Co-author Lisa Tabb, a contributing editor to National Geographic's Adventure magazine, was kind enough to give About this exclusive interview plus Five Top Reasons to Elope. "Beyond Vegas" by Lisa Tabb and Sam Silverstein (Contemporary Books, March 2000) is available online.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the book?
A: The original idea was hatched when it seemed that everyone in our immediate universe was planning a wedding. And no one appeared to be enjoying the experience. We were fielding phone call after phone call from exasperated friends and relatives, each of whom would unleash a long rant about the agony of developing their guest list or choosing a caterer, then let out a sigh and say, "We should just elope." It occurred to us that a book of eloping options might find an audience... and provide an excuse for us to marry on the fly ourselves.
Q: How many times did you elope?
A: We eloped 10 times, obtaining marriage licenses and scheduling officiants and repeating our vows again and again and again. We were married at a castle in Scotland and on a white sand beach in the British Virgin Islands, aboard a yacht in the Galapagos and beneath Acacia trees in Kenya. In Jerusalem, our ceremony took place amid the ruins of a military citadel built 2,000 years before. In Fiji the bride arrived on a raft and then was carried ashore by men, Cleopatra-style, with nary a petal out of place in her bouquet. There was nothing tawdry or campy or careless about any of them (though we did save money: the conventional wedding industry's fears are real in that regard). We loved eloping. "Beyond Vegas" is about our experiences in each place -- and how other couples can duplicate them if they wish -- as well as a selection of additional eloping options we researched the secondhand.
Q: What countries did you get married in?
A: Kenya, Israel, the BVI, the Galapagos (Ecuador), Scotland, Greece, Italy, Bali, Fiji, and Lake Tahoe. Elope is an elastic word, comprising a variety of scenarios. At one end of the spectrum you've got Las Vegas, which brings to mind images of fast food wedding ceremonies attended by Elvis impersonators. A book that described how to elope in Las Vegas would be a short one, high on camp and low on scenery. This was not for us. We were interested in going beyond Las Vegas -- literally a figuratively -- and exploring the other end of the spectrum, places that are not only wedding friendly (with little or no residency requirement or bureaucratic hurdles involved in procuring a marriage license) but also tasteful and exotic.
Q: Has there ever been a guidebook to eloping?
A: No. The word "elope" apparently gives wedding-industry types the willies. For some, the issue is business -- or potential loss thereof. Two-inch thick bridal magazines can't seem to find room for it. Publicity-hungry wedding planners flat refused to deal with us when we explained to them the gist of our project. For others, it's a matter of taste. Though the shelves of every bookstore in America are crammed with how-to guides to planning and executing conventional weddings, few wedding guidebooks so much as mention eloping. None have had the guts to use the word elope on their cover. Until now.
Q: Did anything unexpected happen at any of your elopements?
A: The great thing about eloping is that it is casual and there are very few expectations except that it is going to be an adventure. We found a bonus for travelers is the degree to which eloping provides a glimpse into local peoples' daily lives wherever they happen to be. To spend a day at the Attorney General's bare-bulb-lit office in Nairobi in search of a marriage license, for example, is to understand the source of Kenyans' great patience and mild temperament.
Q: Does eloping abroad mean you are legally married?
A: Yes. Marriages that have been legally conducted abroad are recognized in the United States.
Q: And, of course, how would you ever get divorced?
A: How rude of you to ask! Divorces generally are filed in the state in which a couple resides, regardless of where the wedding itself took place. If you must know. LOL!
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