On March 22nd 2016, Craig and I (Gemma) eloped to Austin, Texas. Why Austin? We love the city and the festival South By Southwest. Craig has been three times, and I’ve been twice. Since it is relatively simple for Scots to marry in Texas we decided to get wed after SXSW and before we started travelling home (slowly) from our 18-month career break to travel. You can read all about our Vancouver engagement and Austin elopement here as this article is dedicated to the photos!
Let me know which is your favourite in the comments below!
Cowboys! BBQ! Live music! Our Austin elopement was easy, sunny, and awesome! On the 22nd of March 2016, my partner, Craig, and I tied the knot in one of our favourite cities, the only city that we visited twice during our year travelling around the Americas!
Craig and I have been together for three and a half years. We’ve been travelling for just over one year on an 18-month career break, backpacking around the Americas and Europe. When we met back in 2012, we both made it clear that we wanted to get out of Scotland and see more of this crazy world.
It’s been an incredibly fun-packed year which started in Austin (after a two-day trip to New Orleans) at the music festival South By Southwest (SXSW), and that’s where we returned this March to see free music and then tie the knot!
Craig popped the question in Vancouver, under the fake stars of the HR MacMillan Space Center with a ring fashioned out of a plastic straw cover from Cuba.
Our Austin elopement would not have been possible without the support of two kick-ass people: our wedding officiant, Sarah Reed from Let’s Do It Vows and our photographer, Corey Mendez Photography.
Let’s Do It Vows
Google ‘wedding officiants in Austin’ and there are heaps of them. So how do you choose? I looked for one that performed same-sex marriages because let’s face it, this is Texas.
I figured that if they were happy to wed the LGBQT+ community then they’d be liberal and cool, like us!
I emailed Sarah to enquire about the rules for Brits marrying in Texas, using her own initiative, she made all the relevant enquires for us, I knew she was a keeper! Sarah also sent me a picture of herself and family dressed up at Hallowe’en and that sealed the deal for me! Sarah offered some ideas for free venues…
Our Austin Wedding Venue
Lou Neff Point at Ladybird Lake was a natural choice.
During SXSW, we walked downtown along the riverfront each day, watching the kayakers on the water, ogling at the turtles, admiring the skyline. We’re not the most emotional people (Craig would suggest that I am slightly on the spectrum) but this spot felt right.
The sun shone, the ducks quacked, and we had a small audience who clapped politely as Craig kissed his bride!
An Austin Elopement
After a trip to the hairdressers for me, a full Irish breakfast (the closest thing to a Scottish he could find) for Craig, Champagne (thank you to Esteban and his partner, our apartment hosts) while getting ready, we took a Lyft taxi (like Uber) to Lou Neff Point at 2pm.
Nothing classy, just practical! We laughed as I had to totter down a muddy hill to get to the spot. No diva in me!
We met with Sarah and Corey, Sarah moved people on (she’s a bouncer too) and set up our camera (she also had a tripod, ex filmmaker!) for filming (this was unsuccessful, sorry! I’m actually pretty happy with that, I cringe at having to watch myself; we do have a voice recording though).
Corey worked his magic on his two swanky cameras. Lots of natural shots, which is our thing!
Craig offered us all a swig of ‘Vitamin R’ (Nicaraguan Rum) from his new flat-pack hip flask (my gift), it’s a Scottish tradition to have a nip.
The ceremony was quick, Sarah told our story, read a quote from Good Will Hunting, we said our vows. I only had three lines, I forgot the second! There was me slagging Craig for using notes in his phone! We exchanged rings to
‘I’m awesome, you’re awesome, let’s be awesome together!’
Something we used to say back in the day! The ceremony closed on an Apache Blessing and a quick smooch. The new Mr and Mrs Armit!
An Unforgettable Surprise
I didn’t cry, until this point! My friends, The Roxanne Appreciation Society (Helen, Gemma T, Laura, Mhairi), had arranged for Sarah to bring pink Champagne, glasses, and they had sent a card with this hilarious poem:
The bottle made for a great prop during the photoshoot! I am blessed!
Corey Mendez Photography
Post ceremony, Corey drove us around Austin playing paparazzi for the afternoon!
We took advantage of Austin’s street art at Castle Hill, this area will leave you speechless.
Frida Kahlo was selected as our backdrop, I dressed up as her on Hallowe’en (the day Craig proposed) and there is a running joke about my monobrow (thanks for that gift, Dad), so it seemed apt.
Next stop was Congress, Texas State Capitol Building to be exact. This is the image we used to announce getting hitched via social media.
You can see how talented Corey is, we certainly lucked out! We headed to South Congress (SoCo) when I realised I had left my camera at Congress and Corey drove us back.
Craig managed to retrieve it from lost and found, oops!
Finding ‘Thee’ Photographer
A few months back, I did a call-out on Craigslist for a ‘non-traditional’ wedding photographer and the response was overwhelming.
