You’ve decided to have a small wedding, or a wedding featuring just the two of you. I understand that a traditional ceremony isn’t necessarily for you. But your family on the other hand may have slightly different expectations on how your wedding day should look. And some of them may be pretty insistent or vocal about their expectations. If you’re not sure how to tell family you’re eloping, this blog post is for you.
Thankfully, I’m here to help you. After talking with my past couples who decided on going the unconventional route, I’ve summed up a list of the top five tips to help you through the process of announcing your elopement (or small wedding) to your family.
While there’s no set timeline or agenda that you have to follow when announcing to your family that you’ve decided to elope, dropping subtle hints about eloping beforehand helps set the tone. This allows family or friends to prepare themselves (even if subconsciously) for the actual elopement announcement. This could be along the lines of “I never really thought about a traditional wedding for myself”, or “I want to be able to enjoy the day with just me and my partner, I think.” It’s important that you’re clear with your hints as well because this well help when you do officially tell your family that you’re eloping.
When the time does comes to tell your family and friends about your decision, let them know how important it is to you and your partner that you experience this life milestone together, privately. Be clear with your reasoning and remind them that this is how you envisioned your wedding day. The conversation may be difficult and anxiety inducing, but once it’s over you will feel like you can breathe again. It’s totally okay to lean on your partner during this; you are in this together, reinforcing that you made this decision together.
Whatever the reason behind your decision to elope, stand firmly. You shouldn’t feel like you have to explain to your immediate family why you want to elope, but it could definitely help them understand and come to terms with it. Also, do not apologize for wanting to elope either—you should never apologize for choosing to celebrate your love exactly how you want to. On a psychological level, apologizing opens the door for a conversation on how your decision is wrong—the decision to elope is not wrong in any way.
In person announcements are truly the best way to get the message across. You and your partner will be able to answer any questions they may have, and be able to respond with empathy. If being in person just isn’t an option, a meaningful phone call (or FT or Zoom call), or personalized handwritten letter can also help deliver the message. You may get a myriad of reactions and even more questions so be ready. Remind them that there are plenty of other ways to share in the day with them (e.g., bringing a special memento, video call at the end of the day, etc).
Wedding attire shopping can be one of the most meaningful and fun part of your wedding planning experience. Bringing your family along for what is usually a “traditional wedding” step is one way to include them in the elopement planning process. Your family will still get to experience seeing you in person in the dress you say “yes” to and then enjoy seeing the photos of your elopement even more.
There’s no hard-fast rule that your elopement has to be JUST the two of you. Bringing a couple family members along will not only make them feel included and special, but will give you a little added help and support throughout the day. You can also opt to have others join remotely (as long as there’s internet/cell service) via Zoom/Skype/Discord to watch the ceremony or even as you have your portraits done.
Alternatively, you could ask family members to write letters that you and your partner can read the day of your elopement/small wedding. This way a part of them is still with you on your day.
I’m all for keeping your nuptials an intimate experience designed for you and your partner, especially when saying “I do” means you get to focus on the feelings of the day, rather than feeling the eyes of 100+ guests on you at all times. But—coming from someone who fully understands that elopement news isn’t always well-received, let me help ease your fears and help prepare you for the big announcement.
Just like when you tell your family you’re eloping, you don’t have to announce anything if you really don’t want to. But if you do, remember that this is your day and there are no strict rules, regulations, or guidelines on how and when you should announce your elopement. If you’re considering eloping, you clearly want something that is more intimate and meaningful for your wedding experience over a large traditional wedding. You can decide to announce your elopement after the ceremony, once you get your wedding gallery, a month after your ceremony, or any time at all down the line. Truth is, the only people that need to know and consent to your marriage are you and your partner.
A great way to announce your elopement is to print your favorite picture from your elopement day and send it to your family and friends with a personal note. At the end of the day, your loved ones will be happy with you in your union and there are a slew of other ways to celebrate rather than being present as spectators when you exchange vows. If you still want to dance the night away, add a reception date with your announcement invites.
Opting to tell your family that you’re eloping or that you’ve eloped on social media isn’t suggested unless you’ve already told close family and friends in person or over the phone. If you’ve already let them know, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting hurt messages from family and friends.
I'm donna marie
An adventurous destination wedding and elopement photographer livin' in upstate New York. I'm here to empower all couples to create an intentional wedding day that focuses on the experience and the feels.