Finishing touches . . . Tessa Simpson works her magic on a wedding breakfast table. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

With the wedding industry all but decimated by Covid-19, Oamaru make-up artist Tessa Simpson and Waimate photographer Laura Johns have had to think outside the box.

Enter Run With You, a curated elopement business which takes all the stress out of organising a wedding, but also the stress out of worrying whether it will even be able to go ahead.

The pair discussed the move in June, after Covid hit and all their wedding bookings had been cancelled. Then after seeing a similar business start up, they were spurred into action.

Mrs Simpson said she went from being booked out every Friday and Saturday for three months last summer, to having one booking for the whole of January this year.

Both women have worked in the wedding industry for more than 14 years. Ms Johns was a hairdresser before she became a photographer, and Mrs Simpson managed a wedding styling business in Brisbane. She also styled and oversaw weddings at the Loan and Merc, on her return to Oamaru.

She has been focusing on her make-up work since second son Luca was born, as it was a better fit with “mum life”.

“We wanted to create an all-inclusive package that was more like an experience, rather than just an elopement where you go and have a ceremony and then it’s over in 20 minutes, kind of situation,” Mrs Simpson said.

“We wanted it to be more like, people could stay and relax and then they could have a handful of people with them and they could basically just celebrate.”

The pair offer five different packages and are working on a sixth in Queenstown. Each package included accommodation, the venue, catering, photography, hair, makeup, flowers, styling and full organisation.

On Location . . . Laura Johns works with a couple from Auckland who took part in a styled shoot for the new business’ website. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The pair are joined by florist Cristy Holding and celebrant Sophia Shortcliffe. Hairstylist Gabrielle Roney, who has recently had a baby, will also join the team. There are also optional add-ons, such as the use of a helicopter through Heliventures, and video of the event with Kara Jane Visuals.

“So they just basically have to let us know what package they want to go with, how many people they want to bring, and then they just leave it up to us, really.

Different venues on offer are at Valley Views Glamping in Kurow, Lakestone Lodge in Lake Pukaki, Pen-y-bryn Lodge in Oamaru, and a private home in Moeraki.

And it didn’t have to be an elopement. They were also happy to cater for larger, more traditional weddings.

“Basically they just let us know what they’re wanting to do and we’d put it together for them.”

Their website has just been launched using photos from the wedding of Gabrielle and Mark Roney, where the team worked together for the first time, and a styled shoot held in November at Lakestone Lodge and Mt Cook.

“We had a couple fly down from Auckland for it, who actually paid for themselves to come because they really wanted to be a part of it. We went through the motions of an elopement, and they wrote themselves vows and everything. Just to show all of our skills together.”

Mrs Simpson said there was still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Covid, which was why people were hesitant to plan weddings, but Run With You gave people another option to consider.

“You can elope. If your family can’t come from overseas or whatever, you can still have a party . . . when the borders are open. But if you really want to just get married, you can still do that now.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty still, that’s why people are hesitant. But at least if we’re in level two [lockdown] even, they can still do it.”