We chose a chick who was super into it, well, until she was employed by SXSW then started giving us the impression that she thought she was ‘too big’ for the project.
Craig made the decision to dump her when she didn’t reply to our contract three weeks before the wedding. Cue mild panic during Craig’s sick week in Granada, Nicaragua. I did another Craigslist call out, again with an outstanding response. I pulled in my expert photography friends, my family and friends to vet six photographers.
Corey felt right; he has wedding photography experience, loves taking photos of bands, and has exciting examples of event photography. His website is a work of art, which was is obviously an appeal being a blogger. It was no wonder he was employed by SXSW this year too!
I created a Pinterest board of wedding photography I liked the vibe of, Corey was enthusiastic, he liked the direction so that was it, we had found our photographer two weeks before touching down in Austin!
Junior Boys at Mohawk
We love music! Much of our travel is based around attending gigs or festivals. We’ve just booked the end of our career break in Lisbon, Portugal to see Arcade Fire in July! Craig discovered that Junior Boys were playing Mohawk the night of the wedding so we decided to attend.
I changed outfits, we had dinner and drinks then danced our socks off! Corey met with us to take some incriminating snaps of us and creative shots of the band.
I wore a yellow 60’s vintage dress by day and a blue and white Western number by night.
The yellow shift was purchased in Vancouver. My friend Maddie and I were out browsing one day, I tried it on, she got teary so we knew it was ‘the one’.
Burcu’s Angel knocked off money on the dress so it set me back… $50 CAD / £25!
My cornflower blue (my something blue!) shoes were a cheap number from an Austin shopping mall; the bag was picked up two days before the elopement along with the earrings.
Craig looked dashing in his navy suit. He’s so last minute, the brown shoes were bought from Urban Outfitters the day before, along with his SoCo sunglasses and wedding ring.
I loved the braces!
I bought him a yellow handkerchief to compliment my dress.
The skinny tartan tie was a 30th birthday present from me a few years ago, he’s been carrying it in his backpack ‘just in case’.
Craig bought me a new Swatch watch after one year of complaining about never knowing the time. Hello to the girls at Swatch who helped him out!
My 60s beehive was sculptured, and it was a real work of art, by Paul Van Dyck (his real name, not the DJ!) at Topaz Salon. Mel did a cut for me when I arrived in Austin and pointed me in the direction of Paul for the updo. It was a stunner!
I splurged and got my lashes done Lashes de Bella, they really made my eyes pop.
No fake tan required after eight weeks in Nicaragua!
What About Your Families?
I know an elopement is not for everyone. Craig and I attended eight of our friends’ weddings the year before we left, they were lovely, but just didn’t feel like us. We saved up £20K to do this trip; the average UK wedding costs £25K so you can see where we’d rather spend our money!
As my Gran said ‘I knew it Gemma, you’re just too cheap to spend that kind of money on one day!’ And she knows her first-born granddaughter well! We are hosting a big part-ay on our return with a buffet, disco, and Ceilidh. There will be lots of booze and dancing, the part of weddings that everyone actually enjoys!
Craig’s brother found out two weeks ago that we’re headed to Budapest next month (I’m going to teach English). Impressively at short notice, he managed to round up a few of the boys so he’s having a delayed mini-stag (bachelor) party in the cheapest country to drink alcohol in Europe (Hungarians, get out while you can!)
He’ll have a proper one on his return!
My pals, Helen and Shelley will surely create some kind of mayhem for the girls on my return. I hope it’s 90s themed (*everyone groans* I LOVE FANCY DRESS!)
A massive thank you to our families and friends for respecting our wishes, paying for our wedding meal (which actually paid for my hair too!), my folks for the Budapest trip, as well as all of the vetting via photos!
To everyone we met in Austin (thanks for brunch and the beer, John!), our apartment host, Art, who received packages on our behalf before we arrived, Estaban for the Champagne and chocolate.
A month ago I had a dream that Craig proposed to me in space. For those that have been following our travels, you’ll know by Craig’s bright tattoo sleeve that he is eh, a little bit more than obsessed with space! So much so that he has four planets, stars, nebulas and a quasar, inked on his body (that tattoo was a great hit with the men in Hanoi, Vietnam!) It was our three year anniversary on September 8th so proposals must have been subliminally at the back of my mind, creeping into my dreams.
You’ll also know that I love Hallowe’en. We are both big fans of fancy dress and to many (most) of our friends’ annoyance, if we throw a party, dress up is mandatory! In the past three years we’ve transformed into a unicorn, a pop art cartoon character, The Joker, Mia Wallace and Vince Vega (Pulp Fiction), Rosie The Riveter, Tate Langdon (American Horror Story), The Relektor Man (Arcade Fire), Frida Kahlo and my personal favourite, Macho Man Randy Savage, and the First Lady of Wrestling, Miss Elizabeth (for Craig’s 30th).
