You’ve Decided to Elope–Do You Tell Your Family?
If you scour the internet for blogs and forums dedicated to the question of “should I tell my family I’ve decided to elope,” you will find a lot of advice suggesting you wait until after the elopement to announce your marriage, or that you avoid posting on social media so people don’t get offended. I think both of those ideas are rooted in the wrong thing–they are rooted in the assumption that eloping is somehow offensive, and maybe a little shameful. We totally disagree! There is nothing to be ashamed of if you want to elope, and it is 100% up to you whether you tell people now, after the wedding, or ever!
If you choose not to tell your family, post on social media, or in any other way keep your elopement private, we hope you don’t do so out of fear. If you want to tell your loved ones, I hope they are excited and supportive! If they unfortunately don’t totally understand your reasons for eloping, that’s also quite normal. You’ve done nothing wrong if your family’s immediate response to an elopement announcement is confusion, or even anger. Intentional, authentic elopement adventures are new to the wedding industry, or at least they are new headlines–it might take a while to get everyone on board, and that is OK. To help you counter some of the most common elopement objections, we’ve offered explanations below. Keep reading to find out the most common elopement objections, and learn how you can respond if they are directed at you.
Things Your Parents May Say When You Tell Them You’re Eloping – And How to Respond
“What is the point of eloping?”
If this is the response to your elopement announcement, don’t take it too personally. Remind yourself that the way people respond to your news is more of a reflection of THEM, then it is a comment about you. Your family might be immediately disappointed that they won’t be present on your wedding day, but that doesn’t mean they are less excited about you getting married! Help them see the “point” of eloping by sharing your incredible location, giving them a chance to help throughout the planning process (if you want that), and explaining the appeal of eloping as you see it! The point of eloping is to craft a wedding that fits your vision, but maybe your family simply never envisioned anything other than a traditional wedding. This is your chance to open their eyes to how amazing eloping can be!
“Eloping will just lead to divorce!”
I’ll give a little here–there are a few studies out there that suggest eloping couples are more likely to divorce. BUT WAIT–those studies are all older and don’t take into consideration the fact eloping is different now than it was even a decade ago! Plus, one of those famous studies said the least likely kind of marriage to end in divorce is a small, intimate wedding. Choosing to elope just the two of you, or even with a small group of loved ones is actually the least likely to end in divorce, but the “studies” all skew in favor of weddings because eloping was defined as “getting married just the two of you.” Basically, any celebration with vendors, a photographer, and a couple friends was put into the “wedding” category, which really limited the kind of events even considered elopements. An intentional, authentic, well-planned elopement doesn’t fit the idea of a traditional last-minute elopement, and therefore cannot be put into the same category of expectations.
Also, if you really want to ruffle feathers–divorce isn’t a reason to NOT get married any certain way! The fact is none of us know what the future holds. There is no way to tell now what will happen in 5, 10, or 50 years. But, not knowing isn’t a good enough reason to cancel your elopement. Yes, some elopement marriages will end in divorce. Plenty of traditional weddings will also end in divorce. But, a true-to-you authentic marriage celebration sounds a lot less likely to be the reason for a future disagreement if it’s what you both wanted. Don’t worry about the unknowns–if you know that the person you’re with is someone you want to commit to, then do it YOUR way!
“An elopement isn’t a REAL wedding!”
Well, that’s just not true. What defines a “real” wedding anyway? Couples can get legally married at both an elopement and a wedding. Couples can share vows at an elopement and a wedding. Couples can have a first kiss, a first dance, and cut cake at an elopement and a wedding. Unless the naysayers can point to exactly what makes a big, traditional wedding “real,” the real issue here is that their perspective is narrow. What they really mean by this objection is that an elopement doesn’t meet the same expectations they had for your wedding. Those expectations can change when they see that a small, intentional marriage ceremony is of equal importance to a huge event. Maybe your parents’ dreamed of watching you walk down an aisle in a church. Well, you can “walk down the aisle” of a trail in a gorgeous forest. Or you can help them let go of that image by getting them excited about all the parts of the celebration you will have!
“We deserve to be present at your wedding!’
Sigh. No one has the “right” to be at your wedding. No one is “owed” a metaphorical seat on your special day. It doesn’t matter if they birthed you, raised you, cooked you meals, or watched you grow up–the only people who deserve to be at your wedding are those YOU want to be there. If you do want to spend time with them and celebrate your marriage, a post-elopement reception might be a great way to ease them into the idea they won’t be present at your ceremony. But, you also don’t owe them that! Whatever reason you want to elope is valid, period. You don’t need an excuse to elope. It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing a private ceremony because you want to get married in a location that can’t handle a lot of foot traffic, or because you want to avoid the pressures of hosting a large group of people on YOUR wedding day. Your reason is valid and those who love you shouldn’t be centering themselves when they should be celebrating you.
