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

Guest post by Kendra Kantor
 | Photography 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.

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

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

  1. 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. 🙂

    • Good for you! If that’s how you see your wedding and that makes you and your (new) husband happy then that is all that matters <3

    • 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… 😉

  2. 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

  3. 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.

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