ELOPING: Are You Avoiding or Creating Family Drama?

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

• There is a need to get married fast.

• You want to avoid family drama?

Or perhaps you:

• Want to save money?

• Have no interest or time in planning a wedding?

Or maybe it’s because:

• 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. Plus, there is 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.

Are You Considering Eloping to escape 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. It may be at the first major family birthday or holiday after your elopement. Or it could happen 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.

Elizabeth Doherty Thomas wrote this article. Elizabeth is part of a father/daughter team with her father Bill Doherty, a family therapist. You can visit their web site at Dohertyrelationshipinstitute.com.

Additionally, on the Subject of Eloping:

Here are a few more articles to help you in your decision-making. Please prayerfully read them both and glean the info from them that will help you in your situation:

First, from a completely secular standpoint—to look at Pros and Cons, read:


And then:




If you are determined to follow through with eloping, below are a few tips from others who started their marriages this way. They approach this matter on both sides. So, here goes:

“Yes, this can be the two of you, alone, at city hall, but it doesn’t have to be. My husband and I planned to elope on our own, but ended up calling our moms on our way to the courthouse at the last minute. This was a great choice for us, but it’s not for everyone.” (Stephanie Kaloi)


“Know that not everyone is going to support your decision so, be prepared for their reactions. …I recommend telling your parents before you elope to minimize hurt feelings and surprises after the fact. And try to find a way to involve your closest friends and family somehow — whether that’s sharing photos with them first or maybe hosting a post-marriage reception.

“But, shocking your closest friends and family with a social media announcement is a huge no-no. Make sure to tell them in person; and if anyone feels hurt or left out, a handwritten note can go a long way.” (Lindsey Nickel, wedding planner)

To this tip Jessie Mooney DiGiovanna added the following:

“You don’t have to apologize for your decision; but most of these people helped shape you as a person and you as a couple, and that may be why they feel entitled to watch you wed. Just letting folks know you appreciate that fact could help them realize an elopement is more a sweet skip-out for a couple rather than a slap in the face to their community.” (From Jessie’s article, “The Biggest Dos and Don’ts of Eloping)

In Closing:

Here’s a tip concerning eloping from Ashley Hawks:

“Keep in mind that your elopement can be like any traditional wedding, minus the guests. Stick with something that feels right to you. You have no one to impress, only your inner inclinations that you so desire. If you’re picturing a glitzy gown with a million beads, go for it! If you’re dreaming of rocking a bright yellow dress, do it! Nobody will be there to critique or voice their opinions.” (From Ashley’s article, “12 Things to Keep in Mind When Eloping”)

Above all:

This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ –to the glory and praise of God.(Philippians 1:9-11)

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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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.