Why Can’t Our Parents Just Be Happy about Our Elopement?


I really expected them to be more supportive

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

Close up of woman's neck and torso, wearing a pink robe and necklace with pearl

Q:Days into our engagement I became pretty unhappy with what our dollars could get us for venues and rentals, not to mention that my parents insinuated that choosing to get married where my fiancé and I live instead of five states away where our parents live meant we didn’t care much about them. I couldn’t believe my parents had become the parents who were turning my wedding into something about them, instead of supporting what I wanted for such an important event.

It became too stressful to think about the wedding itself, so I decided to focus on the honeymoon for a while. I grew up traveling all over the world, so the idea of a new adventure was so reassuring and refreshing. The more I looked into flights and points of interest and museum tickets I felt happier about getting to be with the man I love doing something incredible.

It was at this point I realized that’s all I wanted—to go on an adventure, alone with my love, and start our life together doing something amazing. We decided to get married in Iceland, during peak northern lights season, in a country full of waterfalls and volcanoes and glaciers. Early on we realized that the minimal interaction we had already had with our parents over wedding planning was not something we wanted to repeat. So we called them up and let them know we were getting married out of the country and that we wanted to do something we love as the beginning of our marriage. Because I knew it might be hard for them to hear, I reassured them that when we returned we could have a reception near them (we are actually having two receptions on our return—one up north near both sets of parents, and one in the south for our close friends). I let them know they could invite whoever they want and plan the whole thing between both pairs of parents.

Unbelievably, they are more upset than I thought possible. My fiancé’s mother is barely speaking to him and has started posting angry photos on Pinterest about how she’s so hurt and tired of trying anymore (she has never told us directly what that means or that she’s upset about our plans). My parents have told us that they think we should get married with them before we go to Iceland, that they must witness our vows, that it’s vital my dad walk me down the aisle, that they refuse to come to Iceland (they weren’t invited but it’s nice to know they decided not to come).

It’s been hard, especially as when we got engaged my parents pledged financial help (no strings mentioned in that offer), but obviously their responses to our plans mean we haven’t asked them for anything and are paying for everything ourselves. In that regard, it seems even more unfair that we should be punished for what we want when we aren’t asking them for any help or relying on them in any way.

As this has become our decision, it’s been upsetting that I can’t find any posts online of people having similar situations. We are not estranged from our parents; I just FaceTimed my mom yesterday. We are simply uninterested in starting our married life trying to please our parents. Why can’t we do what we want and they be happy for us?

—Mixed up and Mad in Music City

A: Dear MUAMIMC,

Parents are pretty notorious for making our wedding decisions about themselves. They’ve got their own ideas, and sometimes they mistakenly think those should also be yours. But, lady. Whether or not you invite them? That is about them. It’s understandable that they’d have some feelings about it.

You’re allowed to elope, of course. That’s a totally fine, completely valid choice. There are loads of great things about eloping! For one, you can avoid all of those loathed arguments about the location. You get to sidestep all the bickering over details. You can enjoy time with just your partner. But in exchange, you’re gonna face some unhappy parents. That’s the trade you’re signing up for, here.

You get to pick the wedding you want to have, but you don’t get to dictate how other people feel about it. And it sounds like your parents aren’t even handling this poorly! They’re not disowning you or doing anything dramatic. They’re just coping with some completely normal feelings in completely normal ways (P.S. Time to unfollow that Pinterest board for a bit). As parents, we pour a lot of ourselves into our kids. Everything my boys experience impacts me in a profoundly personal way. Their hardships are mine. Their joys are, too. I’m trying to raise independent kids who make their own decisions, but still, I’d hope to be able to at least witness the big, exciting, happy moments after being there for all of the sad, hard, heavy ones.

Try to see things from their perspective, and while you’re at it, to readjust your expectations. Your parents are disappointed, and there’s not much you can do about it. That’ll be easier for you to cope with if you expect it, rather than hoping for them to be overjoyed to miss your wedding (it ain’t happening). Try to be a little less defensive and a little more sympathetic to how they’re feeling. It’ll make it a little easier for all of you to deal with the disappointments you’re facing.

(And psst, guys, really, don’t tell your parents if you’re planning to elope. I mean it. Eloping means telling them the good news after the fact, when all they can do is cry a few tears over missing it and move on.)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Amy March

    I’m honestly incredulous that you find it unbelievable your parents are upset you are getting married without them there. Isn’t that nearly all parents?

    Of course they aren’t paying for anything! They offered to help pay for your wedding and you decided not to invite them.

    This is why eloping is traditionally running away to get married in secret. Because once you are married there is no point in fighting it. You’re having a private destination wedding and expect your parents to be happy about getting to party with you. And that is simply not how parents work (#notallparents obvi but most).

  • Ashlah

    I’m a little flabbergasted at how surprised the letter writer seems about this. Is it really that unbelievable that your parents would want to be at your wedding and witness the start of your marriage? Especially after they offered money for a wedding and were upset when you were originally planning something in another state? I’m with Liz, here, you can and should do what you want, but your parents’ reactions do not seem that surprising or unusual, even if it’s a little hurtful for you, and I think a little more understanding and compassion towards them could go a long way. (Also, I’m not sure if “You can plan us a local reception and we’ll attend” is quite the peace offering you’re picturing it as, but maybe I’m misunderstanding that bit).

    • Amy March

      Right? “We don’t care enough about you to invite you to our wedding but please plan us a party!” Not. Cool.

      • AP

        Yeah…it’s a little having your cake (destination wedding with no guests) and eating it too (two awesome parties you don’t have to plan.)

        Like Liz said, do what you want, but be prepared for people to have feelings about it.

        • emilyg25

          * or pay for

    • Lisa

      Right? If the LW has a good relationship with her parents otherwise, why wouldn’t they be upset about not getting to attend an incredibly important event in the life of a person they brought into the world and into whom they invested decades of time, money, and emotional resources? If she and her fiancé want to elope/have a private destination wedding, that’s fine, but her parents are obviously going to have feelings about not being included.

    • Ashlah

      To throw in a little compassion towards the letter writer because I don’t want to contribute to a complete pile-on, I do feel for you! It sucks that your parents aren’t supportive of your plans, and it sucks to be so excited and feel like you found the perfect wedding for you, and then have your parents crap all over it. That’s a total bummer! And I get that. It might be helpful to sit down with each set of parents to have a real heart-to-heart discussion about all the feelings exploding all over the place. It seems like some extra compassion is needed in both directions, and maybe getting all those feelings and reasons for them out in the open will help foster that.

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        Yeah, to me, the LW is coming across as maybe a little snappish about this, almost like she wrote it at a breaking point of feeling sad and hurt and pissed. Which makes sense! Weddings and elopements can evoke so many emotions and not all of them are always entirely level-headed. Hopefully a little distance and cooling off, mixed with the healthy dose of compassion you’re advocating will help smooth things over all around.

      • macrain

        YES to a heart-to-heart, on both sides. I think a lot of the pain of this could be eased if the parents felt like their concerns were really being heard. Plus it sounds like the fiance’s mom has never directly stated that she is upset! So- it could be good to have her let out her feelings (or- possibly find out that she is not that upset?)

      • penguin

        I do think this would be helpful, although I want to caution the LW about getting her hopes too high up about how this talk will fix everything. On top of getting everything out in the open, the LW’s parents and in-laws may just need time more than anything. We had a big blow-out with my fiancé’s parent’s over something relatively minor (and changed the wedding date to try and appease them), and they are STILL pretty salty about it. We had the big talk, which didn’t super help, and then we didn’t see them for a couple of weeks. We had lunch with them this Sunday and it went surprisingly well, although they are still being a little weird and pissy with us. We’ve done everything we can to try and smooth things over, and now we’re stepping back.

    • Having feelings about it is expected. Being a dick about it is what is unexpected and unacceptable.

  • emilyg25

    “As parents, we pour a lot of ourselves into our kids. Everything my boys experience impacts me in a profoundly personal way. Their hardships are mine. Their joys are, too.”

    As a mom, I would be very hurt and disappointed if my son got married without me. I would try to keep it in check and respect his choice, but it would just suck. And to me, witnessing the actual marriage ceremony is the important part. A party after the fact is fun, but it’s not the ritual I really care about.

    And you aren’t being punished. Your parents offered you money for a wedding and you aren’t having a wedding.

    • I can’t even imagine how much I’d cry. I mean, I’d try to cry behind closed doors, because that is what being a good parent is… putting your kids first, even when they can’t put you first. (Which… is not their job, so it’s ok… -ish.) But I’d cry a thousand rivers.

      • Crying behind closed doors is the key. You have to expect that children will grow up to be independent beings and are going to make lots of decisions that don’t suit you. Weddings are just the start, next your kid might live really far away and be having babies far away.

        Go cry to your friends and don’t shit on your kid. The parents reactions are so unacceptable.

        • idkmybffjill

          I don’t think having a wedding that doesn’t suit their ideals, and plain not inviting them is the same thing. It would be like comparing having children far away with not allowing contact with the grandchildren.

          • But they’re not having a wedding they’re having an elopement. Having a wedding and not inviting your parents would be completely different.

