To Elope? Or Not?
Should We Elope?
The Elopement Movement
To Elope? Or Not? Part One
The Purpose of a Wedding
It is good to save for a down payment for a house, and City Hall can be a pleasant place for a wedding. But please don't be so cheap that you miss the point of marrying, which is a social act, and need not cost very much. Getting married is important, and deserves some form of community. One of the loveliest weddings I ever attended was a simple church wedding (usually no fees for members), with a marvelous pot luck supper in the church hall.
Elope Now, Have a Wedding Later
My husband and I went through a similar situation... money was very tight and a lot of other complications were involved. We eloped in our tiny apartment and invited our parents and extremely close relatives. We ended up with 12 people there and afterwards my father proposed a toast. This is my first marriage and my husband's second. I still want a "real" wedding and we intend to renew our vows when the time and money is right. This way I still can wear my gown that I never got to wear in the first place and it gives us plenty of time to decide how "we want our wedding" and time to search for the best prices, as well as allow us to put money aside. Our families have been understanding about the situation since we told them up front our reasons for eloping.
My wife and I decided to elope to avoid all the hassles that go along with a formal wedding. I contacted friends at the local cable TV access channel and "reserved" studio time and enlisted my friends as camera crew (they were excited to help, and even broadcast the wedding at a later date on their program). We arranged for my wife's pastor to perform the ceremony via telephone(he had to be in Canada that week). The decorations were studio props. We traded some old jewelry in exchange for wedding bands. My wife and I both bought new, informal clothes. I bought my wife a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The reception was a bottle of champagne in the studio parking lot. The total cost of the wedding was about $250, including the hotel room that night. We phoned our families the next day and they were all delighted. Both of our families threw shower parties for us in the next few weeks. We've been happily married for six years now. I wouldn't do anything different today.
I can just hear you mother now, she will be furious at you. I'm sure you will dissapoint many relatives and family if you have no reception at all! You said the reason not to have a wedding party is to save the money for a down payment to buy a house in a year. Why the hurry? We lived in apartments for 4 years before we bought our first house. And had a very nice wedding with lots of great memories. I used all my cheapskate ways in order to have a nice wedding for under $3000.
Shelley R in Swanton, Ohio
Our's Was Special
My husband and I too didn't want to spend a huge amount on our wedding, and so decided on a courthouse wedding. We both wanted a little spotlight tho....this was after all our big day....so we planned a very small, and very intimate dinner party the night we were married. It was one of the most special days in my life. A couple of my friends got together while we were off getting married and made a delicious dinner of ....pot roast and potatoes and carrots.! I treasure the memories of that day and night!
If you have a couple of understanding friends you could confide in, there could be a post elopement party put on by the friends & family of the bride & groom to take the place of the reception which would normally take place after the wedding. That would serve to sooth those who might not attend the wedding anyway, but only come to the reception.
Then, for the two sets of parents, especially the bride's mother, who has been planning this event for 20 years, more or less, there is a two pronged approach. First of all, the parents could stand up as witnesses with the happy couple at city hall. This, at least, would include the parents in the ceremony. Secondly, a rededication of marriage vows with full bridal party, etc., could be done at a later date, say, on their first anniversary. After all, who is the ceremony for, anyway, the friends & family, or the couple who are dedicating their lives to each other for "as long as they both shall live"?
Prepare Your Family
As an eloper myself, I have just one thing to say: Tell your family first of your plans. I didn't; and my mom cried for a week. You don't want to shock or alienate the family. Give them a little time to come around to the idea. When you explain that you'd rather save the money for the household and emergencies, it's almost impossible for others to think that it is a bad idea.
Civil Ceremony Wasn't Enough
My husband and I got married at the court building here in town and yes, it was quick, relatively painless, and cheap, but I was left feeling a bit empty (especially when the clerk said "Congratulations" and handed us a plastic bag full of goodies like a roll of toilet paper and a sample bottle of excedrin!). Afterwards, we decided to have an outdoor, simple but MEANINGFUL ceremony with about 50 friends and family members. It was really beautiful and to me made the marriage vows much more spiritual and deep, instead of the two minute "Do you...?, Do you...?" from the local judge. If you're really worried about cost there are lots of ways you can save lots of money at a wedding --you can always have a potluck picnic affair, for example-- but to me, the union of two families should be celebrated as that and not thought of an just another expense.
An Intimate Alternative
Have you considered the following which would make everyone happy? A small intimate wedding in the house or yard. The minister could come out and do the cerermony. You can make or buy very inexpensive invitations. Get a few bottles of wine and a couple loaves of bread. Limit the party to one hour.
Everyone is happy that they witnessed your wedding, and the cost to you is minimal. The benefit, however, is that you will receive gifts (hopefully of money) to help your investment toward your new home.
Avoid the Craziness
My husband and I got married at the county courthouse and have always been thankful for that. Our reasons were financial as well as the fact that we knew our mothers would make us crazy trying to plan a wedding together. We took a bottle of champagne, two wine glasses, birdseed to throw at each other, and my handmade bouquet. It was quite nice and most importantly, it felt like it was just "between us". Afterwards our mothers had a stink about it and threw us a "small" wedding celebration, that turned out fine but was QUITE nervewracking, just as we had figured it would be. We were so glad we had had our real wedding just between us!
Only Now Do I Regret It
My husband and I were married in City Hall. I only came to have regrets after about ten years. When friends and family members are having their weddings you will start wishing you had done something. Why not a small informal ceremony at your church, a park, or even someone's home. Limit your guest list to CLOSE relatives and intimate friends. Have a little reception complete with the video, the pictures and memorabilia. You won't spend the high dollars that a traditional wedding would cost, but you won't wish you had done otherwise later in life.
Beth D. in Richmond, Virginia
Come As You Are
My husband and I did something similar, and it turned out wonderfully! I would recommend it to anyone! We simply made an appointment with the judge and he offered to marry us outside on the town green. We told people what time and where and said come if you want to! you have to be VERY firm with family about this, though!! About 17 people showed up and it was just beautiful!!! Took about 5 min., and we were on our way to a romantic dinner ALONE, then to a local hotel with a jacuzzi, which was a gift from a friend, for two nights, then home!! I wouldn't change a thing!
A Great Story
Ten years ago on a Monday in March, my husband and I went to the courthouse in Santa Ana where we were married by the county clerk. There was a white plastic trellis at the end of the counter with plastic flowers poked into it and we were the only English speaking couple in there. Afterward, we stopped for a celebratory hamburger and proceded to go fishing for the rest of our honeymoon day. And, I have never regretted having done it that way. First, my wedding is certainly the most unique story you will hear. We all get a great chuckle out of it. It never bothers me that I didn't go the traditional route. I never give it a thought....unless of course someone asks. Then you're in for a great story.
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