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When I got married, I didn’t even know how to talk to people who weren’t invited to the wedding, and I certainly didn’t even think about how to tell friends and family we wanted to elope.
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I’ll be the first to admit, wedding planning can be hell (I know, I went through it). The expectations of tons of people are weighing down on your shoulders… There’s the looming guest list, a mother-in-law who just decided she wants an off white dress and for you to invite a list of people you don’t even know… And don’t even get me started on how creating a seating chart is the single most political thing you will ever do until you decide to run for office one day.
It kind of just makes you want to throw caution to the wind and say “What the heck! Let’s elope!”
Now let me tell you, I’m over here waving pom moms and tossing confetti in the air because it’s hands down the best choice you’re going to make and I will be your cheerleader every single step of the way.
So now you’ve got me on your side, what’s next?
ARE YOU GOING TO TELL ANYONE?
The first thing you need to decide is if you’re going to tell friends and family you’re eloping AT ALL. Maybe your idea of an elopement is just the two of you exchanging vows on a mountain or a beach. Perhaps you’d just prefer a more intimate setting with your parents or a few witnesses. There’s no “right way” to elope but there are pros and cons to telling people.
PROS: People will get to feel like they’re part of an inner circle, like your own secret marriage/elopement club. They’ll feel pretty special because you decided to tell them, plus clubs are great. The people who you do choose to tell, often are people who are very close to you and do have your best interest at heart, so they also will be very supportive and encouraging!
CONS: So you just told that one person at work (or even a family member or close friend)? Well, they let it slip to another person at the office that you’re eloping. The likelihood of the word getting out obviously increases if you tell people. Loose lips sink ships. (Loose lips ruin surprise elopements…? Just doesn’t have that same ring to it.) The more people who know, the more opinionated people will get (trust me on this one). They’ll start getting pushy and ask to be invited (or have “thoughts” on why you’re “getting married wrong”). If you decide to go this route, make sure you highlight the fact that it is a small and intimate ceremony, and it’s what you and your fiancé want. (Then you can choose to tell them to shove it where the sun don’t shine, but you didn’t get that advice from me, okay?).
My personal advice? If you want to tell someone, consider telling only your closest two or three friends or family members. Even then, be judicious about it, and emphasize until you are blue in the face that it’s supposed to be kept on the down-low. For me? I know right off the bat that my dad can’t keep his mouth shut so I would have a better chance of telling my mom or a close friend and keeping it quiet. I love my father, but it’s the reality of the situation.
BROACHING THE SUBJECT
Worried about how to broach the subject? Try this:
“Mom and dad, we wanted to let you know that my fiancé(e) and I have decided to have a more intimate and private destination wedding, an elopement. After a lot of discussion, it is really what is best for us and what represents our personalities and our partnership. Even though we are choosing to go this route, you are special to us and will be in our thoughts and hearts.”
See how there was no room for discussion or questioning? At that point, many people start to understand. If they still object, know that’s a reflection of their character, not yours.
INCLUDING FRIENDS/FAM IN PRE-ELOPEMENT FESTIVITIES
Do you want to include your family without actually having them there for your ceremony? Ask them if they would help with other events, like a wedding shower.
Have a “send-off” party a few weeks or even shortly before you depart for your elopement! This can be a chill event at a bowling alley, or as big as a typical reception. My advice: If they really want it, they need to help plan it in some way. Ask them to write a letter of marriage advice or a letter of love for you and your partner to read during your ceremony.
If they are only slightly bummed (it is better if they are totally okay with it, since this next option can be seen as adding insult to injury), have them help choose your destination if you haven’t officially decided yet. Give them choices, like “We’ve narrowed our destination down to X, Y, and Z, and we’d love it if you helped choose!” Invite a close friend or family member to go with you to pick out a dress or suit.
ELOPEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT EXAMPLES
Not up for telling your family and friends beforehand? I’ve seen elopements announced in every way you can imagine. I have even seen couples surprise their parents by FaceTiming them from the ceremony. By far the most popular seems to be a mailed announcement.
My personal favorite wording is something I saw on an elopement announcement sent to me by a former couple (and current friends!):
Jack and Jill exchanged vows in a private ceremony at ____________.
Although we decided to celebrate our love with each other, please know that you were in our thoughts and forever in our hearts.
We couldn’t be happier!
Want more elopement announcement inspiration? Check out “Elope Your Life” and get a ton more examples and ways to tell your family you’re eloping!