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Wedding Wednesday

I Don't: Eloping vs. Traditional Wedding

We share why Eloping vs. a Traditional wedding is an I DON’T in our series: I Do/ I Don’t, where we split the pros and cons between the hottest wedding trends.

Inevitably during the wedding process, you will put down the venue pamphlet/vendor contract/guest list, look at your partner and say “Let’s just elope.” Elopement seems like a great alternative to the major stress of planning a wedding, but if you have an inkling of a doubt that this is the right decision, or that you’ll regret not having a wedding, think twice.

We’re going to get the superficial reasons out of the way first: star treatment. For the year or so you’re planning your wedding, expect the red carpet to roll out. The mere mention of a “fiancé” will have excited strangers asking to see your ring, and smiling from ear to ear. You have a perfect excuse to get as many mani pedis as you deem necessary. You’ll be invited to catered parties at your favorite department stores, handed a registry gun, and told to go to town in the housewares department. Champagne will flow, and you’ll be fawned over while you pick out your dream dress. And that’s before your actual wedding day pampering.

Now, none of this is to say you couldn’t get a full spa treatment with hair and makeup before you don your dream gown and march down the courthouse aisle with just your beloved by your side. But why buy the designer dress (or vintage beauty) you always imagined if it’s just the two of you? And even if you plan a more casual reception for your loved ones after your elopement, don’t expect any of your registry items to come rolling in (although you should never expect gifts anyways). And a bridal shower is unlikely too. In fact, some miffed friends and relatives might not send anything – gifts or Congrats.

But it isn’t just about you – this is about your fiancé too. Perhaps he doesn’t like the idea of an elopement? He might cherish ritual, or hold ceremony very close to his heart. To him, a marriage might not be the same without a wedding. And in the same vein, it’s Your Day, yes. But in addition to his day, it’s a momentous day for your family and his. There are times when your wedding doesn’t feel like your own, and while you may have had every detail meticulously planned since you were 14, your fiancé, his family, and certainly yours will have input. And for the most part, their opinions and advice (solicited or otherwise) are coming from a place of love, of happiness, and excitement.

Which bring us to another point – why deny your loved ones the opportunity to share this joy with you and your husband to be? They’ve supported you through everything from potty training to your first heartbreak. Your grandmothers have never missed a chance to brag about you and your accomplishments, your favorite Uncle has photographed every major milestone in your life, and your best friend has seen it all; it’s worth considering their feelings – and yours – about them missing this huge moment in your life, and for them to pledge their support to your marriage.

Now, this isn’t to say that you need to invite your JV soccer team, his freshman year roommate, and that couple you sometimes see at game nights to spare their feelings. The guest list is undoubtedly a major reason brides cry elopement, but having a wedding doesn’t mean opening the flood gates. If you are a shy person, keep the guest list to immediate family and your closest friends. If the issue is budget, same rule applies (and consider choosing a venue with strict capacity – it will make explanations to any curious uninvited that much easier.) Unless you have an unlimited budget and an unlimited amount of space (or you have a small family and social circle), it will not be possible to invite everyone you’d like. Most reasonable, mature people will understand this and wish you and your union well.

If most of these points are ringing true, but the guest list still makes you break out in a cold sweat, we’ve got two words for you: destination. Wedding. Invite everyone you fear will call you angrily after word spread and their invitation got lost in the mail. Invite the whole family, who may or may not be demanding that there be a wedding. Buy a fabulous dress, pick out your favorite flowers, and choose the most beautiful place you could dream of getting married. Mountain top, beach side, what have you, and never look back. You’ll still placate the wedding demanders, but you’ll have your dream day (and the crowd will be inevitably smaller).

But honestly, the same goes for your wedding wherever you choose to have it. It should be a reflection of you and your fiance’s wishes and tastes. Don’t like cake? Skip it. Don’t feel like spending a down payment on a house for rubber chicken and a salad? Have a barbecue. There are no strict guidelines that mandate you have to have a Wedding With a Capital W. Do it your way, no elopement necessary.

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