Should we invite our high-drama family to our at-home elopement?

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 | Photography by Melissa Hirsch Photography
0644 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photo by AJ Abelman Photography from this Nashville elopement

My partner and I have decided that, since we are such introverted homebodies, we just want to have our ceremony in our backyard under a large tree. Having this moment in our home suits us. No stress — or so I thought.

My fiance told my parents we were getting married. Big Mistake.

I'm a black sheep in the family. There was a fateful dinner we had with my parents in the past where my parents ripped me a new one about our wedding decisions (at that time we had been planning to rent out a B&B). It was clear after this night that we weren't going to shell out for a wedding so my parents could be disappointed in our decisions.

We only see my fiance's family for birthdays and major holidays and are mostly strangers. We both agreed that it'd be weird to invite people to a very intimate moment in our lives with whom we hardly ever interact.

So here's my dilemma: if we invite my parents to our ceremony, they'll gripe and stress us both out with their negativity. There are times when my fiance wants to invite his sister and her family (husband and two kids), but if you invite them, you have to invite my parents, too. It could all be avoided if our celebration was just with the two of us. However, since we're eloping in our backyard, they'll definitely be angry about not being invited when they see the photos. How do we handle this? – S

I think you answered the first part of your question with this line: “It could all be avoided if our celebration was just with the two of us.” It seems to me that eloping, in a traditional method with only an officiant and a witness, is your best bet. It means that nobody is chosen over anyone else and it avoids the inevitable stress that inviting guests will bring.

The second part of this is how to let everyone know that you've chosen this option. Thankfully, our readers have provided us with a lot of advice for eloping with as little drama as possible. And even if you decide to invite a few guests in the end, a lot of this drama-reducing advice is still applicable…

Here are some tips to avoid drama at your at-home elopement…

Know that there will be big FEELS

Jenny shared this advice when she eloped:

I think some people assumed they would be a part of our wedding in some way. Some others also didn't “get” why we did it, and were semi-offended by the offbeat-ness of eloping. So, we're going to work on talking more to these people and making sure they understand that we did what we did because it was right for us. Which it was. So I feel no need to apologize, just reassure.

Jonelle's mother wouldn't speak to her for days when she found out that they had eloped. But in the end, Jonelle still didn't regret it:

Do I have regrets? None. My mom got over it and we still have a good relationship (my sister got married two years ago and she was there every step of the way). I always tell people that the main focus is you and your partner's happiness. If having a wedding to celebrate your union is what you desire, then I would be there every step of the way to make sure it goes well. I don't feel like my elopement hindered my life. I can truly say it was one of the first decisions as an adult I made and was absolutely happy with it.

Communicate well

Jenny also shared her advice for how to share the news:

We knew we would each call our parents to tell them a “surprise,” and as soon as they picked up the phone, we'd send an email with a snapshot of us in our wedding gear. But beyond that, I wish we had thought of a list of all the people we'd call before posting the news on Facebook the next day. There were some people we attempted to call, but couldn't connect with, and I'm sad about that. So I'd recommend creating that list early so you have more time to prep.

In your case, you'll want to be really clear about why you chose to elope alone — focusing mostly on YOU. You're introverts, you wanted it to be intimate in your own home, you wanted it to be super low-key, it's not them, it's you… etc. I wouldn't recommend bringing up their negativity unless you really want to have it out. But if your goal is to avoid drama, focusing on your own reasons should help.

Here are some tips on how to word a wedding announcement if you plan to send something to friends and family you didn't invite:

If all else fails, consider a compromise

I advised D to considering compromising if you just can't resolve eloping alone. This could be in the form of a live stream, for instance…

Live stream the whole thing for your select remote guests to watch. You get to be alone, but your family members can still watch live and almost in-person. This may still feel like a traditional ceremony to you, so I get it if you aren't into it as an option. But maybe your family could even have a little celebration after the ceremony with each other, making it feel more special for them while you're doing your post-elopement fun.

This may not be the right thing for your family (they may balk at the idea), but it could allow you to include your partner's family without them being in the photos and making your family feel left out.

Here's how to live stream your elopement, if you choose that route:

Alternately, you could hire a videographer to capture the moments to share later in a low-key setting (or online). This wedding was a real treat to view in video form.

More on why elopements rock:

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Comments on Should we invite our high-drama family to our at-home elopement?

  1. Hey! I thought I’d just offer a few more options, if any of them work for you: a) you could elope just the two of you and then offer to take wedding photos with the family at a later date (It sounds like maybe the photos were important to your family) b) elope just the two of you but invite everyone to a small celebratory dinner at a local place. No need to pay or send out fancy invites; just call your family up and say that the elopement is just the two of you, but you’re going out to eat after if they want to join. Sometimes just feeling included works. At the end of the day, though, these are just ideas. You and your partner should do what makes you two happy 🙂

  2. I was married prior to my husband now. And my family is always full of something crazy and drama always follows. I actually did elope and didn’t tell anyone, and you know what. The one person it hurt the most, was my father. I did compromise and let him throw us a party with just family attending. I was blessed later on because after learning what it’s like to elope then divorce. I found my one true love and had the best most amazing wedding ever. As the oldest in my family, it was always my dad’s dream to walk me down the aisle. I took that away from dad in my first marriage, but luckily I got remarried to my true partner and my dad cried at our wedding after he walked me down. I realize after reading this article now, I eloped because I was ashamed to have a big wedding, and I was 19 years old. It didn’t feel right at the time, had I invited my dramatic family at the time, they would’ve been upset and vocal about it. So it was actually a plus that I didn’t invite my family to my first marriage and elopement. Due to the fact that it didn’t last long with the first marriage, & let me tell you something ladies, Dad’s know whether your partner is right for you or not. And when it will or won’t last (usually).

  3. Get married. Inform people later. It’s your life, not theirs no matter how many feels they have about it.

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