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Lora & Betsy had a vision in mind when they first contacted me about their dream elopement. They wanted to combine nature and architecture. Their perfect day included a hike amongst stunning mountain scenery, preferably with a lake, a mountain picnic drinking champagne and eating fresh bread and cheese with scenic views, followed by ending the day visiting a nearby town with beautiful historic buildings and a delicious dinner in a great restaurant.
When I asked them at the start of the planning process to describe how their ideal day looked and felt, they said “relaxed, bright, and glowing”. And when I look at their gorgeous photos and think about the day, it absolutely was. We hiked up to the lake where they said their vows shortly after sunrise as the mountains were bathed in a warm glow. They picnicked whilst drinking champagne and eating bread & cheese, and then we hiked back down and visited Brixen to enjoy the historic buildings. They ended the day returning to their hotel for a swim and spa session and a magnificent dinner at their incredible hotel, Forestis.
I’ll hand you over to L & B who will tell you more about their story and you look through their incredible day whilst you enjoy the photos from their incredible elopement:
How did you get engaged?
We had been talking about what our future looked like for 6 months leading up to the pandemic. Lockdowns, quarantines, and the new work-from-home life jump-started our process of living together and experiencing day-to-day life as a couple, but we still wanted to make a commitment. So in July of 2020, after some busy work weeks for the both of us, Lara finally got Betsy’s ring from the jeweler and was so excited that she planned an impromptu date night at a park as a surprise. She coordinated a neighbor boy to deliver flowers and a note (and to watch their fur-children), and coordinated another friend to drive Betsy to the park to meet her after work. Throughout the picnic, Betsy kept saying “can we go home now? We need to walk the dogs!” Thankfully, Lara was able to hold her off and as they talked more about what they wanted for their future during the picnic, Lara got down on one knee and popped the question. Happy tears from both of us were followed by a joking question from Lara “Now can we stay and enjoy this sunset and pop this bottle of champagne?”
Two months later, Lara and Betsy were enjoying a fall night in the backyard with a fire and a movie on the projector. Lora admittedly had been anxiously waiting for Betsy’s proposal – not an aspect of her planning brain she’s proud of, but it’s true. We decided to make some s’mores and watch another show after the movie, but Betsy “forgot” the chocolate inside. As Lora came back outside, she found Betsy standing at the bottom of the deck stairs, waiting, glowing from the string lights. Betsy proposed to Lora with Lora’s favorite Sara Bareilles song, “I choose you”, playing in the background. It was sweet and private and completely Betsy’s style.
How did you decide on your location?
After deciding we wanted to elope, we knew the general area available to us based on tacking our elopement to the back end of attending a friend’s wedding in Germany. Cat really helped us understand travel distances (and times) and narrow down what was most important to us for the day. We knew we wanted it to be private and outside. In the process of researching, we fell in love with the views of the Dolomites and happened across some hiking trails with views from the north that were near the area of northern Italy we were calling home for that leg of the trip.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in planning your elopement?
I think our biggest challenge was the decision to elope, but it’s also one we definitely don’t regret. We have friends and family that we wanted to share these moments with, but unfortunately many like LGBTQ couples, we also had concerns about some who may have attended and their views causing unnecessary stress for us on a day meant for celebrating our love. Or their choice to perhaps not attend at all and the potential hurt that would have caused. In the end, we decided to focus on us and make it just the two of us and we couldn’t be happier with that decision. We asked friends and family to write us letters to read on the day, as a small way of having them with us as we start the next chapter together. The letters and the process let us go at our own pace and adapt as needed. We were able to spend the day, and the moments before and after, fully focused on each other and the life we are making.
What is your favorite memory from the day?
Lora: There are so many small moments throughout the day that come to mind, but all of them have to do with seeing Betsy glowing and happy. Hiking up the mountain with her, hand in hand, as the sun hits her face. Seeing her in her dress for the first time as we rounded the corners of the hiking hut. Laughing with her as we navigated her train + hiking boots. Her smile as we shared our vows. Seeing her eyes twinkle as I called her “wife” for the first time. Her happiness is infectious and life-giving.
Betsy: I really enjoyed the whole hike and several moments throughout the day. It was such a beautiful day! But I think my favorite was our first look moments and I am so glad we did it the way we did. Seeing her come around the corner in her dress, glowing in the sunlight was pretty amazing!
Is there anything you are really glad you did? Or didn’t you do?
We are glad we worked with Cat (and gut-checked with each other) about the distances to places and planning the way we spent our time on our elopement day. We had originally hoped to go farther into the Dolomites, but decided we wanted to spend more time relaxing together outdoors vs driving in a car to get to different places. It also gave us time to have a picnic near where we read our vows: take a moment to soak it in, drink some champagne, and enjoy the views as we start the next chapter of our adventure together.
We’re also so glad we asked for letters. We wouldn’t trade the calm of being able to focus on just us on our special day, but it was wonderful to read loving words of support from those we love back home.
What advice would you give to other couples planning their wedding?
Focus on you! At the end of the day, this is about how you and your partner start the next chapter of your lives together. If you want to have people there, great. If you want to ski into the sunset, have at it. If you want to experience those moments, just the two of you, perfect. Do what brings the two of you joy, because this is a celebration of you, your lives, and your growing love.
What wedding planning resources did you use whilst planning your elopement (if any)?
We used Instagram for location scouting (and that’s also how we found Cat!) and hair and makeup ideas. We used Pinterest for early dress ideas and a general mood understanding of what we were hoping to experience and capture on the day. Other than that, despite Lora’s nonstop planning brain, we tried to make space for spontaneity and simply enjoy the process of the day together.
What was your favorite thing about working with Cat?
Cat was so wonderful to work with. Her knowledge of the area – and willingness to go test-hike the route since she had not been there before either – helped calm Lora’s planning nerves. She knew when to help guide us for certain pictures vs when to step back and let us have private moments. She was able to answer a variety of logistical questions like how to best pack the dresses and ability to hike down after the ceremony, as well as help us maintain focus on the importance of the day: spending time together with each other in the ways we enjoy as we promise and plan our future together.
Hotel – Forestis Dolomites
Hair & Makeup – Ulli Thomaseth & Viki Aichner