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Author Topic: Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" UPDATE #84  (Read 19119 times)

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lakey

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #45 on: July 14, 2016, 10:16:00 PM »
Quote
In regards to the whole "this is what we want, we actively DO NOT WANT the traditional wedding stuff, so please respect that and back off" aspect of things.

This is what you tell them. I do think that passionate emails are not  a good way to go. The more communication, the more chances they have to argue with you about it. Your partner should make the one short statement, then move on. No back and forth.

JoW

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #46 on: July 14, 2016, 10:28:50 PM »
Celany - are your parents in contact with partner's parents without you and partner in the middle?  Do the 2 sets of parents have phone numbers, email addresses, or snail mail addresses for the others?  Is there any chance that partner's parents will contact your parents to speak to you about postponing the wedding? 

No, you don't have to tell me.  But you do need to consider the possibility and how to handle it.

Celany

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #47 on: July 15, 2016, 09:44:55 AM »
The parents have no contact info. In theory, they could get in touch over FB, but the chances of that are...slim to none.

My parents and his parents met once for dinner, two years ago. It was super-awkward. My dad (who is at least a nice person) I think may be on the Aspie spectrum, as his ability to socialize has always been off. He spend most of the dinner staring into space and humming (this is normal behavior for him. Getting his attention for a conversation has always been challenging). Also, he's not on FB, doesn't have a smartphone, and has zero interest in the internet.

My mom was pleasant enough, but her overall attitude was a kind of "I don't understand why we're doing this". At this point, partner and I had been together for more than a year. She was perfectly happy to meet him, but I think her overall feelings on his parents are that they're never going to see his parents much, and they have absolutely nothing in common, not even age (my parents had me late in life, his had him early in life, and HIS parents could actually be my parent's children, age-wise). I think she might have also felt really awkward and stressed, because this is only the second time in my life that I've wanted her to meet the parents of someone I was dating, and she doesn't do well in new sorts of situations (I think because of her mental illness. She does better in situations where she has a clear script).

So I think any contact from either side is pretty unlikely. His parents were nice enough to my parents, but they seemed a bit confused by the whole thing.

If you and partner used language like "legally married" it may be easier for family members to understand that this is not a BWW/momentous occasion, since you have been committed to each other and are in a long term relationship and that part is not changing.

I think this is a really good point. And definitely the way I'm going to phrase it to my parents.

Celany, you don't sound like this is an emotional event for you, am I right? 

This is completely not an emotional event. Like magicdomino said, it's more like a business deal in a way than a marriage.

The emotional event happened (I'd say) when we exchanged rings at Burning Man last year.

I would ascertain from that narrative that the ceremony was important or the OP's wouldn't be focused on having two of the most important people in their lives present as witnesses. It's not like they were trying to keep a secret and these were the only two people they felt they could trust to be the witnesses. By also indicating the 4 would go out for lunch to a predetermined location would lead me to think that the lunch was to be a celebration.

Actually, initially, we were ONLY going to tell our parents, and the people who are our two witnesses (and partner's sibling). But then partner's mom pointed out that she would feel badly keeping that info from her siblings, and that they'd all be really upset to find out years later that we're married, so we started considering letting other people know, but AFTER the wedding. Which is the plan now. So yeah, the way it was presented to his parents originally was that it was more of a secret than not.

Does your partner currently have another committed partner?

Not at the moment, though he did when we started dating. That woman turned out to be deeply mentally ill, abusive, and generally an awful person. They broke up a bit over a year ago.

Hugs. I recently got married (two weeks ago) and there were definitely a lot of opinions about who should come/what DH and I should have done. I can't remember who said it but I did get some good advice along the way: "many people will have opinions about what you should do for your wedding but the only two opinions that matter are yours and your partners."

I also did not want a huge wedding so having a lot of people insist that things had to be a certain way was quite stressful for me. Even after the wedding we are still getting second-hand information from friends/family that some long-lost person was deeply hurt to not be invited. I've washed my hands of it now because its over, but just know that a lot of things that will feel like a big deal ahead of time will not matter after it is over.

