$500 California Orange Grove Elopement: Nicole and Matthew

An orange grove in California provided a stunning backdrop for Nicole and Matthew’s $500 elopement.

Cost and distance made it difficult for the couple to imagine pulling off a large wedding with all their family and friends so they opted for a simple elopement in  San Juan Capistrano. After a sweet and tearful ceremony, the couple showed off their quirky side by donning Stars Wars masks for a few photo ops.

Special thanks to Kathleen Amelia Photography for sharing all the fun photos with us.


Nicole, 26 & Matthew, 26

San Juan Capistrano, CA 

Wedding Date: August 28, 2013

Number of Guests: 0

Wedding Cost: $500

Wedding Ceremony Location: Northwest Open Space, San Juan Capistrano

Wedding Reception Location: same

wedding rings on oranges bride and groom in orange grove groom with arm tattoos bride and groom in orange grove gold rose bouquet

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

Cost was the main reason, and doing it in California prevented lots of family and friends from being able to attend so we kept it a secret and only told really close family about our plans.

orange tree in San Juan Capistrano groom in blue shirt and black vest bride in pink cardigan groom in black tie bride with pastel nails and gold rose bouquet

What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

I think my problem was I was doing very little for it anyways and so I waited until the very last minute which is never good.

San Juan Capistrano elopement black and white couple portrait bride in pink cardigan with gold rose bouquet bride and groom holding hands bride with pink cardigan and groom with arm tattoos Orange County elopement portrait bride and groom walking in orange grove wooden elopement ceremony backdrop elopement ceremony in an orange grove

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

I cried hearing his vows to me again, but I’m a big cry baby. The highlight was being told we were husband and wife; soaking in that fact alone was amazing.

Orange County elopement ceremony bride saying her vows bride placing ring on groom's finger California elopement ceremomy bride and groom first kiss Orange grove elopement ceremony bride and groom in front of wooden ceremomy back drop bride and groom kissing in front of ceremony backdrop

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Having way less stress made it so we could enjoy the moment and ourselves a lot more.

bride and groom walking away from ceremony site bride and groom holding hands tattooed groom hugging bride bride and groom walking through orange grove intimate bride and groom portrait


bride and groom in star wars masks groom in Darth Vader mask bride in Star Wars helmet bride and groom in Star Wars masks

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

I say do what your heart desires and pay attention to everything you’d want to remember, not what you think others want to see.

bride and groom walking away bride and groom walking through orange grove


Photographer: Kathleen Amelia Photography

Dress: David’s Bridal

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2 Comments  |  Filed Under: Budget Weddings ($10,000 or less), Elopements, Real Weddings

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  1. Posted by Andree K. on December 26th, 2013 at 10:40pm

    I love the use of those classic, California oranges. It made me really miss the Golden Coast.
  2. Posted by Christina on September 22nd, 2014 at 2:37pm

    That bouquet is stunning!!!! Can you please tell me where its from?
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