Eloping Etiquette

For many couples, the thought of a large wedding with a year or more of major planning is overwhelming, and makes eloping sound like a fabulous alternative. For others, the financial toll of a large-scale wedding gives eloping its appeal. For still others, going away to get married may be about centering the ceremony around their commitment and love instead of the busyness and distractions.

Whatever the reason(s), knowing what is still expected of you if you do choose to cut out on the traditional wedding festivities will greatly reduce the amount of hurt feelings of friends and family, and can keep guilt from ruining your low-pressure marriage plans.

Let loved ones know.

Whether your elopement is a planned and purposeful choice or a spur-of-the-moment decision, forgetting or neglecting to share the news with close friends and family can lead to hurt feelings and broken relationships. When eloping, you are not required to invite anyone, although you can choose to ask your siblings, parents, or best friends to help you celebrate your union with their presence. If you don”t want to invite anyone, it is still best to inform those closest to you before you get married, or at least immediately after to keep the relationship in tact.

Choose witnesses wisely.

Even though eloping is usually more stress-free than planning a wedding, there are things you will need to have on hand before you get married. You will need a marriage license, photo IDs, birth certificates, an officiant, and two witnesses over the age of 18. Many places that do ceremonies will provide you with witnesses, but if you choose from among friends to be the witnesses of your union, choose wisely. Remember that you could be hurting someone by allowing some friends to be privy to your secret but not others. It is your wedding and you may and should do as you wish. But this is something that ought to be considered when choosing witnesses.

Send out announcements when you get home.

Once you return, send out wedding announcements to let all of your friends and extended family know your happy news. People will want to know that you are married, and may send a gift (although announcements should never include gift requests). Announcements help avoid confusion and allow people to rejoice with you. If there were special circumstances involved, you may want to send along a note explaining why you eloped.

Hold a reception party.

Wedding etiquette expert Peggy Post says that couples who choose to abandon the traditional wedding hullabaloo may still hold a reception once they are home. Etiquette experts are divided, though, on whether the bride should wear her dress to the reception and if the couple should register for gifts. If you do register for gifts, just remember to observe the normal etiquette rules for creating a registry. Whether you register for gifts or not, graciously welcome any gifts that are brought and be grateful. The reception should be planned as soon as possible after the nuptials, since anything later is considered to be in bad taste, but holding a reception will allow friends and family to be a part of the celebration.

Don”t allow guilt-trips to ruin the memory and happiness of your special day.

Once you return home, people may try to make you feel guilty for having chosen to leave to get married. Or maybe those you told beforehand have tried to make you feel guilty. How you choose to become married is up to you and your spouse-to-be. Hopefully, your friends and family will honor your choices and support and be happy for you! If not, know that you are doing the best for you, and let the rest go.

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