Good luck!

I really empathize with this. I don't have any siblings, though I do have some close friends. It's never occurred to me to have opinions that I'd share with a HC about their wedding plans. I have had a few friends who I expected to be in their wedding (or at least invited), and I wasn't, and that hurt a bit. But it's not my wedding, or my life, so ultimately I don't think it's really any of my business.

I think my last thought for now is that I understand his parents (or mine) feeling hurt/left out more if it was a bigger group. If we told his parents that we were getting married in a location we paid for, and having a fancy dinner afterwards, for more than our two witnesses. To me, that could come across as hurtful and crappy. But getting married at the courthouse, with two witnesses, and then doing a casual lunch strikes me as...making it clear that it is not a huge deal to us. Sure, there's way's that we could have made it an even lesser deal, like getting a rando off the street to witness, and deliberately going in dirty clothes and flip flops. But is that *really* necessary in order to "prove" it's not that big a deal to us? Our current plan seems more like it's a small deal to us than a big deal, given the normally amount of planning, money, and time spent on a wedding.

Partner and I are going to start writing some of our feelings out about this whole thing tonight. Both to send to his parents, and to have talking points for other people who get challenging if/when we say that we just got legally married at the courthouse. For me at least, the main thing I want to focus on (in explaining why this isn't a thrilling decision to me) is that it puts both of us in a difficult situation, should we meet someone else and fall in love. By choosing to get married now, we're putting any future partners in a potentially difficult situation in a myriad of ways, because there is no legal way to give them they exact same privileges, rights, and benefits that we're giving each other. Sure, we can draft of legal documents to cover certain things, but there literally is NO WAY to make it equal. That burns at me. Getting married is still the right decision for us right now, but it still burns at me. I cannot be 100% happy and joyfully celebrate something that (given it's current structure) forces me to discriminate against anybody else I love and want to spend the rest of my life with, after my spouse.
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

Chez Miriam

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #48 on: July 15, 2016, 01:53:00 PM »
I think my last thought for now is that I understand his parents (or mine) feeling hurt/left out more if it was a bigger group. If we told his parents that we were getting married in a location we paid for, and having a fancy dinner afterwards, for more than our two witnesses. To me, that could come across as hurtful and crappy. But getting married at the courthouse, with two witnesses, and then doing a casual lunch strikes me as...making it clear that it is not a huge deal to us. Sure, there's way's that we could have made it an even lesser deal, like getting a rando off the street to witness, and deliberately going in dirty clothes and flip flops. But is that *really* necessary in order to "prove" it's not that big a deal to us? Our current plan seems more like it's a small deal to us than a big deal, given the normally amount of planning, money, and time spent on a wedding.

Everyone sees things through their own lens - they "see" things the way they think, if that makes sense.  I suspect your partners parents have been hoping that he would "grow out" of his views on marriage, and by announcing your marriage I imagine the parents have had their hopes confirmed?  I think the emphasis on legal arrangements is definitely the way to go...

Per the bolded: this is exactly what my husband and I did, but for the diametrically opposed reason!  We didn't need a BWW/fuss/being told what we "had" to do by a whole bunch of people.  What mattered to us was being married - which could only happen with a marriage ceremony.  We went to the registry office with two friends [we were told that we had to provide our own witnesses, the council would not accept random strangers off the street], and then took the tube to a tapas bar to celebrate, before catching a bus home, picking up a takeaway, phoning people to say "we got married" and have an early night.

I borrowed a dress, and our spend beyond the licence was lunch + some dry cleaning + a taxi to the registrar's [less than £5], but to us it was still a huge deal.  Just a low-key huge deal.

You're not wrong in how you feel, but you've had a number of years immersed in the p0lyamory world to process how you feel - I suspect his parents felt a little like they'd won the lottery when he said he was going to get married.  Give them a little time to process?

