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How To Tell Your Family You're Eloping

Updated: May 21, 2020

How To Tell Your Family You're Eloping

How to “Break the News” to family & friends about your Adventurous Elopement:

For most people, there are traditional ways things are done; especially, when it comes to having a wedding. It’s expected that when a couple announces their engagement the next questions are when? and where? It is usually expected that a traditional wedding will follow that includes all your family, friends, and others you never knew, knew you. Sometimes it may feel like this is what is expected and that is just how life goes. Couples tend to say things like, “We have such a big family, we just had to invite them,” or even “I could never do that to my mom.” The idea of announcing a couple’s wedding plans to their parents, family, and friends can be extremely stressful for some future brides. Generally, the number one question couples have when they are planning their elopements is advice on how to tell their friends and family. Crossing this barrier is what usually makes or breaks the Adventurous Elopement decision for the couple.

Making the decision to step away from the traditional wedding planning pathway takes some courage and fortitude. When a couple feels a big wedding is not for them, they tend to have zero regrets deciding on adventurous elopement. We, Adventurous Elopement Photographers and Guides, feel strongly that every couple has a unique story to share at their wedding, and the ceremony should celebrate that love story. We hope to encourage more couples to take that brave leap to experience the freedom of an elopement and not let others' opinions and expectations affect how they spend the day that commits the rest of their lives to each other.

A survey of over fifty couples who happily eloped or in the process of planning their elopement were asked to share their best advice on how to tell family and friends about their decision to elope over a traditional wedding.

The day you commit your lives to one another and the way you exchange vows matters, and the moment should be exactly the way you dreamed it would be.

Tell Them Face to Face

The couples surveyed highly encouraged you to tell family and close friends in person together as a couple. Even though this may be stressful, difficult, and awkward, telling them face-to-face allows them to see your face and smiles while they hear the excitement in your voice as you share your vision. This will help them better understand “why” you have chosen to elope over having a traditional wedding day. For family and friends that are not geographically nearby, “Facetiming” is the next best option so you can better gauge their reactions while still allowing them to see your excitement and hear it in your voices. The final option is traditional mailing of personal letters to share your decision. Something along the lines of, “We wanted to share with you about our exciting decision and to let you know firsthand, from us, that we decided to elope in private to (wherever you are eloping). It’s not that we are anti-wedding or feel the need to run away, but we feel that a traditional wedding just doesn't fit us, or a traditional wedding is beyond our financial reach. This is how we have chosen to start our lives together and we hope you will join us with excitement and support with our wedding decision.” This allows people to feel they were thought of when making this choice, and they were not being left out. However, you announce the elopement, do it as a couple. Don’t let family or friends try to “Divide and Conquer.”

Drop Hints and Be Direct

Some couples may have decided or known that a traditional wedding day is not for them, long before they were engaged. Having already dropped hints or just coming out and said they want to elope before they are engaged can help reduce the surprise and ease friends and family into understanding that a traditional wedding is off the table. This minimizes any “hurt feelings” that could come with an unanticipated announcement. Instead of sending out “Save the Dates,” some eloping couples have sent out announcements saying, “We’re Eloping!” This also helped to keep expectations of friends and family more in check.

Better yet, you can have your close and supportive friends and family members help in dropping hints for those who may be more skeptical or harder to bring around to the idea. Have them mention that it’s something you’re thinking about doing. That way when you do announce it they have had some time to warm-up to the idea and reduce the shock.

“Before our engagement, I had told my mom that I wanted to elope when I get married. She wasn’t surprised when I did confirm to her that was the plan when we did get engaged. Since my Husband’s family couldn't afford to travel for a wedding they were supportive with our dream. Most of our friends and family expected something non-traditional from us, so when we announced we were eloping there wasn't so much of a surprise.”

Share Your Reasons

Couples found that sharing their reasons for going the non-traditional route and choosing to elope helped their friends and family better understand their dream and desire. It wasn't about excluding them or anyone else from their wedding, but rather about having the wedding day that they always wanted.

Here are a few of their reasons:

  • We want to be able to pay for our wedding ourselves.

  • We don’t want the large price tag of a big wedding.

  • We’re saving to buy a house or take a big vacation before we have kids.

  • We want to build our future not plan a party.

