I’ll tell you a secret… Patrick and I have only one regret regarding our wedding day. It’s not having chosen to elope. In fact, it’s much more than that … We didn’t even know it was possible to get married this way. Having known that it existed, we would have made different choices. Patrick felt like getting married in the Magdalen Islands because it’s a super meaningful place for the two of us, but I couldn’t imagine how to make it happen. I only saw obstacles in it. Most of all, I felt like I was going to hurt my parents. How do you tell your family and friends you are eloping?
In 2012, I didn’t even know the meaning of the word elopement or the existence of the concept of intimate wedding. In short, to have known what an elopement or an intimate marriage meant would have completely changed my way of seeing things. It could have helped me to have enough confidence in myself to get married in the Magdalen Islands with Patrick and with our closest family!
Like me then, you are probably saying something like “I could never do that to my mother!” Or “We just can’t; we have too large a family / group of friends.” When we discuss the reasons why couples abandon the idea of an elopement, the one that comes at the top of the list is this one: how to announce to our friends and family members that we decided to give up a traditional wedding and that we want to elope? This is the biggest obstacle faced by couples who want to spend their wedding day differently.
To say “We don’t think a big wedding is for us” takes a lot of courage. But all the couples we have worked with in the past few years have been extremely happy to have chosen to elope. They have absolutely no regrets!
Fast forward nearly 10 years. Patrick and I founded Love is Nord. We specialize in intimate weddings and elopements because we believe that we can really help so many couples who feel lost (as we were) in their plan to elope. And one of the many ways we can help you is to advise you on how to talk of your plans with your family and friends. Believe me, I would have loved to receive this kind of advice 8 years ago!
First of all, we want to tell you something very important. Even though elopements are becoming more and more common, they are still considered a non-traditional way of getting married. This means that if you are comfortable on this less traveled road, be careful not to deny those who are not.
While we love intimate weddings and elopements, we absolutely don’t believe this is the right type of wedding for everyone. Many couples want to organize a traditional wedding and celebrate their day with a large number of family and friends. And it’s perfect! Their choice of a bigger wedding is just that, THEIR choice. And your choice to elope is YOUR choice. And BOTH should be based on who you are and what you want to do, rather than a pre-made idea of what is right or wrong, social pressure or industry standards.
You may not agree with someone else’s choice, but everyone has the right to do what they want. And I believe this is true not only for the family and friends of a couple who decided to elope, but also for the couple themselves.
In fact, the best way to let your family and friends know you’ve decided to elope is in person. Telling them face to face so they can hear your enthusiasm in your vision for the day can help them understand why you are choosing an elopement rather than a traditional wedding. If you anticipate a negative reaction, resist the temptation to announce the news by text or email. Speaking face-to-face (or FaceTime-to-FaceTime) not only prevents potential misunderstandings, but also shows that you respect the person and care about their feelings.
Believe us, you don’t want your close friends or family to hear about your wedding day for the first time on Facebook! Telling your friends and family that you are getting married before doing so can significantly reduce their grief and negative feelings. If you are close to them, you may also want them to participate to some extent. Telling them early will allow them to feel involved and participate meaningfully, even if it’s from a distance (see ideas for involving family and friends below).
When announcing your decision, start with the people closest to you. Try to do it in just one day so that they learn from you and not from someone else.
You’re so excited about your elopement so the others should be too, right? Yes and no … While some will be delighted with your decision, others will have different ideas about what a marriage should be. Let them speak, consider their feelings. Your mother may have been dreaming for years of helping to plan a big wedding, or your grandmother already saw you carry on family traditions. Know that they have a right to be disappointed that you are not achieving their dreams for your wedding day. But also remember that you can’t make everyone happy and that what you want as a couple comes first.
Active listening and a little empathy can go a long way. You don’t have to give in to validate their feelings. Just listening to them and expressing that you understand them can reduce negative emotions when they arise.
And who knows! Some parents breathe a huge sigh of relief when they discover that their children prefer to elope rather than to marry traditionally. Give them a chance to react on their own rather than anticipating how you think they will react. Your (sometimes predictable) parents may actually surprise you about this.
As you announce the news you want to elope, be sure to share with all your heart the reasons why you don’t want a big wedding. Explain your reasoning to them and that it’s not about excluding them. Stay excited and let your heart speak. It may not make sense to your family, but if they feel how excited you are and are sure it is the right thing for you, they will accept it more easily. Parents want the best for their children. So when the information is presented in a way that expresses your enthusiasm and desires, most people will happily respond in return. Even if they are disappointed not to be included or to carry out wedding planning, witnessing your excitement and joy can make all the difference.
