The Emeline: A Beautiful Storytelling Photography Journey of Nontraditional Elopement

March 22, 2024

A New Years Eve Elopement at the boutique downtown Charleston hotel, The Emeline.

This whole experience was extremely challenging, but also pushed me creatively. It was very different than any other kind of wedding or portrait session I've ever done—not only because it was an indoor wedding (when I normally stick to outdoors), but also because it happned to be at night. Indoors at night equals a lot of darkness for someone who works primarily with natural light, but I knew this was a challenge I wanted to tackle—one that would be so worth it at the end for myself and for my clients.

When Joy first reached out, she told me that this was going to be a very different kind of elopement. So of course, I was all in. I'm all about embracing the nontraditional. She was pretty clear on the look she was going for, which was moody Christmas glam. Because the ceremony was going to be on New Years Eve, we were banking on some Christmas lights still being up, or at least a few Christmas decorations (and there were... kinda).

Originally, Joy and Jon were meant to be getting married during an intimate ceremony at a Great Gatbsy-themed event that The Emeline was having. So I was supposed to be meeting them at the hotel, taking photos of the first look and letter exchange, taking friends and family photos (the few that were invited), and finally bride/groom portraits. Then we'd be heading over to a pub, where I would take a few more photos and that would be it. They didn't want me to stay for the actually ceremony since it would be happening around midnight at the big event. Plus, it would be just a quick vow exchange done by their friend who got ordained.

Unfortunately, this was during the days of COVID and plans all of a sudden had to be adjusted.

The event ended up getting canceled a few days prior, which sent the whole wedding party into a bit of a scramble since that was the backdrop of the ceremony. Thankfully, it all worked out. The Emeline staff were able to provide the group with a semi-private room in their cozy restaurant and bar area near the extremely beautiful courtyard. We still were able to do all of our portraits, they were just mainly inside the hotel and lobby area.

Joy and Jon, along with their whole wedding party, were so much fun. That's why I think I love elopements so much. I mean of course there are stressors for every kind of wedding, but elopements generally feel more relaxed. Especially when you have a group of people who enthusiastically love each other and are determined to have a good time.

The sequin gowns the women wore matched the charming details of the hotel and made the night so unique. The hotel itself is perfect for portraits, thank goodness. Since I was shooting so out of my comfort zone, it was helpful to have such a rich setting be our backdrop.

I think it's important to challenge yourself to new things, as long as you pick something that feels right to branch out on. From the beginning, I could see the vision Joy wanted and it made me excited and willing to accept the challenge of doing something this unfamiliar to me.

While I don't do weddings or elopement photos anymore, I'll always have a soft spot for this shoot that stretched me so far out of my comfort zone. And I was right, the challenge of it all was so so worth it.