          • Kara E

            Once you tell your parents – and tell them you’re inviting “other witnesses” and not them – you’re having a wedding you’re not inviting them too. Eloping = secret. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elope

    • mooncaf276

      I think it’s also worth pushing back gently against the “parents are devastated” thing. I mean, of *course* they have a right to be hurt and to cry about not being at LW’s wedding. You can’t help how you feel. But, is it the fantasy wedding or the reality they feel they’ve lost out on? My mother has always desperately wanted her 3 children to have traditional weddings, but she greatly dislikes, avd us deeply hurt by, the reality of having a married adult daughter with obligations to people other than herself. It turns out a married couple with children doesn’t have a lot of extra time to devote to their parents, and lots of parents struggle with feeling like they’re no longer important (which keeps going on after the wedding! ) also, even a choice in prospective spouses can feel like a rejection of parents’ values- it turns out that my mother only truly wanted in – laws that reflected her values, which is almpst impossible to fulfill, and one of many reasons only one of her 3 children will likely ever marry. A huge ymmv, of course :). I guess I’m pointing out that it’s thoroughly fine for LW’s parents to be hurt, and it’s also fine for LW to disappointed in her parents and to cry *because * they’re her parents. They hurt each other equally, and not for lack of love- it’s just the nature of family.

  • ART

    I feel like I’m misreading the part about the LW’s decision to pay for the elopement themselves being a result of the parents’ reactions…it seems obvious that a couple would pay for their own elopement, regardless of just about anything else?

    • Jess

      Yup… Offering to pay for a Wedding is not the same as offering to pay for an Elopement. Wedding = an event, with people, that presumably the payer would be involved with, Elopement = an event for you and you alone.

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      I don’t think it’s a misread because she mentions that there weren’t supposed to be strings attached. But I agree that fundamentally changing the event isn’t the same as having invisible strings; it’s totally reasonable for parents not to pay for an elopement. It would be WAY more surprising if they still did.

      My benefit-of-the-doubt read is that it’s not really about the money or feeling entitled to the money, but rather LW is seeing that money as a tangible representation of Support. I definitely don’t view it that way, but could see how you could get wrapped up in a thought like that when you’re really close to the situation and feeling crappy.

    • Her Lindsayship

      It’s a little selfish to ever assume that the money is completely “no strings attached”. I don’t think your parents get to buy your independence back from you when they offer to help pay for a wedding, but apply a little common courtesy. They should be allowed some say in how their money is spent. If they literally said they wanted to give the money as a gift to the couple to be used however they want, then yeah, it would be hurtful that they really didn’t mean that. If they said they wanted to help pay for the wedding? Don’t expect their money to pay for the wedding you aren’t inviting them to.

      • Diverkat

        I dunno, I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one – if one is giving money as a gift, then gifts by definition are ‘no strings attached’. I don’t get to give my godson $50 for his birthday and then insist he only purchase educational things, for example.

        That said, depending on the relationship, some people who offer to help pay for their children’s wedding *do* insist on having a say on how that money is spent, and provided there is open communication about that (i.e. “I want to help you pay for the food”) and as long as all parties agree to it, then I would think that’s just fine. I was really lucky – my parents were kind enough to help pay for a portion of our wedding, and they gave us money to spend it on what we wanted, no strings attached. If there was even a whiff of expectation associated with their generosity, it stops becoming generous and starts becoming manipulative. That’s how I feel about any monetary gifts personally, but YMMV.

        BUT! Having your parents offer to pay for bits of your wedding, strings or no strings, and then disinviting them but still using their money? No, that’s garbage. I didn’t get that from the reading of this letter, though.

    • ART

      I wanted to come back to this because I can see how my comment might sound a little dick-ish and I didn’t mean it that way, I was just digesting the letter and that stood out to me – the tone seemed to suggest LW would otherwise expect the parents to pay for a trip to Iceland they weren’t invited to (as specified in the original letter). There have been several elopements in my family – though it’s typically people that have been together, basically living as married, for 10+ years, who everyone already counts as a life-partner couple and so it’s just a happy surprise to get the postcard or whatever – and I don’t really have any issue with them, per se (but definitely a know your people thing, as others have said, you can’t control their reactions).

      Also, as someone who didn’t invite her dad to her wedding, I have exactly no grounds to judge there nor would I want to. My dad and I do talk, but when I said “yeah we’re just doing a small family thing” I intended for him to understand that as “…and you’ve been talking mad shit about the whole rest of my family for 20 years and have proven you can’t behave around them, so you prob shouldn’t be there.” He seemed to get the drift. I am a little sad about it in hindsight, though. At the time, the thought of inviting him made my stomach do total backflips, but I wish I had had the courage to talk to him more openly about it and let him decide if he could handle it or not. That’s my consequence for being unwilling to do that (and his consequence for being an a-hole for a long time). All this to say…you can do what you want around your own wedding, but your choices aren’t free from consequence/hurt feelings. It can be really hard to see in advance how that plays out past the wedding itself, though.

  • penguin

    Ooh boy. I feel for the OP on this one. I agree with Liz’s last point, that the best thing you can do when you are eloping is to just do it and inform people afterwards. Then it’s just an announcement instead of saying “we’re going to go do this thing and by the way you aren’t invited”.

    Also, real talk – your parents weren’t being very supportive even when you were going to have a full wedding. It’s not suuuper surprising that they don’t like an elopement any better. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t elope – as somebody in the trenches of wedding planning now, sometimes I wish we’d eloped! Do whatever works best for you and your fiancé, and just inform people later.

    • Lisa

      Yeah, typically one should wait to share news like this until after the event has occurred. It’s the same way that a lot of people choose not to share other major life decisions–like naming a child–until it’s a done deal because it’s a lot harder to argue with something after the fact.

      Since the LW has already mis-stepped there, it seems the best thing she could do is acknowledge the hurt feelings and apologize for the pain she’s caused. She doesn’t need to say she’s sorry for the wedding plans, but to own the fact that her decisions might not be what her parents prefer and recognize that to them might help in getting them all through this rough situation. Something like, “Mom, I realize how important this was to you, and I’m sorry that you were hurt by my decision. You raised me to be a strong person who puts family first, and Fergus and I realized this was the way we needed to start our own family. I hope that we can move past this together, and I can’t wait to go through the photos in detail with you once we return.”

      Also, if there’s a way to include the parents in the wedding planning in a minimal way (dress shopping?) without stirring up more negative emotions, that might be worth exploring, too.

    • Sara

      Just have to point out that informing “people” afterwards and informing your parents are two very different balls o’ yarn.

  • Cleo

    Two parts of the letter struck me. First:

    “We are simply uninterested in starting our married life trying to please our parents. Why can’t we do what we want and they be happy for us?”

    It seems the LW has answered her own question. She’s not interested in pleasing her parents and so they’re not happy about it (they still seem to be in support of the marriage, just not the wedding). Liz’s answer is spot on – parents are people too and people don’t like being left out of things that they have a reasonable belief are within their sphere.

    Second:

    “I let them know they could invite whoever they want and plan the whole thing between both pairs of parents.”

    I don’t know how LW handled it, so I could be completely projecting, but this wording sounds like LW told Mom, “Hi, I’m eloping, but you go ahead and plan whatever you want. I don’t need to be involved or approve.” Which is probably a nice, deferential thing, but if I were Mom, I’d probably take it as flippant —
    “First, you get married without me present and then you tell me to throw you a reception that you don’t even care about?! Do you even value our relationship?” If LW’s Mom might take the reception responsibility being thrust upon her in the latter way, I bet it would go a long way to repair damage to the relationship if LW and fiance suck it up and help plan the reception – give Mom a feeling like she’s involved in the wedding too.

    • Yeah, I’m involved in the wedding planning process (primarily me and my partner, with my mom as a lot of help, too), and even when I tell my mom “I don’t care how such-and-such looks,” or “You can make the decision on this,” she’s taken aback. She’s excited to plan something *with* me and have my involvement on some level.

    • Lawyerette510

      I had the same reaction.

    • I made that mistake on our cake — My mom was a little more invested in it then I was, and I totally trusted her opinions and wanted to defer to her. But I think the vibe ended up me seeming a little more flip/uninvolved than I wanted.

      • Kara E

        I had some serious issues with my mom re flowers and the decor on the kranzekake (and our later reception). I finally said. “mom, it’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I trust your judgment on this more than I trust my own at this point. Could you give me a few choices and I’ll tell you I like best (and you can overrule me if you disagree)?

  • Liz mentioned it, but I do think it’s an important note: maybe back off the social media. I think it’s easy to read into every little thing your parents/your partner’s parents post on Facebook and think it’s about you. And yeah, maybe it is. But it’s only going to eat away at you and irritate you more. As Liz mentioned, they’re just dealing with their feelings how they can, and I’m sure that eventually they will warm up to the idea (even if it takes some time).

    • macrain

      I was just going to say the same thing! The fiance’s mom hasn’t said that she is super upset about this, so why start reading into pinterest? It might have nothing to do with this situation.

  • MrClean

    I could go either way with this one. I understand both sets of parents’ disappointment, but as someone who comes from a difficult family myself, I think there’s a lot that could be sussed out from this letter that might not be apparent to the immediate eye. She says her parents “pledged financial help”, but that doesn’t mean they’re paying for very much at all – it could mean as little as several hundred dollars, and based on wedding location, that might help much, especially when the parents demand it be held where they live and not where the LW lives. This could be the case based on the LW’s statement that their dollars won’t get them very far. There’s also the fact that there were no strings attached “at the time”, but there clearly were in regards to the location. Additionally, her plan to hold two receptions and let the families collaborate on what they want actually sounds like a compromise to me, not like a spoiled demand – it’s like she’s giving them an opportunity to plan part of the event. And finally, that “it’s vital” that her dad walk her down the aisle seems like another big assumption.

    I dunno, I guess I just understand the LW’s feelings of surprise and confusion – if both families never seemed like the type that had specific expectations about weddings in the past, that they would fight her about the things she did want would come off as jarring. I could definitely see being upset upon realizing that you suddenly have to fulfill someone else’s expectations or risk their unhappiness, at the expense of your own.

