In this post, you will learn all the different ways on how to tell your friends and family you're eloping!
So you’ve decided on eloping - hell yeah!! But now you may be dreading telling your well-meaning loved ones that you’re not doing the whole traditional wedding. That can be a nerve-racking thing, I totally get that. Especially if you have a large family that has been pressuring you into planning a big event with every coworker and distant relative on the guest list. The good news is, times are changing for the wedding industry, particularly in a post-pandemic world.
Having a more intimate wedding is no longer a shocking or unimaginable announcement. Elopements have been a thing for quite some time, and were even becoming more widely accepted before Covid hit! But 2020 showed us that couples don’t need a big wedding with 150+ guests to get married.
You may have family members or friends who aren't going to react the way you'd like them to. I want to give you as much guidance and help to make sure it is as simple and stress free as possible. Let's get into it!
Should I tell my friends and family we're eloping?
This is a common question I get, and the simple answer is: it depends. If you feel that your loved ones will be supportive, then it may be an exciting announcement to make. However, if you feel that they may not be supportive, then it could be something you keep hush hush. A big piece of advice that I do have is instead of saying "we're eloping", you can say "we are thinking of a nontraditional wedding that feels more like us". A lot of people struggle with the old definition of elopement, and most don't quite understand why you would get married without anyone there. So this explanation is a great way to portray confidence and keep things less argumentative.
Who to tell first that you are eloping
This is something you’ll want to discuss first off with your partner. Once you’ve both come to an agreement that you both want an elopement, determine who you might want present (if anyone). I always tell my couples - write down the absolute most important people that you cannot imagine getting married without. Anyone you want present at the elopement should be top priority so they can make arrangements to be there.
So who do you tell first?
If people will be attending your elopement day, then you definitely should tell them first. This way, they can start making plans and if the date is set, then they can block it off.
But what if you don't want anyone attending your elopement day? Then what should you do? You have a few options:
- Don't tell anyone! This is the more 'traditional' route of eloping is not telling a soul. This could make it a bit more simple for you to make sure that your day is going to be stress free. Unless you have a complete supportive family and friends, some people may cause drama and stress you out. If you do, then this could be a good way to make sure your day is special, then deal with the stress later!
- Tell only those you know will support you. Who are the people who you know will be supportive and excited for you? Tell them. You only want good vibes during this process and for your day, so be selective and cautious when telling people beforehand!
- Explain to your families first. If your families are the closest people to you, then definitely tell them. For me personally, my mom asked me to just at least tell her. She won't be upset if I elope, but she just wants to know when I'm getting married, hah! So I would recommend telling your family members who are closest to your hearts first.
When to tell friends and family you're eloping
Once you announce the engagement you can be certain everyone will be asking “WHEN’S THE DATE??”! While some couples know before getting engaged that they want to elope, some couples don’t figure it out until they’ve gotten deep into wedding planning and then decide it’s not for them. However which way you find yourself planning your wedding/elopement: know that it is OKAY to change your mind. Don’t let any friends or family rush you into picking a date or choosing how you want to get married! You’re allowed to have as long or as short of an engagement period as you would like. The part where you announce your plans should come once you and your partner both feel 100% about the direction your big day is going.
However, here are some ideas on when you can tell friends and family:
- After your elopement. As I explained above, if you know that some people won't support your decision, maybe you want until after your elopement day. PRO TIP: One of my couples told their families they were eloping, but didn't tell them when. That way, they could enjoy the day without being bombarded with text messages. They could be fully present, then tell their families a day or two after followed with sneak peeks from me!
- Before your elopement. You can absolutely tell your families that you are eloping before the day (and if they are joining, then you should of course do this in advance!). Again, this is all very circumstantial. If you feel your families will try to persuade you to do something else, then I would recommend not telling them until closer to the date. That way everything is booked and you can't back out of it.
The big thing about when to tell your friends and family you're eloping is that you don't want to get confused. Some people without realizing it will persuade you to do something bigger. But always go back to the root of why you've decided to elope. You want something that feels true to you with no stress. So even if they start telling you all the reasons why you should have a traditional big wedding, make sure you stick to the origins of why you chose to elope in stead.
You may also read this post: How to include your family in your elopement
How to tell your loved ones you're eloping
Elopements aren't traditional, and a lot of your friends and family (especially our older generations) aren't going to understand it. To them eloping means running off to Vegas and getting married at a chapel. They don't quite understand the concept of it and why you wouldn't want to have a big wedding with tons of people you don't really know. So I want to give you some tips of how to explain your decision to elope and how to get the best possible reactions.
Start hinting at it ASAP.
This is actually a great way to get a read whether or not someone would be upset about it. When people ask about your wedding, say something like "oh we aren't sure if we are doing traditional or something smaller yet", or "we will most likely just do it the two of us or with our immediate families". This allows them to start digesting the fact that they most likely aren't going to get a wedding invite, or at least great aunt sally won't be.
Explain your reason and plans in person.
Not that anyone needs an explanation about your decision since it's YOUR wedding day, but I guess for those who are closest to you, it would be best to do. Doing it in person is a great way to show that you respect, love and care about them and their feelings. But the most important thing to do is go into the conversation not defensive. Be ready to listen and be empathetic - leave the attitude out the door! Have your reasons behind it written out and ready to be explained. Things like:
- We want a day that feels true to us, and a bigger wedding just doesn't feel right.
