A Sweet, Stylish Elopement at the Santa Barbara Courthouse

Planned by the couple.

couple

PHOTO BY LAUREN ORLOWSKI

 

Macy Orlowski, a wardrobe stylist, and Spencer Ela, a film studio executive and producer, first met on the set of a reality TV show, NBC’s "The Voice," in 2015. Little did they know that, in 2020, they'd be making their own dreams a reality.

After getting engaged in August 2019, the couple planned to marry on September 10, 2020, in an epic destination wedding at the beautiful Chateau De Mairy in the countryside of Champagne, France. However, thanks to COVID-19, they decided to postpone until 2022.

Then, their plans changed again. "With the exciting news that we were pregnant, we knew we didn’t want to wait any longer to make things official and become husband and wife," Macy explains. However, what exactly that wedding would look like was the question. "We went back-and-forth with doing a micro wedding and looked at every different option, but with the stress of undoing and postponing our original wedding, we ended up deciding to move forward with an intimate elopement," Macy explains. "It was the best decision for us as it kept things incredibly low stress, and we were able to be much more spontaneous about pulling it together last minute."

Ultimately, they eloped at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, still honoring their original wedding date, which they "had looked forward to for so long." "It was a very romantic and intimate way for us to continue moving forward with our lives and celebrate our love while making lemonade out of lemonade," recalls the bride. Keep reading for more on their elopement—including photos from the bride's sister!

bride
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

It’s playful puffy sleeves always resonated with me especially being a 90s kid that grew up watching 'Alice and Wonderland.'

bride
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

"My theme was ‘Queen of Hearts’ meets pregnant bride," Macy admits. While specific, she found the perfect attire to accomplish her vision in the "Caspian" gown by Odylyne The Ceremony. "It’s playful puffy sleeves always resonated with me especially being a 90s kid that grew up watching 'Alice and Wonderland,'" she says. The dress was originally intended to be her after-party dress. "But once I found out I was pregnant and our wedding was postponed due to COVID-19, I knew immediately this should be the dress I elope in and announce our pregnancy with," she adds.

It was not Macy's first experience with bridal fashion: She's worked as a freelance stylist at the" very chic bridal shop" LOHO Bride in Los Angeles since it opened back in 2015. "I've been very fortunate to get a very intimate look at many bridal collections over the years," she says. "It’s taught me a greater understanding of the bridal world of fashion and that there will always be timeless gowns and trendy gowns but, at the end of the day, all the really matters is choosing something you love that gives you confidence and makes you feel beautiful."

Naturally, when it came to her own wedding, Macy tapped owner Christy Baird to help pull together her look. "I felt very lucky to have Christy be by my side to help me curate all my looks for the wedding in France as well as our elopement," she says.

bride
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

She accessorized with earrings by Jennifer Behr, shoes by Kurt Geiger, and my ring from her sister, which acted as her “something old, borrowed, and blue." "It was very special to me," she recalls.

flowers
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

The final touch was a stand-out bouquet. "I really wanted my flowers and dress to speak the same language by being a little quirky and to feel fresh while just emoting happiness," she says." Under New MGMT brought this vision to life, even exceeding Macy's expectations. "My bouquet really became such a significant bright spot to the day and a conversation starter everywhere we went," she says. "I don’t know how she sourced some of those flowers but I still stare at the photos and call them 'my beautiful avatar flowers.'"

couple
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

"Since we were now eloping, I knew the focus in photos would be sole on me and Spencer, so we thought it would be important to bring together our individual styles to create our own spin on the classic bride/groom looks we often see out there," Macy explains. "We wanted to keep things playful and relaxed especially after such a hard year."

For Spencer, Macy selected white sneakers so he could be comfortable on the big day. As for his suit: That was a Zara find that Macy had tailored! "An old stylist trick is you can make anything look expensive with great tailoring," she shares.

couple
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

As mentioned, the ceremony took place at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. "The Santa Barbara Courthouse is one of the most beautiful courthouses in all of California, and it really fits our style and aesthetic so we decided to move forward with it as our Plan B," Macy says of their venue.

couple
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

"Don’t forget to make your own rules and be confident in throwing any old ones out that don’t work for you anymore," Macy advises. "These experiences and stories will be one for the books someday!! "

witness
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

Due to restrictions, the couple was only allowed to have one witness at the courthouse, so they asked Macy's sister Lauren Orlowski to be their witness—and photographer! "She's not a professional photographer or anything, but I showed her some mood boards of what I was looking for and she brilliantly captured our day for us and I edited all the photos myself," Macy says. However, even with Macy's sister there, the couple admits that the hardest part of planning was not being able to have their families with them. "We knew that we would eventually get to have our wedding in France and get to experience and share those classic ceremonial memories with our closest friends and family someday," Macy says.

couple at ceremony
Photo by Lauren Orlowski
couple
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

To that point, the couple decided to save their personal vows for their ceremony in France and instead read each other love notes during the elopement ceremony. "This ended up being very emotional and special to us," she says.

kiss
Photo by Lauren Orlowski
kiss
Photo by Lauren Orlowski 

Try your best to embrace this new normal with COVID-19 and allow yourself to grieve and feel any and all feelings about what could have been or should have been and then try to embrace what is.

kissing
Photo by Lauren Orlowski

The highlight of the day? "Our baby getting to hear our vows and Spencer kissing my belly after our first kiss," Macy exclaims.

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Macy and Spencer tackled planning their elopement—and, eventually, their ceremony in France—alone. While the two weddings will no doubt be different, Macy adds that there were several benefits to having an elopement. "A major bonus of eloping was being able to take our time with photos after the ceremony and not having to worry about 'missing out' on a cocktail hour or spending time with our guests," she says. "We were totally and completely present with one another, and I think it made our photos turn out even better because we were so relaxed!"

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Photo by Lauren Orlowski

After the elopement, the newlyweds walked around Santa Barbara near the pier before spontaneously deciding to restaurant and bar- hop for the rest of the day. "They have great outdoor restaurants so we decided to make our own wedding food crawl," Macy says. "Since I’m four months pregnant, Spencer and my sister were able to wine taste all day, and I was the designated driver, which I don't mind. They ended up drinking for three while I ate some amazing meals for two!"

Looking back on their decision to elope, Macy has this advice for fellow couples planning: "Try your best to embrace this new normal with COVID-19 and allow yourself to grieve and feel any and all feelings about what could have been or should have been and then try to embrace what is," she says. "Don’t lose hope in your special day and remember, above all else, that weddings are about the love and union you are going to share with your life partner, so problem-solve it together and let it be a bonding experience for you both."

Wedding Team

Venue Santa Barbara Courthouse

Bride's Dress Odylyne The Ceremony, from LOHO Bride

Jewelry Jennifer Behr

Shoes Kurt Geiger

Groom's Attire Zara

Engagement Ring KatKim

Wedding Bands Blue Nile

Floral Design Under New MGMT

Photography Lauren Orlowski

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