  • We want to do something we love, like traveling, on our wedding day.

  • We want something truly intimate.

  • We want to actually be able to spend time together on our wedding day.

  • We don’t want the stress of planning a big wedding.

  • We want to spend the day enjoying our relationship instead of worrying about making others happy.

  • Our privacy is important to us.

  • We’re so in love, we just don’t want to wait to plan a big day.

  • We want to say our vows in a remote location.

  • It’s what we feel is right.

Share Your Details (As Many As You Can)

Sharing as many details as you can show others that you have really put some thought and heart into this idea, and it’s not just some whim of a decision. It allows them to see your excitement for the dream that you have and helps them peak into this dream for themselves. This allows them to feel like they're involved because they are in the loop. It allows you to share that you’re not eloping to exclude them or anyone else.

Involve Them Where You Can

Giving your friends and family ways they can be involved in your elopement planning can help them feel part of this adventure and reassures them that you do want them to be a part of this day. Some couples have included immediate family in their ceremony as a compromise to keep disappointments to a minimum or have had them write letters or a video message special to them for when they are at their ceremony site. Check out our Blog How To Include Family In Your Elopement. They can make some decorations or pick flower ideas for you, go wedding dress shopping, or even have them select a restaurant or brewery for you to meet them after the ceremony. Remind them that you carry their love and support with you when you’re exchanging your vows.

Have a Party

It’s a wonderful idea to have a party or reception when you return to share the joy and show friends and family your photos and memories from your adventure. Allow them to shower you with their excitement and love for you. Sending out invitations that say “We’re going to say ‘I Do!’ Come party it up with us!” is a great way to share your news and invite them to celebrate with you at the same time. This breaks the news that the webbing ceremony is private, but the party is open.

Another idea is to have a small celebration before you set off on your adventure. Some couples choose to have a small get together as a send-off to their grand adventure. It helped the family feel involved and “in on the secret” before they took off. One couple had the fun idea of having a little gathering before their destination elopement and surprised their family and friends by signing their marriage license right in front of them right at the party.

Share Your Photos

Some couples have decided to elope in secret then surprise their friends and family later on. Sharing your photos helps communicate clearly how much fun and excitement you had on your adventure. Friends and family tend to “get it” once they have seen your photos and understand that this kind of day and experience wouldn’t have been possible in a traditional venue with a hundred guests. They are able to see your joy and happiness throughout your day. When people see you being 100% genuine and truly happy in a gorgeous place, having the time of your lives in these photos it’s hard for them to stay upset afterwards.

Remember, It’s Your Day

Remember, the disappointment others may have about your decision to elope or have given less thrilled reactions to your decision says more about them than your wedding choice. “Some were sad for selfish reasons because they like expensive parties.” Experienced couples shared that knowing your family and friends want to be a part of your wedding day because they want the acknowledgment of being a big, important part of your life can help you empathize this with them when they aren’t as excited as they should be for your decision. Others said some of their skeptic family and friends that weren’t supportive in the beginning eventually came around to it as they started to warm up to the idea. In the end, remember that this is your choice and it really does matter. You deserve the day that you feel is right for you.

No one has the right to be at your wedding. In the end, remember it's about you as a couple and your love story. You deserve to spend the day how you want and celebrate it where and with whom you want.

We hope these tips have enlightened you and encourage you to take the leap to make the decisions to have your own intimate “just us” adventurous elopement of your dreams.

If you decide to include some family in your elopement ceremony, we have a blog post here with some ways to involve others. Please check it out, and feel free to reach out to us with questions or concerns you may have about Adventurous Elopements.


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Hey, We're Forrest & Cindy!

You're Husband & Wife team of Adventurous Elopement Photographers and Guides!

We love being able to take couples out into the world on an epic adventure, completely tailored to them so they can have a wedding day completely unique and different from traditional weddings. 

Documenting every little detail and hidden moments of stolen kisses, hand squeezes and I love you's. A day that set apart to truly focus on you two, wherever and however you dreamt it. And we'll be with you every step of the way to tell your love story. Your truly individual love story. 

We believe in Elopements and creating an intimate, meaningful, intentional, stress-free wedding experience.

Let's start planning your Epic Adventurous Elopement!

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