“It breaks my heart that you don’t want me at your wedding.”
Not inviting someone to your wedding doesn’t mean you don’t want them there–it means you’re prioritizing other goals and that is OK! You aren’t doing this to cut them out (or maybe you are, but that’s a whole separate conversation), and explaining all the different things you gain by eloping will open their eyes to the fact this simply isn’t about them. Explain that their heart shouldn’t break over this, because your choice to elope is all about how much you love the outdoors, your partner, and the time you’ll get to spend together by eloping. Eloping isn’t about the things you’re losing, it’s about what you gain! Most couples aren’t eloping to cut out any individual, but they might be wanting to cut out the stress of hosting a big event, and that distinction should alleviate the personal hurt your loved ones might feel at this decision. In fact, there are many ways to involve your loved ones in your elopement day, even if you elope just the two of you.
“Please don’t elope–you’ll regret it!”
This can be one of the most frustrating objections to respond to–how can anyone know what you’re going to regret in the future?! Since the whole concept of this objection is subjective, I think the only possible way to refute it is to look at the evidence. We love real data because the more research we do into eloping, the more popular we’ve found eloping to be! Also, the No. 1 thing we’ve heard from couples who planned a traditional wedding is that they wish they had eloped, or at least wish they had done things their way. It’s true–if you want to elope & don’t, you’re way more likely to regret the traditional wedding. But if you wanted a traditional wedding and had to elope for some reason, you’d probably regret that too. Basically, the best way to not regret your wedding day is to do exactly what feels right for you! If an elopement is your dream wedding, no one has the right to tell you how you’re going to feel about it in the future.
“Eloping looks so cheap, you should invest in your wedding day because it’s important!”
The financial cost of your wedding has nothing to do with the value of your wedding. Yes, it is common for elopements to cost fewer dollars than a big traditional wedding, but that doesn’t mean eloping isn’t an investment! Eloping is often a wedding style that appeals to couples who value experiences more than things. By choosing to elope and putting you money toward a day that aligns with your unique vision, the value of your wedding can be truly priceless! Traditional weddings put a lot of money toward crafting an experience for the guests, while elopement budgets go toward crafting an experience for the couple getting married. In fact, if you want a full breakdown of the cost of eloping versus the cost of a wedding, check out this blog on the average cost of elopements. No matter what the dollar amount is, a wedding that truly aligns with your values and your vision is exactly the kind of investment you should be making at the beginning of your marriage. If it happens to save you money, you can turn around and make a financial investment in something that will better your union! Maybe it’s a down payment on a house, or maybe it’s a honeymoon adventure you’ll be talking about for the rest of your lives–investing in what you value most is more important than spending a lot of money on a big wedding.
“But it’s traditional to get married with your family present! What will [insert family member] think?”
Sorry, but tradition is kind of a terrible reason to do anything. If you choose a tradition, and adopt it as your own, there are so many reasons to uphold it because it means something to you! But following traditions because they mean something to someone else actually feels like a disservice to everyone involved. It’s dishonest to go through the motions of something that is sacred to someone you love, without feeling a connection to it yourself. If you’re planning your wedding around the opinion of a relative, then it’s not really your day anymore, is it? Whether the reasons are familial, religious, or simply routine, wedding traditions should really only be followed if they matter to YOU.
There are no rules to getting married! Even if it feels like “this is the way it’s always been done,” that isn’t correct. Wedding traditions look different depending on religion, culture, economics, and social norms. Even if it seems like the way your parents or grandparents did something is the “traditional way,” their method was also new at some point! Wedding traditions have evolved to represent the times. Lavish weddings were new to the 20th century, before then most weddings were modest affairs. Brides began wearing white less than 200 years ago, and the Christian church only began performing marriage ceremonies regularly nearly 500 years ago.I mean, if you go back far enough, anthropologists believe the concept of “marriage” only became normalized around 4000 years ago…but you get the point. Basically, marriage unions have changed immensely over time and there is no reason to assume marriage won’t continue to shift as society evolves.
“You’re just trying to cause family drama.”
Well, that’s not your fault. Even if there is a bit of drama or backlash, remember that it’s not about you, even when it is directed at you. The assumption that family members won’t support your decision to elope is hasty, unfounded, and rooted in the insecurities of the person making such a claim. The naysayers are likely inflating the issue. As much as it might be a fun thing to discuss at family gatherings for the next few months, most people don’t actually care how you get married as long as you end up happy. Once you’re married, the “drama” will very likely go away. It’s even possible that the person who assumes the worst when you tell them you want to elope doesn’t feel they could do what you’re doing–maybe they’re even already married and wish they had eloped! Choosing to elope, to prioritize your values and desires on your wedding day, is a courageous act. It’s not something a lot of people even knew was an option until recently, and the movement toward small wedding ceremonies continues to gain momentum. Choosing to elope might seem like a decision to go against the grain now–but I truly believe that elopements will continue to grow in popularity until they are mainstream!
