Tina and Evan started planning a big wedding, but when it stopped being fun and became stressful, they decided to run away to San Francisco and elope instead. With only their photographer and their officiant in attendance, the couple exchanged vows they’d written themselves, on the picturesque grounds of their rental property before heading to the redwood forest of Muir Woods National Monument for a foggy and romantic photo session. They finished their perfect day with dinner for two at Wayfare Tavern. Sounds like a pretty perfect elopement if you ask us!

A huge thank you to Ryan Polei for sharing all the gorgeous photos with us today.

San Francisco Elopement

Tina & Evan

San Francisco, California

Wedding Date: June 25, 2013

Wedding Cost: under $10,000

Ceremony Location: Muir Woods (Breezeway by the Sea via airbnb.com)

Reception Location: Wayfare Tavern, San Francisco

muir woods boardwalk

Bride in Muir Woods

San Francisco Groom

bride and groom beneath a tree

Bride and groom kissing under veil

elopement in Muir Woods

Bride and groom fish-eye portrait

Bride and groom woodland portrait

Bride and groom portrait in Muir Woods

Wayfare Tavern

Why did you have an intimate elopement?

After adding up all the costs and stress associated with having a large wedding (we actually went as far as reserving a venue!), we started to wonder what we were doing it for. The more we planned, the more hectic the wedding day itinerary became, and it just wasn’t fun anymore. Rather than focus on coordinating venues and vendors, we decided to stay true to ourselves and run away to one of our favorite places. San Francisco is near and dear to our hearts and we knew it would be the perfect place to have our fairy tale ending – which I should add was much deserved after being together for nearly 11 years!

San Francisco Woodland Elopement

Wedding dress hanging up

bride getting dressed

Groom tying hi tie

bride putting on her earrings

bride wearing crystal necklace

bride putting on her shoes

groom in striped socks

Groom Portrait

bride on the balcony

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

Compared to planning a full-scale wedding, it was relatively easy. It was somewhat difficult reserving locations and vendors that we couldn’t meet/see in person, but everything worked out really well. Finding a location was tough since we wanted to hold the ceremony outside, but we found a gorgeous property on airbnb.com and the owners were more than accommodating. It was a lot of hours spent researching and emailing, but in the end it turned out perfectly!

Bride and Groom first look

First look session

bride and groom walking hand in hand

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Ha, not at all! Besides us, the only people we invited were our amazing photographer (Ryan Polei) and our wonderfully thoughtful officiant (Rick Kaplowitz). Though we hadn’t met either of them prior to the wedding day, you would have never known it. They both made us feel like we had known them for years, which added a special element to our day. Though we made the decision to elope, it was still hard not having family and friends around so we were very lucky to have such a great team.

wedding portrait in the wood

bride and groom portrait

bride and groom embracing in the woods

bride and groom kissing in the forest

woodland bridal portrait

groom picking up his bride

groom carrying his bride

groom throwing his bride over his shoulder

bride and groom kissing on observation deck

bride and groom walking through the fog

foggy bride and groom portrait

bride huggin groom

bride and groom walking along wooden path

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

I’m sure some family members were a little bit disappointed that we decided to elope, but everyone was very supportive. We also held a “send off party” for our friends and family to celebrate with us before we left, so we still did all the fun parts of a wedding – drinking, dancing, cake-cutting (well, pie in our case!). We thought about doing a party after the elopement, but decided that we wanted our friends and family to be part of the excitement. We got to have one last hoorah as Mister and Miss and it was definitely a night to remember!

San Francisco Elopement Ceremony

emotional bride

bride and groom holding hands during elopement ceremony

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

Fog! We originally chose California in part for the beautiful weather, so it was amusing that it was rainy and 50 degrees on the day of our wedding. Luckily, the rain stopped just in time for our ceremony and the sun even came out as we were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on our way into the city for the reception. In hindsight, we could not have been happier with the way the weather turned out. It made for some truly amazing photos.

bride and groom excited during ceremony

Bride and groom first kiss

bride and groom eloping in San Francisco

Bride and groom with Marriage Certificate

bride and groom with their wedding rings

What were the highlights of the reception? 

We had dinner at Wayfare Tavern on our wedding night. Aside from a great meal (best fried chicken…ever) and a truly gracious staff, it was nice to relax and enjoy our first meal as Mr. and Mrs.

San Francisco Skyline

Wayfare Tavern window

mounted stag head at Wayfare Tavern

What was the best thing about having an intimate elopement? 

We both wrote our own vows, so the ceremony was very personal and intimate. A lot of our friends have had big weddings and they’ve mentioned that it’s difficult for the bride and groom to enjoy themselves on the wedding day in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Our elopement was about us (and only us), so we enjoyed every minute of it!

elopement dinner at Wayfare Tavern

bride and groom at Wayfare tavern

bride and groom outside Wayfare tavern

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

Eloping was the best decision we ever made, but we realize it’s not for everyone. We made a few sacrifices not having family and friends around (who knew it would be so hard to put on a wedding dress alone?!) but the end result was exactly what we wanted…low stress, low fuss, and unbelievably romantic. Three pieces of advice I would give to those considering an elopement are: 1. Document, document, document. 2. Plan ahead 3. Don’t be afraid. There’s no better way to share your day with family and friends than with amazing photos and video, so it was a must have for us. Planning ahead also made our cross-country trip an easy endeavor, which no doubt contributed to the ease of our wedding day. Lastly, really think about what matters to you and don’t be afraid to disappoint others. At the end of the day it’s about the two of you and everyone else will understand!

Bride and groom kissing on San Francisco street at night


Photographer:  Ryan Polei

OfficiantRick Kaplowitz of Bay Area Ceremonies

Dress:  Sarah Seven

Groom’s Attire:  J.Crew & Cole Haan