Congrats! Twist your wrists Beyoncé style, because he finally put a ring on it. After Aunt Crazy and Grandfather Awkward call to ogle over your engagement, what if it’s all just too much? Screw the peonies, cake tastings, sky-high hairdos, dress dieting, and spray tanning—you think. Wouldn’t it be better to take the biggest YOLO ever and get married away from it all? But is that really worth it? The people you’ve left at home—especially the woman who birthed you—might be a little upset if you choose to elope.
With good reason.
Reddit recently posted a question that amassed more than 100 user comments: is it selfish to elope?
The user who posed the question, natashasmasha, said her significant other was "on board" for eloping, but her family was not. She hated the idea of a wedding and confessed to wanting to make a wedding Pinterest board filled with pictures of fat Elvis. The user is an only child from a religious family who sees weddings only through the eyes and sanctity of a church. Her mother would be upset—but her grandmother would be even more traumatized.
She asks, “Have any of you ‘went through the motions’ of having a wedding for the sake of your family?” and wanted to hear stories and reasoning for people who have eloped.
Users answered everything from “Yes it’s selfish. Do it anyway” to “I know someone who eloped and it deeply hurt their family.”
But is it really selfish?
A Huffington Post blogger, Nora Cranley, is an eloper extraordinaire. She and her boyfriend were together for almost nine years before he proposed (WHAT?!), and she knew she didn't want a wedding. Cranley was neither a tomboy nor a “born bride” and didn’t want to cry over centerpieces or color schemes.
After eloping to Thailand, it took her mother-in-law four years to finally admit, “You guys sure got married the right way.” Family members were upset, originally, but Cranley stuck to her guns—she wanted the wedding to be her thing, not her friends’ or families’. The married couple planned a big party once the resentment died down.
About.com breaks it down even further. Couples who elope want to save money, don’t want the hassle, seek to avoid family arguments (e.g., veil wars, dress wars, something-borrowed wars), want spontaneity like a Las Vegas wedding, or look for something a bit more old-fashioned like a city-hall wedding (Carrie Bradshaw did it, so that means it must be awesome.) But eloping also means hurt feelings—especially in a moment when you may need family members the most—or missing the chance to reconnect with family and friends. Few of us have been to a wedding where we haven't been stuck talking to Uncle Archibald from Omaha who is just so “happy to be there.”
Eloping isn't an easy decision—and nothing is worse than an upset grandma. But About.com encourages readers to sweeten the deal a bit for family and friends by having a huge reception after the private ceremony, throwing a large 10-year anniversary party, or hiring a photographer to come to city hall.
One Yahoo blogger says eloping might not be as wonderful as we see it, and after the adrenaline wears off, you'll be left wanting more.
“Eloping can leave you feeling very empty,” she says. “You may feel like you missed something important and wish that you had a wedding. These feelings may creep up on you again as you watch other family members and friends get married.”
The Knot’s wedding channel suggests keeping your family in mind at all times, because with spur-of-the-moment decisions it may get easy to forget family members. Give parents and siblings a phone call and send a few pictures so they don't feel completely left out of the loop.
The marriage might even be affected by one person's resentment or family issues brought on by the missing out of a wedding, she said.
There's also another caveat, as The New York Times points out: eloping is hardly a private, subdued affair anymore. If you’re an avid social-media user, you'll probably tweet about it and upload a couple of Instagrams, and before you know it—boom—everyone knows about it. And just because no one is attending doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on the accoutrements. One couple had a wedding planner throw a farmhouse wedding in California wine country, with touches of calligraphy and canopies, all minus the guests.
"Elopements are no longer confined to black-sheep members of the family who skulk off to a Las Vegas chapel because Mom and Dad do not approve," according to the Times.
The average U.S. wedding, according to Reuters, is more than $27,000—which is the cost of a small car or a very expensive show dog. According to TLC, many beach resorts offer elopement packages. By skipping the event itself, you’re off to a money-saving start so you can spend on trips for the future, a home, or even those little-people things: children.
There's no perfect way to elope, just like there's no perfect wedding. Guests turn into drunkards, and that best friend from college may reveal a bit too much about you, just as your family members will probably be upset no matter how much you explain why you want to elope.
But there are plenty of people out there who have done it. Talk to them and figure out if you're the type of person who would want a private elopement. Don't like attention? Eloping might be your thing. But always keep in mind the people who have been waiting for this day longer than you have. When you were born, your mom pictured you in a tuxedo or lacy, white dress—before you even knew what marriage or tulle was—no matter how much of a BAMF you think you are now.
It’s not unlike a one-night stand or job offer—just think before you act and analyze the consequences. If you're happy, your family and friends can't help but be happy for you.