Our elopement that people were invited to attend: re-thinking what “eloping” means

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Our elopement was attended by 60 people… 60 people who were all invited. That's not an elopement you say? I say, well then maybe it's time to change your definition of elopement! It might actually make your wedding planning way less stressful.

I'm an extrovert with a capital EX, while that guy I married HATES the limelight. I wanted a big wedding guest list with everyone I've ever known or loved in attendance. And the thought of all those eyeballs made Aaron want to cancel the wedding. Instead of canceling the wedding all together, I suggested we elope to Maui, with the caveat that anyone who wanted to see us get married was welcome to do so.

Once we started looking at our wedding as an elopement to which people were invited to attend, it began to relieve a lot of pressure.

  • A destination wedding meant we could invite all the people I wanted (Megan says “yay!”), knowing that most of them wouldn't be able to attend (Aaron says “phew!”).
  • Invites weren't that hard to figure out — all people needed to know was the date and the location. We listed the time as “around sunset.” Fuck it, we're eloping — you want to know more details, you'll find out when we do.
  • We didn't mess with booking a block of rooms because… you know… eloping! If you want to show up, you can, but that's as far as we're worrying about your travel plans.
  • No rehearsal necessary. It didn't matter if there were just three people, or fifty-three people showing up on the day we chose to get married — the plan was the same: we show up, we meet our officiant, we make it official, we eat dinner.

Framing our wedding as an elopement meant that I could keep my comfortable laissez faire attitude about the whole event because it helped me focus on the whole point — gettin' hitched. But it also meant that we had a lot of loose ends flapping in that warm island breeze.

For example, no one knew where Aaron and I would be standing along the beach (hell, neither did we until we just… ended up somewhere). And my dad and I had to just wing him walking me down the “isle” (get it? When you walk down a non-aisle on an island, you walk down the ISLE?! HAR HAR!) — giggling the entire time at how unorganized the whole event was, and how wonderful it was that it really didn't matter. And did our photographer that I didn't waste much time worrying about totally suck? Absolutely.

But all those last-minute confusions and problems didn't really stress us out. Because framing our wedding as “an elopement that people were invited to attend” let us keep this in the forefront of our mind:

As long as we end up married at some point during this trip, that's all that matters.

Well we did, and it was.

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Comments on Our elopement that people were invited to attend: re-thinking what “eloping” means

  1. i think im in love with this idea.

    would people be weirded out to get invitations? how did your guests react?

    • I’m curious about this as well.

      For me, a trip to Maui would be absolutely impossible due to my financial situation– did you do anything back at home for those guests who were unable to attend?

      I suppose that “being offended” is totally subjective, but did you have to deal with this at all? I can imagine a lot of people in my family would feel slighted– this is just such a fantastically intriguing idea to me, I’m curious to know more.

      • We thought about doing another celebration back at home, and then realized we were ALSO stressing out about THAT idea, on top of it being more spend-y. Ultimately, one celebration was right or us.

        And no one that I knew of was offended. But since we were, in a sense, eloping, but choosing to let ANYONE WHO WANTED TO (who’s situation could lend itself to travel) still be there for it, there wasn’t much room for complaints! Mwahahahaha…

      • I’ll admit I was really hurt as a guest who didn’t have $6000 and a weeks vacation laying around for both me and my partner. The feeling was ‘feel free to un-invite yourself’ but the couple also mentioned the words “and those who think it’s a priority will make it” directly implying that those who didn’t make it didn’t care. So always do what’s best for your wedding but do choose your words carefully.

    • We had a few confused invite recipients (read: older people) who had questions — “Um… where should I stay?” “But really, what’s the EXACT time and EXACT location of the ceremony?” — so we made sure to include our wedsite address with an FAQ. All the while making it clear that while we welcomed them to join us, we weren’t going to be holding their hands through it all.

      Those that still didn’t understand, just didn’t end up coming. Which meant even LESS stress for us!

      • well im glad you didnt get any dramaz for inviting people to an elopement. i could imagine the more etiquette-crazy to get all up in arms about this..

        • Just like they get up in arms about potluck weddings, “getting weddinged” and all sorts of other wedding options we talk about here on Offbeat Bride. As always, we trust our readers to know whether an idea feels like a fit for them and their community.

          • Exactly. WIth my community, they would have felt “insulted” if they HADN’T at least been invited.

