How to Tell Your Family and Friends You’re Eloping
For most people, it’s expected that when you get engaged, the traditional wedding path is the path you will take. Couples say things like “I could never do that to my mom” or “We just can’t; we have such a big family” when listing reasons an elopement isn’t for them. The number one question we’re asked by couples who are planning their elopements is advice on how to tell their friends and family members that they’ve decided to forgo a traditional wedding. It’s the biggest barrier to couples having the wedding day they really want.
Making the decision to do something different and bravely stepping out to say “We don’t feel a big wedding is for us” takes a lot of courage. Every couple that we’ve worked with over the past five years has been incredibly happy that they’ve eloped. There are absolutely zero regrets from them. We constantly hear:
“We would never have wanted this day to be something else.”
“It’s been the best day of our lives.”
”The experience was more incredible than we could have imagined.”
Everyone deserves to feel this way about their wedding day.
So in an effort to encourage more couples who want to make the brave choice to elope, we surveyed over fifty couples who’ve very happily eloped or are in the process of planning their elopement and asked them for their very best advice on how to tell friends and family about your decision to elope.
These tips will enable you to have the incredible day that you envision. We hope to encourage you not to let other people’s opinions and expectations affect how you spend the day that you commit the rest of their lives to each other. The day that you say your vows and make those promises to your partner matters. It deserves to be exactly the way you want it to be.
“It is your adventure and no one’s love story but your own.”
Tip 1: Tell Them Face to Face (or FaceTime to FaceTime)
Many couples advocated for telling their close family and friends in person, even if it was painful or awkward. Telling them face to face so they can hear your excitement in your vision for the day can help them understand why you’re choosing an elopement over a traditional wedding. For friends and family that aren’t geographically close, couples suggested getting on FaceTime so you can better gauge reactions, calling so you can hear their voice and they can hear the excitement in yours and, finally, mailing letters.
“We said something like, ‘We wanted you to know firsthand from us that we’ve decided to elope in private. We aren’t anti-wedding at all, but when it comes down to it, we do feel weddings have gone beyond our financial reach. Ultimately for us, it’s about starting the rest of our lives together.’ I think this has made people feel very cared for and like they would be there if we had decided to have a wedding.”
Tip 2: Drop Hints and Be Obvious
For couples who always knew an elopement was the choice for them, dropping hints long before their elopement day or even their engagement helped ease friends and family into the actual announcement. When everyone knows a traditional wedding is off the table from the beginning, it helps minimize the hurt feelings. Instead of “Save the Dates,” eloping couples shared that announcing their engagement instead as a “We’re Eloping!” helped to keep expectations in check.
You can also involve other family members in helping you drop hints to those who might be more skeptical. Ask them to casually mention that it might be something you’re thinking of so when you tell everyone, everyone has already warmed up to the idea.
“Before we got engaged I told my mom I wanted to elope when we got married, so it wasn’t a surprise when I confirmed that I wanted to elope. My husband’s family couldn’t afford to travel for a wedding, so they were also supportive of our desire to elope. Beyond some of the practicality, most family and friends expected something non-traditional from us. It came as no surprise that we didn’t have a traditional wedding or anything formal.”
Tip 3: Share Your Reasons Why
Couples found that sharing their reasons why they were choosing to elope helped their friends and family understand that an elopement wasn’t about excluding those they were closest to but rather about having the day they had always wanted.
A few reasons couples used:
- We don’t want the large price tag for a big wedding.
- We want to be able to pay for our wedding ourselves.
- We want to build our future not plan a party.
- We’re saving to buy a house or take a big vacation before we have kids.
- We want to do something we love, like traveling, on our wedding day.
- We want something truly intimate.
- We want to actually be able to spend time together on our wedding day.
- We want to spend the day enjoying our relationship instead of worrying about making others happy.
- We don’t want the stress of planning a big wedding.
- We want to say our vows in a remote location.
- Our privacy is important to us.
- We’re so in love, we just don’t want to wait to plan a big day.
- It’s what we feel is right.
Tip 4: Share as Many Details as You Can
Sharing the details with them also helps show your excitement and helps your friends and family understand how much effort and thought you’ve put into planning the elopement wedding that’s perfect for you. When they see your excitement, it allows them to get excited! This also helps them feel that they’re involved in the day, since they know what you’re planning. It also shows that you’re not eloping to exclude them and that you still value their love.
“The best way to tell them is to just tell them – communicate your plan (where you plan on eloping) and how important it is to the two of you that you do this.”
Tip 5: Keep Them Involved
Giving your friends and family other jobs and ways they can be involved in your elopement can help them feel like they’re still helpful and reassure them that you do want them to be part of your day in a way. Some couples choose to include their immediate family in their elopement ceremony as a compromise to keep disappointment minimal. You can also involve your family in your ceremony in other ways like asking them to write a letter that you can read during the elopement day, asking their help in making decor like ‘Just Married’ signs for your backpacks, or helping pick the brewery to go to afterwards.
“Remind them that you’ll carry their love and support with you while you say you’re vows.”
Tip 6: Throw a Party! (Before or After)
Having a large reception after your elopement where you can share your photos and memories of the day and give your friends and family a chance to shower you with the excited affection they want to can be a happy medium for couples. Sending out invitations to a party that say “We’re going to say ‘I Do’ then we’ll party with you!” is a fun way to share the news and invite them at the same time.
Alternatively, you can also have a party prior to your elopement. Some couples chose to have a small get together to share their news with friends and family, which helped them feel extra special that they were ‘in on the secret.’ One couple had the fun idea of having a little get together before their big international trip (for their destination elopement) and surprised their family & friends by signing their marriage license with them right then & there!
Tip 7: Share Your Photos With Them
Some couples chose to elope in secret and surprise their friends and family later. One couple waited until their daughter’s birthday and made a slideshow of photos from the past year that changed to wedding photos halfway through. Another couple surprised their parents and siblings with framed photos from the elopement day, telling them they had brought back a trip souvenir just for them.
Sharing your photos communicates so clearly how much FUN you had on your day and how enjoyable it was. In our experience, friends and family truly seem to “get it” once they’ve seen the images because they immediately understand this kind of day wouldn’t be possible at a traditional venue with 150 guests. They see your joy, your happiness, how incredible your day was. When people who love you see you being 100% you and having the time of your life in your photos…. Well, it’s pretty hard to stay mad after that.
Tip 8: Remember the Day is for You
Couples say remembering that the disappointment from your friends and family or the less-than-thrilled reactions said more about those people than your decision. Some said, “Others were sad for selfish reasons because they like big expensive parties.” Knowing that your family and friends want to be part of the day because they want acknowledgment that they’re a big part of your life can help you empathize with them when their reactions are less than ideal. Others said their families took some time to warm up to the idea and were initially disappointed but later came around and understood. In the end, remember that this is your choice and it really does matter. You deserve the day that you feel is right for you.
“Because at the end of the day it’s about you and your partner and that’s all that matters.”
We hope the above tips help you take the plunge and make the decision to have the intimate “just us” wedding experience of your dreams!
If you have any more tips or advice… please share in the comments!