Social anxiety, expectations, and raising a child: Why we chose a pseudo-elopement

Updated Jun 29 2017
Guest post by Kendra Kantor  
Photos by: Lotus Photography
Photos by Lotus Photography
Photos by Lotus Photography

Back in 2010 my boyfriend of six-and-a-half years popped the question, and I said yes. Then my sister decided to get married two months before we planned on getting married, and since my parents were paying for both weddings, they asked us to wait. So we agreed. Then my brother decided to get married the next year. And then I got pregnant. And then we were raising a child and dealing with my huge decline in mental health and trying to get me help.

After three years, we finally started to figure out what we wanted to do for our wedding. Throw a big party? Throw a small party? Run away? Ugh, they all sounded hard and not right.

I felt like most people thought, "Oh finally. They already have a kid, just get hitched already!" It was no big deal. We were essentially already married in most ways, just not legally. So I wanted our wedding to be special for us, and not be bogged down with anxiety, and feeling like no one was as happy as I wanted them to be.

We are both introverts who hate being the center of attention. My panic disorder makes it even harder for me to want to be around a ton of people and the center of everything, even if it is just family. And then to top it all off, being a girl who loves romance and books and movies… I felt like the media shows families and friends being oh-so-very-excited, and thrilled, and over-the-top when two people are going to get married. And I didn't feel that way.

So we sat down and focused on us. We talked about what would make us the least anxious while still making my parents happy. The biggest thing that helped me decide was that every other way that my mom, my fiancé or I came up with on "how to do our wedding" made my anxiety bloom, and I just could not fathom planning it. I stopped trying to come up with ideas and figuring it out.

The one thing that kept sticking was pseudo eloping. And I could picture myself planning it without freaking out.

It was perfect.

My mom performed the ceremony. Our son held our rings. In Illinois, you don't need witnesses. It was just the five of us (plus our amazing photographer), in a large county park.

We did compromise and throw a wedding party for extended family about six weeks later, but it was a small compromise. We got to spend our special day happy and in love and not worrying about anyone else.

DSC_0156

Who else is struggling with the social anxieties and community expectations? What are y'all doing about it?

We Eloped Chalkboard Sign printable from Pop of Color Designs

  1. My husband and I SERIOUSLY considered eloping for a long time for similar reasons to yours – We're both very introverted, and I have the worst stage fright. I don't even like talking in large groups of people. But, we didn't want to leave our families out of it either – so we just decided to do it our way. We got semi dressed up, went down to the lake at the college I graduated from, and our pastor married us in front of just our immediate families. Then we went out for brunch/cake at our favorite cafe. 🙂 A lot of people tried to talk me into something bigger, but we didn't budge and it ended up being perfect for us. And, like you, we threw a casual backyard party a month or so later for friends and extended family, which let us include everyone we wanted to without all the stress and pressure of a big wedding.

    • Glad to hear it worked out for you! It can be hard when family/friends try to talk you into something you don't want. Yay for sticking to your beliefs though!

  2. This is like almost reading my own thoughts, we have tried planning our wedding four times and our five year anniversary is in less than a week, We are a blended family of five, or we were until his mother got involved the hard way after sort of sabotaging our first two plans to marry (only realized in hind sight) we are now raising our blended family of four instead of five and have no contact (not our doing) with our fifth, having reconnected with supportive family we are FINALLY healing and putting together the broken pieces of our puzzle figuring if we can make it through what we already have, then we can make it through a wedding, however my constant fears of being in the spotlight are creeping in! I have a nerve condition that makes me sort of anxious a lot and after finding the church and dress and keeping it to a minimum of 20 close family and friends at a bowling alley to follow despite my Anxiety about being the center of attention I have become excited about our Faux-lopement and cannot wait to make this thing official for US and for those that support us! =) I love this story, so much!

    • Sorry to hear about your family drama <3 We have some of our own with my husbands mom too!
      But so glad to hear that you are excited for what you've landed on for your wedding. I think that's the most important thing, forget everyone else and do what makes you EXCITED!

  3. THIS!! My partner and I have had such a rubbish time of it the past few years (both personally and in terms of wedding planning) that the whole huge celebration really doesn't matter as much any more! We're currently currently trying to make up our mind whether to continue with our plans as they are now, or just pack up and be married by the end of the month! Our main concern was that without the typical guest list, our wedding would lose impact. This post proves that that is totally not the case! A beautiful day 🙂

  4. Even if you don't have social anxiety, weddings are daunting. I was too over whelmed with how much a wedding entailed to be able to plan it, every time I thought about it I got anxious. Luckily my mom (who loves planning things) was there to help break it down (and ask me in bite sized chunks if I wanted this or that before she made phone calls) and pick up most of the slack so we had a beautiful wedding. All I had to worry about was the colors I wanted and looking pretty on my wedding day.

    I have a few friends that have had tiny weddings and we got pictures of it on facebook, or announcements in the mail that they had finally gotten married. That's just fine. You're starting your new family, so start it how YOU want to start it off so that it gets off to a good start. 🙂

    • "You're starting your new family, so start it how YOU want to start it off so that it gets off to a good start." EXACTLY! I hear so many people who say they wish they could elope but can't because x, y or z but it really is just most important to take time to focus on how you want to live your life and focus on your new family. <3

  5. Wedding planning really brought my social anxieties to the forefront. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. His immediate family lives overseas, he's an extrovert, and president of a fraternity, so there was no way to build this wedding without making it a huge affair.

