This Couple Invited Absolutely No One—Not Even an Officiant—to Their Aspen Elopement
Hannah Dismuke was so nervous for her first date with Carl Hollimon in 2015 that she thought she "blew it" before they had even ordered drinks—but he asked her for a second date before the first even ended (clearly, they had a connection). Five years later, Carl surprised Hannah—and her family—by proposing moments before they sat down for dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. "It was so exciting to surprise her family once we sat down for dinner over a 'Cheers' with rosé," says Carl. "The shock and excitement in their faces was priceless."
With Hannah's brother and his family planning to move to Australia in April 2020, she and Carl quickly planned an intimate ceremony and dinner for April 10. "But as fast as we planned our wedding, we quickly had to cancel due to the escalation of COVID-19," she says. "After a few months of quarantine and a lot of homemade margaritas, Carl and I took a trip to Aspen, Colorado, around the Fourth of July holiday to escape our city apartment and enjoy the outdoors. At this point we had talked about eloping, but it became very clear on our trip that we should go for it."
They began organizing their top-secret nuptials for August 20, 2020, in Aspen, keeping their plans hidden from everyone—even their families. "When Carl and I decided to elope, we committed to leaving any stress behind and only having fun with each step of the process," says Hannah. "Because we did not tell a soul of our plan—our friends and family truly had no idea—we were allowed the opportunity to meet so many incredible people along the way who helped us with each decision." They relied on their stylist, jeweler, photographer, and other vendors to put everything together.
The couple's unique, intimate big day included breakfast and getting ready together; a ceremony they wrote and performed—without an officiant—in a secluded field; a lighthearted portrait session; and a celebratory picnic in a nearby park. "Adventure and relaxation were the core priorities of our elopement," says Carl. "It was important to us to be around nature as much as possible during the whole experience." And though their friends and family were surprised by the elopement, they weren't that surprised. "Apparently, the whole idea of eloping reflected who we are as a couple, which our friends and family affirmed once we shared the news!" says Hannah. "As a couple, we are truly go-with-the-flow type people and when the going gets rough, we find a way to still make it fun!"
Their Favorite Spot
Choosing Aspen for their elopement was one of the couple's easiest decisions. "Two months after meeting, Carl and I traveled to Aspen on our first trip together," says Hannah. "Ever since then, we have made a point to visit a few times a year. We love the magic of Aspen—the hiking, skiing, biking, dining—and it continues to be our 'happy place' each time we visit."
Here's to Us
On the morning of their wedding, Hannah and Carl spent a few hours apart before meeting for brunch and then dressing together. "Carl and I went back and forth whether we wanted a first look moment or to get ready together," says Hannah. "Ultimately, we decided to get ready at the same time—everything is more fun together! We had music playing, Champagne flowing, and maybe a few dance moves along the way."
A Helping Hand
After Carl donned his navy tuxedo and Hannah stepped into her floral Giambattista Valli wedding dress, the groom helped his bride fasten her frock. "My favorite moment was having Carl zip up my dress!" says Hannah. She finished her outfit with Valentino sandals. "I knew I needed a block heel or wedge shoe, as we would likely be standing in a field during our ceremony," she says.
Something Old, Something New
Because she'd chosen a dress with an elaborate print, Hannah kept her accessories simple and classic; she wore diamond earrings from Lindsey Leigh Jewelry and a triple-strand pearl bracelet passed down through her mother's family.
Keeping the elopement a secret meant that Hannah shopped for her ruffled, floral-print gown alone. "I knew from the start that I wanted a dress with movement so that it would catch the Aspen wind," she says. "There was a moment in the dressing room when I had two top dresses left—and I completely broke down in tears. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of which to choose, and would have loved the support of my mom, my best friend, or Carl's sisters. In that moment, I envisioned which dress would be most fun to wear and trusted my gut." She ended up thrilled with her choice: "It could not have been more fun to wear this on our wedding day," she says, "and I felt completely myself."
Hat Off to You
Just Us Two
The couple chose a wide, open field for their ceremony. Since Colorado doesn't require an officiant to wed, they designed the service themselves and shared it with their photographer only. "We came up with the flow of our ceremony the day before," says the couple. They each said a prayer, read a Bible verse, letters they wrote earlier that day, and the vows we wrote the day before, exchanged their Cartier rings, and "ended with a kiss!"
From the Heart
They had written those letters in the hours they spent alone, ahead of their elopement. "It was important to us that our words reflected exactly how we felt on our wedding day," says Hannah. The bride and groom also wrote their own vows, setting aside a few moments in a cherished spot in Aspen to put together their promises. "The day before our wedding, we hiked up to the top of our favorite trail—American Lake Trail—which ends with a beautiful, high altitude lake," says Hannah. "Overlooking the lake, we wrote our vows together. We fused traditional vows with some of our own unique promises."
Sealed with a Kiss
The only part of the ceremony that didn't go smoothly was the ring exchange. "We had a huge laugh when we got to the exchanging of the rings, since we didn't really know what to say!" says Hannah. "So we both—laughing so hard—were like, 'Here ya go!' put the rings on each other and moved on." At the end of the ceremony, the newlyweds sealed their marriage with their first kiss as husband and wife. "One of the most special elements about our elopement was that it was just Carl and I," says Hannah. "Although we would have loved to share the moment with friends and family, there is nothing more intimate and special than saying our vows to each other, just him and I, with the Rocky Mountains as our witness."
So Happy Together
Hannah and Carl posed for newlywed portraits in the field where they said their vows, where bottles of their preferred Champagne were one of the props. Their advice to other newlyweds: "Have tons of cheap Champagne bottles on hand to spray and sip for photos," says Hannah. "We did not, and it was continually painful to watch our favorite Champagne fly in to the air without getting to enjoy a sip."
They also tossed rose petals for some of their photos—although getting it right took lots of practice. "We were so bad at coordinating this that we went through all of our loose petals I received from the florist, so we ended up shredding up my bouquet and using the petals to get the perfect shot," says Hannah.
After the Ceremony
The newlyweds celebrated with a picnic of Champagne and cake in an Aspen park before signing their marriage license at the hotel and treating themselves to a celebratory dinner at Betula.
A petite almond cake with vanilla buttercream from d'Elissious Cake Studio helped the couple spread the news of their elopement with a "Just Married" message.
Hannah and Carl spent the weeks after their nuptials traveling around the country to share the news with their immediate families in person—but before they left Aspen, they had one more important task. "Another moment that we loved, which echoes why we chose Aspen as our location, was the following day after our ceremony, we rode bikes from our hotel over to the courthouse to file our paperwork," says Hannah. "No long car ride, lines, stress—just a beautiful bike ride through Aspen to make our marriage official!"
Photography, Megan Wynn
Flowers, Mountain Flowers of Aspen
Cake, d'Elissious Cake Studio
Bride's Gown, Giambattista Valli
Bride's Accessories, Kemo Sabe hat; Valentino shoes; Lindsey Leigh Jewelry earrings
Hair and Makeup, Aspen Hair and Makeup
Groom's Suit, Zegna
Groom's Accessories, Gucci shoes
Engagement Ring, Jemma Wynne
Wedding Rings, Cartier
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