“The clouds are patchy, in motion. Their canopy seems to hold you in, hold you together—the air just yours, the sunset that bleeds through the horizon edge almost tangible. The clouds are a deep blue as they break, as your voice breaks in the midst of a promise, as you look up and finally see the hot metal shine of the first stars. Everyone knows the dark is intimate and here you are within it, joining with voices, the deepest and most personal connection: linked at the soul, at the heart, for life. As this blue and bright night folds its quiet around you, settles vows on your shoulders, you laugh in delight, kiss and embrace, and begin.”

– Kate Marchetto, MKM Photography

When Stephanie of Beauty & the Budget Events reached out to design a styled shoot, she had little more than a theme: sapphire and stars. Together, we dreamed up an elopement design for a couple who loves a modern aesthetic, comes alive at night, and enjoys glam city life.

Beauty & the Budget Events says, “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. Once Kate’s past clients Ashley & Jarrett agreed to be our models, I imagined how they might invite their intimate guest list.”

“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!”

With the September birthstone as a design focus, we had the opportunity to partner with Diamonds Direct to style our glam model bride. Ashley wore a bold sapphire and diamond halo engagement ring with two stackable wedding bands, a gorgeous Sapphire bracelet with matching earrings, and a beautifully delicate necklace. Her groom donned a handsome navy tux with black lapels, button covers, and bowtie, and when the two met on the rooftop of The Durham dressed in their elopement best from New York Bride & Groom of Raleigh with styling by Perfection by Patricia, they looked like the embodiment of Sapphire and stars.

As dusk fell, Ashley & Jarrett found themselves ready for their intimate ceremony, officiated by Rev. Kevin Holland of Personal Weddings. FauxReal Flowers provided beautifully arranged artificial flowers and a gold ring arch as a ceremony backdrop. The ring framed the Durham skyline and was decorated by hanging lights and dark blue pampas grass to bring the moon and stars closer.

“We loved getting creative with this moon and stars theme! Pampas grass is one of our favorites – although it’s usually just an accent piece! So using it as the ‘star’ piece for our gold ring backdrop was so new and exciting for us! And painting it blue nonetheless!”
- FauxReal Flowers

After the sunset ceremony, the couple and their guests would move to the ground floor patio for a late-bites reception. A sweetheart table, guest table, and refreshments display were decorated with a mix of silver, gold, navy, and black.

“We loved what this team of creatives did with our outdoor spaces at The Durham Hotel. They turned the rooftop into a glam star-studded showcase for this couple’s ceremony. Our streetside patio in the center of downtown became an intimate open-air spot for celebration with beautiful flowers from FauxReal Flowers, sweets from Wicked Sweet Cakes, and styling by Beauty & the Budget Events.”
- The Durham Hotel

Black plates and flatware, grey linens, and gold prisms for name cards created a sleek, modern place setting, and the centerpieces incorporated gold-painted greenery loosely braided with silver and gold satin runners. Floating candles complemented the evening aesthetic, and playful, adventurous floral arrangements brought everything together. The Durham’s kitchen provided a champagne and charcuterie spread, which sat alongside a gorgeous navy and gold geode cutting cake designed by Wicked Sweet Cakes.

“To be honest…the entire shoot is filled with highlights: The incredible backdrop of one of downtown Durham’s coolest spots. The jaw-dropping artistry of the FauxReal Flowers team’s creations. Patricia’s classic, practiced style amplifying Ashley’s features. The smiles and giggles of these two lovebirds. The lemon blueberry geode cake Beth of Wicked Sweet Cakes created in all its sparkly (and delicious!) gorgeousness. The impeccable vision-to-execution process that Steph brought to fruition. Hands down, the best part of any styled shoot is getting to create delightful magic with a carefully curated team of talented vendors, and this shoot exemplified that to a T!”

MKM Photography

The Written in the Stars styled shoot was designed as elopement inspiration. All featured items and services were graciously donated by the following incredible vendors. The prices listed are estimates provided by the vendors to reflect what a couple could expect to spend on this elopement. Total elopement cost: $10,000


Venue: The Durham Hotel – $1800

Designer: Beauty & the Budget Events – $1200

Photographer: MKM Photography – $1000

Officiant: Personal Weddings NC – $450

Florist: FauxReal Flowers – $420

Baker: Wicked Sweet Cakes – $60

Videographer: Chaz Reid Films – $1500

Hair and Makeup: Perfection by Patricia – $575

Attire: New York Bride & Groom Raleigh

– Dress $2899

– Groom attire $190

Jewelry: Diamonds Direct – *not included in the total