Breaking the news that you eloped will inevitably have to happen, whether it’s before or after your elopement, so give some thought as to how you wish to go about it.
Before you turn to social media to announce it, think about how family members, loved ones, and close friends who are out of the loop might react. A thoughtful paper announcement with a handwritten signature and personal sentiment goes far.
Tip: When sitting down to draft and order your announcements, be sure to include the date of your actual elopement (what you consider your anniversary).
Here’s a good strategy for how to deliver the news:
• Parents: Tell them in person or by phone before the elopement or immediately after.
• Immediate and close family members: Mail a paper announcement after the elopement and call those you’re particularly close to. Many paper companies that cater to large weddings now have a line for elopements.
• Close friends: Mail a paper announcement after the elope-ment and call your closest friends.
• Distant family and friends: Mail a paper announcement after the elopement.
• Colleagues and acquaintances: Email an announcement or let them find out on social media.
And here are real couples’ stories on what happened when they told their loved ones they were eloping—or had already done it.
Eloped to Lake Placid in January 2019.
From Amber: “The visualization of the plan had changed so quickly, and so many times, that when we finally settled on an intimate elopement ceremony, our parents were already cued in. There was some resistance at first. Bryan’s mother comes from a huge family, so there was some hesitation about not having everyone there. We helped them to understand that Lake Placid has been a special place to us throughout our relationship. It has a sentimental value to us that we wanted to share with the people closest to us. We reassured relatives that although we’d be having a wedding of only eleven people, that we would make up for it afterwards with a party to celebrate. There was LOTS of sarcasm and ‘my invitation must’ve got lost in the mail’ jokes.”
Herbie & Chris
Eloped in Philadelphia in October 2018.
From both: “We each brought it up individually to our parents over the phone. We explained the stress it was causing and our concerns about money. Herbie’s family seemed to be on board and just wanted us to have the wedding that we wanted. Chris’s family seemed to take it the hardest. Especially Chris’s mom and sister, who were excited to have a big wedding. They were also concerned about how to tell the rest of the family that we weren’t going to be having a wedding, in the commonly understood concept of ceremony and large reception.
“We told some close relatives over the course of the months leading up to our small ceremony. We didn’t keep it a secret, but since our ceremony came quickly, we just didn’t see a lot of family members up until the day. Our family did let our extended family know whenever they saw them in person.
“Our closest relatives (Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents) were sad that they weren’t going to be there to see the ceremony, especially since we did have our parents and sisters there. Chris’ grandma and uncle were upset and wondered why they weren’t invited since they live in the area. We tried explaining that opening up the attendance further would keep creating a larger and larger grey area as to why certain people were or weren’t invited. We decided to stay firm with just our parents and sisters.”
Eloped to Positano in September 2014.
From Erin: “We called our parents and explained our reasoning. They were all incredibly supportive and just wanted us to be happy. We called other relatives and everyone was completely fine.”
Lana & Ben
Eloped to Las Vegas in April 2019.
From Lana: “My mom was pretty crushed not to be there for the wedding. She’d also spent all this time thinking about what it might be like to give me away, and to make a toast, all these sorts of traditional things.
“What’s kind of important for me is to feel like other people were celebrating the fact that we found each other, especially when I was 36 and Ben was 34 and it didn’t always feel like we were going to find each other. I almost wanted other people to validate that for us. So we threw a reception in October on our six month anniversary of getting married. It was just a brunch reception. My mom threw herself into it, scheduling seven different tastings. And it turned out to be really wonderful. It bonded us, and I hope that she was happy with how everything turned out.”
Eloped to Cabo San Lucas in February 2020.
From Haylie: Our parents were really supportive. My parents got married in a courthouse with me on mother’s hip. Kevin’s parents also had a modest wedding, and both of our parents are still together to this day. They taught us that a big wedding doesn’t equal a great marriage and I think they respected our decision to do something that was right for us.
“I think our grandparents were a little disappointed because none of them could make the trip (they were invited) but I think everyone ultimately understood.”
Eloped in Cincinnati in July 2020.
From Esther: “We each broke it to our moms over the phone and let them break it to the families! My mom was just happy to see me legally wed. I think Christopher’s mom was excited to celebrate our love and didn’t care too much how it happened! I do have to mention my mom kept sending me venues for a week or so that were $2,000-5,000 to rent.
“The downtown Cincinnati courthouse is actually really beautiful and we toyed with having the ceremony inside. But because of Covid restrictions, the building only allowed 8 people in the room–including the couple and the photographers. And since I had 5 siblings, plus my parents who wanted to be there, we already were over the limit before adding any of Christopher’s family. So being outside was the best choice for our group.
“Christopher’s grandparents kept saying how ‘unusual’ the wedding was!”
Eloped to Jug Handle State Natural Reserve along Highway 1 in Northern California.
From Whitney: “My parents were told over the phone and it was no big deal. Stephen told his parents over the phone and they were just glad we were finally getting married. We told our close family and friends once we made the arrangements to elope. Others were informed by a social media announcement.”
Eloped to Cole Mountain, Virginia in September 2018.
From RaeAnn: “Whether you have others involved is a really personal decision that you and your significant other should make together. Don’t let others try to tell you what to do—this is your day to celebrate your love for each other and devote your lives to each other. Remember, there are ways to keep family involved—it can be a photobook, calling or FaceTiming after, or having them afterward for a dinner. Whatever you decide, just make sure that it is the best decision for you and your fiancé. Choose your dream elopement and let everything else work itself out.”
Turned their engagement party in Washington, DC into a surprise elopement in June 2018.
From Marty: “This was tricky. Caroline is the oldest of two and the first in her family to be engaged. We knew her mom would want to help in the planning of the wedding, so we wanted to make sure she was included. At the same time, Caroline wanted to avoid most of the common ceremonies involved in a wedding: showers, bridesmaids, throwing the bouquet, etc., and the pressure that comes with wanting to please everyone. We decided to tell her parents and sister ahead of time, but only a few weeks before the event. My parents were told the night before the party.
“Caroline’s parents were excited. Her mom had a lot of questions about how the surprise would work. Caroline’s dad thought it was a great idea, but he wanted to make sure he still got to walk her down the aisle (yes, both parents did), and that he would get to give a toast. Caroline’s sister (who still wants a full traditional wedding, by the way!) thought the idea was fun and was nervous that she would have to give an impromptu speech. Caroline wasn’t too worried about the surprise element because her parents also had a non-traditional wedding—they got married on New Years Eve at their home with just their closest friends. Caroline’s mom wore a short black dress. Whether they knew it or not, this 1988 decision gave Caroline permission to continue the family tradition of breaking tradition.
“My family was excited, too. Since they were just told the night before and had already traveled to town for the party, they didn’t have much choice but to be excited! Not all of of my siblings were able to be there, unfortunately, but everyone was still happy for us.
“Immediate family for both were told ahead of the event along with some of Marty’s aunts and uncles, but most relatives didn’t know at all. We didn’t send announcements but after the wedding we shared on Facebook and word traveled quickly.”
Want to share your elopement story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.