November 26, 2004 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Should my fiancé and I elope?

Our families are agnostic, get along famously and approve of this holiest of unions; however neither of us wants the stressful social/financial trappings that go along with a traditional wedding ceremony. As a consolation to any friends or family who feel slighted, we'll be throwing a reception soon after our private ceremony (we have decided not to hit people up for gifts either). Are we missing out on something by not holding a traditional wedding ceremony?

For the elopers out there: any regrets?
posted by kidhuevos to Human Relations (44 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by kenchie at 9:59 AM on November 26, 2004

Do what you think is right for you. Those of us who had "real" weddings remember them fondly. Those who elope usually have a good reason, and a good story to tell. None of us here can tell you what you should or shouldn't do.

There are pros and cons either way.

Whatever you do, you will probably end up with fond memories of it and it will seem like the right thing to have done.
posted by bondcliff at 10:04 AM on November 26, 2004

Your other option is to hold a "family only" ceremony. Not too fancy, just immediate family (don't even invite the aunts and uncles, just parents and siblings). You don't even need a best man or maid of honor. Just a justice of the peace or a lawyer and do it in your parent's living room. Or in the garage. Whatever. It gives your family the oppotunity to be there for the "ceremony," but there is no pomp or stress to go along with it. You don't even need a tux or dress.
posted by BradNelson at 10:04 AM on November 26, 2004

I'm engaged at the moment and have to admit the elope idea is pretty appealing. If it was up to me, it'd be Vegas&Elvis but fiance, not so keen.

I think what it comes down to are two things; how you both feel about the idea and how friends family would feel about it(and how you would feel about the way they feel, if that makes sense). If you think that the hassle of dealing with let down people is less than the hassle of planning then do it.
posted by isthisthingon at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2004

Why not invite people to witness the creation of this "holiest of unions" followed by the reception you're already planning on having? Your choices aren't limited to elopement or extravaganza, you know.

Having friends and family at the ceremony doesn't necessarily need to turn into the typical photographer/videographer/florist/limo/dj/tux stress and cash bleed-out.
posted by crythecry at 10:09 AM on November 26, 2004

yes. go for it. have fun. life is too short. good luck.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:15 AM on November 26, 2004

Which are you more likely to regret?

I'm not posing that as a rhetorical question either, and I understand not everyone examines their decisions in that light. But for things you (hopefully) only do once, it's a useful mental exercise.
posted by wolftrouble at 10:19 AM on November 26, 2004

Have never regretted it. Particularly when attending/hearing about other people's wedding ceremonies.
posted by dragstroke at 10:19 AM on November 26, 2004

Might also want to check out this thread.
posted by occhiblu at 10:20 AM on November 26, 2004

I didn't exactly elope, justice of the peace, but I have no regrets at all. Quick, painless, and cheap.
posted by busboy789 at 10:24 AM on November 26, 2004

It's all about the justice of the peace. Go for it.
posted by majick at 10:24 AM on November 26, 2004

Do it. We basically decided to elope, but let our close family and friends know they were invited, and it was perfect. We ended up having about 15 people with us on the beach, at sunset.

When we came back from the honeymoon, we had some larger, casual follow-up receptions (a picnic with her extended family in MI, a big dinner with my extended family in CT, a bash with our friends in NYC). Really the best of both worlds, we found, and no one got bent out of shape.
posted by LairBob at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2004

Hell, yes, elope! Do something big and grand and far away and have fun with it.

If you do end up feeling guilty, you can always hold a rematch and invite the family.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on November 26, 2004

Freinds of mine did exactly your plan: private ceremony, with big party a few weeks later.The elopement was very romantic, actually.

Their families were fine with it. The stated reason---true but hardly the only one--- was cost, which prevented bad feelings all round.

Their best idea was a moning-after brunch for their out-of-towner university friends which was a nice chance catch up.
posted by bonehead at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2004

My wife and I only had the ceremony in order to appease our families. The pomp-and-circumstance, not to mention the ridiculous costs, of a full-blown wedding made both of our skins crawl. So we compromised.

We had an evening wedding at a church, followed by a reception in the same church's hall. We had our photos taken before the ceremony, then immediately after the cermony, we hosted the reception. (No lag)

We told our guests that dinner would not be provided, and the bar would costs $2/drink. Food was hors d'ouvres, but they were classy, and tasty. We also hired a DJ.