  • Sara

    I would do two things – talk to your parents about your reasoning and involve yourself in planning the reception.

    You can do whatever you want. But Mom is allowed to be disappointed she’s missing a big moment in your life. They imagined this day too! Sure, they don’t get to dictate your life, but they want to be a part of it. That being said, they likely don’t want to host a party for you. They wanted to attend a reception that you planned with you being high on the vows you just made. Of course they wanted to make demands too – what parent doesn’t – but that didn’t mean they wanted to plan the whole thing (usually). Good luck! Iceland seems gorgeous and I’m jealous of that adventure.

  • emmers

    I feel like in this case there will always be angst, it just depends on how you divide it. If you were to go through with the original wedding plan with your parents, you’d have upset feelings about that. But if you elope, your parents/in-laws have upset feelings about that. In all cases, there are some happy people and some less-happy. It just depends on your priorities.

    And I totally get wanting to elope. Wedding planning was super-hard for me, and not a fun time, so I so much relate to that. The idea of eloping sounds super-freeing to me! But as an observer to some elopements, it does seem that there are often hard feelings for those left behind. So it’s kinda like– there is no perfect solution. It’s just one of those things.

    • emilyg25

      Oh yeah, elopements are cool. I would just be kind of bummed if someone close to me eloped. At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for you, handle it kindly with other people, and accept that you can’t control their reactions.

      • Lawyerette510

        This is the winning answer. Especially the handle it kindly and accept you can’t control their reactions.

    • BSM

      “I feel like in this case there will always be angst, it just depends on how you divide it.”

      Yeahhhhhhh. I feel like this is true of so many situations involving family.

  • toomanybooks

    Yeah, I can see how if parents start out saying “why aren’t you having it near us, instead of five states away where you live” they’re not going to take “actually, we’re having it even further away, in a remote location where only we will be” pretty badly – to them it might even look like a spiteful “you didn’t want us to have it here? Fine! We won’t even have it in the same continent!” Not that that’s what LW intended, of course!! It’s COMPLETELY understandable to be like “ugh, wedding planning is REALLY stressful, especially the part where people who are not me or my intended have Strong Feelings about what we should do that don’t align with ours! It’s not worth it to me to plan this traditional wedding, and I think it would be magical to elope in Iceland.”

    But… Liz is right to bring this part up: historically, an elopement is something that you just DO, and tell your parents later after it’s happened. Especially if they’re not invited. Which, of course they’re going to assume they are unless you specifically told them, when informing them of your plans, “we are eloping, just the two of us, no one else.” (And maybe you did and your parents have selective hearing, it happens, idk.) If they were totally comfortable paying for a wedding – the impression I get is that parents’ main perk of having a child who elopes is that they don’t have to pay for a wedding – and super wanted to be there, they’re gonna be upset about this. And I can see how telling them *beforehand* can kind of feel hurtful to them and maybe look to them like an “empty threat” about getting your own way (which, I mean, you should pretty much) or that you just want to tell them you don’t want them there. Whereas telling them after can kind of have more of an air of “we just couldn’t wait to get married and didn’t want to get bogged down in planning!”

  • Anonymous

    Obviously every couple is free to decide for itself, but I honestly cannot understand elopements in situations where the couple has no hard feelings towards the parents (if you were a victim of child abuse or if they don’t accept your partner (just examples), yes, I can understand the decision). But a “normal” parent pours out so much for their children, they sacrifice in every aspect, they give so much I don’t know how people can dismiss parent’s feelings for the sake of doing what “they want”. Relationships require sacrifices from both sides. And I think your parents asking to be present in your wedding day after everything they did for both of you is not an unreasonable request. Please consider a very small wedding ceremony (perhaps just with the 4 parents – I seriously considered this but I decided to do a bigger wedding for other reasons).

    • Oooof this comment made me cringe. I don’t disagree- I wanted my parents to be at my wedding and caved on a lot of wedding decisions out of respect for their feelings. But just because those were my priorities doesn’t mean they should be everyone else’s. There is a whole ton that factors into a decision like this; I would hate for anyone to read this comment and feel like they’re a crappy kid for choosing to elope.

      • Agreed. I don’t think elopements are so much, “We don’t want to be around those people,” but more “We really want to do this thing with just us.”

      • Anonymous

        I was not being judgmental :) I was literally saying I cannot understand. It might be a cultural thing. In my country elopements are practically non-existent (I’ve never heard of them before i start reading APW) and not inviting parents to our wedding is unthinkable. (But I completely agree people have the freedom to do whatever works for them).

      • Anonymous

        But you have given her great advise, as always, Liz

    • Lawyerette510

      Yes a normal parent pours out so much for their children, but they choose to do that when they choose to have a child. I don’t believe that children inherently owe their parents experiences simply because the parent did what they should do upon choosing to have a child (put effort into raising the child, make hard choices that are in the child’s best interest, etc).

      Certainly a parent wanting to be present when their child is married is a reasonable request, but a child deciding to wed without their parent present is also a reasonable decision.

      • Amy March

        Sure, reasonable, but also pretty obviously hurtful. What is not reasonable to me is deciding not to invite parents you have a good relationship with to your wedding and expecting that they’ll be fine with it and that it won’t harm your relationship.

        • Lawyerette510

          I absolutely agree that the reasonable decision to elope often hurts the feelings of the parents and other people the couple is close to. You’re right in that it is unreasonable to assume that making the decision to elope won’t impact relationships with friends and family.

      • Anonymous

        I think under “normal” circumstances it’s a selfish decision, if the parents wanted to be present. But making a selfish decision doesn’t not mean you are a bad person or a bad son/daughter or even a selfish person (the same way lying one time doesn’t mean you are a liar). You are entitled to make your own decisions the same way people have the right to feel hurt by those decisions.

        As I said to Liz, maybe this is because of my background. (Please keep in mind I am not a mother yet, maybe when/of I have a child I will see things differently).

      • I don’t think kids “owe” their parents experiences. But that doesn’t mean that parents won’t have really deep feelings about kids choices. Hopefully they’ll find a way to express them appropriately, but we can’t deny parents feelings over humans they brought into this world and/or raised!

        • Lawyerette510

          Oh absolutely, parents get to have their feelings about their kids’ choices. And a healthy relationship between people (parents and kids or any other two people) means being thoughtful and considerate of other person’s feelings and allowing them to feel their feelings. I just don’t go in for the idea that it’s abnormal for a couple to decide to elope unless there is some sort of unhealthy or abusive relationship with the parents.

          • Anonymous

            You said: “I don’t believe that children inherently owe their parents experiences simply because the parent did what they should do upon choosing to have a child (put effort into raising the child, make hard choices that are in the child’s best interest, etc).”

            I think it’s here where I (respectfully) disagree. To “owe” is a very strong verb, but looking at “normal” (though what is “normal” in life?) circumstances if the parents would like to be present out of love and respect for them, why ignoring this wish just because we want to “do what we want”?

            But hey! Ultimately, it’s up to the couple, I just think LW should check her motivations (her later comment on this made it much clearer now).

      • Spot on. Parenting is a thankless undertaking, that’s the way it is.

    • I also find it hard to understand elopements unless you have a crappy or uneasy relationship with your parents. My husband’s brother “sort of” eloped, in that her family was present, but his was not. Supposedly it was a spur of the moment decision, but it hurt my in-laws to the core. I think it’s everyone’s right to have an elopement if that’s what they would like, but you also have to be an adult about it and expect that not everyone is going to be jumping for joy at your decision. I, personally, would be devastated if any of my children ever did that.

      • Jess

        oof… that would hurt!

      • Jane

        My cousin did the same thing (husband’s parents were there, and her mom was there – but she didn’t invite her dad or his wife of 20+ years). Her relationship with her dad isn’t perfect, but it’s not toxic or anything – they go to lots of family events.

        So the couple told her dad that they had eloped with no one there. And that was the story everyone on our side of the family believed until we saw pictures on FB with the other family members there!
        That’s got to be one of the worst, most hurtful ways to elope.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for describing how I feel so well, English is not my native language so sometimes it’s difficult to express myself.
        I am sorry about that situation (and the situation Jane described as well), hope the pain fades away.

    • rebecca

      Ummm there are a lot of parents who would rather explain an elopement to their parents and siblings than a “small ceremony with just the four parents”.

      • Anonymous

        That is true. It was just a possible solution that doesn’t work for every situation. :)

    • CMT

      Well, my parents, who have certainly sacrificed a lot for me, have encouraged me to elope (like they did), so this is definitely not universal.

      • Anonymous

        I forgot to mention what I said only applies if the parents are keen on being at the wedding. If everyone is ok, even better.

    • gonzalesbeach

      my parents – who I love and love me dearly – often told us as kids to elope. and we’re close. it’s not that they wouldn’t want to celebrate with us. it’s because they see marriage as between the two people and that value has been held throughout their marriage – ie the kids don’t celebrate their wedding anniversary – ‘it’s my anniversary, not yours’. of course involved in each others lives as family but not as part of their marriage. plus they had enough stress with their own weddings to previous partners and to each other that they think the elopement is a great choice – if that’s what the kids want. while they would be more than happy for a wedding/reception/whatever- they support their children in whatever makes them happy, even if that turns out to be elopement (or not!).

      • Anonymous

        Having supportive parents is the best thing! I’m happy for you. I wrote my first comment assuming parents are keen on being present. If they are ok with elopement even better and that doesn’t mean they love you less. (Also, eloping doesn’t mean you don’t love your parents either, even if they are not ok with that).

