How to Tell Your Friends and Family You're Eloping - Oregon Coast Elopement Photographer
Advice and templates for telling your family you're skipping the traditional wedding.
It’s all fun and games to decide to elope…but now you have to tell everyone. Oof. It won’t be the easiest thing but it will be worth it once you get to get married how you actually want to. We’re going to dive into all sorts of advice for this including a template and example script to help you out.
First, let’s get you pumped up.
You deserve to have the wedding (or elopement) of your dreams.
You get ONE wedding day. There’s nothing selfish about planning it around the only two people it’s about. You don’t think it’s weird that someone picked a birthday theme/location you don’t like because it’s their party, not yours. Same goes for your wedding.
If your family/friends don’t respect your decision, that’s not your problem. Do your part to communicate and how they handle it is up to them.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. As long as you're respectful and gentle, no one can fault you for standing your ground.
Where to Start
Start preparing them early. If you aren’t even engaged yet but you know a traditional wedding isn’t for you, drop the hints now. Honestly, start this before you’re even dating someone if you’re here early enough. Take the appropriate opportunities to drop hints like, “When I get married, I’m just going to run off and get married in nature.” Plant the seed now even if it’s in a joking tone.
If you're already engaged and getting ready to start breaking the news, really chat with your partner about why you want to elope. This discussion will help you prep your script for telling family and give you some answers for potential follow-up questions.
Telling Close Friends and Family
Sit them down (or call them) and have a real conversation with them. It’s not the easy route but it’s the best in the long run. It may be easier to shoot a quick text but hearing your full explanation will help them a lot. You can even write your speech down if that makes you feel better. In your speech, make sure to include…
1 - You want to elope and why it’s best for you two. This is a good time to discuss in some form that it’s your one day and it’s all your choice to fill that day with whatever you want.
2 - What an elopement is (many are used to the old school definition).
3 - Describe your vision for your day, get pumped about it! Show them as much as you know so far. Maybe show off the photographer you picked, the location you’re going, and anything else that shows what you’re doing is exactly what you want. This will help them envision that the traditional wedding truly isn’t something you want. It will further help shed the former idea of elopements and better show how your personality will be better supported by eloping.
4 - Emphasize that you care for them deeply and the lack of a wedding invite is not an indication of what they mean to you. If you’d like, you can even extend an offer to celebrate with them at another time (ie get dinner together, newly wed party at your house, later reception) or offer to include them in your elopement. There’s lots of way to include people without physically being there. You can video chat with them, have them write you letters/cards, or livestream your ceremony. Of course, make sure to only offer what you’re comfortable with. If you don’t want to read a letter from the person you’re talking to on your elopement day, don’t stress. Celebrate with them at another time.
5 - Give them space to process the information. Since this person is close, they were probably expecting an invitation.
If this conversation goes poorly, it’s important to remember that it isn’t your fault how they handle this information. If they truly love and care for you, they will respect your decision even if they feel hurt by it.
Example Script for Telling Friends/Family
Here’s an example of what you can say if you want more of a template:
“I just wanted to talk to you about my partner and I’s wedding plans. We’ve thought a lot about the experience we want to celebrate our wedding and it’s not a traditional wedding. We are going to elope on the Oregon Coast. We feel like this is going to give use the best experience and best represent our love. We’re more private people and we really want to focus on each other and our commitment over trying to throw a large party. It doesn’t feel true to us.
“Eloping has changed a lot in recent years. It’s more than running off for a courthouse wedding. We’re working on planning an intentional day filled with things we enjoy doing. We’re planning on hiking in the Redwoods, having a picnic on the beach, and exchanging vows next to the waves so no one can hear our vows but us. [Show photos of elopements where you want to elope.] We’re so excited about these plans and it took so much stress off our shoulders to change our plans to something that’s a better fit.
“We hope you know we still love you and cherish our relationship so much. We aren’t making this decision to exclude anyone. I understand if this is a surprise to you and if you feel hurt. We’d love to celebrate with you [dinner at later date, write letter, etc.]. We appreciate you understanding our decision. We wouldn’t go this route if we didn’t truly believe this was going to make us happiest.”
Some Help with Potential Follow-Up Questions/Comments
With some people you chat with, comments and questions after are inevitable. Here's some common ones I've heard so you can also prepare these responses.
“Elopements aren’t real weddings” or “you’ll regret eloping” or any other issues with the history of what eloping has meant:
Eloping isn’t a “lesser” wedding option. It’s just a different way to get married and if you’re here, it’s a better fit for you. You’re using it as a more intentional way to get married rather than following the same template as everyone else.
“What about [insert anyone’s name who won’t be invited]?”
Take a similar route to the conversation with the current individual. You value your relationship with them and a wedding invitation isn’t an indication of how much you care for them. It’s less about the person and more about having privacy.
“We don’t get to watch you get married” or other variations of feeling like they’re missing out.
You usually hardly see each guest during a traditional wedding anyways. You weren’t likely to get much quality time with close friends/family regardless. You will likely get more quality time celebrating and sharing your wedding experience by meeting up with them privately at another time.
“Eloping/this decision is selfish.”
It really isn’t. You have one day to celebrate you two and you’re not obligated to plan around everyone else. Gently remind them that it’s YOUR day.
Telling Everyone Else
Thankfully telling everyone else is a bit easier. You have two main options. First, you can just not tell anyone and announce it on Instagram/Facebook. Then you don’t have to worry about people trying to invite themselves or awkwardly explaining there’s no invite for that one person you were lab partners with that one time. Second, anytime people ask your wedding plans you can just say that you’re eloping with just the two of you. That random coworker will probably have an unwanted opinion but just shrug it off. You don’t have to explain yourself if you don’t want to.
Ways to Include Family/Friends that isn't a Traditional Wedding
Even though I just gave you all this advice on how to “uninvite” people, I want to remind you that you CAN have guests at your elopement. Even for my own elopement, I wanted my immediate family and best friends there. Check out my elopement experience to see what it looked like to include family. You have options when it comes to guests:
Have a reception later
Split up your elopement day so you spend a significant time with just the two of you and part of the day with your family.
Have them write you letters or video chat them. There’s lots of way to include people without them physically being there.
Have a family dinner or small get together later. Tell them all about your day and show off the epic photos.
Hire a videographer. Photos are awesome but video is a great way for people to feel included even if they weren't physically there. Lilli Productions and I just put together a joint photo/video package. Fill out my contact form for more information on getting both photo and video services!
The most important thing is to ONLY invite people you want there. Toss out the obligatory invites.
You got this and remember, you deserve to elope if you want to.
Want to learn more about eloping? Check out these other resources!