{{{Hugs}}}, and all best wishes for the "small day" [i.e. the opposite of a "big day"] - I hope it's as unimportant as you wish for [I don't mean that to sound snarky, so I hope it doesn't], and doesn't change/diminish your happiness.
"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."  - Julian of Norwich

TootsNYC

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #49 on: July 15, 2016, 03:56:37 PM »
Quote
That more of reflects how we feel. They're doing us a favor by coming.

But the fact that you're even asking them to come to be witnesses for the marriage turns this into an important life event.

I can see where someone might think that if you were truly just filing legal paperwork as a formality for the insurance, you'd use someone in the county clerk's office as a witness. And there wouldn't be any need to have a lunch to thank people--it would just be the paperwork.

Asking a friend from out of town to witness it, and waiting until he can be here, changes this quite a bit, and I can see why the parents would find some confusion here. 

greencat

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #50 on: July 15, 2016, 04:07:17 PM »
I have some friends who have a multiple-party relationship, and they all live together.  One of the men and one of the women in the household were married to each other for about a decade, but a few years ago, they divorced so the woman could marry the other man because they'd decided to have a child together, and for legal reasons it was better for them to be married when she had the baby than for her to have the child while still legally married to the first man.  They all still live together.

Yvaine

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #51 on: July 15, 2016, 04:11:47 PM »
Quote
That more of reflects how we feel. They're doing us a favor by coming.

But the fact that you're even asking them to come to be witnesses for the marriage turns this into an important life event.

I can see where someone might think that if you were truly just filing legal paperwork as a formality for the insurance, you'd use someone in the county clerk's office as a witness. And there wouldn't be any need to have a lunch to thank people--it would just be the paperwork.

Asking a friend from out of town to witness it, and waiting until he can be here, changes this quite a bit, and I can see why the parents would find some confusion here.

I didn't know you really could use strangers as witnesses. I thought that was just a movie thing.

gellchom

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #52 on: July 16, 2016, 11:50:57 AM »
Quote
That more of reflects how we feel. They're doing us a favor by coming.

But the fact that you're even asking them to come to be witnesses for the marriage turns this into an important life event.

I can see where someone might think that if you were truly just filing legal paperwork as a formality for the insurance, you'd use someone in the county clerk's office as a witness. And there wouldn't be any need to have a lunch to thank people--it would just be the paperwork.

Asking a friend from out of town to witness it, and waiting until he can be here, changes this quite a bit, and I can see why the parents would find some confusion here.

This, exactly.

I don't think you are wrong at all in wanting things the way you want them.  The only mistake I think you are making (and it's not a big mistake and doesn't seem to be making any kind of a problem) is in trying to insist that everything is consistent.  It just isn't -- but that's okay.  It doesn't have to be!  Life rarely is.

You don't want to be mean, including that you don't want to have a celebration that excludes your parents.  So you try to solve the problem by defining your plans it as "meaningless official paperwork."  But you want to make it all a little bit nicer than one would ordinarily expect for meaningless paperwork -- as another poster said, you don't plan a nice meal after getting your driver's license or passport renewed or a copy of your birth certificate, much less choose a date far in advance that will will allow a special friend to attend. 

It sounds kind of like you are saying, "Well, I know it looks like it's sort of a celebration, but hey, we have to eat anyway, and we want to treat our friends for doing us the big favor [?] of being witnesses, and gee, I always thought that to be a 'celebration,' there had to be toasts and such" -- like, if you hold it up to the light and tilt it this way and squint, it all falls together consistently.  But truly, it doesn't have to.  Do you even have to tell your families about the plans and the way you chose the date?  Or, in the other direction, how would you feel about including your parents in the day?  Or, just say something like "I know it may seem confusing and inconsistent, and we are genuinely sorry if it hurts anyone's feelings, but we really do love you and it's what works for us.  We know we can count on your support; we always have."

I would not try to write a manifesto explaining all your feelings and perspectives.  It sounds to me like your partner's family are already being amazingly mature and supportive.  Don't belabor it or push it by trying to get everyone in your lives to see things your way and agree that you are right, right, right about everything.  You've chosen and live an unconventional path, and they are being loving and accepting.  Take yes for an answer and count your blessings.

