The hardest part of planning an elopement for Jill Lavoie and Daniel Thoburn? Deciding to do it!
The Washington, D.C.-based pair was set to say “I do” in a romantic, urban celebration at a warehouse with 120 guests. But, like for many others, the coronavirus pandemic changed that: They canceled their original plan but didn’t want to put off being married.
Instead, they grabbed fresh flowers from a local market, bought a few bottles of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and wore clothes out of their closet. They set a date, August 8, 2020, with the D.C. courthouse for a Zoom ceremony, and invited only one guest: Jill’s best friend, who served as the witness and ring bearer. There was, of course, a photographer, too.
“It wasn’t easy deciding to elope but we are so happy we did it,” says Jill, who works as a merchandiser and sales manager. “Since it was the two of us, we got to pick our favorite places without having to think about logistics for 120 guests.”
That included a ceremony in the living room of their apartment near Dupont Circle with personalized vows and a reception on their speedboat, docked in Annapolis, Maryland, that involved a cheese and charcuterie picnic, plus lots of Champagne. Daniel, who works in recruiting, wore a suit he's owned for years, and Jill accented her look with a cathedral-length veil. They capped it all off by staying the night at The Line DC—complete with room service, of course.
“Eloping doesn’t mean sacrificing romance or the excitement of celebrating with friends and family,” Jill says. “We got to have a very intimate experience in a way you don’t get at a large wedding, and we are still so excited to celebrate with our friends and family at a future date.”
Read on for all of the details of Jill and Daniel’s D.C. romantic elopement, planned by the couple and photographed by Kir Tuben.
When the couple opted for an elopement, Jill knew just what to wear: a lace Stone Cold Fox mini-dress that she had originally planned to don for the wedding’s afterparty. She added a cathedral veil from Made With Love Bridal, a pair of Stuart Weitzman heels, and pearl earrings from Wwake. As an added perk, she adds that she got her first manicure-pedicure since February, when nail salons shut down in D.C., for the big day.
“Daniel had not seen the dress beforehand and was so surprised,” Jill says of their first look in the middle of their living room. He wore a suit from Mango he had had in his closet.
D.C. is a big part of the couple’s story. They first met on Tinder in 2014, and then met at a bar on 14th Street for a date night that didn’t end until they drank Champagne on Jill’s building’s rooftop. For their elopement, they wanted to make sure they told their story and highlighted parts of the city that are meaningful to them.
Jill and Daniel went to a local market to purchase flowers for the celebration. “While I was decorating the ‘altar,’ Daniel made me a small bouquet for the ceremony,” Jill says of her petite bouquet with a lily and baby’s breath. “He’s so thoughtful.”
To kick off the ceremony, the couple logged onto Zoom to be married by a judge at the D.C. courthouse.
To accent the ceremony space, Jill sourced potted plants from her apartment to frame the “altar.” They also added a pop of color just days before their nuptials: the couple painted the living room a bright blue hue. (Talk about an unexpected but stunning "something blue!")
At the last minute, Jill and Daniel decided to write their own vows. “We both wrote them in separate rooms the morning of the ceremony,” Jill says.
We aren’t too fussy; we wanted the moment to feel like it centered wholly around us.
“We aren’t too fussy; we wanted the moment to feel like it centered wholly around us,” Jill says of the intimate ceremony.
We were both crying and laughing. We had so many emotions. It was both hilarious and surreal to be getting married over Zoom.
“We were both crying and laughing,” Jill says. “We had so many emotions. It was both hilarious and surreal to be getting married over Zoom.”
The couple’s dog, Zoey, also made an appearance. In fact, Zoey was integral to Daniel’s plan to propose the prior year. Since the couple had taken Zoey on a hike as their second date, he insisted that he and Jill take Zoey on that same hike years later, when he, secretly, had a ring in hand. When they got to the same clearing where they had stopped on that original date, Daniel popped the question. “I just started yelling ‘yes!’ and totally ruined his speech,” Jill recalls.
“We wanted it to feel authentic, romantic, and simple,” Jill says of the relaxed and intimate elopement.
To further memorialize the place they met, fell in love, and still adore, the couple set off to take photos around their neighborhood. “Design is a big part of our lives,” Jill says. “I wanted this day to really capture the first place we lived as a couple, our home.”
Despite saying “I do” over Zoom, Jill and Daniel still plan to celebrate with family and friends when the time is right. She knows she can elope and still throw a party. “Eloping doesn’t mean sacrificing romance or the excitement of celebrating with friends and family,” she adds.
To keep their party of two going, the couple set off to Annapolis, Maryland, for a "reception" on their boat. That included a meat and cheese board, plus several glasses of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. From there, they headed to The Line DC. “Eating room service and drinking Champagne in bed at the end of the night was a blast,” Jill says.