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. My husband and I just did this. We knew we wanted a small wedding so we knew a destination wedding was perfect for us since we have so many family and friends who would have been offended if we did not invite them to the wedding in our city. We knew we both felt the idea of a large wedding was not for us in any way.

    We loved the spirituality behind 12/21/12 so we picked that day. Since his mother was performing our ceremony, we had to go where she was- which we were happily willing to do since she was in the San Francisco area. My parents and his grandfather flew down and we got married in a small chapel with a nice, simple, super laughter filled wedding. His mother is the priest for her church so that is the chapel we were able to use when it wound up being far too rainy and cold to happen outdoors at the Palace of Fine Arts which was the original plan.

    We hired some awesome photographers that we found here at Offbeat Bride and they made the day look so super special in photos. We already got our photos back and we are soooo pleased!

    Our elopement of sorts involved family because his mother flew in for Thanksgiving and the family had a lovely shower/ ring warming ceremony for us. We both love to cook so we bought a cookbook that we took to our showers and had everyone sign as they would have signed a guest book at our wedding. My brother threw us a shower here since he wouldn’t be able to fly to San Francisco. It was a great memory filled time- from the time we started planning on September 1, when he proposed, to looking at our photos now.

    We were able to have a nice, relaxing wedding night that was so us- pizza and champagne in a really nice hotel room- because we did not have to worry about entertaining a lot of people. The day was truly about celebrating our marriage and we feel so blessed that it all went so well.

    Everyone who is close to use was very supportive and understanding. Financially, this was the best choice for us. We may still have an outdoor barbecue with food trucks and an ice cream stand in March when it gets a little warmer so our family and friends here can celebrate with us one last time.

  2. Well, they do say no two weddings are the same. And I suspect you will do damn well to find another that comes close to this one!!!
    All to often couples try too hard to please all their guests and naturally fail. So the ethos here is spot on. It’s your day so do what you want, how you want, when you want!

  3. And your photos are crazy beautiful. Sorry but I did stalk them all on flickr when I was looking for other beach weddings, and I wanted to SAVE ALL THE PHOTOS

    • D’aw thanks! It’s hard to take a bad picture with Maui as your background. 😉

  4. I don’t know…this sounds like a destination wedding to me. The idea is fun and exciting, but doesn’t ring true to me as an elopement if you send out invites. It doesn’t matter if no one shows up, the point is that you invited people to come.
    I understand that the word is becoming more and more relaxed and vague, but I’m old fashioned, I guess. 🙂
    Either way, your wedding sounds like paradise! Go you!

    • I agree! I would describe this as a super casual, spontaneous, destination wedding. By definition to elope means run away and get married without telling anyone. Since there are people who still do that, I say let’s keep the definition this way and maybe invent a new word for your casual, spontaneous wedding.

      I love the concept though. And the photos are beautiful

      • Also agree! While making the idea of eloping more accessible/less taboo is an awesome thing, it’s probably a bit counterproductive to try and do so by trying to change the definition. There’s nothing wrong with calling this what it was, as Floofy and Jasmine have said: a fun, casual destination wedding.

        I just think it’s important to keep each type of wedding distinct, since each have their own challenges and benefits. Jasmine is right that we should come up with a new word for what Megan did. A Demilopement? A Semilopement?

  5. I don’t count this as an elopement, and I am a wedding officiant. Performing wedding ceremonies of all kinds is what I do. This is a small destination ceremony. An elopement is not a long planned in advance affair. It does not include any more than the witnesses, and usually is done on weekdays because officiants have large events on the weekend. While I most certainly love what you did, it does not constitute as an elopement. Best wishes on your new life together!

    • Why would you feel the need to define this so harshly? They can call it whatever they want and they likely wouldn’t have asked you to be their officiant.

  6. This is exactly what my fiancé and I are doing! We will have our ceremony in Maui and I have told anyone they are welcome to attend. We are having a reception when we get back to our hometown to celebrate as our ceremony is going to be very low key. We haven’t had any negative feedback or any upset feelings (except maybe grandma) from this at all and I have encouraged our families to use our wedding as a great excuse to take a much needed vacation.

  7. I would love to do this. I found a great all inclusive resort that I want to use, the problem is for people to attend the wedding there they must also be staying at that resort. I feel bad forcing people to spend so much money on flights and an expensive resort just to see my wedding. Has anyone else experienced this?

  8. I adore this idea! We’re actually doing something similar. How did you let people know though? A mass FB status update isn’t really my thing, but I’m curious how others went about it. Right now we’re just doing word of mouth.

    • To introduce the idea we mailed postcards that said “We’re getting married, you should totally come!” with the time and date and a link to our wedsite that explains the laid-back nature of this event. That might be a good compromise between FULL ON invitations and a word of mouth.

  9. I’ve found Offbeat Bride recently, and I’ve fallen in love with the website for all the people who’ve developed my same ideas that family & friends just don’t seem to understand.

    After months (make that 15 months) of deliberating, my fiancé and I married (no pun intended) our two best ideas: a destination marriage and an elopement. My verbal wedding invitation follows: “We are having a planned elopement in Sonoma, to which we would be overjoyed if you could attend!” All I get are confused faces and questions of the authenticity of the “elopement”.

    My thoughts? We’re getting married on a certain day and a certain time, whether or not anybody else shows up. Of course we would much prefer the company. However, my guests’s confusion makes me question if ideas too far out-of-the-box are incomprehensible to some?

    • we’re in the same boat. the family seems to be very confused about what we’re doing but like you we pretty much are saying that we’re getting married and you’re welcome to join us. for some family members we are just saying we’re having a very nice dinner you’re invited to it and we happen to be getting married before hand.

      It has created a bit of tension with my traditional mother but you can’t please everyone and we’re having the wedding the way we are mainly to please the family. If it were up to us, it would be a straight up, just us, and tell no one until after elopement.

  10. Did you guys actually send out invitations for this? What did they say? My fiance and I are planning on doing this as well, in Vegas (!), and I’m just wondering if we should just tell people, or if we should still order invites.

    • You could order some invites, maybe ixnaying the RSVPs (unless you really needed a head count for some reason) and all the fluff inside and just keep it really simple. Folks like to know logistics. Your invite could also just be an evite or email or something (or both paper and internet). Or you could invite like a small number of people and tell them to “pass it on, open invitation”. But yes, no matter which way you do it (and depending on how little or much you care about whom would be attending), tell folks.

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