Is it selfish to elope?

Jennifer Leigh DiMarco

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Elopement.  The thought crosses many couples minds as the daunting responsibility of planning a wedding looms over their heads, not to mention the expense.  
Though traditional weddings will always be the more popular route for saying "I do," more and more women are choosing to elope instead of planning an elaborate ceremony. I asked three women to share their personal experiences with eloping — and they didn’t hold back!

So why do people elope?

Common reasons for eloping instead of having a traditional wedding include wanting a more intimate wedding, not having a means of paying for a wedding ceremony and reception, reduced stress or needing to marry quickly. Of all the reasons, though, money is typically one of the biggest factors. Nowadays, the average wedding can easily run $25,000 or more. For some, it just makes more sense to elope and save themselves the hassle and expense of a wedding. Though the following women each have different stories as to why they eloped, they all have one thing in common — they don’t regret their decision and would do it all again in a heartbeat!

Janna says:

“When I asked my husband why we eloped, he looked at me funny and said, 'What do you mean why... we wanted to get married.' Followed by, 'I conned you into marrying me. I wasn't willing to risk you changing your mind by waiting.' But in truth, I was the one that wanted to elope. We had saved money in our wedding fund for two years, the planning had begun, the dress was purchased, and yet something didn't feel right about it. All the plans, the details, they all seemed to be to make the guests happy, to impress the attendees, to make their attendance worthwhile. What about us? All I wanted was to say 'I do' to the man of my dreams, and all the nonsense was just weighing me down. When Will realized this, his exact words were 'Do you even want to have a wedding?' He was right. I didn't want a wedding; I wanted a marriage, and that is just what we did.”

*Janna and Will have been married almost four years and still share an incredible passion and romance with one another. 

Brandi says:

“James and I were married in Georgetown (Great Exumas), Bahamas. We eloped because we wanted to have the ceremony be more between us and our commitment to each other. We also thought that having a traditional wedding would be way more costly and would lose the [intimacy] that we wanted. So we thought, why not go on our 'honeymoon' and just happen to get married. We definitely have no regrets, but as parents, we would be upset if our kids do the same.”

*I love Brandi’s honesty — she and James have no regrets but wouldn’t want their kids doing the same! Readers: How would you feel if your son or daughter wanted to elope? Share in the comments below!

Karen says:

“For us, eloping was an easy decision. Having both already had the big weddings, we wanted this to be all about us and all for us, with no need to worry about where guests would sit or what they would eat. We wanted to focus on each other, barefoot on the beach. So it was off to Maui to get married, just the two of us, where we were able to enjoy each other's company and not stress about the details or worry about other people’s opinion. With my only big decisions being what kind of flowers I wanted in my hair and what kind of juice I wanted in my mimosa, I could not have asked for a more relaxing experience. As we walked hand-in-hand along an empty beach to our ceremony site on the sand, we got exactly what we'd hoped for. And when it was over, with no guests to entertain, we jumped immediately into honeymoon mode. “

*I love that Karen just wanted it to be about her and her husband. After all, isn’t that what a marriage is all about?

Joyce says:

Being in love with a Military Soldier who lived on a military base over 3.5 hours a way, we were only able to see each other every other weekend.

*Joyce and her Husband will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary next Fall!

Then there are those who are left feeling cheated and hurt that they were not able to attend one of the most significant days in a loved ones life.

Sandra says:

"My Sister got eloped in Spain this month and since we were young we vowed to be each other's Bridesmaids. 

I held up my end of the deal: she held up my train as I walked down the aisle and she posed in all the goofy, blurred-around-the-edges photos now sitting in a book on my coffee table. And now I can’t shake the thought that I should have done the same for her. I feel heartbroken and — I’ll be honest, the tiniest bit cheated — that I wasn’t given that chance.

Okay, hold your outraged “this isn’t about you” comments and hear me out — because I’m well aware marriage centers around two people, and that their preference matters most.

But do I believe that weddings are exclusively about two people?

Hell no. They never have been, and I’m baffled when people assume they are today.