The ceremony was simple. The reception was simple; one speech by the best-man, one by the maid-of-honour, and then we opened the floor to anyone who might've had something to say. In all, the pomp and BS that puts ones guests to sleep was minimized and we got down to drinking and dancing in short order.

I paid for almost everything, including the subsidized alcohol and it cost roughly $7000 canadian. I didn't go into serious debt, my wife didn't stress out too much. The families were satisfied, and so were the guests.

No regrets.

However, we both agree that if we were to do it over again, we'd just elope then hold a reception. Much simpler, and the end result is the same.
posted by C.Batt at 10:36 AM on November 26, 2004

My parents eloped, and their parents forgave them even though it annoyed the hell out of them at the time. It's weird to not have any glitzy photos from their wedding [which is often an excuse to get everyone together in fancy clothes and photograph them] like most of my friends do of their parents. I eloped as well, sort of, in a drive-up window ceremony in Vegas and the fond memories of the quick and easy ceremony extended well beyond the marriage. I definitely got a small bit of hell about it from family and friends, but if I had to do it over again I'd do exactly the same thing. The two of you agreeing on what you'd like to do is the most important thing. Go for it and enjoy yourselves.
posted by jessamyn at 10:41 AM on November 26, 2004

Not really adding anything significant here, but I'd say go ahead and elope. Your reasons are far sounder than the typical "having a big wedding because that's what people do" reasons.

And, just out of curiosity, if you're "agnostic," why be concerned about "this holiest of unions"?
posted by Alt F4 at 10:45 AM on November 26, 2004

go for it.
posted by helvetica at 10:54 AM on November 26, 2004

After making fairly elaborate wedding plans, the spouse and I decided to forget them all and went to Vegas, with just our respective moms in tow, and were married at one of those kitsch little chapels. We felt that it wasn't fair to let our parents pay for all the trappings of a big wedding. And neither of us really wanted the spectacle anyway, we just wanted to be married. So we were, and had a nice little party afterwards. Rather than register for gifts, we asked that folks who insisted on spending money on us give it to a charity. And almost 12 years later, we've never regretted it.
posted by icetaco at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2004

No regrets.
posted by muckster at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2004

The only advantage I can see to a bigger wedding is the loot.
posted by adampsyche at 11:02 AM on November 26, 2004

Another vote for Vegas + Elvis.
posted by keswick at 11:18 AM on November 26, 2004

My wife and I were thinking along the same lines as you, and talked about eloping many times. Eventually, we decided on a small wedding, and had it in a very small place. Our guest list included about 62 people about 30 from each side.

It turned out to be the greatest night of my life. I have no regrets at all.
posted by punkrockrat at 11:22 AM on November 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

My wife and I decided that the most special day of our lives should enjoyable, so we didn't invite anybody and got married by a non denominational official on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Monterey CA. The place we hired brought the photographer and did all of the paperwork - so our whole day cost about $200 (not including the cost of getting a roll of film developed). It was great and we've never looked back with even the slightest regret. We went sightseeing during the day, got married, and then had a nice dinner. I've been to some pretty amazing and unique wedding over the years, but I've never been to one that seemed more right for us than what we did. You know what's right, just trust your instincts.
posted by HifiToaster at 11:31 AM on November 26, 2004

The only advantage I can see to a bigger wedding is the loot.

my grannie (who is about 96) now gives "living together presents" instead of "wedding presents".
which is cool.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:33 AM on November 26, 2004

Everybody's pretty much right on here, so I'll just add my vociferous "yes" to the mix. I highly recommend it and can't imagine having done it any other way.
posted by maniactown at 11:53 AM on November 26, 2004

I eloped. Vegas 92. Still going strong. Parents were ok with it. It was one of the single best choices I have ever made, marrying my wife and eloping.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 12:21 PM on November 26, 2004

BatgrlHG and I just got married in Vegas a few weeks ago. We'd wanted to elope, but her mom heard about it and we ended up putting something together quickly through the Paris casino. Worked out great. There were only ten people including us.

If you want something very quick, and very nice, try having one of the casinos in Vegas put your wedding together. Not as cheap as eloping, but much easier, and still way cheaper than a traditional wedding.

Other bonuses - Vegas is cheap to fly to, plenty to do, 24 hour marriage license office.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:51 PM on November 26, 2004

My dad is notoriously private, can't stand any sort of pomp or pointed attention. So, when he and my stepmom got married, they went by themselves to Vegas, and didn't tell anyone until after they got back.

