As an elopement photographer, many of my clients ask me how to elope without hurting feelings. They worry about people being upset, feeling guilty, or offending family members by not inviting them. Whether your elopement will be just the two of you, or whether you select a handful of guests to come along for the ride, there will always be certain people who feel left out.
Simultaneously, as an elopement photographer I see how wonderful elopements really are for couples. Elopement days are carefree, joy-filled, adventurous, and focused on making memories. There are no “have to’s.” There is no pressure. Elopement days are truly focused on the couple and their love (aka how every wedding day should be!).
So over the years, I’ve come up with a few ways that can help family and friends to feel involved in your elopement, even if they’re not present. I’m sharing below my best tips on how to avoid hurt feelings and still have the intimate, adventurous elopement day you’re dreaming of.
Just because you’re eloping, doesn’t mean you don’t get to have a party! Many couples will choose to have a special brunch or cocktail party the day before they depart for their elopement. Or, they’ll have a small gathering or ‘reception’ when they get home! This can look however you want it to. It can be formal at a rooftop bar, or super casual with a campfire in the backyard. It can be with just your families, or with a handful of friends.
This is the best of both worlds! You can get married just the two of you, and then still have a celebration back home with your circle of family and friends.
Another way to incorporate family and friends into your elopement is to have them write letters for you to read. This is a great way to let those who matter most to you feel involved. The letters can either be written for you to read on the elopement morning, or you can even let a few special family members write something to be read by the officiant during your vow exchange ceremony. This would be such an honor, and it would show your loved ones that you really care about having them involved in your big day.
Let one family member choose an item or accessory for you to wear or carry with you on your big day. You can even assign four different people to pick out something old, new, borrowed, or blue! This will reassure them that a piece of them will be with you as you start your forever.
The most important part to an elopement is hiring a great photographer and videographer. Because not all of your family and friends will be there, it is extra important to have every detail captured so they can relive the day with you.
After the elopement, you can gift significant family members a printed photo album with a hand-written note inside the cover.
Additionally, you can host a private viewing of the elopement video for just your closest family and friends! Make it a fun movie night with popcorn and champagne!
Hiring a great elopement photographer and videographer will not only help you to relive your best day ever, but will also allow everyone you love to experience it with you even if they weren’t present.
The beauty of modern technology if that you can have people witness your elopement, even if they aren’t there in the flesh!
If you’d like, you can FaceTime family members into the vow ceremony. Or, schedule a Zoom call for a larger group of viewers. Your videographer can set up a tripod and take care of the tech for you!
Otherwise, if you want to keep the ceremony intimate and tech free, give your family members a call just before you head out to exchange your vows or right after you’ve made things official. Let them pray over you, give you some encouragement or well wishes, and let them know that you wanted them to virtually be a part of your day.
Send out an elopement announcement (here are some of my favorite elopement announcement cards!), and include a link to an Elopement Experience Fund or a Honeymoon Fund! This way, your family and friends can treat you to experiences while you are away on your elopement trip. They can purchase a couples massage, sunset sail, hot air balloon ride, helicopter tour, snorkeling excursion, whatever it is that you want to do on your trip! Family and friends will feel so happy knowing that they contributed to you having the time of your life!
A few Elopement/Honeymoon Fund services that I recommend are Honeyfund, Zola Registry, & The Knot Cash Fund.
Lastly, the most effective way to elope without hurting feelings is to have an intentional conversation prior to your announcement. Lots of couples ask me how to tell family that you’re eloping, and these are my best tips for breaking the news.
Sit down with essential family members beforehand, and explain to them your intentions. Let them know your heart, why you’re choosing to elope (whether it’s finances, privacy, valuing experiences over traditions, avoiding family drama, etc.). Tell them how important they are to you, and that their support means the world to you. Let them know in what ways you would like for them to be involved (such as one or more of the examples listed above). Then, open up the floor for them to ask you any questions. Keep reiterating how excited you are for this elopement, and how much it means to have their support.
If you go about it in this way and they are still struggling to be happy for you, give them space and time. I promise they will come around, and I promise that you will never regret eloping. In all of my years photographing elopements, I have never seen a couple feeling regretful after the day is said and done. You will leave your elopement with once-in-a-lifetime experience with your forever soulmate that can never be replaced.
I hope that by now I’ve shown you how to elope without hurting feelings! Further, I hope that I’ve convinced you to to elope regardless of what family and friends think! If that’s the case, then here are a few more articles you’ll love:
Or check out my Planning Tips page for more wedding and elopement advice. Happy planning!!
I’m a destination wedding & elopement photographer with a passion for marriage.
As your photographer, I'll capture images that are natural, authentic, and honestly illustrate your love for one another so that you can always remember exactly why you fell in love.
Whether you're eloping just the two of you, or getting married in your favorite place with all your favorite people, I'd love to capture the photos that will help you to cherish your marriage for a lifetime.
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Michigan Wedding Photographer
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