- Experiences are more important to us than spending all this money on food, so we decided to go to ______ and get married just the two of us.
- Saving money for our future/travel/family/home feels more right to us than having a big wedding.
- The outdoors is a really important place to us, and we want to be in the mountains when we say our vows to one another. We unfortunately can't do that with 150 people and at a venue.
Use the term 'small wedding' instead of elopement
You know it's an elopement, but again, your older family members have a very different vision of an elopement. So you can instead explain it as "we plan to have a much smaller wedding with just 10 people". Or "we've decided to get married just us two together". This oddly enough is going to be more digestible for them to understand.
Tell them your plans and be excited about it
After they've digested the news, they may be interested in your plans. Show them photos of where you'll be going, and maybe even photos of your photographer! This will make them visualize how your day is going to be and where it is. Once they see the scenery, or see how other people have had their days, they may be more open to the concept of this decision!
Ask them if there are ways they would like to be involved
Again, this totally depends on the situation. But one thing I had asked my mom is if I did elope just myself and my partner, would she like to be involved in any way? Things like helping me get my dress, or picking out my florals, etc. Or you could even talk to them about throwing a little get together after the elopement to celebrate. The big thing with families is that they just want to be there for you. So by showing you want them to be involved too, that can ease the tension a bit if there is any!
How to announce that you're eloping
Ok so now that we know who to tell first and when to tell them, now how do you announce that you're eloping? There are so many fun ways to do this, and you can always think of other unique ideas too. But I want to give you examples and ideas to get you started - no matter your situation.
Ways to announce you're eloping to your friends and family
- Host a pre elopement celebration. If you’re thinking about eloping with just you two, consider hosting a celebratory dinner with your loved ones to explain your plans in person! This is a great way to bring your family into the excitement and show them that they are still a part of your love story even if they’re not at the elopement.
- Have a post elopement celebration. After your elopement, you could easily have a post celebration with your closest friends and family. This could be a fun way to show off your elopement photos and show how special your day was. You could do a cookout in your backyard, rent out a space in a restaurant, or even just have them for a wine night and throw the photos up on the TV.
- Send out elopement announcements! Some couples choose to do this before or after the actual elopement, and usually to more people than just family who might already know it’s happening (although having a surprise elopement is fun too!). This could be through a mailed announcement, or even virtual one.
- Hire a bomb photographer and videographer. Whether you announce it via engagement photos, or announce your elopement to the world after the day - having visuals is a great way to bring people into the experience! You can send out “We eloped” cards, or post your fave photos on social media to make the announcement!
- Have a virtual party. Gather your closest friends via zoom and go through your elopement gallery together. One of my friends did this with her best girls and it was so fun. They all had wine ready and she walked them through their day and shared all the little moments through photos.
What about my crazy MIL?
Unfortunately, I know this post may make it sound easier than it may be. We all know people with the crazy mother in law that wants everything her way. Or the sister who is making everything miserable because she can't be the maid of honor. It's so frustrating and honestly plain selfish. So below are some tips that I would recommend to keep your sanity. You can also check out this awesome resource by Tony Robbins on how to communicate effectively.
How to deal with a family member questioning your elopement
- Be the bigger person. This is your wedding day and you shouldn't have to feel bad about any decision. However, if they are choosing to be a nightmare, then that is their problem. You can't control them. But you can try and be the bigger person. You can say something like "I know you're upset about our decision, but it's really important to us. Is there something you were most looking forward to that we can try to incorporate?".
- Set your boundaries. It's human nature to do everything in our power to get our way. It will be important to set some boundaries. Say things like "I can understand you're upset, but this is what we are doing. I would love to have you involved in some way, and maintain our relationship for the future". Or if they say how they really were looking forward to ________, then maybe you can say "We are going forward with a smaller wedding, but I'd be happy to have you ________". This could be as simple as wanting to set up a little party, or be there when you're getting ready. But just make sure to set the boundaries for what is important to you.
- Talk without all the feelings. This is going to test your patience, but truly not being defensive is going to be very important here. Most people don't have ill intentions, but they are just voicing their opinion. The number one thing you absolutely need to remember is to validate their feelings. Always start with how you can understand how they are feeling. Here are some examples that I've come across, and how you can communicate.
Examples for diffusing conflict
Scenario 1: Annoying human: "I think it's ridiculous you're not including anyone on your wedding day".
You: "I can understand you think our decision is ridiculous. It's definitely not the traditional route and honestly, I am also trying to navigate through it. But this is what feels right to the both of us. We feel it's important to keep the focus on us, the two who are getting married, and not on anyone else."
Scenario 2: Annoying human: "We aren't supporting this decision and do not want to be involved".
You: "I respect your decision, although we would really still love for you to be involved. Some ideas we had to include you were... (wearing your veil, having you write notes to us, etc.). We hope you can change your mind, but will give you space."
I know that going the non traditional route of marriage can be nerve racking. There are so many directions that you can go in to have best of both worlds. The biggest thing to remember is that you need to do whatever feels right to you. It is your day, and the day you will remember for the rest of your lives. You never want to start this next chapter with regrets. I hope this post was helpful, and I hope you know that you aren't alone! Never hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!
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