We all know the saying. “When life gives you lemons…” You could call it the unofficial mantra of couples whose wedding plans were dashed by a pandemic. For Dakota + Ben, they took a bummer of a situation and turned it into a light-hearted, fun, all-out celebration of a day! When plans changed, they decided to elope at the beautiful Santa Barbara Courthouse in Dakota’s hometown. Her uncle officiated and family members watched on Zoom as the vows unfolded.
From there, it was all about taking the simple things that Dakota + Ben loved and elevating them for a day that truly represented them. The city of Santa Barbara tells the story of their (often conflicting) love affair with the mountains and the ocean. And the buildings’ beautiful designs recalled the early days of their relationship, cooking together and listening to podcasts about architecture.
And let’s not forget the FUN aspect! Told through a cowgirl chic bridal look and one rad pair of socks, it’s hard not to grasp the rad personalities these two bring to the table.
Cowgirl Chic Bridal Style
The elopement took on a casual vibe when it had to be planned quickly due to COVID and immigration reasons. (Ben is Canadian and jokingly called the day an “eh-lopement” which YES.) For those reasons, Dakota had to find a dress fast! The search for the perfect short wedding dress had her, well, coming up short. Until a friend found this cutie online from VICI, which, she laughs, “cost less than my Ranjana Khan earrings!”
Dakota rocked the perfect “something blue” with those Steve Madden heels!
And speaking of footwear…Ben brought the “DK All Day” vibes (Dakota’s nickname) with all-white sneakers and socks adorned with his betrothed’s face! Love this idea? Get your own custom socks with your love’s face on here!
The Perfect Elopement Bouquet
When you’re eloping, the design details really only come down to three things: what you wear, where you elope, and the bouquet! Intrepid Floral Co pulled off a stunning bouquet filled with unique + organic pieces.
Dakota: Strangers were shouting down the whole street of the courthouse shouting "congratulations" or asking if we really just got married since it was in the midst of lockdown!
Ben: I arranged the best charcuterie board of my life, so picturesque with the cliffs behind us and the setting sun ahead of us. I thought it would be perfect for a moment of relaxation after the hectic experiences of the past few days. Well, we had to step away from the spread for a couple of quick photos. Within seconds a pack of beagles (yes, beagles) descended on the board, gobbling up the choicest aged manchego cheese and sourdough bread. Dakota claims she never saw me run so fast to try and (unsuccessfully) save the board.
Boots on the Beach
Dakota slipped into some white Shoe Me Your Mumu cowgirl boots and a hat after the vows! Her look was a nod to how they met at the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo in Alberta.
Yes, yes, yes to bridal sunnies!
And you know we love a bridal hat topped with blooms!
My advice for planning an elopement is to keep it fun, be creative, go with the flow, choose and stick to your vibe/flare (plus a couple of must-haves), and remind yourself what the day is really about — your love and partnership. Although our elopement didn't go the way we thought, we still made it memorable.
At any wedding, life will throw chaos your way. It will feel like you’re being pulled in a thousand directions, and your vision of the “perfect day” could be shattered no matter what you do. But with an elopement, just like in a marriage, the best thing you can do is stand together hand in hand in spite of the chaos. Step into it and know that your partner is all you need to make the journey special.
Such a fun day! Big congrats to Dakota + Ben from all of us at GWS!
photography: Ali Beck Photography // venue name: Santa Barbara Courthouse, Santa Barbara, California, USA // florals: Intrepid Floral Co // wedding dress: VICI // bride's shoes: Shoe Me Your Mumu // hair stylist: Janice Ramos // makeup artist: Janice Ramos // groom attire: Suit Supply // blue heels: Steve Madden // earrings: Ranjana Khan