Perhaps you’ve crunched the numbers and a traditional wedding would be an extravagant expense right now. Maybe you want to get married sooner rather than later, and throwing a party for all your friends and family could not be accomplished quickly enough. A large percentage of couples simply don’t want to hold a wedding, and there are many good reasons to consider eloping.
However, the unpopular news that you won’t be having a big, joyous wedding can be hard to break to friends and family members. Because many couples fear the disappointment of their nearest and dearest, they often tell people about the elopement in a way that makes people feel left out and unhappy. While this definitely can be avoided, you don’t have control over how people ultimately feel; there is still a chance that people will behave in an unpleasant way when informed about your elopement.
Rather than focusing on the potential negatives, start your process by thinking of all the uplifting and positive reasons why eloping is right for you and your partner. Having these reasons handy (even if the bigger reason is a negative one) can help the conversations with friends and family go much more smoothly. The protests of family members are sometimes silenced by the very clear excitement and joy you take in the path you’ve chosen.
Depending on your needs and your unique family and friends, you may want to choose one of several ways to break the news to your loved ones about your elopement. Here are some things to think about as you make your decision.
Share Your Elopement Plans Early and Emphatically
One of the most effective strategies is to start discussing elopement as soon as you are engaged, or even before. This strategy is a great way to normalize your elopement plans ahead of time, as well as evaluate very early whether you are likely to encounter a ton of resistance. This is probably your best bet if you and your partner aren’t actually stuck on the idea of elopement, but are just considering it.
By being upfront that this is your plan, you avoid having close friends and family growing attached to the idea of a wedding. Talking about your desires for an elopement at this stage can be much more effective than just talking about any difficulties involved with having a wedding. For instance, an intimate elopement to a great location may be your dream, and that sounds a lot better than just “I don’t want to plan a wedding!”
Share the News of Your Elopement Immediately Before the Event
For family who are likely to react well to the idea of an elopement and who are not hyper-involved in planning a hypothetical wedding with you, telling them right before you elope might be a good idea. This can be a way to avoid making them feel like they are utterly blindsided, but can also help them realize that things have already been set in motion.
A good way to make close friends and family feel involved at this point is to tell them the details of your elopement that you are excited about, preferably in person or on the phone. Finding out that your sister or brother eloped via social media can feel pretty distant, so one way to show that you value and enjoy them is to share details with them personally.
Share the News of Your Marriage After It’s Done
For a family that is likely to react somewhat negatively to an elopement no matter what you do, it might be valuable to just tell them afterwards. This is especially true if family or friends are likely to attempt to dissuade you from eloping, or are likely to try to threaten you with some kind of consequences. This may seem extreme, and of course this sort of family dynamic is rare, but eloping is occasionally a way to get out of a sticky situation.
That being said, this is the method that almost always results in some form of drama because even the family members that you most appreciate will feel left out and surprised to some degree. This may be worth it to have the decision fully made and finished before you announce the news. In this case, do your best to explain why it was the best call for you, and then let your family and friends process it. Don’t try to argue with them about why your decision was right; try to just be good listeners until they come around to being happy for you.
Some combination of these three of these methods is also possible for those friends and family members who will definitely not share information with each other. Some friends, for example, might be excited for you if you tell them ahead of time, while family members might need to be told after the fact. Remember that the goal is for you to have the elopement you want while maintaining relationships with friends and family to the best of your ability, and balancing those two goals can be done through some thoughtful timing.