Think about it: Marriage is about the joining of families; the official forging of a partnership that — in more cases than not — will ultimately result in a new branch to the family tree.  It’s traditionally an inclusive occasion, and loved ones’ inclusion in the ceremony is deeply symbolic. That’s why choosing an MC is such a big deal, why parents put up their hand to give the first toast, and why friends vie so intensely for bridesmaid positions – everyone appreciates the honor of buttoning their oldest friend into that iconic white gown.  

I’ve decided I will never let on my true feelings to my sister. I know this moment is primarily hers, and while a tiny, jealous part of my brain yells that her decision to elope is selfish — I know it’d be much more selfish to voice my complaint to the happy couple.

So when my sister and her new husband come back from their European honeymoon, I’ll give them the beariest of bear hugs, pore over the professional photographs, present them with the gift I just hand-selected from Laura Ashley and never mention the truth: that I’m heartbroken, I’m confused and deep, deep down inside, I’m annoyed.

Because my sister just celebrated one of the happiest days in her life — but the way she did it robbed me of mine.

Megan says:

"I opened my mail earlier this week and found a wedding announcement — from my son. My son, whom I raised alone since he was 3 (he’s 30 now).  My son, whose selfish temper tantrums through high school stopped me from dating women (and therefore, anybody) for years. Whose tour of duty in Iraq I gritted my teeth and “supported” him through despite my soul-level objection to his joining the Army.
The same son who, after he got his head right, volunteered — practically begged — to officiate at my wedding last year to a very sweet woman who rode out his homophobia until it was gone.  The son (my only child) about whom friends marvel, “You guys are SO close! It’s heartwarming.”  He married his girlfriend of five years, which is whom he SHOULD marry — and I’ve encouraged that for a long time. But eloping with no discussion with anyone (family, anyway) is disappointing, to say the least. There were no family issues going on about them; everyone on both sides was hoping for and expecting them to marry sometime soon. I’m sad that they’ve just taken a little jaunt downtown and gotten married in secret, taking away from everyone the opportunity to participate and celebrate. Certainly they have the RIGHT to elope — but everything legal is not also a good idea.  All of that one could get over, and I no doubt will, but to just simply have been on the address list for a photocopied announcement — that’s too much for me. I got the news along with anyone else whose address they had — high-school classmates, work friends, former employees. It’s not like there was any other unhappiness going on; in fact, he called me “just to say hi” the same day they mailed the announcements, but without responding truthfully to “What’s new with you?” I’m overwhelmingly sad at having been held at arms’ length over this, and he is royally ticked off by my telling him — carefully — how hurt I was to get this notice in the mail. I was clear that I am happy for him to be married to this woman, and I sincerely hope it’s forever, but I feel like they just went off on a lark (“Hee-hee, let’s go get secret married and not tell ANYBODY — they’ll be SO surprised when they get the note!”) like teenagers, with no thought about the broader meaning of joining together publicly, of themselves as not just independent beings, but also part of a larger community of family and friends.  My friends are shocked, some even angry, and I feel hurt, hurt, hurt and sad, sad, sad. Slapped in the face."

For those of you who are considering or planning an elopement, here are 8 tips I'd like to share with you:

1.  Putting effort into the elopement wedding day will be worth it, personalize your special day!

2.  When you elope, photos are so important for you and those who couldn't be there.  One of my Brides eloped but still hired a photographer to capture those precious, private moments .

3. An elopement actually feels very special!

4.  Be ready for some hurt feelings-some people will simply not understand your reasons behind your decision to elope.

5.  Take in the overwhelming LOVE you'll feel from your community!  Most people will be excited and overjoyed for the 2 of you!

6. Have a plan for how to share the news

7. Post-wedding getaways are the best!  An elopement still deserves a honeymoon, even if it's just a weekend getaway!

8. Have a defined adult relationship with your parents BEFORE eloping.  It takes guts to leave family members out of your wedding day, know who you are as a person, not solely as someone's relative and stick to your decision!

Would you ever elope? Do you think it could ever be described as selfish?  I would love to read your thoughts!  Post your opinion in a comment below!