How to Elope without Guilt
Are you considering eloping, but worried about offending your family and friends? I’m here to tell you it should and can be a guilt-free decision.
Why I’m so high on elopement as the ideal way to get married?
I was 19 years old when I walked down the aisle. I got married in Rome I knew very few of the 500 guests who crowded into the church. When my father and I arrived in the car and I saw the masses waiting to get inside, I wanted to turn around and go home. Most of them were business associates of my parents or my father-in-law. It really wasn’t about “US”, it was about “THEM.”
Elopements are incredibly romantic. The ceremony doesn’t have to be cheap or simple, but you get to decide what you want to spend on. You can splurge where it has meaning to the two of you. If flowers aren’t important to you, feel free to skip them. You want to have a barefoot elopement on a beach, yes, why not?
I’ve photographed extremely luxurious elopements with fireworks and a romantic dinner for two on a secluded beach along the Amalfi Coast to the most simple elopement with just the two of them.
Let’s define elopement:
“In the past eloping meant running away to get married secretly, usually against somebody’s wishes, hence the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. You had to get married fast before they chased you down.
Today “elopement” means focusing on the two of you, exchanging vows in an amazing, meaningful location.The focus is on the couple. It’s a stress-free alternative, that allows you to invite whomever you’d like or nobody at all. Elopements today are an intentional choice. Not an escape.”
So why elope? In my experience, couples elope because:
- They’re shy or don’t like large parties.
- They hate all the stress of planning.
- They could use the money for the down payment on a house.
- Family feuds make getting everybody together difficult.
- The list goes on.
Here ’s some of the decisions you can avoid by eloping:
- Who to invite
- Who sits next to whom
- Who are the bridesmaids
- Who are the best men
- The extensive invitations
- The elaborate Menus
What’s a wedding about, after all? It’s about two people making a pledge to each other. You don’t need everyone you know to watch you do it.
Here’s how to elope without guilt. Use this cheat sheet for what to say:
- You are both travelers and eloping will allow you to extend your wedding into a honeymoon.
- You plan to use your elopement as the trip of a lifetime.
- You want to simplify your lives.
- You did that already. This is your second wedding.
- Your future spouse refuses to have a big wedding.
- Your mother hates your stepmother and you’d have to invite them both.
- You want beautiful wedding pictures with an exotic backdrop.
- You’ve been putting off getting married because you could never find the time.
Sure some parents and friends will be upset. Dad always wanted to walk you down the aisle. Mom doesn’t get to help plan your wedding. Friends aren’t invited.
Some compromises for your elopement.
1. An elopement doesn’t have to mean just the two of you. There are all sorts of elopements. You can invite a handful of people, intimate family and a few besties.
2. You can live stream your wedding, so people can be “present” wherever they are.
3. Have a reception or a party when you get back home.
Many couples I’ve photographed have opted for a party a month or two later. You want to make sure you have photographs of the actual wedding to share with everyone, so they can feel they’ve been a part of it.
4. You can have a cocktail party or brunch with a theme that reflects the location of the elopement. At the party, you can showcase all your photos and a wedding video so they feel included.
5. Send out an announcement before you elope, including an invitation to the post-wedding party, so gets to feel insulted.
- It’s usually a bad idea to post elopement pictures on social media, if no one knows your’ve gotten married.
- If you have kids, be sure to involve them in some way. I’ve seen couples bring their kids, and I’ve seen them leave the kids home.
- Telling just one family person and swearing them to secrecy. It puts too much pressure on the person you tell. Tell everyone or nobody.
For more ideas, inside my new book, “The Elopement Experience” I have a whole chapter called The Etiquette of Eloping that goes into this topic a lot more detail.