- Lauren Stewart and Joe Loris eloped in Iceland.
- Stewart wore a black wedding dress with a corset bodice and a daring thigh-high slit.
- The custom dress was designed in just a month by a designer Stewart found on TikTok.
Stewart, 27, and Loris, 28, both attended the University of Wyoming.
They first crossed paths when Loris was a freshman and Stewart was a senior in high school. She was on campus auditioning for a vocal scholarship, and she and Loris met through a mutual friend.
They were immediately drawn to each other, but they didn’t see each other again until Stewart was a freshman the following year. They found their way back to each other quickly.
“The whole time we were still thinking about each other from when we met,” Stewart told Insider.
They’ve been together for nine years now.
Today, Loris is a pipeline engineer, and Stewart is a small business owner who makes products inspired by popular fantasy books. She’s also active in the cosplay community.
“I’ve never really been a big wedding gal,” Stewart told Insider. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew that a big wedding wasn’t for me.”
Because they got engaged in the pandemic, Stewart and Loris ended up deciding to elope in the fall of 2021.
They originally planned to tie the knot in their home of Colorado Springs, but Stewart found herself drawn to photos of Iceland elopements she saw online. And after doing a bit of research, she discovered flights to Iceland were affordable at the time.
In September of 2021, Stewart asked Loris if he would be open to an Iceland elopement. He said yes, and they bought tickets for the next month immediately.
They planned to say ‘I do’ on October 12, 2021.
Just like she didn’t want a traditional wedding, Stewart didn’t want a traditional wedding dress. She was hoping to wear a black gown to the elopement.
“I knew I wanted a black dress, but I couldn’t find anything that I liked,” she told Insider. “I feel like it’s really hard to do black well, because it can very easily stray into prom territory.”
But around the same time they booked their tickets to Iceland, Stewart stumbled upon a TikTok made by Becca Finley, in which she showed off the custom wedding gown she made herself and noted that she was taking orders to make dresses for others.
“It was stunning, and I just loved how her dress looked,” Stewart said.
She quickly messaged Finley to see if she was available to design her dress in only a month. To Stewart’s delight, Finley agreed.
Stewart had some idea of what she wanted her gown to look like when she messaged Finley, but her mind was pretty open.
“I had never tried on wedding dresses at that point,” she said. “Obviously, I wanted it to be black. And I wanted a corset bodice.”
“I was pretty sure I wanted it to be sort of like fantasy-inspired, but not overtly,” Stewart added, as it would nod to her interests. “I wasn’t trying to have a themed elopement. I just wanted to have a whimsical look to it.”
Finley listened to Stewart’s wish list, and she drew up three design sketches for Stewart to review.
When she saw the sketch of an off-the-shoulder dress with a corset bodice, Stewart knew right away it was the dress for her.
“I was just immediately like, ‘That’s the one. That’s exactly it,'” Stewart said.
The dress was black, as Stewart had hoped.
It had a strapless neckline, full skirt, and off-the-shoulder sleeves made of sheer tulle.
Stewart had Finley add a layer of wrapped fabric around the bodice that had a gathered look.
Fringed, tulle fabric lined the neckline, mirroring the skirt.
The exposed ties offset the back of the full skirt.
Stewart told Insider that Finley kept in touch with her throughout the production process, allowing her to tweak the dress as it was completed.
The off-the-shoulder sleeves had the fantasy look Stewart wanted.
But because they were made of black, see-through fabric, they also had a modern feel.
A black skirt on a gown can look heavy, but the light layers of tulle gave Stewart’s dress a playful feel.
The skirt’s thigh-high slit also made it stand out and broke up the layers of fabric.
It was cold on Stewart and Loris’ wedding day, so she couldn’t leave her legs exposed without feeling uncomfortable.
“I got these nude, fleece-lined leggings, and they were clutch,” she said. “They were perfectly my skin color, and they were so warm. My legs weren’t cold at all, which was fantastic.”
She paired them with black hiking boots she was able to show off thanks to the gown’s dramatic slit.
The cloak was a gift from one of Stewart’s best friends.
“She’s a hairstylist, but she also makes fantasy cloaks on the side,” Stewart said. “Three days before we left, she did my hair and she was like, ‘I have a present for you.'”
The cloak kept Stewart warm, and it matched the low-key fantasy tone she set for the day.
She didn’t wear any jewelry aside from her engagement and wedding ring, both because she didn’t find anything she liked and because she didn’t want her ensemble to be too fussy.
Stewart wore her in loose curls, keeping her fingers crossed it would behave in the Iceland air.
“I was very worried because it was very wet in Iceland, and my hair does not do well in wet,” she told Insider.”I have naturally frizzy hair, and I hate being in humid climates because my hair is a wreck for the rest of the day.”