    We made it small as possible by not inviting a lot of his extended family (would have made the wedding 200+ people). A lot of our friends had graduated/moved so that helped that number shrink as we got our RSVPs.

    Sometimes I think fighting to keep it small caused me more anxiety than just inviting everyone would have, but I am so glad it's over. So, so glad.

  6. Yup, as a fellow introvert, I can say for sure that we were so happy eloping. All the stress of being the center of attention, managing all these different people with different opinions and different family issues… none of that applied to our wedding! Instead we woke up in a beautiful Air BNB apartment in my favorite city in the world, I hand-made my flowers with my mom, we did a first look, ran all over the city in taxis taking fun pictures, and got married at sunset with only my parents and our photographer there. Absolutely the way we hoped the day would go – simple!

    Like you, we will throw a small reception party (and maybe re-enact the ceremony, since people are coming from far a way for us… any advice on that, people?) this summer. But the real wedding day will always be happy and low-stress in my memories. 🙂

    Our elopement is here: http://www.benjhaisch.com/blog/liz-herman/

  7. Your post resounded with me in so many ways. My fiance and I have been together 9.5 years at this point, engaged for 3 years, and after 3 years of pushing back our wedding for one reason or another, we're finally getting married this September. We have a 2.5 year old son together, and our engagement is such old news that people instead ask us when we're having more kids. It's so stressful trying to balance what you want with what's "expected" of you. I'm determined to make this about what my fiance and I want, but family has (well-intentioned) opinions on everything, and as a socially anxious and withdrawn person, it's difficult for me to say no in a way that doesn't offend anyone.

    I am so happy that you were able to have the wedding that you wanted! I'm going to keep trying to have mine.

    • Keep fighting for what you need and want most for your new family! Will you be happy with your wedding if you do what your family wants? Or will you just grit your teeth and bare it? If you can do what you 2 want and not loose any family then I say go for it! It's about you, not them <3 Good luck!!

  8. Good for you! Reading how you stayed authentic to *you* (plural) has been just the pick-me-up I needed, today. Thank-you for sharing your strength with all of us. 🙂

  9. We ended up having a wedding ceremony that consisted of our pastor, us, and 3 witnesses (1 of which was already at the location). We chose to have something small because, like you guys, we felt we had already "done everything else." We wanted to take this special moment and make it just for us. It was such a great decision.

    So glad that you two found something that worked perfect for you both.

  10. This is so us. We had a combination elopement/destination wedding with less that ten guests. I just couldn't handle the idea of tons of people watching me get married or attend a big party in my and my husband's honor. According to my mom, I was freaking out with just eight people there. Dozens? Forget it. I'm so glad you were happy with your choice. I agree that it's super important to make sure you feel comfortable your own special day.

  11. I'm not focusing on it being a wedding; I just get to see the people I care about all at once and eat soup. It's not My Big Day (eff what The Knot keeps telling me!) or Our Biggest Moment. It's a picnic with friends, but we have to do some paperwork first. Low key. Casual. Fun. Pretty. That's all. 🙂

    • I love this philosophy! I really think the more that it's portrayed as the most special, important moment of our lives, the more pressure that's added to us for everything to be absolutely perfect. I think that it's awesome there's a community like this full of brides-to-be like me- who are more interested in the marriage than the wedding… 😉

  12. Minus a child and that was us! We'd been together for almost 6 years, and it took me 5 years before I was comfortable planning a wedding.

    My husband is a musician though, and going to his shows really required me to work on my anxiety. Some of the places he performed at became "safe zones" more or less for me… so we chose one of those as our venue. They'd never done a wedding before but were up for it since our wedding was the same as the capitol hill block party in Seattle (music festival) and they wouldn't be getting much business anyway, being in Fremont.
    Then, I nixed having a bridal party, bought linen pants instead of a dress, and we started the night with catering by Qdoba. The ceremony was quick and performed by a friend, and after cupcakes were brought out, we started the music. My husband opened, and then our friends and local musicians all performed as well.

    In the end, we had a little over 200 people there, and I didn't have any anxiety. Partially due to having the wedding in a place I was very familiar with, and zoning the green room as a bride/groom space so I could retreat if needed… but mostly because every time something started to stress us out during planning, I said fuck it.

    • "but mostly because every time something started to stress us out during planning, I said fuck it." LOVE THIS! Such a good thing to keep in mind for other soon-to-be brides! Inherently, planning weddings are stressful but I don't think they SHOULD be. If something during the planning makes you freak out or feel off, say FUCK IT, let it go and find something different. <3

  13. I'm in a similar boat, barring the bubs…. we got engaged about 6 months into being together and that was…. um…. 8 years ago?? A year or so in my anxiety and panic and depression kicked in savagely, and it only went more roller coastery from there, and getting help was catastrophic. His depression and anxiety went the same way. No one in our families were thrilled for us then and they are less thrilled now. I've only recently cut my abusive mother from my life… a wedding now for us would be endless anxiety, bunches of people snickering and bickering and snarking, and at this point, no one from my family at all. It doesn't seem like a happy event… Eloping makes the pressure lessen in my chest and the static cut out in my head. He says he'd get married in a sack in a small dark room… I'm hoping for Canada, in the snow… and less sacks… Thanks for this awesome article… made me feel much less alone. And your wedding was gorgeous and you are epic.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.