How to Tell Your Family You’re Eloping

Posted On | April 22, 2024

You’ve decided to elope, but now the tricky part is breaking the news to your family. Don’t panic! 

Before getting into the nitty gritty, it’s important to note that you are NOT required to tell anyone beforehand if you know they will not be supportive of your decision, or will cause additional stress leading up to your wedding day. The time you spend planning your elopement is already full of so many different emotions, so if you prefer to only tell people who will bring joy to the process and have your back, or decide to keep your decision completely to yourself until after you’ve signed your marriage license, that it is absolutely okay to do so. 

However, if you feel ready to tell your family your eloping, here are some tips and tricks for sharing the news about your elopement and ways to include them in person or from afar.

1. Come Up with a Plan 

Depending on your family dynamics, you might already have an idea of how they will react. You know them best, so consider how and when would be the best time to share the news. You’ll first want to decide if you want to tell them in person, over the phone/video chat, or through a heartfelt letter. From there, aim to find a time when everyone is relaxed, and there aren’t any pressing time constraints or distractions. 

If you know some loved ones might be more supportive of your decision than others, you might consider telling them first and asking them for their support in sharing the news with the rest of your family.

Practicing how you imagine the conversation might go with your partner or a supportive friend or family member in the know can help calm your nerves and prepare you for when the time is ready. It is also helpful to come up with a list of questions or concerns they might have so you have time to think through how you would like to respond before the time comes.  

2. Start by Explaining Your Why 

If you’ve decided to elope, you likely have spent time thinking about the pros and cons, and know what inspired your choice. Start by sharing with your family the path that led to your decision. Doing so can make it easier for your family to understand where you are coming from and your motivations for choosing to elope. Be sure to emphasize that your decision was not about them or anything that they did, but instead about what feels best for you both. If you’re having a hard time putting your reasoning into words, here are some ideas: 

  • The average traditional wedding in the U.S. cost $29,000 in 2023. By eloping, we’re able to instead spend that money on something that feels more in line with our values.
  • We don’t like being the center of attention and wouldn’t feel right sharing our personal vows in front of a large audience. We prefer to have a much more intimate experience where we can feel comfortable to truly be ourselves. 
  • We want to avoid stress on our wedding day and don’t think that would be possible while having to entertain a lot of guests. 
  • Experiences are extremely important to us, and we want to spend our wedding day creating memories while doing something we love together.
  • We’ve been to a lot of big weddings, and we just can’t imagine that for ourselves. 

If you’re eloping in Colorado, you can always refer to the top ten reasons couples have told us they chose to elope in Colorado as well! 

3. Share Your Plans 

Many people still associate “eloping” with running off to Vegas in secret to get married by an Elvis impersonator. Unless that’s actually what you’re doing, this is a great time to help change that misconception and share with them what eloping can look like! Using the term “small wedding” if you’re planning on inviting a few loved ones, or saying “we’re choosing to get married just the two of us” instead of saying “we’re eloping” can help clarify your plans as well. 

Invite your family to get excited about your plans. Paint a picture for them of what you’re envisioning. Share photos of where you would like to get married, activities that you would like to do on your wedding day, or inspiration that you’ve found as you’ve begun planning. Seeing your excitement and getting a better understanding of what you are planning can help them feel more open to the idea. Assure them that while it may be different from a traditional wedding, it will still be just as meaningful. 

4. Acknowledge Their Feelings 

Your family might likely have mixed emotions about your decision, and that’s okay! Reassure them that your decision doesn’t diminish your love for them or their importance in your life. Validate their feelings, and let them know that while you appreciate their perspective, you have both put a lot of careful thought into your decision and know that this is the right choice for you. 

Regardless of how your family reacts, remember: this is YOUR wedding day, not theirs, and you have every right to celebrate this huge milestone in your life however you feel is best. 

5. Address Their Concerns 

Try to offer solutions or compromises to their most pressing concerns wherever possible. Here are a few common concerns that might come up, along with potential solutions: 

Feeling Left Out

Family members might feel hurt or disappointed that they weren’t included in the wedding plans or the ceremony itself. If this is the case, you might offer to involve them in other aspects of the wedding planning process, such as helping to choose the location or selecting meaningful elements for the ceremony. You could also plan a celebration or reception to celebrate with loved ones before or after your elopement! 

Feel Like They’re Missing Important Moments

Parents especially might feel saddened that they won’t be able to witness important moments associated with a traditional wedding, such as walking their child down the aisle or watching them exchange vows. If you are planning on eloping just the two of you or would like to exchange your vows in private, promise to share photos and videos of your elopement so they can still feel connected to the experience. 

If you are planning on bringing loved ones with you, let them know if you are still planning on incorporating some of those more traditional aspects into the day, such as walking with a parent down the aisle (even if it’s just a dirt path on the side of a mountain!), inviting them to take part in your ceremony, or even sharing in a parent dance or toast. Just because you are eloping doesn’t mean you can’t still include these things if you would like. There is always the option to share your personal vows in private, and then have a separate ceremony with your loved ones as well, or even livestream your ceremony for loved ones to join from afar! 

Concerns About Legitimacy of Your Relationship

Some family members might worry that eloping is a sign of impulsiveness or that the relationship isn’t being taken seriously. (Remember that thing we said about the “Vegas/Elvis” misconception?) They might fear that the decision is not as serious of a commitment as a traditional wedding would be. If this is the case, assure family members that your decision to elope was thoughtfully made, and share your reasons for choosing to elope again. Explain to them that elopements no longer are for people getting married last minute and in secret, but instead have just as much planning, thought, and consideration put into them as a traditional wedding might, and are every bit as legitimate. 

Worries About Regret

Loved ones might be concerned that you will regret not having a traditional wedding ceremony later on, or that you will miss out on the experience of celebrating with friends and family. If this is the case, be sure to express your gratitude for their concern and reassure them that your decision to elope was made after careful consideration. Invite family members to share in your excitement for the future, and offer to celebrate with them before or after your elopement. 

Logistical Concerns

Family members might have practical concerns about the logistics of eloping, such as how you will handle legal paperwork, whether you’ll have a witnesses present, and how you’ll commemorate the occasion. If this concern comes up, it can help to be prepared to provide details about your elopement plans, including how you plan to take care of all of the legal requirements. If you are planning on eloping in Colorado, you can self-soleminize. This means means that you do not need a witness or an officiant to be legally married. In most counties in the state, you can also have your dog sign your marriage license with their paw print! 

It’s important to note that it’s always okay to stand your ground if what they ask for isn’t in line with your vision for the day. At the end of the day, this is YOUR wedding day, so the most important thing is making sure you are celebrating in the way that feels best to you. 

6. Offer Ways for Them to Be Involved 

Even though you are choosing to elope, there are ways for your family to be involved as much or as little as you would like. Depending on what you are comfortable with, invite them to share their ideas and suggestions, help with different aspects of planning, or even join you for part or all of your elopement. If you would rather keep the actual elopement just the two of you, consider hosting a casual gathering or dinner to celebrate with them before or after your elopement. 

For more ideas for ways to include your family, here are some additional ideas!  

7. Express Gratitude 

Be sure to let your family know how much their understanding means to you, and thank them for their love and support, regardless of their reaction. Your family may need time to wrap their heads around the idea of you eloping, but they will hopefully come around!

Your wedding day is a celebration of your love, first and foremost. As much as we wish everyone understood this concept, you will likely encounter disappointed family members no matter what. Find friends or family that will stand in your corner – we also promise to be your biggest cheerleader and supporter. At the end of your elopement day, the most important thing is that you and your partner are thrilled and excited about your wedding plans. Period.

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

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