ELOPING: Are You Avoiding or Creating Family Drama?

Photo credit: quinn.anya / Foter / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: quinn.anya / Foter / CC BY-SA

So you’re engaged and eloping! Congratulations on finding your life mate. As you well know there are a number of reasons to elope:

• Need to get married fast

• Want to avoid family drama

• Want to save money

• No interest or time in planning a wedding

• There aren’t many people in your life to make it worth a wedding

Eloping VS Formal Wedding

While we believe weddings are a way to gather family, friends, and your extended community to celebrate your union we would never tell anyone to not elope. You are simply postponing the union of family and friends for many small occasions where they’ll celebrate your newfound marriage.

Our feeling is that couples may think it is easier to elope but the decision may be met with emotions you were unprepared for:

• Anger

• Shock

• Confusion

• Sadness

Sometimes to appease the negative feelings, couples may have a wedding reception at a later date to gather loved ones. Often couples become shocked when a simple reception turns into the wedding drama and stress they were trying to avoid. All the emotions people have about showing off the new member of the family, about their son or daughter tying the knot, or the lack of control over your decision to elope may result in some madness around the reception.

Escaping Family Drama?

For whatever reason you chose to elope, trust that you are not escaping family drama. It may show up just before you elope, at the first major family birthday or holiday after your elopement, or at your one year anniversary. Rarely do families accept a new “in-law” without new emotions and attitudes. You are very lucky if everyone in your life is excited about your elopement!!

Wedding planning is often an extended view of the first years of marriage where every stakeholder in your life comes out to express their opinion about you, about everyone in the extended clan, your relationship and your life decisions. By eloping you may be forcing those bottled emotions to spring in any number of surprising ways. Be prepared! While some people make horrible mistakes in wedding planning that haunt them for years into their marriage (attacking in laws during a wedding planning meltdown moment, for example), the choice to elope may be an equally dramatic “mistake” in the eyes of your family.

Navigating Landmines of Emotions

Our book Take Back Your Wedding helps you need navigate the landmine of emotions you are about to create or have already created. It’s really about how to be married as a couple with your families —hard lessons you can avoid early in your marriage. Because no matter how the paperwork gets signed, you are creating a new family for each other. And you are making in-laws out of your parents and siblings with your new mate.

An important tool for any engaged couple is to take Premarital Counseling. Many churches require it but outside of that arena, few couples take any pre-marriage education. We have just the tool for you. We offer a premarital inventory called The Couple Check Up. You will get a personalized report of your relationship, areas of strength and areas of growth opportunity. I took it with my husband and it was an eye opening experience to see how you “stack up” against millions of other couples.

All our best for your marriage and beyond.

This article is written by Elizabeth Doherty Thomas. Elizabeth is part of a father/daughter team along with her father Bill Doherty, a family therapist. Together they have a web site (that you may want to visit) at Thefirstdance.com.

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Filed under: Planning Your Wedding

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4 responses to “ELOPING: Are You Avoiding or Creating Family Drama?

  1. (ZIMBABWE)  I eloped not because I had no patience to plan my wedding, but because I fell pregnant before the wedding. Am I condemned? How does a Christian deal with such a situation?

  2. (GHANA) Me and my fiancee want to elope to Zimbabwe cos we want to avoid too much cost. We have already done a very costly, traditional marriage and because I’m Ghanaian and he is British. He flew most of his family to my country to grace the occasion. We don’t want this to happen again. We are eloping to Zimbabwe. Simple.

    1. (GHANA) All I want to know is if both foreigners can elope to Zimbabwe to get married. I realy love Zimbabwe. Any help guys, or advice??

  3. Eloping is one thing. My son and his wife had a wedding planned for December. Then, in secret from OUR family, they married in June. I discovered their marriage because my son’s “fiancé”/wife (whose parents turned a promise ring into an engagement ring and insisted on setting a wedding date), started treating me differently and I started pondering why.

    Upon checking out the Clerk of Court website I learned that while they each continued to live with their respective parents, they had already been married for 2 months. Her family knew. Her sister was present. They were married in the same church and by the same Pastor who married them 6 months later as if they were saying their vows for the very 1st time.

    This started a chain reaction. A lot of hurt feelings to say the least. I reacted terribly and things got worse. 19 months later it still hurts; I have not seen my son’s wife since the “after the fact” wedding, have barely seen him and just learned that she wanted to rush it because she is not a US citizen. Whatever the reason, the hurt was real.

    I stopped going to church and started therapy. I raised my kids alone, with no child support and little involvement from their father when they were young. I was the go to house on Friday nights and on holidays for my kids’ friends. My 2 parent friends were always in awe that as a single parent who worked full time I managed more alone as they did as couples. I scraped to get by (and still do) but remained independent and gave up any retirement fund and extended my home mortgage to pay as much as I could for my kids college.

    I did not deserve this secrecy. I want them to be happy. I know we all have to take our own path and learn our own lessons but wonder what the long term outcome can be when their marriage began with lies, heartache and manipulative behavior. My son said they are happy and I hope that is lasting beyond her becoming a citizen. In the meantime, though, I believe forgiveness is a must for each of us, my heart remains broken.