Years later, my stepmom told me that yes, their wedding was nice and they had fun, but that in a way it was anticlimactic, because here they were so happy to be married, but they didn't have their friends and family around to share their joy. Just something to think about.

A different way to go would be as one of my friends' did; they invited everyone over for an engagement party at their house, but when everyone got there it turned out to be the actual wedding. At home, simple, relatively inexpensive. You wouldn't even have to tell folks that it was an engagement party if you feared they would bring gifts.
posted by vignettist at 1:11 PM on November 26, 2004

I'm a big fan of the simple party wedding. A backyard, a potluck, and a stereo system, what more do you need? It's also a good excuse to buy a nice outfit that will be worn again. Have all your friends and close family over. Drink a bit too much if that's your thing. A wedding is a good excuse for a party where damnit you are the star attraction because it is your day. It doesn't have to be expensive or stressful or overblown.

You do need the stereo system though, because dancing is a must. Even if the dj is just your musically inclined friend with an ipod, this is your chance to get all those friends of yours who will never dance in front of others to get out there and shake their ass and be silly. Don't waste that!
posted by aspo at 1:33 PM on November 26, 2004

We just got married for less than $10,000.00 US, which is, in the realm of weddings, a damn fine deal. If you want a ceremony, it can be fun. Number one rule: always remember that YOU are getting married. No one else. Now, we were lucky because my mother, who was footing the bill, 1) trusted me to not spend like a moron; and 2) isn't all up in my face constantly about everything. If you dont have those in your favor, your mileage will obviously vary. This is not to say that there weren't times I wished we'd eloped. But the wedding itself was a ton of fun for everyone - all of our friends had a great time, and so did we. If you don't want gifts, don't register anywhere. You can't help it if people bring you stuff, but you might circumvent it by putting something on the invites about not wanting gifts, but if you feel like you have to do something, please donate to the Humane Society (or whatever) in our name. :) Good luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:33 PM on November 26, 2004

what aspo said is bang on the money.

also, follow your instincts! it's hard not to have fun on your wedding day, unless you listen too much to what other people tell you it *should* be like.
posted by louigi at 2:28 PM on November 26, 2004

We eloped. It was great. When we got back and told other married couples, they were jealous.

No regrets.
posted by websavvy at 2:33 PM on November 26, 2004

Your wedding is going to be, no matter how the marriage turns out (knock on wood), one of the most important days of your life. It's also a huge change, even if you two have been together forever. So make it memorable for you. As much as I understand the desire to go off and do the thing, come back and have a reception, I have to echo what some other people have said above: have the parents there, at least. Their little babies are getting married, so it would be nice for them to be there for it as well.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:49 PM on November 26, 2004

Response by poster: I'm glad to hear that there are others out there who share our sentiments - an intimate ceremony with our parents and siblings should be perfect.

Thank you for all the great answers!
posted by kidhuevos at 3:42 PM on November 26, 2004

We're not even eloping-- that's how cheap we are. We are getting married in city hall on Dec. 31 and having a reception at our house the next day. Open house 1:00 to 5:00, champagne, beer, cake, and hors d'ouvres.

OTOH. I don't regret my small elegant wedding 20 years ago with the fancy clothes, flowers, glass chapel, etc. I have lots of very pretty pictures of a very young, pretty couple.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:55 PM on November 26, 2004

We eloped to Maryland, of all places. There was a movie connection - Philiadelphia Story.

Absolutely no regrets. Do what makes you happy!
posted by SteveInMaine at 4:18 PM on November 26, 2004

ELOPE. If you know that you want to be married, then DO IT. There is no reason to wait simply in order to plan, finance, and conduct a large wedding. The money you will save will go a long way towards a house, retirement account, furniture, honeymoon, or whatever...and you'll be just as "married" as if you had gone through months of stress, planning, fighting, selecting, etc.
posted by davidmsc at 4:22 PM on November 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

Do what you want. Damn the consiquences.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:40 PM on November 26, 2004

The only advantage I can see to a bigger wedding is the loot.

That's assuming, of course, that all of the people you will be inviting have the means to more than make up for the cost of having them, and/or someone else is paying for the ceremony. If neither is the case, there's nothing wrong with keeping the proceedings intimate -- close family and friends only.

