Wondering how to tell your family you want to elope? Here’s our top tips to figure out this sometimes tricky situation!
How to Tell Your Family You Want to Elope
Now that you’re engaged, you’re probably noticing how everyone wants to know about your plans. Maybe you thought about a big traditional wedding to start out, but you’re starting to feel like it’s just not where your heart is.
You probably felt a sense of relief as you discovered eloping was THE option for you! Whether the intimate setting, the opportunity for adventure, or simply to have a carefree day without all the worries of a big wedding.
However, now you realize you have to break the news to your family (and friends too who are expecting a big party for your wedding day). Eloping is still seen in many circles as not “real” or looked down on. In many parts of our culture, the idea persists that “everyone” gets married in a big venue, throws a big party, and does “all the things.” We completely get that you are nervous about how to break the news to your loved ones. How should you manage through this situation?
Before You Speak to Anyone – Decide on your “Why”
This is easier said than done; but before you fumble the words as you break the news to the people who matter to you, spend some time with each other to talk it through. Put your emotions and thoughts to words, and put those words to paper. This can bring incredible clarity to both of you before you step forward and announce your plans.
Everyone elopes for different reasons, but to help you think through this, here are some of the reasons we hear the most:
- You realize you stress over things and need to avoid that above all else. Many couples realize too late how stressful planning a big wedding really is. If you are fortunate to have heard from friends of their experience, you know what a situation this can become. Big weddings are especially hard on brides who feel like they need to please everyone and make everything just right. Your wedding day isn’t worth worrying about all the planning in the months ahead and then stressing about it on the day as well. To protect yourself, you need to have a wedding day that you can actually enjoy.
- Big weddings feel like a performance. Maybe you are naturally introverted; where the idea of standing in front of a crowd for your vows and dancing in front of them too just doesn’t sit well. You should feel comfortable and enjoy everyone moment of your day, so to avoid that situation you need to have a wedding in a much smaller setting.
- Uniqueness is noticeably absent from traditional weddings. If you’ve perused Pinterest, wedding magazines, or anything in popular culture related to weddings, maybe you’ve noticed how generic everything feels. How special is your day when you’re getting married in the same venue that a hundred other couples used in the past year? You want to experience a wedding day that is different than what everyone else is doing.
- Traditional weddings just don’t seem worth the cost. Setting aside the emotional cost for a moment, you might look at how everything adds up for a big wedding and wonder why all the pomp and circumstance is necessary. Is it worth it? Throwing a big party with all the environmental impact and waste – maybe that’s not your thing. Or you want to be able to afford an incredibly awesome & intimate wedding day AND put a down payment on your first house together. (More in-depth info on this topic here – The Cost of Eloping vs. a Wedding).
- Your special place is adventuring in God’s Creation. Have you ever felt like church buildings are just a structure, made by human hands – that cannot compare to the beauty of nature? Do you find a unique calm and peace when you adventure into the outdoors? If you feel a connection to the outside – maybe this is your calling to have an adventure elopement. You might like to read our blog post What does the Bible Say about Eloping?
Whatever your reasons, take the time to talk about them, agree to what’s important and write it down. This will be crucial in your communication to your family about your decision to elope.
Start with the People Who You Love the Most
Break the news to the people who matter
We all have are closest circle of family and friends. Maybe it’s your parents who you desire the most to have a blessing on your plans. Or your grandmother who you’ve looked up to for years. Whomever it is for you, make an intentional effort to explain where you are coming from about your decision.
Sometimes, friction remains here. It’s something you will need to be open to – the possibility of things being unresolved in a relationship that is very important to you. We’ve seen that over time these things heal and your loved ones “come around” to your decision. Know this – it is far better to deal with a temporary disagreement with loved ones than to live with the decision of feeling forced into a wedding day you didn’t want.
Most of the time however, when explained from your “why” – we see that family members are understanding & then supportive in your decision. This is when eloping becomes even sweeter – when you have the confidence of support from your loved ones.
Involved your loved ones in special ways
All to often, people make the assumption that eloping means leaving everyone behind. This is not necessarily the case! Some of our couples choose to make the day for just the two of them, while others we work with choose to bring along immediate family. Both are options for your elopement! Some of our tips below:
- If you want a “just us” elopement: Bring your closest family in on the planning experience, handling the details you are bringing along, shopping for your dress / suit; anything you feel you need help with. Many times our closest ones just want to feel needed. Delegate and ask for help. One of our favorite recent examples was where the mother of the bride & mother of the groom banded together to craft a few things for the couple. One mom created an amazing picnic backpack complete with a charcuterie board and desserts, while the other handcrafted a bouquet from wooden flowers. There are lots of options to include those who want to be involved!
- If you want to bring immediate family: First consider who “immediate” is. This can get tricky with larger families, as (from experience) groups above 15 really lose the intimate vibe of elopements. Practically speaking, this means you can realistically include parents and grandparents on both sides & siblings too. Then be open to planning a day where you have time together with everyone (usually around your ceremony time) and then separate time for just the two of you to enjoy the day. More reading here: How to Elope with Family
Plan a Reception for a few months later
If you are blessed to have LOTS of family and friends, it can become quite impractical to include everyone on your wedding day. For this reason many couples who choose to elope also “throw a party” a few months after their wedding day. Here’s some reasons why this can work out well:
- Let’s face it – many people are more attached to the “party” aspect of a wedding. While most won’t admit it, being there for your ceremony might not be what’s really on people’s minds when they think of your wedding day. More people are interested in the reception – so why not just leave that part for later when you can have the flexibility of setting up a big event?
- Waiting a few months gives time for your decision to sink in with everyone. It can be surprising, but after awhile life goes on and what was once a big deal is not so much to people later on. Acceptance of your decision sinks in and life goes on.
- You can have a reception and share your photos and video with everyone. Timing your reception for months down the road gives you the chance to include many more people in your day – once your photos are delivered, you can display your album and prints at your reception. On top of that, use the opportunity to have a “viewing party” for your Highlights video and everyone will be proclaiming that it was just like there were there along with you!
Don’t forget – Have your day captured on video
Most everyone realizes the importance of photography in capturing their day, but with elopements it’s videography that makes it possible to include people who miss out on your day. It’s one of those things that is tough to put into words – it’s better just to experience what it’s like to have your own Highlights video. Here’s one example below … when you have a way to share with your loved ones an immersive experience of the story of your day, it makes your decision go over much better!
Stay firm in your decision
There is so much pressure on couples these days to have a big traditional wedding. You may feel alone in your decision … like you’re swimming upstream with no one to help. We want you to know you have advocates who will stand with you and support you in your decision. Stay strong & stay firm in what you have decided. Just like there is nothing worse than making the wrong decision about your wedding day, there is tremendous freedom in making the right decision for the two of you. Your peace of mind, your stress level, your emotions as you look back on your wedding day … it will all be worth it when you are finally saying your vows together the way you wanted for your wedding day.