  2. My brother and his now wife got married in Vegas, but they invited us all to come if we could. They just gave us a time and place. Every guest was in charge of their own travel arrangements and entertainment.
    Vegas vacation + wedding viewing? Can’t complain!

  3. Intriguing. How did you deal with sorting out dinner if you didn’t know how many guests were attending? I mean, I assume you were all just going to a restaurant, but 60 is a pretty big number in the end! 🙂

    • Ah HA! We did have RSVP/write us a message if you want cards. We also had word of mouth, as it became obvious that it was going to be a bigger attendance than we thought once people started talking to us about how excited they were to go to Maui.

      So, we rented the patio of the nearest restaurant where there were enough to fit, at the most, 60. We figured, “that’s MORE than enough.” Ultimately, we just got lucky and it all worked out. Confession: A LOT of the logistics of the wedding was just left to luck. I don’t recommend this type of wedding planning for the Type A folk. 😉

      • Most people become “type A” when planning any size wedding, because most don’t have loads of cash sitting around to be able to pay for dinner for a random number of people who might show up, or pay for anything on the fly, without planning some kind of budget.

        Also, when booking services, a lot of professional vendors might ultimately might drop you if you inquire for prices telling them you are planning an “elopement” but later reveal you are actually having a small wedding with 60 people. Service providers will likely see that as you trying to misleading them to get a lower price quote. This kind of dishonest manipulation is rather common. If that is not your intention, then be straightforward with service providers when inquiring, and don’t expect them to redefine terms for you that are attached to how they set rates for every other couple and how they have rates published for specific levels of services.

        You can walk into a grocery store and tell them they should redefine a bunch of bananas as a single banana if you want, but I don’t recommend it.

  4. I ad wanted to do something like this (although, I wanted to just have a big party and then surprise everyone by getting married at it).

    My husband, however, wanted something a little more intimate. I love that you guys did this. Sounds INCREDIBLE & lovely.

    • OOH! This brings me to a really good point, and another stress-free bonus. We made it clear that we were just getting married — that’s all we were planning. But my mother wanted to have a reception (amongst other celebrations). So she offered to host to a reception.

      My in-laws wanted to host something as well, and since we didn’t have a rehearsal or the need for a rehearsal dinner, they offered to throw a “welcome to Maui dinner.”

      This format really left it open for our folks to volunteer to help out financially if they wanted. But originally (pre-restaurant reception offer) we were just going to pay for pizza and beer (ssshh!) and play some tunes on the beach after the ceremony with whomever wanted to hang out.

  5. Oh wow, you just summed me and my fiance up to a T! We are getting married this year and we are “eloping” to New Orleans. For all the reasons you listed and more, we are calling it that so it’s less stressful! I am glad to hear that other people feel similarly 🙂

  6. This is a fantastic idea. We just told my family over the weekend about our official decision to elope. This makes things sound pretty awesome and so much easier than what we originally had planned. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Congratulations!! What a beautiful idea. And its so important that you and your husband worked it out for YOU. My husband and I “eloped” this weekend, with my father/his wife, my husband’s brother/SIL, and two of our friends in attendance. Later in the summer we’re going to have another celebration/vow-taking ceremony in front of the rest of our friends and family. For many important reasons, this is what worked out best for us.

    We also have had some questions from certain people of certain ages not quite understanding, but again, some of our reasons were deeply personal and we don’t really feel like we need to explain everything in such detail. As long as we’re able to be married, and celebrate with everyone we love – however that has to happen – we’re happy.

    Congrats to you and THANK YOU for posting this, Offbeat Bride is really a unique wedding space on the net, isn’t it? Many happy years to you and your husband!!

  8. My husband and I had been talking about getting the legal part out of the way for a while and then have a party later. We ended up getting married on 12/12/12 and gave our families about 4 days notice.

    It was the second marriage for each of us so there were no issues with forgoing the hoopla. I found a FABULOUS royal blue dress, a friend made a birdcage veil for me with 2 days notice and I found a vintage wrap from a consignment shop since it was 45 degrees and raining outside.

    We had our parents and siblings there when we did the deed, and we are planning a party for this summer for a larger group and out of town family. The best part is that there are no cold feet issues since we the deed is already done. Time to party!!!

  9. Love this! My fiance and I are doing something similar but local. We’re having our wedding near our home and inviting everyone we can. It’s destination for everyone else but us. The idea is the same though, simple, no fuss, and it’s party time!

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