    • emilyg25

      I think sometimes adult children who have grown into a friendly, mutually respectful relationship with their parents forget that their parents have deep emotions about things. I know I was really blithe about telling my dad he wasn’t going to walk me down the aisle. He’s not a touchy feely guy and he raised me to make my own choices. It never occurred to me that he might have feelings about that and in retrospect, I wish I had told him what I was thinking and asked his opinion. I could see a couple doing a similar thing with an elopement. Maybe their parents are unfussy and frugal or shy and they don’t realize how important a wedding might be to them.

      • Agreed. I do feel like our job as parents is to give our kids space to do their own thing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings, DEEP feelings. It often just means we’re not expressing them to our kids, because it’s not appropriate. But that doesn’t mean feelings won’t come out with something really big.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly :) Thank you for sharing this with me because believe it or not I was going to tell my dad he is not walking me down the aisle, but now I will talk to him and see how he feels about that.

      • Sarah

        When we mentioned to our folks I probably wouldn’t have dad walk me down the aisle, he made a joke about “I’ve been waiting to give you away.” Both my fiance and mom felt he should walk me and that the joke wasn’t entirely in jest. I used the term escort not “give away” but who knows how he thought of it. Point is, even if someone isn’t letting on it may be a big deal to them. Since I didn’t feel especially strongly about it we did it…and got some great pictures.

      • Sara

        I’m afraid of this – I want to walk down the aisle with my partner and our dog and have him walk down the aisle with my mother, the woman he chose and who chose him, who he raised a family with and who set an amazing example for me of what love is. I’m hoping if I explain it that way he will understand. But still nervous to have the conversation. Disappointing him always hurts.

    • Jess

      I totally get elopements! There’s something very personal and intimate about pledging your life to another person.

      It can feel almost exhibitionist to have spectators, almost like instead of being free to feel present and joined to your spouse you have to perform certain emotions, or hold back certain emotions.

      We talk all the time about not wanting to cry during our vows or wanting to feel a certain connection during the ceremony. We talk about the Yichud in Jewish tradition, of secluding the couple for a period of time after the ceremony.

      Yes, that means disappointing a parental dream sometimes.

      I firmly stand against the idea that people can’t dismiss a parent’s feelings to do what they want. We do that all the time – women go to work when their traditional families think they should stay home, we move far across the country or even the world for jobs, we live together before marriage, we choose not to become parents ourselves thereby denying them grandchildren, we leave their faith traditions, we disagree with their politics, we marry people of the same gender or of different ethnicities despite objection and bigotry. Weddings are just one day in a lifetime where we can hurt our parents feelings by our choices.

      I think it’s more important to consider the feelings of people we love and approach them with caring and kindness even when we do something that may hurt them than to never disappoint them.

      • Anonymous

        You described elopements beautifully. For a second I wanted to elope as well. :D
        I don’t think my “rule” is the rule for every single couple in this world. It was more like a general reply, but keeping in mind what LW said (now with her comment we can understand more of her situation).
        And of course we can dismiss parent’s feelings! I am doing this in my own wedding, in different ways (by marrying too young to someone else of a different nationality, among other details). We are free human beings.
        I just think there are seasons and events in life when we should keep an “open heart” and trying to draw people closer instead of doing the opposite. I don’t look at weddings as “just one day in a lifetime”, because it has a deeper impact.

        But I think you closed your comment stating the most important: “I think it’s more important to consider the feelings of people we love and approach them with caring and kindness even when we do something that may hurt them than to never disappoint them.”

        • Jess

          Hey! I saw, too, that you are from a place where elopements are uncommon, so I kind of wanted to explain why it’s not just “we don’t like our families so we’re gonna pass on a wedding!” It can be really meaningful and beautiful!

          Full disclosure: I had a bigger wedding than I would have liked in order to include all our families and friends, and I definitely gave a lot of decision making power over to my parents during the process to avoid issues with my mom. There are times to pick your battles, for sure, and in the end my wedding wasn’t one I wanted to fight. I don’t regret it at all.

    • Not Sarah

      We eloped with our parents there. It meant buying same day flights for his parents to cross the country at a 50% premium on the round trip flights, but they were still there. We wouldn’t have gotten married without our parents there. Elopements aren’t always just the couple. For all other family, we telephoned them after the ceremony to tell them before we posted anything on social media. We had visa reasons to elope quickly, but we still didn’t want to get married without our parents there.

      • Anonymous

        That is wonderful! I think people understand if you have an exception for parents when you elope. Great for you. I am happy for all of you who had a chance to share this moment.

    • Candace

      Well, then I’ll tell you my story. I had a good relationship with all family, except my father. He was abusive and my parents divorced and remarried in my early twenties. When I was ready to get married, my fiance and I didn’t have much money at all. I had moved several states away from home, and both our families were a mixture of financially secure and financially insecure people.

      No matter where we would have gotten married, there were people on both sides who would not have been able to afford to travel. We could not afford much of a wedding ourselves and no one was offering to pay – not even my dad who could have footed the bill.

      There was no way to afford a wedding, and even if there had been, no way to throw one without some of the parents not being able to afford to attend. See, this is a class issue that not everyone can relate to. Eloping was the easiest and in fact only option for us.

      Everyone accepted it except my dad. I think my mom was relieved because her money situation was so bad that it would have been a super hardship. Dad took it hard because he thought it was a reflection on our relationship. He wasn’t interested in the reasons and he wasn’t offering a dime. His wife piled on too, which was rich since her family footed the entire bill for her and my dad’s wedding. I just could not win.

      • Anonymous

        Candace, I am sorry for the sadness this situation caused you. I hope you have found a way to feel peace about this.
        Please don’t think I was judging people who eloped. I am very aware life throws us different challenges and we must deal with them, ideally with grace and kindness. And I think you have done very well.
        This was more of a general view, not having in mind specific situations. More like “why do people deliberately ignore parent’s feelings just because?”

    • JLily

      Eloping simplifies so much and I wish people would’t consider it to mean that the couple doesn’t love or care about their friends and family. I have a great relationship with my parents and I constantly wish I would have eloped. And honestly, after going through the whole wedding thing I will encourage my future kids to elope if they feel like it. My wedding put such a strain on my closest relationships and I have so much resentment and regret about it, and there wasn’t even anything that went abnormally wrong with it. (I say this as a person without kids, but) I would rather maintain a good relationship with my children and have them really happy with their wedding day than demand anything from them and end up with them feeling bad about the whole thing for years to come.

      But the advice is supposed to be for the LW, not the parents. I would say just do your thing. If you are already feeling the strain of these expectations, you have to know its going to get 1000 times worse. The offer of a reception is enough of a concession, but I like the idea of having the ceremony videoed too–you could even play it at the reception. Go along with the parents’ ideas and make that time about pleasing them. But your wedding is for YOU. And I think if you do the reception thing right, it will be a lot less difficult for your parents to get over not being at the ceremony than it would be for you to come to terms with having a wedding that was not what you wanted and that caused you stress, frustration, and resentment toward your parents.

      • Sara

        At so many times during this process I have asked my partner if he’s 100% sure he does not want to elope. We are having a fairly casual wedding and even so, the tediousness of planning and complicated feelings involved are overwhelming me. I get why people elope and wish we had considered it more thoroughly sooner in the process.

        “I think if you do the reception thing right, it will be a lot less
        difficult for your parents to get over not being at the ceremony.” <– love that. If you do it "right" like you said (and not expecting them to still foot the bill!), they will still have lots of good memories and pictures.

      • Anonymous

        I am sorry your memory of wedding planning is tainted by pressure and conflict. I think if everyone is in the same page, great, go ahead, do your thing!
        I would just like to say that from what you said it doesn’t seem the problem was your parents wanting to be at the wedding but rather their expectations/demands of what the wedding should be like. For example, my FPIL only asked to be at the ceremony and they didn’t demand any thing else. Not a single detail! They were like, you can do whatever it pleases you! It can be small or big, with or without, wherever you want, as long as we are there. So, it was not difficult for us in that sense. With my parents, they were a little bit more vocal about their wishes, and I just have to deal with them and draw the line where I think I can’t give in.

  • Laura C

    I have to disagree with Liz on not telling parents you’re eloping, as a general rule. I’m sure sometimes it’s a good plan, but the only two couples I know who I can remember truly eloping (in the sense of no one with them when they got married) told their parents ahead of time and in both cases the parents were disappointed but understanding of the decision to elope, but would have been devastated to only hear about it after the fact. So I just don’t think there’s an overall rule to be applied there.

    On the specific situation, I could only echo what basically everyone else has said — of course they’re not more happy about you eloping than they would have been about you having a wedding that was just slightly different than they wanted!

    • I think the only people I’ve heard of eloping did end up telling parents beforehand, but asked them to tell no one else. I think it really depends on the people.

    • rg223

      Yeah, I’m surprised by that advice – I think it’s a know-your-parents thing. I didn’t elope, but I tend towards “tell them far in advance and give them time to get used to the idea” when it comes to delivering news someone will be unhappy about.

    • Em

      We eloped – in the sense of we live on the other side of the world to our families and got married over here for visa reasons – and our families still don’t know a couple of months after the fact. Still unclear whether we’ll tell them when we get home (or just proceed with the big wedding in our home city at some point in 2018 – which we both consider to be the real wedding anyway. And yes – I know there are mixed views about this approach!) We concluded that since we had to do it over here, and not all of our parents would have been able to travel, we didn’t want to end up in a situation where we told them ahead of time and then one of them tried to fly over and the others couldn’t have afforded it etc. I agree this is a “know your people” position though!