Mustard

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2016, 12:10:34 PM »
Gellchom, how did you get to be so wise?

TootsNYC

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #54 on: July 16, 2016, 12:56:00 PM »
This is actually a piece of proof for my own theory that marriage isn't so much about the commitment between the couple and is more about the couple's relationship to the rest of the world (incl. family).

Everything I'm going to write from her on down is my opinion. I'm not going to stop and write, "The way I see it,..." every time, so please take that as given. I understand that other people might disagree with me. But in thinking about this for the years I've been on EHell, and the years I wrote an etiquette column for a wedding magazine, this is what I think:


Marriage is really, mostly, about how the rest of the world relates to you. It isn't about any emotions or love or commitment.


Celany and her guy are committed, and have been, without any marriage in the picture. I've known many people (not necessarily p.o.ly) for whom that is very true.

And we've all known people who were married but for whom the commitment either wasn't strong ever, or became less strong and maybe even nonexistent.

The commitment is emotional; the love is emotional. Those support the institution/contract of the marriage. But they can exist without, and the marriage can exist without them.

The marriage/wedding isn't really a private event. That's why it requires some officiant (though in some states that can be the couple themselves), some official paperwork, and often a witness.

It's a public statement of a contract between the two parties, and a public declaration that the two of you are to be considered a unit—in business and social situations (medical = business).

Marriage doesn't automatically change how two people feel about one another. It does change how other entities (employers, insurers, families, government agencies, doctors, one's church, etc.) "feel" about you--it literally (and legally) changes how they treat you. 

    True, a family member can decide to refuse to acknowledge the marriage, and they can continue to exclude the spouse, but this is "technically wrong" (for a given value of "technically"), a violation of etiquette (which is the only law the governs social situations, and it has no court and no enforcement officers).

But changing how the world at large views and treats you is the purpose of marriage. Especially in our world today, you can have sex and even live together all you want without entering into that contract.

So in a way, I'd say yes, "the wedding is for the family, not the couple"; presumably the couple has made the commitment well before the wedding day, and the wedding day is a bit more of a technicality. (Not that this mean that the family should dictate how this happens, etc.)

  Of course, one can marry without all the family there, and that's totally fine. It is, after all, the couple's declaration of change in status, and they get to decide how that happens.

But it's just that this situations really proves to me the idea that marriage is about changing your status in the eyes of other people.
    (Of course, when someone is willing to go to those lengths to establish their commitment to you, it is very likely for that commitment to feel even stronger, and for that action to reinforce the existing commitment in a powerful way, and to make you feel even more loved, etc. I don't want to imply that those things don't exist.)
« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 07:20:48 PM by TootsNYC »

Tea Drinker

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #55 on: July 16, 2016, 02:33:10 PM »
Quote
That more of reflects how we feel. They're doing us a favor by coming.

But the fact that you're even asking them to come to be witnesses for the marriage turns this into an important life event.

I can see where someone might think that if you were truly just filing legal paperwork as a formality for the insurance, you'd use someone in the county clerk's office as a witness. And there wouldn't be any need to have a lunch to thank people--it would just be the paperwork.

Asking a friend from out of town to witness it, and waiting until he can be here, changes this quite a bit, and I can see why the parents would find some confusion here.

I didn't know you really could use strangers as witnesses. I thought that was just a movie thing.

I think that depends on the jurisdiction. Sometime around 1990, two friends of mine walked into the courthouse in Brooklyn to be married (for the health insurance), and asked a stranger who was waiting there to be their witness. The official in charge basically said "no, you're not taking this seriously" and told them to leave.

