Destination Weddings/Modern Weddings

Morocco to NYC, A Cool Two-Part Elopement

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 53

Today’s real wedding isn’t really one of those occasions that will give you ideas for your bouquet, your wedding dress or your table decor.

It’s inspirational in a whole other kind of way – its concept.

Anna & Zahlen eloped in the desert outside Marrakech with just a few friends, before heading to NYC for a civil ceremony and impromptu party. They decided to do things exactly their own way, and get married as they would if they’d never seen or heard of a wedding before – how cool is that!

One of our fave photographers (who always happens to shoot the most fun weddings!) Claire Eliza was with them all the way to capture the story of their unique celebration.

And we’re so glad we get to share it with you, this one is truly special.

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 48

Our Love Story

We actually went to the same grade school. While I left the year Zahlen started, I remember his siblings and so there was a familiarity when we met in our thirties, years later.

He claims to have remembered me from visiting the school, but I am convinced that was just a line to get me to go out with him…

The proposal was perfect. Zahlen pretended to show me an office building he was looking at for his company, so I was completely surprised when he instead veered me down to the dock at Lake Union and we got on a sea plane headed for Orcas Island.

As soon as the plane showed up, I assumed he must be proposing, but instead he kept me on my toes with a series of fun adventures before popping the question on a hike along the water.

My favorite part is he had his old red pick up truck waiting for us when we got off the plane on Orcas – he had woken up at 4 am the morning before to drive it there and hitchhiked home to arrive in time for work. AND he still is in contact with the guy who gave him a ride back to Seattle!

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 45
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 44
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 46
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 39
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 52

Our Wedding

The idea of planning a wedding sounded a bit stressful to us so when two of our closest friends mentioned they were heading to Morocco on vacation, we decided we couldn’t beat hopping on a plane and eloping in the desert of Morocco with a few of our besties.

After a little research, we quickly realized we couldn’t legally get married in Morocco and so I was able to realize my dream of getting married at the NYC courthouse on a stopover on our way home.

 

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 54
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 57
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 59
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 58
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 64

Morocco

Morocco was truly magical – we self-officiated the ceremony and included well wishes from our wonderful friends, followed by drinks and traditional Moroccan food down at the restaurant.

The place we got married was a very chic retreat with no electricity or wifi and a beautiful olive grove right in the middle of the desert outside Marrakech.

It was stress-free, spontaneous and very intimate, which felt exactly right to us.

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 65
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 41
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 68
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 70
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 40
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 73

The Attire

We made the decision to elope a few weeks before the wedding so I didn’t have a lot of options for dresses.

I ended up loving my Reformation dress for the Morocco portion and then wore a Rebecca Taylor jumpsuit for the NY ceremony.

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 76
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 42

New York

In NYC, we had my brother, his fiancé, my best friend and Zahlen’s sister and partner fly out to be our witnesses.

Getting married at the NYC courthouse lived up to all our expectations – a great combo of the DMV and classic, old school, timeless, New York City, but with a lot more love and smiles.

There were couples from so many different walks of life, religions, ages, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, all tying the knot together.

We said our “I dos”, we kissed, we popped champagne, and we celebrated just outside the courthouse with anyone who was walking by.

We reached out to some folks we knew in NYC, telling them we had just gotten married and to meet us later that night at Kings Distillery (a fabulous spot at the Brooklyn Navy Yard).

After a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a lovely dinner at Vinegar Hill House, many incredible toasts and a few cocktails, we caught up with whomever could show at the tasting room of the distillery.

It ended up being a totally random, really special group of people from all different parts of our lives for more toasts, merriment and celebration.

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 77

The Photography

As soon as I stumbled upon Claire Eliza’s photos, I knew it was exactly what I wanted!

We found Claire Eliza online when researching eloping in Morocco and it was fate that she happened to be from Seattle (where we are from), lived in NY and had shot weddings in Morocco.

I loved that her photos didn’t feel posed or forced – they felt really genuine and real and I loved her use of color and arrangement.

Luckily, we also loved her and having her as one of our people at the wedding was a bonus!

I think I noticed her taking maybe one or two photos the whole time so it was easy to just stay in the moment and have fun!

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 80
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 81

Favourite Moments

The wedding was exactly what I wanted and there were so many wonderful moments.

Saying our vows in the desert was definitely a highlight. It was such a small group of people that were so important to us so it felt like we really got to focus on being really honest and open about what we wanted out of our marriage.

Also, I forgot Zahlen’s ring in our room, which sent us all into giggles at the altar.

Another was getting married at the NYC courthouse. I had lived in NYC for my twenties and it was a really special place for me. Waiting in line with so many other people getting married was an unbeatable experience – a true test that love trumps hate.

And popping champagne in the hallway after with the guard cheering us on is a moment I will never forget.

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 82
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 43
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 84
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 85
Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 86

Advice for Other Couples

It is so easy to get caught up in the wedding process and I was so happy to just ignore all the things you are ‘supposed to do (or pay for!)’ and do it our way.

We looked at it as, if we had never been to a wedding before, how would we design taking this next step together.

We didn’t care about flowers or cutesy signs, so we just skipped all that stuff and it saved us a lot of stress! For us, what mattered was adventure, people we love, and honoring the things we love about each other.

When we paired it down to that, planning became very simple.

Cool Elopement by Claire Eliza Photography 90
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