      • rg223

        I feel like situations with elopements due to unforeseen situations (like visa issues, health insurance needs, getting married on the fly because an important person’s health is declining) are different than the LW’s situation though, where she is actively planning on not including her parents when she otherwise easily could. To me, if you just sign paperwork, you got married –
        you didn’t have a wedding (not everyone agrees with me on that either!). Your parents can still be a part of the wedding process, while LW’s wouldn’t be.

        • Em

          I agree with you 100% on that – we did our best to make what we did not feel very wedding-y at all for that reason. I think Liz’s response here is very appropriate, and (without wanting to pile onto the criticisms of the LW!) I think the LW really shouldn’t be so surprised about parental reactions to this…

    • If your goal by eloping is to quit arguing with your parents…. lol, yes, do not tell them that you’re eloping.

      • Katharine Parker

        It’s the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” rule of elopements, hah.

        • Jane

          That’s exactly the line this issue has been making me think of.

      • Laura C

        It depends on the relationship. I’m not saying your way is never a good idea, but I am saying I know of enough cases where it would have backfired to suggest that it’s not a blanket rule to apply to everyone.

    • archaeopteryx

      Miss Manners recommends not telling people you’re eloping until afterward in order to soften the blow, too: you can frame it as if you just got caught up in the whirlwind of romance and couldn’t stand to be apart, etc etc. Telling people beforehand is usually going to just sound like “sorry, you didn’t make the cut.”

      • Sara

        If I’m eloping, I am past the point of Miss Manners. I also wouldn’t lie and act like it wasn’t a consciously thought out decision just to manipulate someone’s feelings or reaction.

        I said it somewhere above as well, but telling “people” and telling your parents are two very different things – some people, like the ones who birthed and raised you (hypothetically) are entitled to information that others are not. By all means, Great Aunt Greta doesn’t need to know you are running away to Bali to get married without her.

        • Yeah, and when there are already plans in the works, not telling them about a major change in that plan and letting them continue to think there’s going to be a wedding is cruel and is straight up lying. There’s the disappointment of “my child got married without me” and the disappointment of “my child led me on and lied to me AND got married without me.”

  • I think this is worth looking at this from your parents’ point of view – they’ve probably been thinking about your future wedding day all your life, and have put together an image of what they thought it would be like, from your dad walking you down the aisle, to the ceremony and reception. You’ve presented a vision of your wedding that doesn’t even include your parents and that’s 100% different than what they expected, and they are reacting to that. I think that’s understandable – they expected one thing for years, at a minimum to be present when you got married, even if they never verbalized that to you.

    I get that you want to be free of your parents rules/expectations/desires for your wedding but eloping solely cause you don’t want to deal with their demands feels a bit like using a cannon to kill a fly – it’s the nuclear option. Can you and your fiance come to some middle ground with the parents where you guys still have the wedding you want, and your parents can still participate?

    • Jess

      I really like this wording of the parent’s perspective!

    • Mama to mama: word.

    • BSM

      Ok, I completely agree that the LW should take some time to think about this from her parents’ perspective (because I think it will help her understand and be more sympathetic towards their feelings and reaction), and what you described doesn’t necessarily sound unreasonable…

      But: shouldn’t her parents be doing the same thing? Maybe they should also be trying a little harder to see her and her fiance’s POV and accept that that they have may have been thinking about this day for quite awhile, too. Maybe those of us who are parents or are soon-to-be parents shouldn’t shouldn’t have such rigid expectations for what our children’s weddings will look like or what role we’ll play in that day*. I’m still only halfway to a baby, so maybe I don’t get it yet, but I’m not sure it’s fair for me to expect that we celebrate my son’s potential future marriage how I want or imagine it.

      *Exclusive of being invited; I think that is an eminently reasonable expectation.

      • Amy March

        I think that’s the crux of it though. If the question were “my parents are devastated I’m having a wedding that is gay/casual/in the morning/not religious” I think the answer would have been a resounding too bad so sad. But attendance at all is different.

        • BSM

          But they sounded pretty upset about the original wedding plans, going as far as insinuating that getting married in Nashville meant that she didn’t care about them. Also, it’s not clear that LW explicitly told them they weren’t invited, but she says they refused to go to Iceland without knowing either way.

          I’m also responding to Jubilance’s other points about details that parents might envision for the children’s weddings.

      • Personally I think the parents absolutely should — If I had a close family member (with whom I had a prominent values-gap) get married without not inviting me I’d be looking real hard at the ways I’d contributed to creating distance in that relationship and how to work on repairing that.

        Buuuuut the parents didn’t write in asking for advice, and I think the more LW can take her parents reaction as a sucky-but-fixed variable that’s out of her control, the better it will be for her.

        • BSM

          Yep, that’s very true. And, like I said, LW should take some time to try to see this from her parents’ perspective. Not only because it’s kind of obvious why they’re upset and reacting this way, but also because she says they have an otherwise pretty good relationship, and that’s what you do with people you care about when you want to maintain that relationship.

          Maybe it’s not clear, but my comment is sort of to say that I think LW’s parents bare some fault in this situation (something I don’t see many people acknowledging), and also responding to some of the parents in the comments.

          • Yeah, I think that’s a good point. Like, definitely feel your feels that your kid is getting married without you. But also if you make their wedding about you (see Nashville) don’t be surprised when there is blowback.

          • BSM

            Totes. It’s a little hard to address all of this because the letter goes in so many different directions (Nashville, Iceland, were they invited or not, Pinterest passive-aggression, $$ for the wedding, etc.), so apologies if I’m not be super clear!

    • I don’t think it’s really fair to be spend your kid’s life dreaming about their own wedding and who is going to walk them down the goddamn aisle and then get upset if it doesn’t go your way.

  • Jess

    I understand the hurt from having parents that are not sharing in your excitement of the thing you want to do. The hurt of them rejecting it can feel like them rejecting you.

    I’m also not down with passive-aggressive social media posting and widespread bitching about how hurt people are. Process your emotions, talk about it with a few friends, but don’t go around telling everybody how awful and ungrateful I am. That’s not going to help get what you want, which is further involvement in your kid’s life.

    Liz’s line about pouring herself into her sons and things affecting her very personally bothers me. I’m not really fond of the “I gave you life and changed your diapers and suffered through years of tantrums, so I should get to be involved in all the things you do” argument.

    This line of reasoning and lack of autonomy has been used in a negative part of my life and it sets me off a bit, even though I know it is a super common emotion and she probably didn’t mean in in an unhealthy way.

    Ok, now back to elopement.

    At the end of the day, people close to you are going to have their feelings about whatever you do. Whether it’s eloping or not carrying a bouquet or not using your great grandmother’s cake topper or having the wedding where you live now instead of your hometown.

    Elopement is something you do for you. Some people will be thrilled for you, some will be disappointed to not be there, some will feel it as an insult to your relationship. You can look at those hurt feelings, and decide that it’s more important to you to surround yourself with your family and friends than to be alone or in the location you most want.

    You can also take that into consideration, and still decide to elope.

    That’s AWESOME. GO YOU. I love elopements!

    But you have to go into it with eyes open, knowing that it is the selfish choice. People are going to have feelings about it that being asked to throw you a reception aren’t going to fix. You have to bear the responsibility of causing those feelings and handle them with as much grace and understanding as you possibly can.

    • “Liz’s line about pouring herself into her sons and things affecting her very personally bothers me. I’m not really fond of the “I gave you life and changed your diapers and suffered through years of tantrums, so I should get to be involved in all the things you do” argument.”

      Please don’t take that as a rationale for why everyone should invite their parents to their weddings. It was meant as “this is why your parents are emotional about this.”

      • Jess

        Yup, it’s important for the LW to get perspective from her parents, especially since it sounds like they generally have a good relationship. Understanding why they’re sad/disppointed/angry/hurt is key to being able to move forward in a compassionate way.

        Jubilance’s comment below, about parents building up expectations over the years and suddenly having those expectations pulled away was along the same lines and I really agree with that perspective.

        The wording just really hit a bunch of “Not Good!” alerts for me, and I wanted somebody like me who may have read them and gone back to years of guilt trips to feel supported that any decisions they were making were ok, too.

        • penguin

          Agree with you on this! I’m not inviting my mom to my wedding for lots of reasons, and Liz’s comment bothered me too. I understand it’s coming from a good place in a good parental relationship, but as someone with a crappy relationship to their mother, it hit me the wrong way. I like the follow-up here though.

          • Jess

            penguin, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m super impressed with you for making the choice you did. It’s a really hard decision, but it is absolutely the right thing for you.

          • penguin

            Thank you so much! That’s really sweet. I actually might have to see my mom in person briefly next week (will update in Happy Hour tomorrow), so I really appreciate the support.

  • Katharine Parker

    “We are simply uninterested in starting our married life trying to please our parents. Why can’t we do what we want and they be happy for us?”

    I am going to probe at this a little bit, but I think this statement in part contains why the LW’s parents may be so upset by an elopement. Along with them wanting to witness the wedding of their child, as people have discussed and I fully agree with, I can imagine that they’re concerned for what their future relationship with the couple will look like. My parents would be worried that this was a sign of their place in the couples’ life and that they would be a low priority moving forward. My parents don’t expect to be the top priority in their adult children’s lives, to be clear–they don’t expect us to live our lives “trying to please our parents” all the time–but they want to maintain their relationships with me and my siblings and know that we will want to see each other and have them be present as grandparents and continue to participate in family stuff in the ways that we can. They would interpret an elopement as, “our families don’t matter to us.” This may be a bit unfair and not what you’re trying to say, but it’s worth considering in how you move forward with your plans.

    • Amy March

      Yep. My mother would assume I suddenly hated her and wanted no relationship going forward because if not, why would I exclude her from something so important?

