When I first sat down to design this shoot, my only inspiration was Sapphire. I knew I wanted gorgeous blue tones to set the stage, so I imagined a couple who loves studying the stars, comes alive at nighttime and enjoys a modern aesthetic. With little more than a theme, I reached out to MKM Photography, and we immediately put our heads together (through emails, of course) to dream up a perfect elopement for a love story written in the stars.


The Durham Hotel, with its rooftop views of the city, was the perfect backdrop for the evening affair. The ceremony would take place at dusk, with a cocktail-style reception to follow on the downstairs patio. Four guests would witness their union, with the invitations saying,


“You’ve walked with me on this crazy journey through life. While I prepare to embark on my greatest adventure yet, I think of how you were there as we took the first tumbling steps into love. And now, it’s finally time…

Ashley & Jarrett are eloping at dusk on 27 September 2020 at The Durham Hotel.

Meet us on the rooftop for our ceremony under the stars.

Dinner, drinks, and general merriment to follow.

P.S. It’s only you plus a few, so please keep this a secret for now!”

Later, they would share the exciting news with an elopement notice:

“On 27 September 2020, Ashley & Jarrett eloped under the stars.

We joined together as partners for life with an intimate ceremony in Durham NC, by shouting from the rooftops and whispering to the stars…

Why wait when forever can start today?

Please know that you were with us in spirit as we committed our lives to each other.

We look forward to celebrating with you soon!”

It was on a perfect September evening that the vendors gathered to bring this vision to life, taking some time to not only set up but ooh and ahh over the sparkling details while the couple got ready in one of the hotel rooms. With the September birthstone as the focus, we chose to deck out the bride, Ashley with some gorgeous pieces from Diamonds Direct, including a sapphire and diamond halo engagement ring, two stackable wedding bands, a lovely bracelet with matching earrings, and a delicate diamond necklace.

By the time Ashley took her first steps onto the rooftop just before dusk, she looked like a million bucks in the delicate jewelry and sparkling wonder of a dress. Her groom, Jarrett, not to be outdone, wore a navy tux with black lapels and a bowtie – both were styled by New York Bride & Groom of Raleigh.


For a modern couple who isn’t a fan of flowers, we opted for artificial flowers professionally arranged by and rented from FauxReal Flowers. The florists provided the gold ring backdrop overlooking the skyline, decorated with dark blue pampas grass and hanging lights, inspired by the moon and stars. In what can only be called wonderful luck, the ceremony took place during a stunning red and orange sunset that cut across the deep blue, as firey and deserving of attention as our redheaded bride along with her strong and steady veteran husband. (Oh, did I mention the models are a real couple who’ve been married over 4 years?)


As the vows and sunset came to a close, the couple and their guests moved to the ground floor, where they had a private getaway on the outside patio. Continuing with a modern flair, we chose to mix metals, bringing silver and gold together with navy and black for balance. A sweetheart table for the couple was decorated minimally, with a silver sequinned tablecloth, black place settings, and a twist of blue satin and a gold-painted greenery garland.


The guest table featured the same place settings, with black plates and flatware, a grey napkin to match the guest tablecloth, and a personalized name card held in place with a gold prism. The guest table centerpiece was a braided runner of navy and gold satin with painted greenery, floating candles, and a floral arrangement that brought a playful, adventurous feeling to the table design.


A charcuterie and champagne spread was set by the hotel kitchen, alongside black candlestick holders and a navy and gold geode cutting cake that was (almost) too pretty to eat. As the evening came to an end, Ashley & Jarret headed back to their hotel room to enjoy the rest of their champagne and evening.

Venue & Catering: The Durham Hotel


Planning & Design: Beauty & the Budget Events


Photography: MKM Photography


Officiant: Personal Weddings of NC


Flowers: FauxReal Flowers


Baker: Wicked Sweet Cakes


Videographer: Chaz Reid Films


Attire: New York Bride & Groom Raleigh


HMUA: Perfection by Patricia


Jewelry: Diamonds Direct