Ways to Include Friends and Family in Your Elopement

Mar 4

Dana Shular

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Dana shular


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How in the world do you include your friends and family in your elopement? If you’re considering or planning on eloping, this has probably crossed your mind more than once. It’s inevitably one of the most significant stressors for eloping couples. Despite the reduced stress, the sense of freedom, and the opportunity to celebrate your love in a way that’s unique to you, elopements can, at times, cause tension and/or awkwardness between couples and their loved ones.

If you’ve found yourself wondering “What will my friends and family think? Will they feel left out? How do I navigate the emotions and opinions of my loved ones?” … you’ve come to the right place.

First off, let’s get one thing straight: you’re not alone in this. Nearly every couple who chooses to elope experiences this stressor to some extent, which is exactly why we’ve written this blog in the first place. We feel it’s so important to have resources and insight to help you navigate this part of your elopement in a stress-free way, makes sense to you, and leaves everyone feeling happy and excited for your big day! If you feel like hard feelings are inevitable, you may want to think again — there are so many ways to include your loved ones in your day (physically or otherwise) while prioritizing the needs, happiness, and values of you and your partner.

In this blog, we’ll cover the best ways to announce your elopement, how to include your loved ones in your day and creative options for celebrating your love without compromising your elopement vision. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Sometimes, big groups and big adventures don’t go hand-in-hand. That doesn’t mean you have to exclude your favorite people from your day entirely!

An Important Reminder …

You’ve chosen to elope for a reason. And whatever reason that may be, it’s not worth dismissing for the sake of others. This day is yours, and it’s important to remind yourself of that as you move forward with your planning process.

As you consider the best ways to announce and carry out your elopement with your family and friends, there’s one thing we beg you to keep top of mind: this is anything but an apology. This isn’t “bad news,” or a negative conversation — in fact, it’s the opposite. This is a thrilling announcement of your plans to commemorate your love with your life partner in a way that makes you both feel comfortable, happy, and celebrated.

By telling yourself your elopement announcement needs to be an apology to your loved ones, you inadvertently tell them they should be upset by your decision. In other words, it shows your loved ones that this is not good news for them and that they should feel negative about the situation. Your loved ones are your loved ones for a reason — they care about you, your happiness, and your well-being. Those who love you will value and respect your decision to elope not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because they’ll see how valuable and meaningful this decision is to you. Who can argue with that?

How does your ideal elopement look to you? It's so important to prioritize your vision!
How does your ideal elopement look to you? It’s so important to prioritize your vision!

Before The Announcement

It’s important for both yourselves and your loved ones that you have all your ducks in a row before announcing your elopement. This allows for clearer communication and will help you and your partner feel more confident and at ease. Here are some things we recommend you focus on before you make your “official” announcement:

If you’re deciding who to invite (or if you want to invite any guests at all), ask yourselves a few of the following questions …

  • When you think about exchanging your vows, is there anyone in particular whose presence would be especially meaningful to you? Would it be more comfortable/meaningful for you and your partner to do this privately?

  • If you invite a few people, do you feel like it could cause friction which leaves you feeling obligated to invite more and more guests? Or do you have a strict guest list that you’re comfortable sticking to?

  • Of the ceremony locations you’re considering, how accessible would they be for your guests? Is there anyone on your list who may not be able to physically attend as a result?

  • Of those you’re considering inviting, will everyone be relentlessly supportive? In other words, will they be equally excited about your decision to elope and what you’re envisioning for the day?

  • Where would your guests be traveling from? Is the location you have in mind possible for them to get to? Is there lodging available to them in the area?

  • Do you have anyone on your guest list that may cause you to stress, take away from your experience, upset you, or make you or your partner uncomfortable in any way?

Before you announce your elopement, prepare your loved ones for the news by dropping plenty of hints beforehand.

You should begin hinting at the idea of an elopement as soon as it becomes a possibility for you and your partner. This will prepare your loved ones a bit more for the news. It will minimize the surprise, and make it easier for them to understand and rationalize how meaningful this decision is for you and your partner. You may have a loved one (or multiple) who has an especially difficult time understanding your plans. If this is the case for you, it may be helpful to recruit the help of others. Have a mutual loved one discuss it with them beforehand to show them the importance of supporting your decision. This can be incredibly helpful!

Remind yourself why you wanted to elope in the first place.

As you and your partner prepare to share your plans with friends and family, it’s common to experience feelings of hesitation and uncertainty. You may even be second-guessing your decision to elope for the sake of others! At this point in your journey, it’s incredibly important to remind yourself regularly of why you want to elope in the first place. Talk through your vision together. Dream up the details of your day, and verbalize the things that draw you most to an elopement. Remind yourself that this is an experience meant to celebrate your love, partnership, and commitment to one another. The feelings your loved ones will have about your decision are fleeting, and the experience you’ll have on your big day will last forever. It’s a day for no one else but the two of you, and it should never feel otherwise.

