transportation: Rich doing his best to drive a crummy manual rental car. He only stalled 3 times!!