We are conditioned to think the steps to finding your soulmate follow a certain order.

First dating, then getting engaged, and finally a big, traditional wedding. But, the world is changing and maybe that’s not for you. If you and bae decide you want something smaller, it can be extremely hard figuring out how to tell your family you’re eloping.

It takes courage to go against what traditional thoughts are of what your wedding should be. You will experience some judgment when announcing that you’re eloping – but 50 years down the line, those judgments will not matter. All that matters is that you and bae did what is best for you and how you wanted to celebrate your love.

Now, keep in mind – you do not have to elope alone. If “I could never do this without my mom,” comes to mind, invite your mom. That’s the beauty of eloping, no rules or expectations! My couples ask me all the time how to tell their families they’re eloping – here is my best advice.

1. Write down the reasons you’re eloping.

This will help you to stay focused when thinking about what you want. Loved ones can sway decisions without even trying, so being confident and strong in your decision helps resist being swayed. If you’re clear on why you’re eloping, you can be clear with others as well.

2. Tell your family you’re eloping in person (or FaceTime).

Avoid texting or emailing to tell your family you’re eloping – it can come off as insensitive and rude. When someone doesn’t understand the idea of eloping, it can also feel like a rejection, like they weren’t important enough to be there or be told in a respectful way. I recommend FaceTime or meeting up to talk it out. People respond differently when you spend time with them and educate them about eloping.

Always try to be empathetic and understanding that this could be a shock to your family. Hear them out and take time to consider their feelings.

3. Share your “why.”

Get your list out, go over your reasons, and ask your family not to interrupt you. Express how important this is to both you and bae. Be clear it’s not a personal attack on your loved ones but a personal choice, so you and bae can look back 50 years from now and love your wedding day.

4. Allow your family to still be involved.

Keep your loved ones involved with planning, especially if you plan to elope completely alone. Maybe offer to incorporate them symbolically by reading letters from them on your elopement day. Parents might feel shut out or rejected, and keeping them involved is a good way to make them feel like part of your plan. Let them throw a shower for you, or let them throw a celebration afterward if they want to celebrate. Remember, they have seen your love story flourish and it’s natural for them to want to celebrate, too.

Find more ideas on how to make your elopement special here.

5. Hire a videographer.

It’s not super common for elopements, but hiring a videographer can capture your vows being said, convey the feeling of the day, and help your loved ones feel like they were there. Some videographers also offer live streams of your elopement. This is a great way to “invite” family without physically inviting them.

Here are some videographers I highly recommend:

6. Tell your family you’re eloping and do it.

At the end of the day, this is about you and bae. 50 years down the road you want to look back and think, “I am so glad we did it the way we wanted to,” not, “Damn, I wish we wouldn’t have let people sway us.” You are brave and only you know what you truly want.

After you tell your family you’re eloping, be prepared for initial disappointments. Give them time and do not pressure them to be okay with your decision. Sometimes, time is needed to move forward.

I’m here to be your cheerleader and support you in the hardest moments of planning your elopement.

Let’s get started!

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