      • Yes, me too. My mom STILL occasionally mentions how her mom went and eloped (to her second husband, after my mom was an adult) without telling her! And my grandmother passed away probably 15 years ago!
        ETA: But they maintained a close relationship, but my mom has remained unhappy about the elopement, I guess, since the subject still lives on… I’m not sure if it changed the relationship, though, since it all happened before I was born.

  • B

    I was very upset when I found out my sister eloped. I found out the day
    of, when she texted pictures to my mom and sister and I of her getting
    ready for the wedding – no one knew but the two of them. I haven’t
    shared my feelings with her, and won’t, but I cried a lot that day as
    she sent us pictures of her and her wife dressed up, cutting a cake,
    etc. I knew it was a possibility, but I also thought I’d know ahead of time.
    I also felt a little lied to because we had JUST talked about wedding
    plans the weekend before (I know it wasn’t about me, and she couldn’t
    just divulge her secret bc I was asking questions). I totally respect
    decisions to get married however one wants to get married, but when it’s
    your close family member, it hurts a lot not to be there. My parents handled it really well though…I KNOW my mom had to have been upset (I don’t want to bring it up with her and talk about my sister behind her back), but they called and paid for my sister’s elopement package and their dinner that night, and she’s throwing a little backyard family get together for them this summer.

    • A friend of mine was in a similar situation. Her sister eloped and she just felt so incredibly sad to not be there. She totally respects her sister’s decision, but it doesn’t change the fact that it hurt her.

    • Sara

      Your family handled this so graciously. I would be more hurt that my sister didn’t tell me than the fact that she eloped, personally… but I understand everyone’s relationship is different.

  • CMT

    I think there is a lot of projecting going on in these comments of people’s own relationships with their parents onto How Every Relationship With Parents Should Be. I love my parents and have a good relationship with them. They have explicitly told me they would not be hurt if I eloped. I would not be a bad daughter if I chose to do so. I’m saying this to counter the comments I see saying how every parent must feel about this situation.

    • penguin

      Thank you! It’s nice to see a different perspective here.

    • CII

      This. I do want to push back a little bit on the idea that the mere choice to have a destination wedding sans family will be, in all circumstances, hurtful. If I had wanted to elope, I would have expected our sets of parents to be supportive, and would have been just as surprised as LW if I had received the reaction she did. Obviously, this is a “know your parents” kind of thing, but it’s not objectively wrong to want to get married without your family there and to focus on your relationship as a couple.

    • Henri

      Yes. Thank you.

      My situation is somewhat different, but it is hard to read some of these comments and not think, “Wow, I bet this is what X person is thinking of me for not inviting my (admittedly, abusive) parents.” It’s easy to read situations like these through the lens of our relationships with our parents/kids (good or bad), and hard to think outside of that.

      • Emily

        Yeah no. I’m a big proponent of boundaries with abusive / otherwise difficult parents. In my book if I can’t set boundaries and practice good self care / mental health with said parent in my life they aren’t in my life. I’m pretty quiet about my (lack of) relationship with my parents and my perspective with friends who don’t get it is to say “I’m glad you have a family relationship where you can’t conceive of ever having to cut your parents out”

    • Yep. We happened to include everyone in my wedding but we are from different continents so people had to travel (some further than others), one set of my grandparents and his only grandparent couldn’t travel and they didn’t hold it against us.

      Now we live even further from everyone in Asia and I know that our parents and grandparents secretly wished that wasn’t the case (since we’re expecting a baby any day now). They won’t get to hold our baby right away and won’t get to see him/her very often but nobody has ever shit on us for that either. They might go cry to other people about it but they’re happy for us and the opportunities that we have.

      YMMV?

    • Eh

      I totally agree that there are parents who would be fine with their child eloping. My brother/SIL eloped. There wan an initial shock because they had just met a few months earlier but both sets of parents handled the situation pretty well.

      On the other hand, when we got engaged my MIL told us that the most important thing to her was that she be there (she did not care if anyone else was there, not even my FIL). She said she didn’t care if we went to city hall but she wanted us to give her enough notice that she could come. Which pretty much defeats the point of eloping.

  • amyisjoy

    Hello!
    I’m the letter writer here. I have appreciated a lot of the perspective from Liz and the commenters. I think I may not have been super clear about a few things and wonder if that may change some of your recommendations.
    I am the last of four girls in my ultra conservative family. My parents have already paid for three traditional weddings and my sisters are very traditional people. On the flip side, I’ve lived on my own for a very long time. My parents do love me, but I wouldn’t say they get me. I’m very progressive, have worked for a inclusive organization for a long time and just have different political ideas than anyone else in my family. I know that if they were upset about wanting to have our wedding in Nashville instead of the northeast, they’d also throw a fit about alcohol, dancing, or possibly inviting my close friends who are gay or lesbian. In addition, I didn’t say “you aren’t invited” – we told them we planned to take witnesses with us to Iceland and told them in advance because both sets of parents can be overbearing and we wanted to give them time to be okay with our plans. I also didn’t demand a reception- I said I knew they wanted to have something closer to home and offered to have a reception they could plan and have wherever they wanted. I have not asked for any money for any of these events.
    My fiancés mother actually named the Pinterest board something about her son rejecting her. In the time I submitted my letter till now, she and him have spoken and she basically said that our wedding is for our parents and we can do whatever we want for our anniversaries for the rest of our lives.
    Lastly I suppose it’s important to reiterate that even though I want distance (and have lived a pretty distant life already – after all, I live in Nashville and they all live in the northeast) I still love them. I’m just different in what makes me happy – I’m wearing a custom made green gown, I only want 5 people with us, and one of those is our photographer. Traditional weddings make my skin crawl; ultimately I think we just are a little taken aback that we could be so upfront about our dreams and our parents dismiss them.

    • Amy March

      did you invite them or not?

      • KitBee

        This is the key question for me as well. You mentioned that you plan to have witnesses in Iceland…did you invite your parents to be those witnesses? If so, and they just don’t want to make the trip because that’s not the wedding they want you to have, then I find your position much more understandable. But NOT inviting your parents to your wedding seems like a really huge line in the sand to me. As other commenters have mentioned, your parents might interpret their non-invitation as a complete rejection of them and a desire to cut them out of your life. That may not be what you intend, but I think it’s the message you’re sending.

        • Emily

          So I did this. The difference is that I have parents that I don’t have a relationship with. While I like my husband’s parents, since we invited noone – they weren’t miffed. That was our solution. I think if you don’t invite your parents, and you want to continue a relationship with them, you can’t invite other people in their place. My husband and I got married in city hall, told his parents that because of oil crisis / his unemployment we wanted cost effective and no one was upset on his side.

    • Kelly

      Yeah I can totally understand the desire to elope in your situation

      • penguin

        Same. Also I’m hardcore rolling my eyes at the Pinterest board thing, no wonder why you don’t want to slog through wedding planning with these people.

        Another note – it’s totally possible to love your parents and still want to elope. You just can’t control how they feel about that, which is fine – I’d recommend letting go of trying to make them be happy for you. Do what’s best for you and your fiancé.

        • Jess

          I can’t with the Pinterest board. It’s too much.

          • Amanda

            I’m too curious about where she gets the material. Like, is Son Rejection a category? Are there other boards? Pancakes, Vacation Ideas, Home Improvement, Son Rejection is kind of an odd collection. It’s just such an odd medium for internet angst. My middle name should probably be Thatsnotthepoint.

          • penguin

            Knowing Pinterest I wouldn’t doubt it a bit. “10 Crafts to Make After Your Son Rejects You!” “Commemorate Your Son’s Betrayal With These 5 Summer Projects!”

          • Actually laughed out loud.

          • BSM

            Me too!

            Here I am pinning clothes, recipes, and landscaping design all while missing out on the opportunity to be passive-aggressive towards the extended family members who follow me.

          • Jess

            “We saw you created a board called Son Rejection. We think you’d also like these categories: Huge Disappointment, Making a Scene, and Cupcake Decorating.”

        • mooncaf276

          I laughed a little at the Pinterest detail, I admit, but I’m hardhearted and used to having a parent who plays the martyr anytime things don’t go 100% her way, to the point where getting every holiday to herself isn’t getting enough attention unless she has 100 % of everyone’s focus. For parents who are more reasonable, handling hurt feelings would be a lot harder.

    • Mrrpaderp

      I really empathize with your frustration. Your parents are going to be unhappy about SOMETHING having to do with your wedding. That’s a given. But I hear you sort of lumping their unhappiness all into one category. “Unhappy that I wasn’t invited to see my child get married” is a deeper kind of sadness than “unhappy that my daughter wore a green dress/invited her gay friend/had alcohol at the reception.” What you do with that knowledge is up to you and your fiance(e) of course, but recognizing the distinction might help you navigate this situation.

      • rebecca

        At the same time “I didn’t invite you to my wedding because I knew that the way I needed to get married would hurt you” can be more compassionate than “I spent your money on a party that felt like a rejection of your values and made you uncomfortable in front of all your friends”

    • Jess

      I love elopements! I think there’s something really special about having two people promise their lives to each other in solitude.

      I’m not clear if by witnesses you meant you were inviting a few friends or a celebrant of some sort or meant that you were inviting both sets of parents?

      In any case, best of luck in handling the disappointment – it can be really hard managing capital-F-Feelings from parents, especially when we’re already the round-peg-in-a-square-family.

    • emilyg25

      It’s a bummer that you and your parents are so different, but ultimately, you can’t control how other people feel or act.

