It’s so often that we hear stories of couples on their big wedding day, sharing and expressing their love for one another while their friends and family cheer them on. But what about couples who forgo the traditional route in favor of a more intimate profession of love between just the two of them? Sure, big weddings are a magical time for everybody, but elopements don’t seem to get as much attention. So let’s break from this narrative and shine a light on an amazing couple I recently photographed during their elopement.


Meet Rachel and Suranga, a recently eloped couple whom I had the honor and privilege of photographing during and after their ceremony at City Hall in Salem, MA. Rachel, a southern Indiana gal, and Suranga, who hails all the way from Sri Lanka, are two PhD students at Indiana University. These two lovebirds met on and began emailing each other, amassing an impressive nearly 90,000 words since the beginning of their relationship. As Rachel puts it, “Writing each other simply never got boring!”


While they may share many interests, they also support each other in their differences, mainly academics. Suranga studies Health Informatics, while Rachel studies Speech and Communication in Autism. Despite their differing respective fields of study, they were able to agree on the future of their relationship: elopement. Let’s take a look.

Rachel and Suranga opted to elope during their winter break due to their demanding PhD programs. They chose Salem as they both share keen interests in history, architecture, and folklore. Justice of the Peace Ilene Simons married the couple at City Hall. During their stay on the east coast, they split their time between exploring Boston and venturing around Salem, enjoying the “quaint and quiet streets” as Rachel recalls. On their wedding day, after City Hall, Louise drove them to various parts of Salem, including the Salem Willows for some ocean shots, Salem Common, and finishing off at the Hawthorne Hotel where they warmed up in the lobby after having braved the frigid and unwavering cold. From the get go, as a resident of Salem, Louise was able to offer them ideas about where to photograph around Salem. Louise offered an outlet of comfort to the happy couple, as friends and family were unable to join, which attests to the level of care Louise takes in her profession.


Here’s what Rachel had to say about the photographs taken on their wedding day:

“Louise photographed our elopement on a frigid day in December 2017! She made us feel completely comfortable, and we were inspired to cross many icy paths in below freezing weather to get the perfect shots! We definitely got them. We love our photos and the special artistic impressions she made of them – we plan to use them on our thank you cards.”

As they both work in the mental health field, they were drawn to Louise Michaud Photographer because of her involvement with the 99 Faces Project. The 99 Faces Project challenges traditional societal views of people with mental illnesses by celebrating them and those who love them through the art of photography.