On Saturday 31st of October 2015, seven months into our 17 month long – term travel trip, Craig had organised for us to see a show at the H.R MacMillan Space Centre. We laid back and listened to Jonathan explain about the solar system, it really was a cool show. Once the auditorium emptied, Craig got down on one knee and said,
‘you know how you had that dream –
will you marry me?’
I remember covering my face and asking if this was real, then laughing nervously (this lasted for about an hour!) I said yes, and he tried to put the ring on the wrong hand but got there. The ring fitted! That’s actually no surprise because it had been attached to my backpack for months.
Photo credit – H.R MacMillan Space Centre
Months back in Cuba, Craig fashioned a ring out of a paper straw cover and advised me, jokingly, that if I managed not to lose the ring, I might get an upgrade. I was true to my word and looked after the slowly disintegrating paper ring. Craig had obviously decided I had passed the test, and upgraded me to… a straw cover of the plastic variety! Now I don’t know if you know much about Vancouver but it rains a lot, so this ring is not only cheap but also very practical. The funny (for us) part of the story is, Craig couldn’t actually find the ring that morning. He eventually tracked it down, attached to my backpack. Nothing like Craig to leave things to the last minute and come out smelling like roses! That boy has the midas touch!
A Vancouver Engagement
After the Vancouver engagement, we left the space centre to cheers from the staff (thank you!) and wandered up to 4th Street. Craig says I kept making strange noises, I blame the nervous laughter! We grabbed a celebratory drink (Jerkface for Craig, Sangria for me) and lunch (couldn’t eat it, I felt sick with excitement / nerves) and called my best friend, Helen, to update her on the news. She said she was ‘over the moon’ and didn’t even mean the pun. We had a quick squint on 4th for jewellery shops to check out some rings but nothing was pulling us in so we swung by the off license to get stocked up for the Hallowe’en celebrations, then called the family.
We spoke to my parents and Craig’s Mum. I then managed to get my brother, Scott, on the line and his initial response ‘oh, can I hug Craig, put him on!’ This was pretty much the response from all of the men in my family; they adore Craig, and seem pretty happy to pass me off on to him! Craig struggled to get through to his brother, Kyle (coming over in two weeks, woo!), he woke up to fifteen missed calls and texts so naturally thought something was wrong. I didn’t manage to get my grandparents until the Sunday, and my aunty Tricia was impossible to reach but we got there in the end and then we could make it official – posted a status update on Facebook!
Plans had been set to party with our Scottish friends, Karen and Craig. We decided not to tell them until they arrived. I had this grand plan of playing it cool but then blurted it out as soon as they were in the door. Lee and Francesca (from West Trek) swung by with wine and impressive homemade cards. We drank and listened to music then headed to Commercial Drive for a very strange night in the Legion.
Will you get a ring? I actually have a beautiful engagement ring at home, which was left to me by my lovely Great Aunt Edith in her will. We are not going to get Kyle to bring it out to us, it holds too much sentimental value and we’d be distraught if we lost it or it was stolen over the last nine months of our travels. The plan is to get a temporary keepsake ring; I like the idea of getting one from a local designer. Then it’ll be a cute reminder of our Vancouver engagement.
Have you set a date?
No plans yet. <—- update: we eloped in Austin on month 12th after the music festival South By Southwest
Big or Small Wedding?
Small, far too cheap to spend £25K on a day, that’s more than we saved for this career break!
Will you get married in a church?
We despise sand and mosquitos!
Will you take Craig’s surname?
Yes, I’ll be Gemma Armit (which will be weird for the students back at school!) I do love my name, Orrock, but Scott can carry that on *laughing tears emoticon* So, I too, can endure years of being referred to as Armpit or Gemmarmit, which my friend Ruairidh has emailed to ask if that’s acceptable!
Could you tell?
Craig was acting pretty strange all morning – hyper and a bit jittery. He blamed the very large coffee and then the very large coffee crash
We’re in Vancouver until January. We move to another apartment in Mount Pleasant at the end of this month, it’ll be cool to see another neighbourhood over the Christmas and New Year period. We cross the border over to Seattle and Portland in January and then fly to Orlando to meet Mickey, and our friend Pete in Miami. We’ll spend February in Nicaragua, then back up to Austin for our second visit to the music festival SXSW! After a quick stopover in New York (looking forward to seeing my friend, Lee, who I did the West Highland Way trek with), we fly to Oslo but not to stop, just to get closer to Germany where we’ll meet my folks! Our European plan is to make our way down to Croatia and Slovenia before meeting Craig’s family in Spain for a week long triple celebration – his aunty Ange’s 50th, his brother, Kyle’s 30th and now the Two Scots engagement!
Thank you for following our travels –
Gemma & Craig,
Two Scots, engaged!