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Planning to elope: How to break the news to your family


Elopements are becoming more popular these days as a way for couples to tie the knot without the stress and expense of a traditional wedding. But breaking the news to your family that you’re planning to elope can be tricky. For so many, the traditions of a big wedding are meaningful to them, and YOU are meaningful to them. Because of that, they want to celebrate with you, but at the end of the day, your wedding is about you. It’s about the promise of you to another person.

So, ultimately, a wedding can’t be about what everyone else wants. Not to mention, there are ways to incorporate traditions without having a big wedding. Let’s discuss some tips for telling your family about your elopement plans and the benefits of an intimate wedding.

bride and groom walk through forest with backpacks during elopement

#1 Be honest and direct

The first thing you should do when telling your family about your elopement plans is to be honest and direct. Don’t beat around the bush or try to sugarcoat the news. Simply tell them that you and your partner have decided to elope and that you wanted to share the news with them personally. I definitely recommend trying to tell them face to face – whether that be in person or through facetime.

Most of your close family and friends are going to be on your side if it’s what’s right for you. Plus, it means everyone will be spending less money, which should be a good thing all around.

bride and groom pose in sunlight on cliffside during elopement
bride and groom wear backpacks and walk towards cliffside

#2 Explain your reasons

It’s important to explain your reasons for wanting to elope. Whether it’s because you don’t want to deal with the stress and expense of a big wedding or because you want a more intimate and personal ceremony, your family will appreciate knowing why you’ve made this decision.

That’s why it might be good to go into this meeting with a game plan. Sit down with your partner and figure out exactly why an elopement is right for you. Write those things down, get on the same page about it all. And figure out if you’re doing it because you want it or because it’s trendy. You could still get those epic pictures from an engagement session if an intimate wedding isn’t for you!

bride and groom kiss on cliffside during elopement

#3 Reassure them

Your family may feel hurt or disappointed that they won’t be able to attend your wedding, so it’s important to reassure them that you still value their love and support. Let the people feel their feelings! It’s okay if they’re put off at first, that’s just an initial reaction. Let them know that this decision wasn’t made to exclude them, but rather to make the wedding more meaningful for you and your partner.

bride and groom sit overlooking water and reading a letter

#4 Include them

When we find ways to include our friends and family, even if they aren’t invited to all aspects of the wedding day, then that will help them feel valued. People that are close to you want to be helpful to you on a wedding day, even an elopement or intimate wedding, so give them a job or task that will show them you’re thinking of them.

I’ve had many couples have their family share letters and words of wisdom for the couple to read on their elopement day. If writing and words of affirmation isn’t their love language, maybe helping with decor, setup, or general logistics will make everyone feel included.

#5 Invite them to celebrate with you

Even though you’re eloping, you can still invite your family to celebrate with you. Many couples will include their immediate families on their elopement day, and that can be so special. Consider hosting a reception or party after the elopement where you can share photos and stories from your special day. This will allow your family to feel included in your wedding celebration, even if they weren’t able to attend the actual ceremony.

This is a good thing to nail down prior to telling anyone: who exactly you’re inviting. Is it more like a traditional elopement where it’s only you, your partner, your officiant, and your photographer? Or, is it just immediate family or more like an intimate wedding with a group of people to join you. Get on the same page about who those people are. If the list gets too big, eloping may not be the best option, but you can still do an intimate wedding at a smaller venue or park!

bride and groom stand on cliffside during elopement ceremony

What’s next in planning to elope?

Now that you’ve told your family about your plan to elope, let’s discuss the benefits of having an intimate wedding!

#1 Less stress

One of the biggest benefits of an intimate wedding is that it’s much less stressful than a traditional wedding. With fewer guests and fewer details to worry about, you can focus on enjoying your special day with your partner.

I can’t count how many times I’ve shot a bigger wedding and I hear the couple say “I wish we’d just eloped”. Don’t get pressured into doing your day in a way that causes stress. Let go of people’s expectations, because at the end of the day, if they’re in your corner, they’ll be happy for you!

#2 More meaningful

An intimate wedding allows you to focus on what really matters – your love for each other. Without the distractions of a big wedding, you can create a ceremony that truly reflects your personalities and your relationship.

Some people don’t like to be the center of attention all day. If that is you, an intimate wedding or elopement might be the best option. It allows you to be with a close group of family and friends and truly focus on what you came there to celebrate.

bride wipes tears away from her eyes as groom talks
intimate reception set up

#3 More affordable

Weddings can be expensive, but an intimate wedding can be much more affordable than a big wedding. With fewer guests and fewer details to worry about, you can save money on everything from the venue (rent an Airbnb!) to the catering.

On the other hand, you can spend as much as you want on an elopement. Sometimes, people decide to take the money they would have spent on a big wedding and do a destination elopement in Italy or France or Greece!

bride leans her head on grooms shoulder

#4 More flexible

When you have an intimate wedding or plan to elope, you have more flexibility in terms of when and where you get married. You can choose a location that’s meaningful to you and your partner, whether it’s a scenic outdoor location or a cozy indoor space.

This can be a good option for military families or those with unpredictable schedules.

bride and groom kiss on cliffside during elopement

If you need more help and plan to elope, I’ve got you covered with my guide!

Telling your family about your elopement plans can be tough, but it’s important to be honest and direct with them. Explain your reasons for wanting to elope and reassure them that you still value their love and support. And remember, an intimate wedding can be just as beautiful and meaningful as a traditional wedding, with the added benefits of being less stressful, more affordable, and more flexible. Let’s do the dang thing!

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My superpower is putting people at ease; whether that's behind the camera or on their elopement day solving problems calmly under pressure. I am passionate about building relationships with the people I work with. 


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