So they got on the train to Manhattan, asked a fellow passenger if he would be their witness, and he agreed to go with them to the Municipal Building, where the officiant didn't ask the witness and the couple how long they had known each other, and they got married.
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

Jovismom

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #56 on: July 16, 2016, 04:32:44 PM »
I'm American by birth and my husband is French Canadian.  We lived together in a home we jointly owned for 7-8 years when his company decided to transfer him to an office in the USA.  They were transferring a number of people so they had some attorney go in to help with all the paperwork.  There was a LOT of paperwork.  DH had a first appointment at the American consulate in Montreal and I went along.  He brought tons of paperwork but, as it turns out, there would have been even more required.  Except the fellow conducting the interview turned to me and asked me a few questions.  Found that we'd been in a long term relationship and owned a home together.  He told me that if we were married I could request status for my husband. 

We went home, talked it over and decided to drive over the border to the USA and get married in a week or so.  Called both our parents to tell them but also told them it was no biggie.  His folks made it to the justice of the peace with us, my folks were way too far away and there wasn't time.  But they weren't particularly upset because we told them why we were getting married.

And yes, we went back to the consulate and I asked for spousal status and, upon doing a background check and like one piece of paper versus the piles he'd been trying to do, it was granted.  We did bring stuff they didn't ask for..... Like proof we'd owned a home jointly for so long, joint bank accounts.  They knew we were very recently married but had a long time commitment.

All of this boils down to, perhaps you should simply tell both sets of parents that nothing has changed in your relationship.  You're getting married so that you can sort out the insurance issue. 

kudeebee

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #57 on: July 17, 2016, 02:32:31 AM »
Quote
That more of reflects how we feel. They're doing us a favor by coming.

But the fact that you're even asking them to come to be witnesses for the marriage turns this into an important life event.

I can see where someone might think that if you were truly just filing legal paperwork as a formality for the insurance, you'd use someone in the county clerk's office as a witness. And there wouldn't be any need to have a lunch to thank people--it would just be the paperwork.

Asking a friend from out of town to witness it, and waiting until he can be here, changes this quite a bit, and I can see why the parents would find some confusion here.

I agree with this--and gellcom's and toots' latest post--wholeheartedly.  I think this is what is confusing for your partner's parents.  You say you are just changing your legal status so partner can be on your insurance, but your actions indicate otherwise, especially to his parents.

You could go to the courthouse and ask any one of your friends to go with you and be your witness or if it is allowed, use someone who is at the courthouse already.  Then go back to work and go on with your day.  This is what you would do if it is truly just about the paperwork.  But you are choosing to have two people that are important to you there as your witnesses; waiting for one to get there and planning the date around when this person is in town.  Then you are going out to eat afterwards.

As a parent, this would send me the message that this ceremony is important to you and if you are so willing to put it off until one of the witnesses is in town, then why can't you wait until your partner's parents can be there?  Are they not as important as the friends?

It is already done now, but it probably would have been better to have gotten married and then called both sets of parents and told them.  "Just wanted to let you know that we went to the courthouse and got legally married on xxx date so Partner could be on Celany's health insurance. It is just a change in our legal status. Doesn't really change anything in our relationship or about the way we feel about marriage other than we will now be making decisions for each other if anything happens to one of us." 

In fact, you could modify this (use "we will be going" instead of "we went", "getting" instead of "got") and send it to them or have partner tell them this over the phone.  I agree with another poster for partner to say it one more time and then be done with it. You can talk until you are blue in the face and you won't convince them or change anything.

sammycat

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #58 on: July 17, 2016, 02:53:26 AM »
Quote
That more of reflects how we feel. They're doing us a favor by coming.

But the fact that you're even asking them to come to be witnesses for the marriage turns this into an important life event.

I can see where someone might think that if you were truly just filing legal paperwork as a formality for the insurance, you'd use someone in the county clerk's office as a witness. And there wouldn't be any need to have a lunch to thank people--it would just be the paperwork.

Asking a friend from out of town to witness it, and waiting until he can be here, changes this quite a bit, and I can see why the parents would find some confusion here.

I agree with this--and gellcom's and toots' latest post--wholeheartedly.  I think this is what is confusing for your partner's parents.  You say you are just changing your legal status so partner can be on your insurance, but your actions indicate otherwise, especially to his parents.

