Updated: Mar 16
As an elopement and intimate wedding photographer, many of my clients ask me how to achieve their dream wedding without hurting feelings. I hear three main concerns from my couples: feeling guilty about not having a lot of people attend, their family or friends getting upset, or the possibility of offending someone by not inviting them.
Whether your day will be just the two of you or you select a handful of guests to come along for the ride, chances are there will always be people who feel left out. But that doesn’t mean you should stress.
I have seen many, many wedding elopements and I have to let you in on this secret: their day actually is more carefree and intimate.
Think about it. Rather than stressing about how everyone else likes the event and making sure your guests are constantly entertained, this becomes an intentional experience. Just. For. YOU.
The happy couple can actually focus on enjoying the day and making memories without any pressure. My elopement clients spend the day celebrating their love (corny, but it’s how every wedding should be).
Over the years of shooting elopements, I’ve learned a few ways to appease your family and friends so they feel involved in your elopement (which will also ease your guilt). I’m sharing my favorite tips below on how to avoid hurt feelings and still have the intimate, adventurous elopement day of your dreams.
Going Away Brunch or Coming Home Party
Eloping doesn't mean you should miss out on a party! Many couples choose to have a special brunch or a cocktail party the day before they depart for their elopement or a small reception when they get home. The best part? Everything is totally up to you and your tastes as a couple. Will it be formal? Maybe a nighttime cocktail party on a rooftop bar or what about a super casual gathering in your backyard? The choice is yours. This allows for the best of both worlds: you can elope and still have a celebration with your family and friends.
Hello Shakespeare! Letter writing is a fantastic way to include family and close friends into your elopement, making them feel involved. These letters can be read to you on the morning of your elopement, or you can have their letters read during the ceremony. It's an intimate way to show your loved ones that you care about having them involved in your big day.
Old, New, Borrowed and Blue!
I'm sure this is something you've heard about plenty of times but let’s mix it up: let your close friends or family members help you pick out these special items. You can carry them with you during the ceremony and include them in pictures. This is a special way that helps you think of them and keep them close on your big day.
Photos & Videos
The most important part to an elopement is hiring a great photographer and videographer…and I’m not just saying that because I’m a photographer. Partially. But think about it – because most of your family and friends will not be there, you should have every detail captured. This allows them to relive the day with you. Also, after the elopement, you can gift significant family members a printed photo album with a hand-written note inside the cover! Double whammy! Or one of my favorite ideas is to invite friends and family over, pop open a bottle of wine and pass the popcorn around for a fun viewing party.
Start an Elopement Experience / Honeymoon Fund
Instead of wedding invites, send out an elopement announcement (here are some of my favorite elopement announcement cards!), then you can include a link to an Elopement Experience Fund or a Honeymoon Fund. This gives your family the option to partially provide for your elopement or even gift memories for your honeymoon! (I’m talking massages, sky diving, romantic dinners.) They will feel so happy knowing that they contributed to you having the time of your life on your biggest adventure together.
Having the Hard Conversation
Lastly, the biggest thing you could do to elope without hurting feelings is having an intentional conversation with those close to you prior to your announcement.
Sit down with essential family members and explain your intentions. Really let them know your heart and why you’re choosing to elope (whether it’s finances, intimacy, valuing experiences over traditions, wanting it to be an adventure, etc.). If you tell them how important they are to you and that their support means the world to you, and that you'd still love for them to be involved (see above *cough cough*), they will be more accepting and supportive.
If you go about it in this way and they are still struggling to be happy for you, make sure to give them a little space and time and I promise they will come around. I also promise that you will never regret eloping. In all of my years I have never seen a couple feeling regretful of this choice after the day is said and done. You will leave your elopement with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that meant the world to you and your significant other that can never be replaced.
I hope that the tips above have shown you a few ways on how to elope without hurting feelings, and I hope that I’ve convinced you to elope, regardless of what family and friends may think!
If you made this brave and fun decision, I would love to help you with your elopement planning and also be your photographer! :) <3 Here are a few links so that you can see the different packages I have to offer, as well as the videography team I have to help me capture your elopement in the most fun and memorable way possible!
I can't wait to hear from you!