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Pop Goes the Wedding 

Pop-up weddings combine the fun and ease of elopements with the pomp of traditional ceremonies

click to enlarge Alt provides the setting, photography, officiant and flowers for her pop-up wedding ceremonies.

Photo by Emily Alt

Alt provides the setting, photography, officiant and flowers for her pop-up wedding ceremonies.

Pop-up shops have grown in popularity over the past few years, with New Orleans seeing a proliferation of pop-up boutiques, restaurants, events and everything in between. Now Emily Alt of Emily Alt Photography in Michigan (www.emilyaltphotography.com) is bringing another type of flash retail to the city: pop-up weddings.

  Alt came up with the idea while wondering how to make extra money during the wedding off-season (November through April). She and her husband planned a long road trip during that time, so she thought she'd combine their travels with a business venture: quickie weddings using their vintage Airstream trailer as a pop-up wedding central.

  "I was thinking what would be really cool is to just do a super fast elopement, basically the idea of doing a Las Vegas elopement but in a cool city that's not Las Vegas," Alt says. "That's where the pop-up wedding came from, the idea of how awesome it would be if all you had to do was just invite 20 of your friends and family, show up in a cool city – or maybe even the city where you already live – and then we take care of everything for you."

  With years of wedding photography and working with stressed brides under her belt, Alt knew couples would be interested.

  "There's so much pressure, so much stress and so much anxiety about making sure that your wedding is perfect, and making sure that everything goes exactly the way it's supposed to and not upsetting any of your family members," Alt says. "It's just taking all of that pressure of planning the perfect wedding out of it and letting us handle it."

  Each $1,500 outdoor wedding includes access to the Airstream trailer for pre-wedding preparation and alone time, a 15- to 20-minute ceremony performed by Alt's husband Ian, ceremony photography and a 30-minute shoot of just the couple including all digital print rights, a handmade bouquet, seats for 20 guests, two bottles of Champagne and a gourmet picnic basket. Couples are welcome to provide their own officiants and customize the ceremony with musicians, dancers, poets, etc., as long as the ceremony doesn't exceed 20 minutes.

  Alt tailors each wedding to the city where it's happening, taking weather and culinary culture into account. In Michigan, she includes cherries and local beer in the picnic baskets and holds the ceremonies in a cherry orchard or on the beach. In Santa Fe, N.M., she has rented a house in case the weather is cold, but she hopes for a pretty day of desert views.

  "We'll try to make sure the food in the picnic basket they're getting is all local and kind of cool and unique to the city that it's in, so that will be pretty easy with New Orleans," says Alt, who is booking pop-up weddings now for her March 23 stop in New Orleans.

  As much as Alt likes the idea of pop-up weddings, she knows they aren't perfect for every couple.

  "There are some people who just don't want to upset their family members and end up feeling like they should just do regular weddings because that's what their moms want," she says.

  Though Alt welcomes all couples, those she thinks are perfect for pop-up weddings are older couples and those entering their second marriage who want to do something fun and unique, but don't necessarily just want to go to the courthouse.

  "It should really be about what you want, and if this is what is perfect for you two as a couple, then it will end up being perfect for your families," Alt says. "You just kind of have to trust in that process."

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