My wife and I somehow managed to do the whole thing (dress, reception, accessories, limo, etc) for around $2000 or $3000 with the help of family and friends. We had the wedding in a church and then moved on to a restaurant that had a party room in the back. We did the whole thing early enough that we could do a reception at lunch prices. We also didn't bother with a DJ, and had a family member with an SLR do the photography for us. And despite the relative cheapness with which the whole thing was thrown together, we had a really amazing time. It helped that the food was good.

My advice to you, if you plan on having a gathering afterwards, is to find restaurants you trust that have catering/party spaces. A lot of halls and other places that provide catering may look cheap, but they often have sub-par food and crappy service. Whereas, you can often find nice restaurants that will provide decent group rates for parties of, say, 20 or more. Just be sure not to tell them that the event is a wedding reception, or they may try to rip you off.

Also, don't be afraid to draw a line and say 'no' when it comes to who will and who won't be invited. If you're not careful, the number of guests can very easily snowball out of control. So set a family and friend range. Just want immediate family? Keep it to parents, grandparents, and siblings. Or extend it to aunts and uncles and first cousins and only your best 8 friends or so. The smaller the better, as you'll find the less people you invite, the less chance there will be for bruised egos. But if you start to stray from those boundaries, your Aunt Edith may wonder why she wasn't invited when he sister was, or the friend you haven't talked to in a year that you've known from high school may bitch about how the guy you play poker with every week that you just met last year was there. It's those kind of politics that frequently keep people away from big[ger] weddings, and the truth is, most of the time it really isn't worth it.

But most importantly, no matter what you decide to do, make sure you OWN the day. It helps when you do it yourself, because then you don't have to worry about following the dictates of whomever happens to be paying for it. And this is also the biggest complaint I've heard from the friends I've known who have thrown giant extravaganzas of wedding ceremonies -- that they felt they had no say in what their wedding was supposed to be like because they were too busy trying to please everyone else. FUCK everyone else. It's your day. It's going to happen whether or not they show up, and it's about you being happy, not them. Of course, as I said before, it helps if they're not writing the checks, but it's something worth bearing in mind.
posted by dogmatic at 10:51 PM on November 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

Elope and put the wedding money down on a house. You'll gain 5-10 years in the great compund interest race, which will mean a hell of a lot at the finish line.
posted by LarryC at 8:48 AM on November 27, 2004

Do Both. My wife and I got some friends to sign up as Universal Life Ministries ministers and we drove down to the beach to get married in the water.

Later, we had a real live wedding ceremony (although no legalities) and reception.

Dividing the personal part of getting married and the public part of getting married reduced the stress you'd have in a single event. It was lovely, we had a great time.

We still have friends who are ticked about it, but screw them! (in a friendly way, of course). The marriage isn't about them...
posted by daver at 8:56 AM on November 27, 2004

The rest of the story on what y6 said - I'm an only child and Mom only had one shot at this, so I had no problems giving in. Plus my parents eloped, and so she got to have her moment of maternal wedding hooha. Why my folks eloped - the wedding became way too big, their parents inviting tons of guests, and fussiness with the in-laws (stories differ by the teller). My mom's father was secretly delighted and gave the newlyweds some money that would have otherwise been spent on the wedding, which they both really needed as they were still finishing up college.

Great idea that my friend had for her wedding - ceremony itself was quiet - just bride, groom, minister and witness in a park (where they escaped paying a fee by dressing simply and having a quick ceremony). They spent their money on a 2 week trek to Italy. A month later they had a big party and invited everyone to celebrate. Which is an especially good idea if you have many friends living in various places in the country - after a traditional ceremony with lots of people you get little time with the bride and groom just to hang out and chat.
posted by batgrlHG at 1:51 PM on November 27, 2004

No regrets at all about eloping. We did it on the small island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Gazebo on the beach, sunset...the whole nine yards. The ceremony, flowers, photographer, clothing (purchased on the island), etc., came to about $600. Airfare and hotel (7 nights) was about $1400.

We got married on the 3rd day of our honeymoon. :) But it was in Mexico, and they had a bunch of weird regulations including blood tests, so we ignored them and therefore weren't "legally" married until we got a license from our hometown courthouse a couple of months later.

We had a big outdoor reception for family and friends a couple months later. Wouldn't have had it any other way.
posted by Bradley at 10:50 PM on November 27, 2004

« Older Racism   |   Hypoallergenic cat? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.