8 Tips For Telling Your Family and Friends You're Eloping

For most people, it is expected that when you get engaged, the traditional wedding path is the path you will take. Couples say things like "I could never do that to my mom" or "We just can't; we have such a big family" when listing reasons why an elopement isn't for them. The number one question I'm asked by couples who are planning their elopements is advice on how to tell their friends and family members that they've decided to forgo a traditional wedding. It's the biggest barrier to couples having the wedding day they really want.

Making the decision to do something different and bravely stepping out to say "We don't feel a big wedding is for us" takes a lot of courage. Every couple that I've worked with has been incredibly happy that they've eloped. There are zero regrets from them. I constantly hear:

"We would never have wanted this day to be something else."

"It's been the best day of our lives."

"The experience was more incredible than we could have imagined."

Everyone deserves to feel this way about their wedding day.

So in an effort to encourage more couples who want to make the brave choice to elope, here is some of the best advice on how to tell friends and family about your decision to elope.

These tips will enable you to have the incredible day that you envision. I hope to encourage you to not let other people's opinions and expectations affect how you spend the day that you commit the rest of your lives to each other. The day that you say your vows and make those promises to your partner matters. It deserves to be exactly the way you want it to be.

It is your adventure and no one's love story but your own.

Tip 1: Tell Them Face to Face

Many couples advocate for telling their close family and friends in person, even if it was painful or awkward. Telling them face to face so they can hear your excitement in your vision for the day can help them understand why you are choosing an elopement over a traditional wedding. For friends and family that aren't geographically close, couples suggest getting on FaceTime so you can better gauge reactions, calling so you can hear their voice and they can hear the excitement in yours.

Tip 2: Drop Hints and Be Obvious

For couples who always knew an elopement was the choice for them, dropping hints long before their elopement day or even their engagement helped eased friends and family into the actual announcement. When everyone knows a traditional wedding is off the table from the beginning, it helps minimize the hurt feelings. Instead of "Save the Dates," eloping couples shared that announcing their engagement instead as a "We're Eloping!" helped to keep expectations in check.

You can also involve other family members in helping you drop hints to those who might be more skeptical. Ask them to casually mention that it might be something you are thinking of so when you tell everyone, everyone has already warmed up to the idea.

Tip 3: Share Your Reasons Why

Couples found that sharing their reasons why they were choosing to elope helped their friends and family understand that an elopement wasn't about excluding those they were closest to but rather about having the day they had always wanted.

A few reasons couples used:

  • We don't want the large price tag for a big wedding.
  • We want to be able to pay for our wedding ourselves.
  • We want to build our future not plan a party.
  • We're saving to buy a house or take a big vacation before we have kids.
  • We want to do something we love, like traveling, on our wedding day.
  • We want something truly intimate.
  • We want to actually be able to spend time together on our wedding day.
  • We want to spend the day enjoying our relationship instead of worrying about making others happy.
  • We don't want the stress of planning a big wedding.
  • We want to say our vows in a remote location.
  • Our privacy is important to us.
  • We're so in love, we just don't want to wait to plan a big day.
  • It's what we feel is right.

Tip 4: Share as Many Details as You Can

Sharing the details with them also helps show your excitement and helps your friends and family understand how much effort and thought you've put into planning the elopement. When they see your excitement, it allows them to get excited! This also helps them feel that they're involved in the day, since they know what you're planning. It also shows them that you're not eloping to exclude them and that you still value their love.

Tip 5: Keep Them Involved

Giving your friends and family other jobs and ways they can be involved in your elopement can help them feel like they're still helpful and reassure them that you do want them to be a part of your day in a way. Some couples choose to include their immediate family in their elopement ceremony as a compromise to keep disappointment minimal. You can also involve your family in a ceremony in other ways like asking them to write a letter you can read during the elopement day, asking their help in making decor like 'Just Married' signs for your backpacks, or helping pick the brewery to go to afterwards.

Tip 6: Throw a Party! (Before or After)

Having a large reception after your elopement where you can share your photos and memories of the day and give your friends a family a chance to shower you with the excited affection they want to can be a happy medium for couples. Sending out invitations to a party that say "We're going to say 'I Do' then we'll party with you!" is a fun way to share the news and invite them at the same time.

Alternatively, you can also have a party prior to your elopement. Some couples chose to have a small get together to share their news with friends and family, which helped them feel a little extra special that they were 'in on the secret.'

Tip 7: Share Your Photos With Them

Some couples choose to elope in secret and surprise their friends and family later. A neat idea I've seen is to host a slideshow of photos of your trip & halfway through sneak in some wedding photos. You could even tell friends or family you brought back a trip souvenir & give them a framed photo.

Sharing your photos communicates so clearly just how much FUN you had on your day and how enjoyable it was. Friends and family truly seem to "get it" once they've seen the photographs, because they immediately understand this kind of day wouldn't be possible at a traditional venue with 150 guests. They see your joy, your happiness, how incredible your day was. When people who love you see you being 100% you and having the time of your life in your photos...well, it's pretty hard to stay mad after that.

Tip 8: Remember the Day is for You

Couples say that remembering that the disappointment from your friends and family or the less-than-thrilled reactions said more about those people than your decision. Knowing that your friends and family want to be part of the day because they want acknowledgment that they're a big part of your life can help you empathize with them when their reactions are less than ideal. It can take your family some time to warm up to the idea, but eventually can come around and understand. In the end, remember that this is your choice and it really does matter. You deserve the day that feels right for you.

I hope the above tips help you take the plunge and make the decision to have the intimate "just us" wedding experience of your dreams! Hopefully, it reduces the anxiety around sharing the decision you have chosen with your close friends and family.


Sally Grieshaber

Ready to get started planning your elopement? Reach out now!