Luckily, her curls held up throughout the wedding.
“I had only tried it on once before we left, which was kind of scary,” Stewart said, adding that she didn’t even fully tie the corset at the time. “I just had a very quick try-on and was like, ‘OK, it fits.'”
Her wedding day was the first time she truly wore her dress.
“I felt so beautiful,” Stewart said. “I just loved the black dress. I loved how I looked in it.”
“I thought the corset was super flattering,” she added. “I just loved it.”
“Everyone in my family knows that I’m like a huge nerd, so everyone was like, ‘Oh, are you doing a ‘Lord of the Rings’-themed wedding?'” Stewart said. “I love it when I see it, but I just knew that I was never going to do a themed wedding.”
“I’m glad that I got the fantasy aspect that is very me, but it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, she’s dressed as Arwen for her wedding,'” she added.
The dress ended up costing right around $1,000, which was almost exactly Stewart’s budget.
“I don’t know how I got so lucky,” Stewart said.
It was also the first commissioned dress Finley made.
“He loved it,” Stewart said of her husband’s reaction to her dress. “He shed a little tear, and we hugged.”
“He just thought it was perfect for me,” she added.
“We were pretty sure we were going to get married on the black sand beaches,” Stewart said. “But as we were pulling up to the black sand beach, we drove past this lagoon, and it was this bright, icy blue.”
Loris and Stewart were mesmerized by the lagoon, and after seeing that the beach they originally planned to say their vows on was crowded with people, they knew the lagoon was the perfect location.
Their friend Emily traveled with the couple to officiate the wedding, and their friend Caitlin Connell came along to photograph the elopement.
As Brides reported, a handfasting ritual comes from an ancient Celtic ritual.
The couple ties a rope or cord around their hands, and it’s designed to symbolize two becoming one.
Stewart told Insider that both she and Loris would become so emotional when they tried to write vows that they just decided to speak spontaneously from the heart.
“Every time I was trying to think about writing vows, I would just start crying,” she said. “So I didn’t write anything. I just made it up on the spot. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what I said, but we both just had a couple of sentences of trying to say how much we love each other.”
“And for us, that was fine,” Stewart added. “We were joking up until that morning that we were just going to do a fist bump to show that we love each other. We both get it.”
“I know it sounds silly, but the fish and chips we ate right after were remarkably good,” she told Insider.
“It was raining and I had cried my lashes off, so I was like, ‘OK, I look terrible.’ I can’t be up there anymore,” she said. “We looked crazy. Everyone else is in parkas, and I’m in a strapless gown and Joe’s in his maroon tux.”
“So he got fish and chips for us, and we just sat in the car and enjoyed our first little meal,” Stewart said. “And it was honestly the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.”
“We were just like, ‘This is so good, and we’re so happy right now,'” she added.
“It was exactly what I wanted,” she said. “I didn’t really have expectations going in. I think that makes it so much easier compared to brides that have a really, really strict idea of what they want.”
“If that’s not met in any way, then it’s kind of a real bummer. But I was just like, ‘I just want to feel beautiful and I want it to have this vibe,’ and it ticked all my boxes,” she went on to say.
“Definitely just do it,” Stewart said of destination elopements. “You get the wedding and the honeymoon at the same time. You’re getting a fun trip with your friends.”
She recommends couples don’t plan their travel elopements too strictly, as flexibility helped her and Loris enjoy the experience more.
“We just loosely planned everything,” she said. “It was casual traveling, so it just made everyone very at ease. Everyone kept saying you guys are so good to travel with because you’re not putting pressure on anything.”
“We just wanted to go with the flow of the day and make sure everyone was feeling satisfied with how much we’re seeing, but also not getting completely burnt out,” she added.
“He’s like the male me,” Stewart said of Loris. “We have the same sense of humor. We don’t ever get sick of each other.”
“And I feel like even my best friends, like the people I love the most, my best girlfriends, after three days, I need a break,” she said. “But we’ll just be like, ‘How have I never gotten sick of being around you? Like, how is that even possible?'”
“I think we both have grown and changed so much,” Stewart said of herself and Loris over the almost decade they’ve been together. “But we’re so good at adapting to each other.”
“We don’t really fight,” she added. “And if we do, it’s like, ‘I don’t ever intend to hurt your feelings. So what can I do to make sure that doesn’t happen again?'”
“We’re very open and we communicate so well,” Stewart went on to say. “He’s just my person.”
You can see more of Finley’s work here, and you can follow Connell on Instagram.
If you are in the process of shopping for your wedding dress or have photos from when you shopped and want to talk to Insider for a story, get in touch at [email protected].
This content was originally published here.