    • rebecca

      Dude, run away, run away and have a fabulous time in your fabulous green dress. Planning a wedding when you have different religious or cultural values is just about the loneliest thing in the world. Even if you’ve arrived at a place where your parents love and respect you for who you are, that was probably hard work that took a long time. Confronting your very different values packaged in a party all on one day might just be too much for them. It sucks, but sometimes life is like that. If you come from a culture where a wedding marks a really strong transition in a woman’s life essentially from “child/maiden” to “wife/mother” your parents may subconsciously be assuming that your wedding will be a transition to what they view as traditional family life as it was for your sisters. I have had to do a lot of really painful work to make my mother understand I’m having a wedding and not a frontal lobotomy.

      If politely hiding some of your values from each other is central to your relationship with your parents, you don’t get to throw a great big party together that perfectly represents all of your values. It sucks, but it’s real. As someone who took the other route, I think it would’ve been a lot easier to just rip the bandaid off and have the elopement I wanted. (*Hugs* if you’re in an accepting internet hugs from a stranger mood)

      • CII

        Also, I can’t imagine how hurtful it must be to feel like you have respectfully established your independence as an adult and to feel like your parents just don’t “get you,” including your feelings about traditional weddings.

    • Lawyerette510

      You and your fiance need to make the decisions that are right for you. Sounds like you know what is right for you. You don’t owe it to your families of origin to have the wedding they want you to have. You are putting your feelings and needs ahead of those of your family of origin, and that’s ok. Similarly, your parents aren’t obligated to put your feelings and desires about your wedding above their own.

      It’s possible to make the decision that is the right decision for you, while also hurting other people. In this case, it’s your parents. So, now it’s up to y’all to figure out what you want to put into addressing the hurt feelings, instead of expecting your parents to be the ones who take the high-road.

      ETA: in terms of addressing hurt feelings, I don’t at all mean you should change your plans. Also, it may be that you have tried or are trying to address the hurt feelings, but parents aren’t ready. You can only control your own actions and feelings, not the reactions of your parents.

    • BSM

      Not related to the post, but this featured comment thing is cool!

      • penguin

        I love it! Excellent choice APW.

    • I’m sorry, this is a sh*tty situation, and it sounds like your parents don’t accept a lot of your values or autonomy which is really painful to deal with.

      I think your choice to elope is totally valid — I think eloping is a fine choice in any situation, but extra so when your parents sound so unwilling to accept what you want. All that said, I really do think it’s going to be a bit of a sanity-saver for you if you can reframe this a little from “my parents are dismissing my dreams” to “my parents love me and are hurt they are not included in this major life event.” Honestly? This may only be partly true. But I think being generous with other people’s motives/reactions can really help with moving on in situations where you are never going to see eye-to-eye.

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      First: *Hug* This is a shitty situation no matter how you look at it, and you need some extra love.
      Second: I would concur with Liz–part of the trade off of eloping is dealing with hurt feelings. Weddings are never just about the couple, they’re about a whole slew of other people too (parents, families of origin, communities etc.). Which seems–bizzare, but it’s true.
      Third: If you haven’t, I’d invite both sets of parents to be the witness–this will go a long way toward easing hurt feelings (but only if having them there will add to your day, and not subtract from it. Sourpusses who can’t be joyful at a non-conventional wedding need not attend)
      Fourth–If they can’t make it, try to set up a Live Stream with your Photog’s help. It’s not quite the same, but it’s a nice peace offering–“We Love you, and we want you to be a part of this, even if it’s not what you thought it’d be!” and/or hire a videographer! I love it when couples elope but show a video of the elopement at their “We got married!” reception. It’s super thoughtful, and a really nice way to include people.
      Fourth: People are going to be upset. It sucks, but you have to weigh the value of starting your marriage the way you want (Iceland) against the hurt feelings. If starting your marriage the way you want is the most important thing–own it! Apologize that they’re hurt, say you love them (even when they’re acting like jerks) and you.do you. <3

    • Mjh

      Lots of empathy for you from over here. I think things like this come down to knowing yourselves, knowing your people and knowing your priorities (including the potential impact on relationships), and going with what best meets all needs. If after thinking though all that, this plan is the one that best meets all needs, then I wish you guys a wonderful wedding day and hope your families come around soon.

      I think the way husband and I handled the issue of parents at our wedding (long story) would get judgement from lots of people if they heard​ how we did things without knowing the people involved, but it was carefulIy considered and it was the absolute best we could come up with to do right by ourselves and each parent. I can honestly tell you that we haven’t had a single moment of regret about it, and I’m wishing the same for you and your fiance.

  • Mrrpaderp

    I think I understand the thought process here. The parents were so wrapped up in the party details – the location, the guest list, etc. – that the party seemed to be all they really cared about. LW threw up her hands and said fine, I’ll give you your party, do whatever you want with it, but I’m doing what I want for the marriage ceremony. Now the parents are still unhappy and she’s frustrated because there’s just no pleasing them.

    LW’s plan isn’t the reasonable compromise she thinks it is. In fact, it’s causing way more hurt and frustration and expense, especially because now there are two parties, not one, and LW can’t expect the parents to pay for a party to celebrate a wedding they weren’t invited to. Look if she wants to exclude the parents then do it. It’s just not clear to me that that’s what she wants; it seems more like this was a solution born out of frustration. It might be better for LW and fiance(e) to throw the wedding they want (whether that’s a wedding with their friends in their hometown or a courthouse ceremony with just the parents), jet off to Iceland or wherever, then let the parents throw whatever reception they want after.

    • I feel like the upvote isn’t “Yes”ing this enough! It may have looked like what they cared about was the party, but actually it was honouring traditions that reflect their values. LW doesn’t share all of those values, and that’s where the actual hurt is coming from, not green dresses or small guest lists. And this solution isn’t a compromise, it’s the nuclear option.

  • rebecca

    “We are simply uninterested in starting our married life trying to please our parents. Why can’t we do what we want and they be happy for us?”

    I’m pretty sure that the entire point of weddings is to make you confront the fact that you cannot always please your parents and they will not always be happy and that you and to force you and your future spouse to define these boundaries and values and develop strategies for supporting each other now when it’s about a party that lasts one day, rather than slowly and passive aggressively for the rest of your life.

    I think almost everyone’s parents are some variety of unhappy w/choices they make about their wedding, we all just choose which fights to have and how important they are to us.

    • Sara

      My dad is flabbergasted I won’t have a cake. I just don’t like cake, dad! What is the big deal!!! ;)

  • idkmybffjill

    Wait. Would your parents be down for a courthouse ceremony? If I’m not mistake you’ll probably need to do that anyway to make it legal before you go (isn’t that sort of par for the course with destinations?).

    My 2 cents: courthouse wedding ceremony with your parents. Dinner or lunch after or whatever.
    Then go to Iceland and have the ceremony of your dreams.
    Then 2 receptions after.

    TBH – this is alot more work than just one regular wedding but I think you can have it all!

    • Eh

      Depending on the location you don’t need to have a courthouse/city hall wedding before a destination wedding. When planning a destination wedding its important to check these things out (along with any requirements the jurisdiction you are getting married has, e.g., residency).

  • e.e.hershey

    Yeah – I think this is one of those “we don’t see eye to eye on what a wedding means” situations. Some people really put a LOT into how important a wedding is (like those who get upset at not being present for a ‘real’ ceremony). And some people just don’t see the whole thing as THAT big of a deal (even though it’s still a meaningful event). So maybe here you have parents that can’t fathom not being included in a wedding and kids who kinda think “Weddings – why the fuss?! Every couple should do what they want!”. Maybe this couple will change their minds regarding parents’ roles in kids lives if they ever have kids – but maybe not.

  • Pingback: Why Can’t Our Parents Just Be Happy about Our Elopement? | Wedding Adviser()

  • ManderGimlet

    Read the OP, response, and LW’s follow up and all I gotta say is: HANG IN THERE! I’m frankly pretty surprised that you haven’t had this kind of situation before but if you’ve lived on your own, did your own thing, and have multiple siblings for your parents to focus on instead it makes sense. Their reactions, while disappointing, are super normal and if you were really honest with yourselves you probably aren’t that surprised. But it does suck!!! Even if you were throwing the most traditional wedding in their backyard, they would say or do something that you would find shockingly thoughtless or hurtful, that’s just the magic of parents when planning your wedding. You have high expectations for their behavior, they have high expectations for their influence, it’s a recipe for heartbreak. Stay strong and have your beautiful elopement. You only get one wedding, an anniversary party is not it!

  • Abs

    This is so hard, but I think Liz’s advice is spot-on as always, even with the follow-up from LW.

    I think there are two different issues getting confused here. One is that your parents are trying to insist on a kind of wedding that you don’t want, and the other is that you have planned a wedding that doesn’t include them. You have a right to a wedding that is true to who you are, and if your family has feelings about that they should deal with them in private. You also have a right to elope, if that’s what you feel like you need to do, but your family is completely entitled to be upset.

    Your ceremony sounds beautiful, and beautifully true to yourself. But wanting to have that is one thing, wanting your family not to be there is another thing. You’re absolutely entitled to elope, and there are probably reasons why you don’t feel like you can have your kind of wedding and also invite your family. But it sounds like you jumped straight from their wedding to your elopement, and it’s really not surprising that your family took that as a rejection. It sounds like it kind of is.

  • I respectfully disagree with Liz’s advice. You can’t control your parents feelings, but they can control how they work through them, and right now they are being inappropriate. They shouldn’t be dumping their feelings on you. I know that I’ve made some decisions that family members weren’t initially thrilled about but luckily they worked through those feelings with other family members (unbeknownst to me at the time) who helped them come around and it didn’t affect our relationship. Hopefully all they will need is a cooling off period where they can talk this over with other people who can help them to come around. I would give them some space and not talk about this for a while while they deal.

