By definition, we did not technically elope. We chose to give our parents 10 days notice, and our work knew that ‘running away to marry’ was in our near future. As with any wedding, the process of planning the event will hold its challenges. With planning a secret destination wedding we found there were a few extra hurdles we had to work through. If you are thinking of eloping here are a few of the difficulties we had and how we overcame them in our decision making.
1. Making the decision: Openly talk through your pros and cons.
The first thing we did once we started seriously considering the idea of eloping was to sit down and write out our reasons for it. In our case we had some tender family situations we felt were taking away from our day – these situations were one of our big stressors, tear starters, and argument fuelers. Anthony and I did not feel fully happy with what our wedding day was becoming, so eloping suited our situation rather well. Here are some of our pros/cons. Even though our cons were a little heavier, we chose to go ahead and follow the peace our heart’s felt.
*No stress *Amazing views (we picked Banff, AB, CA)
*Intimate *Less expensive = Not starting our marriage in debt
*What WE want *Less day-of stress and drama
*Didn’t put family situations in the spotlight
*No family pictures *No father-daughter dance (this was a sentimental one for me)
*Having to tell/disappoint parents *Not having loved ones present to celebrate
*No dancing the night away with friends
2. Togetherness: You must both agree and feel at peace about your decision.
You HAVE to agree on the decision of eloping TOGETHER. If one of you is unsure or does not feel at peace about the decision, go back to the drawing board and figure out the following:
1. WHY you don’t feel at peace? (fear of disappointing others? not 100% what you want for your wedding day?)
2. WHAT can you do to remedy those feelings? (have a small dinner reception when you return?)
3. WHAT other options do you have for your wedding day?
Elopement alternatives: parent only wedding, immediate family only ceremony (or ceremony and dinner), witnesses only ceremony, intimate backyard ceremony.
Remember: you don’t HAVE to have a reception. If a ceremony is what you want to share with your loved ones, then a ceremony-only event is what you can pick!
I have a bad habit of pointing the finger when my husband’s decisions do not work out (I’m working on it!). When it comes to your wedding day pointing the finger is a NO-NO! To eliminate this issue we sat and committed to not playing the blame game if and when things went wrong or tension built against us. Your wedding day is about committing and supporting each other, wedding planning is a good place to practice having each other’s back.
3. Telling the parents of our decision: this was a different experience for us both, so here is his & her opinions.
His: My brother got married a few months before us; Seeing all the planning, money spent, all the people involved and the expectations placed on the event made me realize I did not want any of it. As a couple we are not materialistic and we do not conform to expectations, so I knew from early on that I wanted to elope. I had been telling my parents we would probably do it, though they didn’t believe me right away. I think mentioning it in conversation prior to ‘officially’ telling them allowed them time to process and accept it. When I told them we were in fact eloping and that flights were purchased they were accepting and supporting, even if they were sad they wouldn’t get to ‘show us off and celebrate at a big event’.
Hers: I was very anxious about telling my parents about our decision. My parents and I had a difference of opinions regarding my engagement, and thought my father wanted my happiness regardless of what my wedding day looked like, I was still consumed with a mix of fear, anxiety, and sadness at the thought of knowing me getting married was bringing them disappointment. Part of the issue was that I am a total people-pleaser when it comes to my parents, they mean the world to me and causing them any level of sadness or disappointment literally breaks my heart. I prayed and prayed for days before telling them we had purchased airline tickets and were officially eloping. I wrote them a letter to read on their own time, and though I cried (*sobbed, really*) through the whole conversation I had with them, I have never felt more excited and at peace in my spirit about moving forward with such a big decision. It was absolutely liberating. God worked so much in my heart through such a small event.
4. Keeping an exciting secret: Pick a small group of individuals you can confide your secret with.
This is where our eloping became less ‘eloping’. We both openly talked about planning a getaway wedding at work, so it was not surprise to them when we were suddenly absent for a week. We also chose to inform both sets of parents of our decision 10 days before we flew out. I also told my siblings, and select friends that played an important role in making our big day happen. Confiding in friends allowed me to talk through the last minute worries and jitters, as well as some of the more personal emotional hurdles I had to work through. I can’t tell you how comforting their prayers and helping hands were through the planning process! I do believe that parents deserve to know the biggest news in their child’s life, so if there is anyone you should confide in it should be them (assuming you have a healthy relationship with them and can handle their convincing arguments against your adventure). It helps to offload onto understanding ears!
5. Missing out blues: You don’t have to miss out on everything!
I felt them. The blues of not having a father-daughter dance, of not dancing the night away with my dear friends, of not having a family bridal shower. Since my best friends knew about our nuptials they sweetly put together a little shower and bachelorette, while my coworkers also took me out on one last blushing night.
1. If you are really doing a full on surprise elopement maybe a bridal shower would be too exposing, so think about having a girls night to celebrate when you are back! Friends always want all the details, and this would be a great opportunity for your close friends to shower you with love and excitement as they hear of your adventure.
2. We chose to host a small lunch in honour of our nuptials for the hubby’s side of the family. Weddings are a big deal in Italian culture, so to settle some ‘not so happy’ feelings from key family members, we hosted a small ‘celebratory event’ for them to feel a part of. This allowed everyone to have a get together, eat their hearts out, and still get a chance to wish us their congratulations. Sometimes giving in to tradition a little isn’t so bad!
3. Involve your select individuals in the wedding dress shopping! I went alone a few times and believe me when I say it is hard to make these decisions alone! I was so glad to have been able to get the opinion of a select group of individuals. You don’t have to tell them when a wedding is (“so I know for the future/ so I have an idea of what to look for” is a good reason to shop!) and you definitely don’t have to buy it in front of them (call the store and ask them to hold it until you can go purchase it in secret!).
In the end, your decision should be based on where you are feeling your spirit lead. Sometimes it works out for the better to put aside our picture of the “perfect wedding day”, and plan with Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Do you have more solutions to share? Leave them in a comment below!