My decision to elope shouldn’t have been a huge surprise to those around me. I like to approach life with my own set of rules.
So when the conversation of marriage came up for my partner and I, I approached it the same way like I do for many things by asking: What works for us?
After we got engaged and started to plan a wedding very soon after, it wasn’t feeling fun. I felt stressed by all of the options, we fought about how much it should cost and it made me anxious to think about combining the vows ceremony with a big boozy party. I was worried about pleasing everybody and relying on people that hadn’t always proved to be reliable. I didn’t like the idea of being watched as I promised my life to Ben. It all felt too much. So once we made the decision to elope, as nervous as I was, I also felt excited and… free.
We eloped in New York City and it was a magical feeling once the news was finally out amongst loved ones, Instagram followers and my favourite local barista. After most people squealed with a shocked ‘Congratulations!’, the same question kept coming up. This question was asked with a unique, nervous tension. It was as if the person asking had to act with such care, as if they asked too quickly or too abruptly, a potential bomb could explode right there between us.
The question was, “…did your parents know?”
To begin with I laughed it off and answered with a polite “no”. I got married to Ben. Not my mum or dad? But it continued and I started to get annoyed.
I couldn’t understand why this was such a focus? I was single for five freaking years and had just married the love of my life?!
“It felt like an eternity to find him and start a family” I complained to my friend. “People don’t even bother to consider that my parents and I could be estranged or worse, dead?!”. (Neither of these are the case for me but that’s not the point.)
He put the question into perspective with his quick response, “I dunno Stace. Parents love weddings and it often becomes about them. And even more so people froth tradition!”
He was right. It’s those traditional views that often pressure us to make decisions that may not be about us. For us – an anxious bride and a crazy shy groom, eloping was the perfect way to celebrate and lock down our love. We’ve all been to that wedding where the bride doesn’t quite look herself – chances are she has never worn white in her life. The groom on the other hand is stressed at how much the bar is going to cost as his friends from High School rack up the whiskey tab.
For us it was important that we separated the vows and the marriage from the party. We felt that this commitment was one that we made to each other. It didn’t take away from our love for family and friends, yet we believed our vows and the legality of our commitment was about the two of us. The party could come later. And on the day, the romance was there. We didn’t need to build it. If you are considering approaching this commitment differently to what’s presented, let me assure you – the two of you are enough.
Eloping isn’t for everybody, but if you’re not sure you want to head down the traditional path – I urge you to think about what feels right for you and your partner. Not your parents and not what’s on Pinterest.
We chatted in depth about what was important to us and worked backwards from there. Intimacy, being in the present moment, and privacy.
It’s your day. If after a considered analysis you still land at the big white dream – then awesome! I love a fairy tale wedding – as long as it is for you.
My parents will be at a Love Party we throw next year along with family and friends. I am proud of the way Ben and I approached this but it wasn’t easy. Some of the reactions we received weren’t fun and are the reason people feel pressured into doing things a certain way.
I say screw ’em. It’s your love. You go and be in love in the way that feels right for you. And remember, not all families and couples look the same. Look at Meghan Markle – no Dad to walk her down the aisle and she is doing just fine.