Jess & Robin – An Intimate Elopement With a Handful of Family Members

Elizabeth Ervin Photography USA Charleston South Carolina lesbian same-sex two brides COVID-19 small wedding elopement Dancing With Her (1)

A week before the wedding they tested positive for Covid – talk about pre-wedding day stress! Thankfully, their day still came together perfectly!

Tell us your favorite memory together.

We’ve been on many fantastic travel adventures together, but one memory stands out when we went to Big Sur. We stayed in a treehouse-like cabin, and every morning we would hike up the side of the ridge, plop down with our coffees, and watch the whales lazily swim past us in the Pacific. It was incredible. (And the coffee was pretty good, too.)

Tell us about the proposal.

In January 2020, we took a weekend trip out to the tip of Long Island, where we each separately planned to propose (unbeknownst to each other). After an afternoon at the wineries, we hiked out to a pebbled beach. At one point on the hike, Jess pretended to have to pee and went behind a bush. Both of us used that moment to move the rings in our coats to a more easily accessible location. Once we got out to the beach, we sat on the rocks and watched the waves, and Jess managed to ask first. Robin said yes, then pulled a ring of her own out of her pocket and totally surprised Jess. It was perfect. We went back to the inn, drank wine, played scrabble, and kept it secret until the next day when we called our families to tell them. 

The lead up to the wedding was stressfull, and we want all the details.

Well, we tested positive for COVID one week before our wedding! So fun and not stressful at all! It ended up being ok though; we followed the CDC guidelines and went into full quarantine, and our symptoms stayed relatively mild. Fortunately, based on when our symptoms had started, our quarantine ended the day before our wedding, and we both felt fine. 

It was tough missing out on the pre-wedding activities we had planned (including Thanksgiving dinner) with our families, but we made the most of it with marathon movie screenings, and plenty of food dropped off from our friends and family. If one had to find the silver lining of having COVID before your wedding, it was kind of nice having some forced downtime before the big day.

It’s lucky that you made it to the wedding day! Speaking of, tell us about the day.

It was so lovely! Our moms and Jess’s sister-in-law, Alli, came over to our house in the morning for some mimosas and to have our hair and makeup done. After that, the two of us met up with Lizzie, our fantastic photographer, and took a stroll around the city. The light was gorgeous, and the temperature was perfect, and the two of us felt so at ease with Lizzie, which is a big feat since we both hate having our picture taken. 

After that, we went back home to rest for a minute before our planned solo walk over to the carriage house, where our ceremony would be three blocks away. On that walkover, as we turned the corner, we were met with a bunch of friends who had lined up along the sidewalk, all masked up and six feet away from each other, clad with party hats and pots and pans; hootin’ and hollerin’ for us! It was just the best feeling ever. One of our friends even brought her trumpet and played us a little wedding tune! 

The ceremony itself was beautiful and intimate. With just our parents and siblings in attendance (plus a Zoom setup), we were married by our fathers in the courtyard of a historic carriage house. Each of our brothers did a short reading, and our dads took turns with the officiating. It was pretty cute. 

After the ceremony, we had an astoundingly delicious dinner made by chef BJ Dennis. You could call BJ a culinary preservationist; he cooks in his ancestors’ Gullah Geechee style using the freshest, most local ingredients. He’s also the kindest, most down-to-earth guy. We felt really lucky to have him there on our big day. And he cooked dinner for Jess’s brother’s wedding a few months prior, so it had sort of become a new tradition.

Advice for other couples planning a smaller wedding?

Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you have to take care of everything. Let other people lean in to help with things, and don’t be afraid to ask!


Photography by Elizabeth Ervin

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Dancing With Her is created on the beautiful land of the Bundjalung Nation. We acknowledge that we have benefited from the colonialism which dispossessed the Bundjalung People of their land and culture, and pay our respects to Bundjalung elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge sovereignty was never ceded. The land we live and work on is Aboriginal Land.

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