You could go to the courthouse and ask any one of your friends to go with you and be your witness or if it is allowed, use someone who is at the courthouse already.  Then go back to work and go on with your day.  This is what you would do if it is truly just about the paperwork.  But you are choosing to have two people that are important to you there as your witnesses; waiting for one to get there and planning the date around when this person is in town.  Then you are going out to eat afterwards.

As a parent, this would send me the message that this ceremony is important to you and if you are so willing to put it off until one of the witnesses is in town, then why can't you wait until your partner's parents can be there?  Are they not as important as the friends?

It is already done now, but it probably would have been better to have gotten married and then called both sets of parents and told them.  "Just wanted to let you know that we went to the courthouse and got legally married on xxx date so Partner could be on Celany's health insurance. It is just a change in our legal status. Doesn't really change anything in our relationship or about the way we feel about marriage other than we will now be making decisions for each other if anything happens to one of us." 

In fact, you could modify this (use "we will be going" instead of "we went", "getting" instead of "got") and send it to them or have partner tell them this over the phone.  I agree with another poster for partner to say it one more time and then be done with it. You can talk until you are blue in the face and you won't convince them or change anything.

Pod.


RainyDays

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Re: "The wedding is for the family, not the couple" (longish)
« Reply #59 on: July 17, 2016, 08:35:54 AM »
Quote
That more of reflects how we feel. They're doing us a favor by coming.

But the fact that you're even asking them to come to be witnesses for the marriage turns this into an important life event.

I can see where someone might think that if you were truly just filing legal paperwork as a formality for the insurance, you'd use someone in the county clerk's office as a witness. And there wouldn't be any need to have a lunch to thank people--it would just be the paperwork.

Asking a friend from out of town to witness it, and waiting until he can be here, changes this quite a bit, and I can see why the parents would find some confusion here.

I agree with this--and gellcom's and toots' latest post--wholeheartedly.  I think this is what is confusing for your partner's parents.  You say you are just changing your legal status so partner can be on your insurance, but your actions indicate otherwise, especially to his parents.

You could go to the courthouse and ask any one of your friends to go with you and be your witness or if it is allowed, use someone who is at the courthouse already.  Then go back to work and go on with your day.  This is what you would do if it is truly just about the paperwork.  But you are choosing to have two people that are important to you there as your witnesses; waiting for one to get there and planning the date around when this person is in town.  Then you are going out to eat afterwards.

As a parent, this would send me the message that this ceremony is important to you and if you are so willing to put it off until one of the witnesses is in town, then why can't you wait until your partner's parents can be there?  Are they not as important as the friends?

It is already done now, but it probably would have been better to have gotten married and then called both sets of parents and told them.  "Just wanted to let you know that we went to the courthouse and got legally married on xxx date so Partner could be on Celany's health insurance. It is just a change in our legal status. Doesn't really change anything in our relationship or about the way we feel about marriage other than we will now be making decisions for each other if anything happens to one of us." 

In fact, you could modify this (use "we will be going" instead of "we went", "getting" instead of "got") and send it to them or have partner tell them this over the phone.  I agree with another poster for partner to say it one more time and then be done with it. You can talk until you are blue in the face and you won't convince them or change anything.

Pod.

Another POD.

DH and I eloped. It was a big deal to us, but no one important was invited. I had always wanted an outdoor wedding, so rather than a courthouse, we asked a co-worker of his to be the officiant (we were friends, but not close friends by any definition). We went all out, white dress and tux, and so hired a photographer, who signed the paper as our witness (we only needed one). I literally met her that day when I got to the "wedding" site.

Parents were a little disappointed, but the lack of literally anyone we were close to allowed them to not feel left out.

You are implying, by your actions, that it is an important moment. And I can see how that could be hurtful to parents who would want to be involved. Of course you can do whatever you want to do. But I think you should at least acknowledge the inconsistency, if only in your own mind.