For Erin and Jeff Cannata, the decision to elope came the night of their menu tasting for a 120-person wedding in Santa Barbara, which also coincided with the looming task of ordering save-the-dates. Sitting in the living room of their Woodland Hills, California home, between bites of leftover cake, Erin looked at Jeff and said, “I don’t really want to do this.” (“At first he thought I meant get married,” she says. “Whoops.”) Jeff loved the idea of eloping, so they took their honeymoon plans—three weeks touring Italy—and turned them into an elopement.
Erin wore a dress from Cruz’s Bridal in Valencia, California. Her “something borrowed” was the same veil both her sisters wore, her “something blue” a handkerchief that belonged to Jeff’s grandmother. “We splurged and bought Jeff a fabulous Hugo Boss tux that he said he felt like a million bucks in.”
They met online—Erin, who works in sales, reached out to Jeff, who works in entertainment, and on their first date to a Caribbean restaurant near Venice Beach, they closed down the restaurant after four hours. They dated for nearly a year before getting engaged, and after 13 months, eloped.
Their symbolic ceremony was held on September 21, 2014 in the rose- and lemon-perfumed courtyard of the Hotel Palazzo Murat, a nineteenth-century hotel tucked in the center of Positano. Their handwritten vows were read from bambagina, handmade paper they found in Amalfi a few days prior. Their only guests were a couple they met at dinner the night before, who loved what they were doing—eloping—but felt bad that there was no family present. They showed up to the ceremony, unannounced, with a bottle of wine.
The staff at their six-room hotel, Casa Buonocore, helped Erin and Jeff arrange for a bouquet and boutonnière from Flora Garden, one of the only florists in Positano, and also took Erin’s dress to be steamed.
They almost didn’t hire a photographer, but after some convincing from a friend, and hours of online research, chose Peggy Picot of Maison Pestea Photography, who “was fabulous,” says Erin. “We adored her work.”
Erin and Jeff also hired a videographer, Paolo Manzi, who was a “gem.” (See their delizioso elopement video here.)
Their ceremony was a rooftop dinner for two at La Sirenuse, the storied spot that John Steinbeck visited and wrote about in his classic 1953 essay for Harper’s Bazaar: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” After dinner, they danced with strangers at Music On The Rocks, a live-music restaurant, and then hit the rooftop for champagne.
Jeff’s favorite part of the day? The morning-of. “Just sitting on the beach, reading books, eating lunch. Being completely relaxed before the biggest moment of our lives. Really feeling truly present.”
They saved money on everything, says Erin. The entire Positano elopement, including plane tickets, hotel, attire, flowers, photographer, videographer, hair, and makeup cost around $10,000. “What we had budgeted for our wedding in Santa Barbara—excluding the honeymoon—was around $25,000. For the same amount of money, we were able to get married in Italy, go on a three-week, no-expense-spared honeymoon, and do a reception at a nice restaurant for 125 people when we returned.”
“We truly enjoyed the day and didn’t have the stress that I know many friends and siblings have expressed feeling on their wedding day,” she says. “It didn’t go by in a blur, and we were able to enjoy each other’s company and be present with one another.”
Looking back, she says, “Eloping was the easiest and best decision we ever made.”
The Fine Print
- Stay: Casa Buonocore
- Said “I Do:” Hotel Palazzo Murat
- Food & Drink: Le Sirenuse & Music on the Rocks
- Photography: Maison Pestea Photography
- Videographer: Paolo Manzi
- Flowers: Flora Garden
- Dress: Cruz’s Bridal
- Tux: Hugo Boss
Want to share your elopement story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.