Real wedding

12th October 2018


A picture-perfect Las Vegas elopement – Karin & Martin

This couple did everything differently, and had the time of their lives getting hitched in the US


The wedding of Karin Caligari, 35, and Martin Gafa, 32, was anything but traditional – or ordinary for that matter. The couple took their nuptials stateside, in an elopement that looks like it’s straight out of a Hollywood classic, and a heck of a lot of fun.

Back to the beginning though. The couple met a number of years ago at a mutual place of work, and clicked immediately over their shared love for art and creativity. “We are the definition of ‘opposites attract’,” says Karin, a marketing coordinator. “I am bubbly and all over the place while Martin, being an artist, is patient and laid back. After a couple of years, we started living together, but never felt the need to get married until we hit our 30s, and even then, we kept postponing getting married due to our busy schedules.”

Sooner or later, Martin, a tattoo artist, kicked things into action, when he popped the question with an inking on his leg. “The proposal took place at our home late in the evening on our sofa. Being a tattooist, Martin tattooed ‘Will you Marry?’ on his leg, and spent a whole night trying to get me to look at his foot, which I didn’t. Then, before we went to sleep, he told me “please look at my foot”, and there it was, the proposal tattooed on his foot. I felt so stupid but at the same time very happy.”

Their decision to elope rather than plan a traditional wedding was based on the simple fact that they both lead hectic lives. “Martin works long hours at his shop while I work full time and I’m also reading for a Masters part-time, so we both knew we did not have time to plan a wedding,” says Karin.

“Additionally, we have loads of friends, and when we considered a traditional wedding, the guest list was becoming a nightmare. The whole thing was turning into this big event that didn’t feel like us at all, as we both were after a more intimate wedding, so an elopement was ideal. We decided to not tell anyone about it – it was difficult keeping the secret for 8 months but it was worth it. No one except for my daughter knew what we were up to, and although we were a bit nervous about our family and friends’ reactions, everyone was so happy and supportive.”

The couple set the date for 15th August 2018 and planned the wedding essentials months ahead. “Getting married in Las Vegas by Elvis was always on my bucket list, so we just went for it. We also loved how stress-free our wedding was going to be. We booked everything online in advance; the photographer, car rental, make-up and all. We treated it like a holiday – we planned a trip to the US, visited New York City and a couple of other cities, and left the wedding for last. We basically got married on our honeymoon!”

Karin and Martin were wed at the Graceland Chapel in Las Vegas in a fun and spontaneous ceremony. “We could not stop smiling and we danced to Elvis’s songs throughout the whole ceremony. Afterwards, we enjoyed some highlights accompanied by our photographer – we took photos at downtown Las Vegas, grabbed a burger at In-N-Out Burger – and anyone who knows us can relate to how us that is – and ended the celebration at the dry lake in the desert. We loved the idea of us and nothingness around us, except for the natural beauty of the desert, a couple of bottles of beer and the sunset. It was just perfect!”

She adds that the cherry on the cake that was their awesome wedding day was the car they rented to take them around. “We rented a vintage 1954 Hudson Horner – we felt as though we were in a Hollywood movie all along, and it looked wonderful in photos.”

As a firm fan of the 20s period and the fashion of that era, Karin knew what she wanted her wedding dress to look like – an ivory flapper dress that she knew would be ideal for a Vegas wedding, without being too bulky but still sophisticated. “I came across an art deco shop online that specialises in handmade flapper dresses, and I immediately fell in love with the design of the one that I chose. It was a bit of a gamble to buy without trying on, but it fit like a glove.”

If they had to go back and do it all again, Karin says they’d do nothing differently, other than have their family, especially Karin’s daughter and their dog, there with them. “On the other hand, however, when you elope, the focus is all on the love you have for each other. It is such an intimate experience that is difficult to describe in words.”

Their advice to couples tempted to ditch a traditional wedding? “Go with your gut and choose what will make you happy on the day. A traditional wedding is not for everyone and the most important thing on your wedding day is to celebrate the love between you, have fun and enjoy yourselves. Don’t stress about what others may think and say, because all that matters is the two of you.”

Image Credits

Aimlee photography

Wedding Directory