real life

"I eloped at 48 then kept it a secret. It was the best thing I ever did."

On January 25th this year my partner of eight years and I married on a quiet beach in Hawaii.

The only guests were a few turtles, a fat bloke in the background on a stand up paddle board and our five children, four of them from our previous unions and one 6 year old from ours.

John and I eloped. It was so thrilling to be almost 50 running away to marry the man of my dreams!

It was as romantic as a wedding could be. We all laughed. We all cried. (And we cried again, but with laughter when we saw the douchey ‘can you both look at your rings’ snaps the photographer took!)

John and I have both been married before and we both had ‘The Big Wedding’. And while they were certainly fun, neither of us wanted to stress, the expense, the politics or the bridal bullshit that seems to accompany the modern day phenomenon of ‘The wedding factory’.

“Neither of us wanted to stress, the expense, the politics or the bridal bullshit that seems to accompany the modern day phenomenon of ‘The wedding factory’.” (Image provided)

I didn’t want to worry about the seating conundrum, fearing that my big day would be ruined if our chairs didn’t look like they were auditioning for membership in the Klu Klux Klan.

I didn’t want to have to start arguing with John about Guest Eliminations on our new reality show Wedding Invitation Survivor – just who will make the cut – so we could stay in budget.

John and I still have friends from kindergarten. We have clearly not isolated or marginalised enough people in our lives to keep a wedding out of the red.

We worked out at one point that between us we had close to 400 guests. It was less of a wedding and more of an episode of This is Your Life.

I didn’t want to choose one of those cheesy invitations where we imply romance through fonts like Edwardian script or Lucinda.


I didn’t want to visit a single wedding reception centre and be told we’d need to make our booking 5 years in advance and budget $400 per head.

That’s obscene for a crispy skinned Salmon and a $10 bottle of white.

I didn’t want to think about seating arrangements, or cars, or accommodation, or hen’s nights.

I didn’t want to wear a fluorescent veil, go to a comedy club, get drunk and wake up with a giant penis strapped to my head. I do that most weeks.

I didn’t want to decide who would be the bridesmaids. Those personal female politics are diabolical. And most of my female friends don’t particularly like each other. Nor would they appreciate being dressed in matching frocks.

Although, I would find that very amusing. Especially my lesbian friend who only wears jeans.

“It was less of a wedding and more of an episode of This is Your Life.” (Image provided)

I didn’t want to make a big entrance in a white dress. I’m 48. Not 28.

Instead of gasping ‘isn’t she beautiful’, they’d just be gasping. ‘Wow, she’s really let herself go’.

I didn’t want to agonise about my dress. Was it perfect? Was I too fat?

I didn’t want to sign up to a gym and have to pay for a personal trainer just to have my wedding body. Only to get fat at a later date.

I didn’t want wedding lingerie, wedding jewellery, or wedding shoes.

I didn’t want to engage that archaic practise of being given away by an old bloke when I’ve been financially independent for over 28 years.

I didn’t want to circulate one of those hideous gift lists telling people exactly what to get me. What brand. What colour. Where from.


People should be given ugly shit they don’t want for their wedding and be forced to keep it because it’s a metaphor for learning to tolerate that which we find intolerable. Your family and friends are not an opportunity to upgrade your homewares.

I didn’t want to have to give a speech that started with ‘thank you for coming’ when all I wanted to do was go home.

I didn’t want to listen to heartfelt speeches peppered with uncomfortable anecdotes about past boyfriends and gushing sentimentality from drunks who don’t really know us.

I didn’t want to choose a cake. Or a cheese platter. Or a vegetarian option.

Not everything at a wedding goes to plan. Watch the Mamamia staff reveal their biggest wedding regrets (post continues after video).

I didn’t want to have to be the nasty control freak that insists on telling people where to sit. There’s a chair. Sit on it. If you don’t like my smelly Aunty Mavis, move next to the hottie from work.

I didn’t’ want a wedding song. Or have to take dancing classes so I don’t look like a tool. My wedding day shouldn’t be an audition for So You Think You Can Dance.

I didn’t want to have to decide not to allow people to bring their children because the little shits always take over. And then have people call me a child hater behind my back.


I didn’t want to pay $1000 for a photo booth because everyone has one now and end up with about 30 photos of one of John’s mates’ cocks. Just because it’s a tradition.

I didn’t want to leave my guests abandoned while we newly weds engaged in a two hour photo shoot in a field somewhere with a cow, or on a beach near a rock. And then upload them onto a website that guests can view after the wedding.

I didn’t want to forget the real reason I was getting married was because I love John and we have a remarkable life together.

“I didn’t want to forget the real reason I was getting married was because I love John and we have a remarkable life together.” (Image provided)

So instead we told no-one. We carried our delicious wedding secret for well over a month. We took our five kids on a two week vacation to Hawaii and gave them wedding invitations that I bought at the newsagents on the plane.

I wore a dress that I got with shopper points, John wore his mowing shorts. The celebrant gave us some orchids and arranged to have us picked up in a limo and driven to a private location.

The kids sang a song on a ukulele, most of which they forgot, and took photos on their iPhones. It was that simple. We got married and didn’t have a single fight. It was beautiful.

So if your partner asks you to elope, say I Do!

I did.

It was so much fun we’re going to elope again next year.

Would you elope?

Comedian Mandy Nolan can be seen in Women Like US at Adelaide Fringe Festival (24 – 27 Feb) and Melbourne International Comedy Festival (14 -16 April)