Your loved ones don’t need to be physically present for your elopement to play a significant and meaningful role in your day

Sharing The News

At this point, you should feel more prepared to share your exciting news with your loved ones. It is important to remember, however, that you should still be thinking about the way you present your announcement to ensure clear communication. Here are some tips for officially sharing the news of your elopement:

Have the conversation face-to-face

You may be nervous to share your news — if so, that’s normal! But please, although it may sound like the easiest/least confrontational option, do not make your initial elopement announcement via text or social media post. This can come off as impersonal and flippant. Although it may cause some initial stress or anxiety, this is a conversation that’s best made face-to-face. Whether it’s in person or via video chat, it shows your friends and family that you value their reaction and you care about them enough to have an intimate conversation with them. And remember: this is not an apology. It’s exciting news!

Tell them why

It’s inevitable that your loved ones will have questions for you (Where will you elope? What made you want to do it? When will you elope?). More often than not, these questions will be filled with love and excitement for you. Occasionally, however, they may make false assumptions about why you’re choosing to elope. This is commonly a result of loved ones turning the news inward toward themselves. That’s why it’s essential to the productivity and clarity of your conversation that you share with them why you and your partner have made this decision. An effective way to include your friends and family in your elopement is simply communicating with them your intentions. Here are some common reasons we hear from our clients as to why they’re choosing to elope:

  • We want a day that was intimate, quiet, and non-performative.

  • We’ve heard time and time again that couples often don’t get much time together on their wedding day. We want a celebration in which we get to spend as much time together as possible to celebrate our love.

  • A traditional wedding just doesn’t fit our budget.

  • This is a meaningful way for us to celebrate our marriage, and we feel like an elopement perfectly suits our relationship.

  • We wanted to get married in a beautiful and private place, but unfortunately, it can’t accommodate a large group.

  • Our values and priorities for our wedding don’t align with those of a traditional wedding.

  • We want this experience to be as simple, romantic, and stress-free as possible

  • We’ve decided to save up for a house, travels, etc. rather than spending that money on a larger wedding.

Find Unique and Meaningful Ways to Include Them in Your Day

You can include friends and family in your elopement not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, virtually, and SO many other ways!

There are plenty of ways to include your friends and family in your elopement! Here are some creative ways to keep them involved in your day, whether or not they’re physically present.

Include friends and family in your elopement without being physically present:

  • Update them throughout your planning process. Ask your loved ones for advice on vendors and locations. Bring them along to choose outfits. Send links to your venue, etc. This shows them that you value them and want to have them along for the ride even if they can’t be present on the day of your elopement.

  • Livestream your ceremony. This is a great way to include them fully in your ceremony while keeping things intimate! This option is especially popular with couples who have family members spread across the country and abroad. That way, no one feels left out and they get to feel as if they were there with you.

  • Have a party. This could be an engagement party or a delayed reception. It’s a great option for couples who want an in-person celebration with their family but don’t want to compromise the intimacy of their day. Share stories, food, dance together, and enjoy one another’s company. Plus, presents!

  • Share photos/videos. This may include sending them footage during your day (i.e. a post-ceremony “We got hitched!” text) or sharing your full gallery and footage from your vendors afterward. If you hire the right team (nudge nudge wink wink), your photos and videos will truly make them feel like they were right there with you.

  • Find unique ways to take them with you. This could be opening letters or gifts from them during your day, you could include a family heirloom in your ceremony, or mentioning your love for them during your ceremony — be creative with it!

Include friends and family in your elopement in-person:

  • Have an intimate ceremony. If it’s important to you and your partner that your loved ones are present for your wedding, then an intimate ceremony with your closest friends and family is a great option. Keep in mind that you may have to make some compromises regarding location to ensure you accommodate the size of your group and everyone’s needs.

  • Have a multi-day celebration. Who says your wedding day can’t last two days? Or three? Or MORE? Allow yourself additional time to celebrate your love in more ways than one — with a two-day ceremony, you can bask in the quiet, intimate moments and share in the excitement with your loved ones. Oftentimes, eloping couples will spend the first day exchanging vows, adventuring, and spending quality time together in more remote/quiet/intimate areas. On the second day, they celebrate with their loved ones with traditional receptions, picnics, dance parties, group adventures, etc. — whatever best suits their taste and priorities. Get married one day, party the next!

  • Do a half-and-half day. Just like the multi-day celebration, but consolidated into one, jam-packed day of mushy romance. Spend half of your day taking time to yourself, celebrating with your partner, and enjoying one another’s presence. Then, you have the second half of the day to include your friends and family in the elopement festivities! You can read your vows both privately and in front of your guests, or keep them private. Some couples may also choose to have two ceremonies in a day (one private, one in the presence of guests)! This way, you can carry out your intimate elopement vision while also having a meaningful ceremony with your friends and family present.

One Last Reminder

We’ve said it multiple times already, but we’ll say it again: the most important part of communicating with your loved ones about your plans to elope is PRIORITIZING YOU. Your comfort, your relationship, and your experience should be top of mind. Remind yourself regularly that this is a beautiful, exciting celebration and it should be treated as such.

Feel free to use this guide as a reference throughout your communications with your loved ones. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, please don’t hesitate! If you’re getting ready to start planning your elopement a bit more, we have plenty of other resources we’d be more than happy to share with you — have a great day and happy eloping!

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