“Eloping is selfish!”
No, wanting your family members to plan a big wedding so YOU can be there is selfish! A wedding celebration is first and foremost about the two people getting married. Life is already busy and distracting enough, and if a couple wants the chance to be alone together on their wedding day, they deserve that opportunity. Try not to lash back at loved ones who are mourning their chance to celebrate with you–instead, explain that you want to be able to enjoy your wedding day with your partner and avoid the stress of catering to hundreds of guests. Many traditional weddings result in the couple getting married barely spending any time together! Instead of enjoying this huge moment in their relationship, they’re running between groups saying a quick “hello” and trying to catch up with people they haven’t seen in a while. Truly, we understand how appealing it is to treat a wedding like a reunion, but it’s simply not possible to spend quality time with that many people in one day. Eloping is choosing quality over quantity and giving yourself the space to truly be present with your partner–wanting to enjoy your wedding day with the person you’re marrying is NOT selfish. If you need more inspiration, here are 10 Reasons to Elope from couples who were once fielding the same questions you are!
Your Elopement Survival Guide (ie., how to deal with the naysayers)
You have the right to elope–you should not be made to feel ashamed for choosing to get married in whatever way feels right for you and your partner. Unfortunately, you might get some backlash for choosing to elope, but those objections do NOT have to define your decision. There’s a way to inform and include families without a feeling of guilt or feeling the need to offer up an apology gift. You don’t owe anyone access to your wedding day, and yet it can be extremely difficult to navigate the hurt feelings of people you care about. The best way to respond to objects is through empathy and facts–sharing that you understand if they don’t understand, but x,y, & z are the reasons you’re choosing to do what is best for you. Still want a little more of a roadmap for navigating others’ opinions about your choice to elope? Here are four ways to navigate family objections when you decide to elope:
- Keep it in Perspective: It might seem like the backlash is significant right now, or you might not have told anyone yet but you worry about the effect of announcing your elopement. Well, I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve worried about announcing something to your family! Maybe you decided to go to a different college than your partent’s alma mater, or maybe you decided to take a gap year and travel, or maybe you decided to drop out and work because that fit your goals better–think back on these other decisions and ask yourself how long the “drama” lasted, and was it worth it? Also keep in mind that while your wedding feels like the BIGGEST decision right now, you’ve committed to marrying your partner. How you do it won’t change the fact that you’re creating your own family unit. You deserve the amazing memory of a wedding you loved, and you’ll still be able to celebrate with your loved ones. Eloping doesn’t have to be “either or,” it can be both an intimate celebration AND a family celebration!
- Involve Those You Want Involved: One of the top reasons family and friends object to an elopement is because they want to be involved in your big day. There are many ways to involve your loved ones in the celebration without inviting them to be physically present at your elopement. You can still bring would-be guests dress shopping, cake tasting, and ask for their help in the planning process. You can also have a post-elopement reception where everyone comes together to celebrate your marriage, or a pre-elopement party. You can also set boundaries and not involve anyone who would add stress or unwanted expectation to your wedding experience. It is not selfish to prioritize yourself on your wedding day–this is a day meant to celebrate the union of you and your partner. You can also invite a small number of guests who won’t center themselves on your big day–you should never feel ashamed about making wedding decisions that will bring you and your partner joy!
- Remember Where the Objection Comes From: When you’re doing what is best for you, objections from friends and family are a reflection of their feelings, not a reflection of your decision. Those who love you ultimately want you to be happy, but they might be a little confused about what they think will make you happy–recognize that their feelings are self-reflective because they don’t understand why you would do things differently than they would in your circumstances. Objections are often rooted in a misguided belief that the objector knows what is best for you. Empathize with how they are feeling and take the time to explain why you want to elope.
- Check Yourself: Throughout the planning process check in with yourself to see how you really feel about your decisions. When we get backlash for our choices, those outside opinions can often infiltrate our emotions. We’ve each encountered couples who initially wanted to elope, but then considered changing their minds after family and friends objected to the idea. We will never tell a couple how they want to get married, but we encourage every couple to block out the noise and be honest with themselves about their wedding vision. If you really, truly want to elope just the two of you–do it! If you want to have a small, intimate wedding celebration with a few close friends–do it! If you really can’t imagine getting married without hundreds of guests, well I’m surprised you made it this far down an elopement blog, but you should do it!
Choosing to elope doesn’t mean a free pass from all the stress and planning that comes with weddings, but we firmly believe an authentic true-to-you marriage celebration is the BEST wedding! Whether you want to elope just the two of you on a mountain, or you want to celebrate with a few friends in a valley, we support YOU making whatever decision feels right.