The hardest thing about eloping is making the decision – and after you’ve taken the brave step and decided to free your wedding day from traditions and expectations, the second hardest thing is telling your family you’re eloping. It can feel pretty stressful, especially if you know your family is hoping for a big wedding! This guide is all about how to announce your elopement, how to tell your family without hurting their feelings, and ideas for breaking the news.
When to Announce Your Elopement
The first thing you and your partner will need to decide is when you want to tell your family you’re eloping. Most couples get their loved ones in the loop before the big day, but some couples choose to keep things under wraps until after the elopement day has already come and gone! This decision is personal, so sit down with your partner and talk about it, and decide what feels right to you.
Keeping it a secret can be better for couples who anticipate a lot of pushback or who feel like they might have trouble standing their ground – if you have a more traditional family who expects a big wedding, or you know they’re going to be upset, breaking the news after the knot is tied can feel easier, since there’s no going back after that!
But, telling your family you’re eloping ahead of time lets you share the planning process with them, and can be nice if you want your family’s support. You’ll get a chance to explain your decision and why it’s right for you, and get them on board!
Do You Want to Invite Your Family to Your Elopement?
Whether or not your family is invited to your elopement will definitely change how you make the announcement! It’s totally possible to elope with family, so if you want the best of both worlds – a personal, adventurous elopement day, and to spend it with the people you love, you can include them in the day. But, it’s also okay to want an experience that’s just the two of you, or just a few guests.
A big misconception about eloping is that it’s selfish, or that couples who want it to be just the two of them are doing it to exclude their families – but that’s absolutely not the case! There’s nothing selfish about making sure your wedding day is about you, your partner, and the beginning of spending forever together. This is the day you get married, and that’s what matters most!
So before you figure out how to announce your elopement to your family, figure out whether they’re invited, and what role you want them to have in your day.
How to Announce Your Elopement
Now that you have a few logistics figured out, here are some tips for announcing your elopement to your family!
Drop Hints & Let Them Know Early
The first way is one that you can start doing before you even get engaged. Questions of “when are you getting married” tend to come up a lot from family members, so if you’re someone who’s known for a while that a big wedding isn’t for you, just dropping hints and being honest about that is a great way to keep your family from getting their big white wedding hopes too high. This way, instead of making a big announcement or having to break the news all at once, your family knows how you feel about weddings, and will anticipate that when you tell them you’re engaged!
Tell Them in Person
If you’ve decided to tell your family you’re eloping, in person is a great way to do it, especially for people that you’re close to. Having conversations in person is always better if you know they’re going to be a little disappointed, and even though being face to face makes it more stressful, if you’re able to do it, it’ll likely mean a lot to your family members. If you feel nervous about it, or you know you have a hard time standing your ground, it’s totally okay to write down what you’ll say, or even to make a video or Powerpoint that explains your plans (these work if you aren’t able to be in person, too!).
Being in person facilitates more open conversations than texts do, and it will give everyone an opportunity to really talk, ask questions, and understand. It’ll allow you to tell your family why you’re eloping, explain that it’s not about hurting their feelings, and talk about what it is about!
If you know your family is going to be a little disappointed, or you anticipate any not-very-positive reactions, it’s important to prepare yourself! Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about what you want – who’s invited, how involved your family will be in the day, and what you want for your elopement – so that you can stay firm in your decisions and prevent the temptation to compromise and people please.
Be honest with your family, and be understanding – if they’re disappointed or upset, it’s understandable! If they’ve been envisioning your wedding day going differently, it can be a bummer, and while that doesn’t mean you should change anything, going into the conversation with an open heart and trying to understand and explain, rather than defend, usually makes for a better conversation.
Explain Why You’re Eloping
A lot of the pearl-clutching and shock might come from the fact that many people still have an outdated view of elopements! If your family thinks you’re going to the courthouse and having a judge sign your papers, or if they believe you’re making an impulsive decision to get married quickly without investing time or money in your day, they’ll likely have a hard time understanding why you’re doing this.
When you announce your elopement, it can really help to explain why you’re eloping. Tell your family about your decision, and why it really is the right one for you. Tell them about the plans you have for your day, even if they’re just ideas and you don’t have anything set in stone. Hearing about the adventures you’ll have and the experience you’re planning will help them understand and get on board! Even if they don’t really get it, just seeing how excited and truly happy you are when you talk about your elopement day can help.
Include Your Family in the Elopement
If it feels right to you, you can also include your family in your elopement day! This might mean having them be there on the actual elopement day, or it might mean involving them in some other ways throughout the process.
If you want a private elopement day, you can still include your family by throwing a reception afterwards (it can be later that day, later that week, or even a few months after you get married), or having them help you with planning. You can ask them for advice as you plan, include them in fun wedding-day activities like cake tasting and dress or suit shopping, or have them prepare letters, video messages, or little gifts for you to have on your elopement day – so that they can be involved without actually being there.
Share Your Elopement Photos!
After you’ve eloped, sharing your amazing photos with your family is a great way to make them feel included – it’s the next best thing to actually being there!
Before the elopement, you can send them a link to your photographer’s Instagram, so that they can get an idea of what an elopement actually looks like. And after you get your photos back, send them the gallery to share your adventures!
Another fun way to announce your elopement is to make cards – use one of your photos, print out a “we eloped!” announcement, and pop it in the mail to your loved ones. However you do it, sharing your elopement photos with your family is a great way to make them feel included and to give them a peek into the incredible experience you had!
And you’ll need someone to take those photos, so if you’re ready to elope, I’m here to hype you up throughout the whole thing. I’ll be your cheerleader as you navigate telling your family you’re eloping, your planning assistant as you create your adventure, and the one telling you that whatever crazy thing you’re dreaming of isn’t too crazy! Contact me, and let’s start planning!