How to Tell Your Family You're Eloping | 5 Tips to Break the News to Your Parents
Updated: Feb 27
So you’re engaged and in love with each other (obvi), but you aren’t in love with the idea of being in the spotlight, hosting a party for 150 people, spending loads of cash on a few hours of time, or maybe you’re just stressed about the amount of time and effort it will take to plan a traditional wedding; whatever the reason may be, I totally understand that having a traditional wedding isn’t for everyone, and I can relate to all these reasons on a deeper level because many of them are the reasons that I chose to an adventure elopement too! Fret not, eloping is an awesome decision for those of you who just don’t feel like a big stuffy wedding, and outdated traditions are your style! Trust me, I get this, wholeheartedly. So what do we do about the family members who might not share the same fervency for you plans, and how should you break the news to them?
Above photo: My Mountain Pass Elopement, Sonora Pass, California
FOR PERSPECTIVE, A BRIEF SUMMARY OF WEDDING HISTORY
Before we get into some ways to share your elopement plans with your family, I’d love to point something out:The traditional large weddings that we think of today were once not-so-traditional. Back in the 1960’s wedding ceremonies usually took place at churches, the only outdoor ceremonies were usually small and casual and held in a backyard. It wasn’t until the 1970s that high-end outdoor venues became popular, and started the trend that we have today. Lot’s of other wedding trends have changed too! At the turn of the 20th century the bride and bridesmaids wore matching white dresses, whereas now showing up to a wedding in white attire would be a major faux pas. In fact, it wasn’t until Princess Diana’s wedding back 80’s that all the wedding frills: the dress, the cake and the guest count became bigger.
I think it helps to know that what we think of as a “traditional” way of getting married, is actually just a trend that has become popularized by repetition, and the thing about trends is that they come and go! There always have to be rule-breakers and trend starters, and eloping, is actually becoming a larger trend, and for good reason!
IT’S 2023, GONE ARE THE DAYS OF “RUNNING AWAY”
Elopements aren’t what they used to be, running off to get married secretly and without parental consent, instead they’ve become a special and intimate way to make a lifelong commitment to each other, and make the day entirely about the two of you. Elopements, or what I like to call, adventure elopements, give you the freedom to choose exactly how you want to spend the day together, in a way that is meaningful and unique. It allows you to incorporate your favorite activities and create a memorable experience shared between the two of you, instead of pandering to the desires of your extended family, which can be exhausting. There’s always someone who has an opinion on the way things should be done at a wedding, and/or who should or shouldn’t be included, and let’s face it, trying to please everyone can become exhausting, and takes the focus off of the entire point of the day, which is YOU. You deserve to have the day be all about what you want, and nobody, not even your family should be able to take that away from you. That is why I’m such a firm believer in elopements! So let me share some ideas on how you can break the news to your folks, that you plan to do something intimate and are choosing an adventure elopement.
IF IT’S CAUSING YOU ANXIETY, DON’T PUT IT OFF
If you’re anything like me you may have a tendency to avoid or postpone difficult or unpleasant out of the fear of how someone is going to react, but what I’ve learned over time is, that the scenario that I’ve built up in my head, the one that’s giving me gut-wrenching anxiety, that conversation that hasn’t even taken places is oftentimes WAY WORSE than the one that I’m procrastinating. And then, once I’ve had the conversation there is often a sigh of relief, that even though I didn’t necessarily get the reaction I wanted, it’s done and over and even if it was hard, it still didn’t make me feel as bad as I did when I was worrying about it.
TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHERE THEY’RE COMING FROM
While certain members of your family may initially upset with the news, try to keep in mind that you cannot please everyone, when you’re planning to share the news with your family, it helps to try to remember their perspective, and why they might feel a little disappointed with your choice. Since I’m a mother myself, I can relate to the dream that a mother may have about sharing a dance with their son on their wedding day, or helping a daughter get dressed, so if those are things that you don’t include as part of your elopement story, then there is probably going to be a feeling of initial displeasure involved when you break the news, but eventually it will wear off. Feelings are temporary, and you cannot please everyone at the same time, so bring the focus back to you and what really matters.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO TELL THEM, WHEN YOU’RE READY
1. Take them out
I recommend making plans to go out to dinner as a family together, so you can drop the news to them in person. Not only does having a face-to-face conversation tell your folks to demonstrate that you’re considerate their feelings (not opinion, just feelings), breaking the news to them in a public setting can also deter them from making any sort of melodrama out of the matter, if this is something that you forsee as a possibility.
2. Be direct
I know, communication is hard, and sometimes some of us like to beat around the bush to avoid tough conversations, but it’s best to communicate directly and effectively. Here are some ways to do that:
3. Remember to put emphasis on your why
Explaining your reasoning behind your decision to elope will help put your family in your shoes. Whatever your reason is, remind them that you’re not doing it because you are trying to exclude anyone from your plans, but instead, you love the idea of having an intimate day with your partner to kick-off your forever together. Maybe you love the idea of getting married on a mountainside or rocky coastline, and because of permits, there would be no way to include all the people you care about, and you want to focus on the moment alone with your partner. Whatever your reason is, your family, in most cases, are loving and accepting, and even if they don’t agree, will support your decision out of love.
4. Validate their feelings too
Remind them that you care, and that you understand their point of view, but that this decision, and day, ultimately is yours, and you know that it’s the right one for you! Tell them you love them and that you’re sorry for any disappointment but that you hope they can warm up to the idea and be supportive.
5. Explain the ways you might include them
There are many ways to still include your family in your elopement process. In fact, I’m working on a blog post to help share with you ALL the different ways that couples are choosing to include their family, so lookout for that blog post soon!
Some final things to keep in mind
You’re an adult, and this is your life, you’re the one calling the shots! If you’ve made it this far into this blog post, then that just goes to show how much you truly care about others. At the end of the day, there might be someone whose feelings might get hurt by your plans, but that’s on them. No one has a right to be offended on the way that you choose to marry someone else, but keep in mind, that the type of person who might become offended by the way you choose to marry, would likely be offended by some other situation that would have arose during your traditional wedding day. You deserve better than to sacrifice your desires for someone who is unsupportive or easily offended. A decision as intimate as marriage needs to be done in a way that feels right to you, and no one else can make that decision for you. It’s not your job to please everyone in the process of your wedding plans, and honestly, that sounds like a pretty impossible task, no matter what way you choose to marry!
Remember, many others have walked this same path, and every single one of them raves about their wedding experience. Adventure elopements are magical, intimate, and such an memorable way to step into your life together as a husband and wife. And if you’re working with me, I will be here for you guys, every step of the way, helping you along, whether it’s with permits, or as moral support! I am here for you and I cannot wait for you to share this unforgettable way of getting married. I literally am starting to tear up writing this because, you guys, elopements are so stinking special! GAH, okay I need to stop before I really start getting weepy.
I’m so unbelievably excited for you to take this journey together.