How life and a terminal illness inspired us to elope

Updated Oct 9 2017
Guest post by Katie
How life and a terminal illness inspired us to elope
Midnight bath by Coraline Danthez

As two women who had identified as straight for the majority of our lives, we knew our decision to get married would come with a few challenges and pitfalls. We knew whatever ceremony we had in our home state wouldn't be legal, thus opening the door for onlookers to question the purpose of even having a wedding. The topic of elopement came and went several times, but we both decided that a big, beautiful wedding was the way to go for us. It would make us happy, so our family would either be happy right along with us or they wouldn't be. It was their problem.

Then life decided to get involved, because life is nosy and loves to get all up in everyone's business. I got a phone call from my doctor saying simply "You need to come in." Not words you want to hear from your doctor on a Saturday night. Two days later, sitting in a sterile office with uncomfortable chairs and uncomfortable words, I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given an "expected timeline of events." In other words: I now had an expiration date.

This illness came with a mile-long list of do's, don'ts, and limits that made work impossible for me. The only jobs I could get were in food service, which was riddled with the things on that list of don'ts. Filing for disability proved to be impossible, as my condition was rare enough to prevent me from receiving assistance. This left my girl single-handedly footing the bill for our entire life. We could barely afford to live, much less pay for the large rave of a wedding we really wanted.

Neither of us could ignore the incessant ticking of the clock the doctors had set for me, though. So the topic came again: to elope or not to elope? Would we be happy without the full-on party we wanted? Would our families condemn our decision or worse: not care at all and ignore our decision instead of celebrating it? We didn't want to do anything less than what we had originally planned on. We couldn't afford to act, but we couldn't afford to wait.

Finally, as we walked through the gardens of a place we'd once considered for a venue, the idea struck us that we could attempt both. Elope now, throw a party later. We've been calling it a "celebration of epic proportions." A vow renewal and a celebration of not just our life together, but of life itself and the amazing, precious gift it is. Who could possibly argue with that? Maybe meanies could, but they aren't invited anyways. So there.

In other words, this was a huge life lesson. Was it anything like how we thought we would do this? Absolutely not. Will it be perfect? Unlikely. Will it make us incredibly happy and allow us to live our lives without regrets?


How have life-changing events such as illnesses or accidents helped shape the way you planned your wedding?

  1. You are incredibly brave and amazingly inspiring. You have brought a tear to my eye

    I am shocked that you have received no welfare to help you live with your illness.

    I wish you and your partner every happiness in the World. x

  2. Thanks, everyone! As an update: my condition is as stable as it can be, meaning the "Deadline" is a little less looming for a good, long while. This site got me through a ton, so thanks to everyone here!

  3. Thank you for writing about this, it's never really talked about and I'd love that to change. Being diagnosed or having a loved one be diagnosed with a terminal illness is such a life-changing event and one that will happen to most of us at some stage. Instead of avoiding that fact it's good to talk about living and loving in the time we have left.

    I hope whoever is responsible for deciding which conditions people get help for (I'm in the UK and don't know exactly how that works where you are) pulls their head out of their arse soon; if someone is too sick to work they're too sick to work, screw diagnostics.

    Congratulations on your plans and I hope you and your girl have many more wonderful days together.

  4. Well, *now* I'm wiping away tears in the salon chair.

    ((Hugs)) to you. Keep fighting the good fight! You're very inspiring.

    • I agree. This is making me cry. It seems like they have taken this light heartedly though. I love the name of the party – "celebration of epic proportions."

      All the best.

  5. Katie–
    to you and your wife, what an amazing outlook on life and love. Today my beautiful partner and I are eloping, I needed some peace…this is not the wedding I would have planned. I found peace after reading your article, especially the following:

    "In other words, this was a huge life lesson. Was it anything like how we thought we would do this? Absolutely not. Will it be perfect? Unlikely. Will it make us incredibly happy and allow us to live our lives without regrets?


    Thanks for the poignant words of wisdom…absolutely.

    • I am so glad this helped you find peace with your decision to elope. Sometimes, you're handed things in life that are unexpected (and sometimes entirely unwelcome) and this was obviously a big one for my girl and I. No matter the circumstances, I'm incredibly happy to hear that you and your partner found happiness with each other through elopement and I wish you many fantastic years together.

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