Let them know that it is not an easy decision for you, and certainly not an easy thing to tell them. Remind them that you love them and that your decision has nothing to do with them, but rather that you really feel that it is the best choice for both of you as a couple. You probably don’t want to avoid having your family and friends by your side at your wedding, but you may need to explain it to your parents to avoid hurting them. Be clear that this decision does not concern them, but be compassionate towards their emotions too.
Several couples have found that sharing the reasons why they choose to elope helps their friends and family understand that it is not intended to exclude those they are closest to, but rather to experience their wedding day as they had always wanted.
There are many reasons for eloping, we have written an entire article on this subject (see 8 good reasons to elope), but some of the most common are:
If you sincerely and heartily express why you made this decision, your family is more likely to support your wishes.
“I love the idea of eloping, but I could never get married without my mom being there.”
You know what? We often chat with couples who say almost exactly that. And do you know what we say to them? You can elope AND include your family.
And not only that – it’s super common! More than half of the couples we photograph include family members, their own children or friends in their celebration.
For us, an elopement is an intentionally small, intimate, meaningful and authentic wedding experience that is a true reflection of your relationship and where the emphasis is on you two. Nowhere in this definition does it say that your family cannot be there! It is normal and beautiful to want your family to witness your marriage.
If your family shares your vision, and you want them to be there to witness and celebrate your day with you – the perfect decision is to elope with them!
And if you prefer to have this experience just to two of you, there are several ways to involve your family and friends otherwise. Invite your mom or your best friend to shop for your wedding dress. Collect greeting letters, wedding tips or fun memories that you can read during or after the ceremony. Or write a letter to your parents that they can read on the day of your elopement. They will feel emotionally connected, no matter how many miles you travel. Just sharing the details of your dream day can make them feel part of the planning process.
One of the things parents are most looking forward to when planning a wedding is being able to meet with old friends and family they might not have seen otherwise. You could offer to organize a party before or after to celebrate your wedding with your loved ones.
You will say that it is silly to organize a wedding party while you are eloping because you want to avoid one! But if you have friends and family who would love to see you and congratulate you (and it’s easier to do it with everyone all in one place), then consider hosting a super laid-back party. It could be a potluck at your uncle’s, or a dinner with your friends, or a brunch prepared by your mother. Nothing stressful. Nothing exaggerated. Just a chance to get together afterwards and toast your wedding. And you can also take the opportunity to share your photos and memories of your day!
Believe us, it is so much less stressful (and so much more fun !!!) to organize a pool party than a wedding reception.
We don’t say that just because we’re photographers. When you elope, photos become even more important to document your day. On a conventional wedding day, mom, dad, uncle Bob and millions of other people you know (or not!) are there to see it all. They have the possibility of experiencing each event in real time. When you elope, it’s most likely just you, your partner, a celebrant, and your photographers. Document the story of your day, all the great and small moments from start to finish, then share them with your family and friends.
Seeing beautiful images that truly capture the emotions you experienced during that day can even help them understand why you chose to elope in the first place. From our experience, friends and family seem to really understand once they see the images, because they immediately realize that this kind of day would not be possible in a traditional place with 150 guests. They see your joy, your happiness, how amazing your day has been.
When the people who love you see you being 100% yourself and spending the best moments of your life in your photos…. Well, it’s pretty hard for them to blame you after that!
We hope so much that these tips on how to tell that you are eloping to your family and friends will allow you to live your incredible dream day. The day you say your vows and make promises to your partner should be one that matters. It deserves to take place exactly the way you want it to. Remember, this is your day and that of no one else!
All couples deserve a meaningful experience on their wedding day. If you have any further questions on how to tell your friends and family that an elopement is ultimately the best choice for you (or if you just need moral support!), we would be delighted to hear from and help you.
Salut! On est Patrick & Josée.
On est les guides et photographes de mariage intime et d'elopement de Love is Nord. Amoureux d'aventures et de voyages, on adore fusionner les paysages et les gens. Basés à Québec, on est toujours partants pour vous aider à planifier et photographier votre mariage partout dans la province et même ailleurs dans le monde.
On vous promet de vous aider à faire de votre journée de mariage une expérience significative et personnalisée. On est ici pour répondre à toutes vos questions concernant les mariages intimes et les elopements. On a vraiment hâte de vous aider à planifier votre journée à votre image.
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