    • Amy March

      I don’t think you’re entitled to expect people to work through their feelings without involving you when you did something that hurt their feelings to begin with.

      • Henri

        I think it can be a bit more complicated than that (though, perhaps, this isn’t one of those instances). I think power dynamics play a huge part in whose feelings should be centered and whose need to be worked out solo. I’m thinking, specifically, of men’s hurt feelings in feminist spaces or white folks’ feelings in discussions of racial equality, where in both cases it’s on men/white folks to deal with their feelings on their own even if someone was mean to them.

        In this case, I fully get why the parents’ feelings are hurt and don’t think they shouldn’t have them. But I also think that parents are in a position of power over their children, and therefore (even with adult children) need to take a beat to process some of their feelings. Obviously, we live in the real and not-ideal world, so that is easier said than done.

        I also acknowledge that these types of conversations are hard for me because, to most of the people my parents know, they are sweet, loving people whose daughter is a mean, selfish, weirdo. They are legitimately hurt by our estrangement, but I truly believe that their feelings about that are not mine to process for them or to help them process.

      • Sarah

        I absolutely disagree with you on this.
        It’s a circles of closeness issue. Think about a set of concentric circles. In the case of the wedding, the couple is in the center. The next circle is the closest family or friends. Followed by the rest of your community- etc. You can absolutely be upset about an elopement, but it’s not the responsibility of the people closer to help mend those feelings. It’s not the couple’s responsibility to bear their parent’s feelings. And Great Aunt Kathy should not tell mom and dad how disappointed she is because Mom and Dad are most likely even more hurt.

        By the way, the same thing goes for deaths/funerals. My FIL passed away. It would be completely selfish of me to expect my husband to take a major role in helping me process my grief. It’s my job to support him. When that becomes hard on me, I should go to someone in my family or my friends.

        • Amy March

          Except a wedding isn’t an occasion of grief so I think this is completely different. You don’t ask someone closer to a death to deal with your feelings because they just had a worse thing happen to them than you. Choosing to have exactly the wedding you want is nothing at all like a death.

      • Yes you are, when their feelings are hurt because you’re not doing life the way that they want you to.

  • I think there’s several things going on here, snowballing together to create the kind of family rift that could last the rest of your lives. Disentangling them is going to take a lot of hard work. Honestly, if you’re not ready to hear about how “selfish” your wedding was at every family gathering and anniversary for the rest of your lives, start bracing yourselves now.

    Firstly, there’s a balance of power thing. It’s a rite of passage all parents have to go through at some point, but it’s clear that your families weren’t ready to let go of their control over your lives yet. From what your FMIL said, she saw the wedding as the point at which that power was given up – a ritual she was relying on to help her hand over that power. Now that power has been taken from her, with no ritual to soften the blow.

    While your families were reeling from the realisation that hey, you’re adults and in charge of your own lives and capable of doing your own things, they got hit with the realisation that you really genuinely truly have different values to them. When you reject something that reflects a person’s values they’re going to feel like you’re rejecting them. This can be hard to navigate even when it comes to relatively minor things (omgee you don’t like Harry Potter you obviously hate me and all my choices forever!) but when it comes to something like a wedding, it gets so much harder. As you found trying to talk to your parents about it, some aspects of a wedding were non-negotiable to them, because the values they reflect are non-negotiable to them.

    The trade off you make when you elope is a happier, easier wedding day in exchange for a harder, more complicated relationship with your families for the rest of your life. At this point, they’re looking at all your choices through the lens of “but what about us”. Even if they could see past rejecting their values, you have made an active choice to reject them as individuals by not inviting them to the wedding you are having instead. You’ve rejected their values, but you haven’t given them a chance to get to know yours – you’ve protected yourself from the pain they might have inflicted on you by refusing to come, which, considering FMIL’s behaviour, is probably a good piece of self care on your part. However, it’s a call back to the balance of power thing – you are in complete control, to the extent that they can’t witness your marriage even if they want to (and can’t refuse to witness it either).

    Your families are not seeing your choices as you having the wedding that feels most true to you. At this point, they think you’re actively trying to hurt them and shame their values. Offering to let them host a reception is asking them to announce to their friends and families that you didn’t want them at your wedding and inviting the guests to gossip about why. That’s not a party anyone wants to throw!

    I think you need to step back and think about what you want these relationships to look like going forward. If compromise isn’t on the table, then think about how to communicate why you are making the decisions you are in a way that doesn’t reflect on them and their values. Everything is no doubt feeling super personal to your families at the moment, and they can’t be happy for you if they think you hate them.

    • I think you bring up some interesting points with your comment, and I think that your balance of power situation is how my parents viewed my wedding; just hadn’t thought of it all in those terms. I had realized, though, that it was probably the point when they considered me an independent adult. Of course, divorce was not something they (or I!) had expected, but I think I have managed to maintain independent adult status in their eyes, though I think that could have gone the other way, had I made different choices. I would perhaps say the way I handled it all in the aftermath “earned” it for me, in their eyes. I’m thinking “out loud” with all this, but I guess, for them, the marriage was the unquestioned societal mark of full adulthood, and my life choices in the aftermath of what happened with my ex was when they came to trust me (independent of their ideal of societal mark of adulthood) and see me as someone capable of handling the worst type of situations in adult life. I dunno, I suspect that they know with more certitude now that I’ll be okay in life, even if all goes to hell (again)… And it’s interesting to think about all this in terms of a balance of power and values (that are shared or not).

  • Eh

    “You get to pick the wedding you want to have, but you don’t get to dictate how other people feel about it.” – That was exactly what I was thinking when I was reading the original letter and even the comment from the LW.

    Having the wedding the LW and her finance want is 100% valid (and probably the right choice for them); their parents feelings are also 100% valid. I don’t think that the LW needs to be more accommodating to their parents but her and her finance will have to live with the consequences of their choices. I agree with Liz that their parents reaction doesn’t seem to be unreasonable.

    Based on the fact that the LW seems to be independent of her parents, she probably feels that she left that nest a while ago, but her parents and inlaws probably think that a wedding signifies a child leaving the nest (especially based on FMIL’s comment about weddings being for parents).

  • Sarah

    To the LW,

    I feel ya. At first my husband and I were planning a small, immediate family and a couple best friends destination wedding. This was mostly due to the cost of weddings in either domestic location we’d consider- Washington DC or Chicago. I didn’t want to spend the time planning the big wedding. Neither set of parents had offered much in financial contribution, and we just couldn’t afford it.

    My parent’s absolutely flipped out. They couldn’t believe that we weren’t inviting our entire extended family and our old neighbors I haven’t seen in 10 years. Afterall, I’d been invited to all of their weddings. They wanted a giant family reunion and they expected my husband and I to foot the bill. They called me a spoiled princess. Told me my traditional dress would be ridiculous at a small resort wedding. Finally they told me that they wouldn’t be coming if we had the wedding in Mexico.

    It was extremely hurtful to me. I thought that my wedding day would be the one day that what I wanted would matter more to my parents than what they wanted. But I learned very clearly, that weddings don’t solve problems and turn otherwise selfish people into selfless ones. In the end, we decided to use a huge chunk of our savings to have a moderate wedding outside of DC. I probably would have kept the destination wedding and just hopped my parents would change their minds, my husband just couldn’t live with the possibility that they wouldn’t show up.

    So do what you want to do for your wedding. What real parents should do is love and support their kids in the decisions they make. They can be disappointed- you can’t help how you feel. But they can help their actions. And what your parents are doing is crap.

    • Sara

      Ouch. I am so, so sorry you were a bit strongarmed into changing your wedding plans. For the record, your original plan sounded lovely!

      And I have never understood the “invite for an invite” rationale. I have been shocked to be invited to some weddings and showed up because, hey happy times and a free party. That doesn’t mean I reciprocate with a free party for them!

  • Eleuria

    I don’t think it’s the default that parents will be upset about missing your wedding if you elope. We decided to elope, told both our parents in advance and both were fine with it and understood our choice. Not a single bad word or guilt trip happened because of it, we had an amazing time and we will celebrate with them at some point, too. Both our families are not very traditional, but I don’t think it is compulsory that all parents will be upset if their kids get married without them. We love eachother very much, but don’t put so much value into this type of stuff. Just wanting to point out it is totally possible to have a loving relationship with your parents and nobody getting upset they are not coming to their kids’ wedding.

  • Sara

    Oh man, I totally disagree with the last part. I think I would absolutely tell both set of parents beforehand if we planned on eloping. I think it would give them some level of feeling involved, however unhappy they still may be. I think the aftermath would be much more devastating if we came back married and “surprised” (blindsided) them.

  • eas56

    There is a moment from a one-woman show that Julia Sweeney did a while back. At one point, her (VERY catholic) parents wake up and find a huge headline in the local newspaper declaring her as atheist. So she get a call from her mom screaming at her: “Atheist… ATHEIST!!? Couldn’t you have just been gay – at least that would be socially respectable!!”
    She goes on to say that she thinks why her parents took this so hard was because they saw her Catholicism as a point of connection between them. This was something they gave her, that she would bring into the world, and here she was rejecting it – rejecting them.

    That LW, is I think what you are doing to your parents by eloping. You say you want to elope because of the differences between you life and your family’s: they don’t always ‘get’ you – your values don’t always align…. But because of these differences, your parents may have put more stock in your wedding than you thought. For all of the things that they don’t ‘get’ about you – I bet they were overjoyed with a life decision that they could ‘get,’ could celebrate with you. I don’t think that you are wrong to elope, but I can still see how that can leave a gaping wound.