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Author Topic: Including/not offending people when eloping?  (Read 5597 times)

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notexactlybridematerial

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Including/not offending people when eloping?
« on: February 08, 2017, 10:16:32 AM »
Hoping you guys can lend me some of your genius to figure this out. My fiance and I are both expats, and we've decided to elope in the summer. There are a lot of reasons for this, we've been together for many years now, and have been more in love with one another every day since, but we don't like crowds or being the centre of attention so much, we're young and don't have money for non-essentials, and we really don't want other people spending money on us. To that end, we are holding off telling blood relatives until the week before, so they don't feel like they have to buy a plane ticket to see us essentially sign a piece of paper at the town hall.

The issue is, my fiance's family is quite a bit different from us, which makes communication and understanding a bit trickier. (They are more conservative than us, deeply religious, and believe family should live in the same city. We are more on the artistic/agnostic/adventurous side of things.) I am probably the last woman in the world they would have picked for him, hell, I'm the last woman in the world I would pick for him, but he picked me and he is ridiculously stubborn, so here we are.

I know that how we marry is our choice, but I really don't want them to think it is a snub. I'm trying to make some small personalised care packages for them to help them feel included, writing letters to each of them with small treasures and treats, but in general I have no idea how they will react or what the best way would be to break it to them. Any stories/ideas/advice would be greatly greatly appreciated.

TurtleDove

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 10:40:44 AM »

I know that how we marry is our choice, but I really don't want them to think it is a snub.

I don't think you can avoid this. I think your best bet is to be cheerful in your communications and steadfast in your decisions. When/if people are offended is outside your control. I eloped (for my first marriage) and tons of people viewed it as a snub. That was not our intent, and we were of course entitled to do as we pleased, but tons of people did, in fact, view it as a snub. For what it's worth, my sister had a big white wedding that same year and various people believed they had been snubbed by her also (for example, a distant relative in his late 60s was upset that his girlfriend was not invited by name despite the fact he was in the process of a divorce from his wife at the time). There is no way to avoid "offending" people altogether. Just apologize as appropriate, let you know you care about people if you do, and accept that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

gramma dishes

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 10:45:36 AM »
I can't quite figure out from your post if it is your plan to inform them of your intended elopement a week or so ahead of time (when it will be too late to make travel arrangements and buy gifts, etc.) or whether it is your plan to elope first, then send them individual messages telling them the good news after the fact.  Can you please clarify?

Mustard

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2017, 10:55:50 AM »
I'm not sure you can avoid hurting your closest relatives, and I feel it unlikely that a personalised gift from you is going to make up for the fact they missed your wedding.  I think telling your blood relatives that you want a very small wedding is a good idea and but I wouldn't call it an 'elopement'.  Maybe I'd give them more notice and it's then up to them if they want to spend the money to see you 'sign a piece of paper in the town hall'.  Good luck.

ETA: if your fiancÚ's family are as conservative as you say, they may be thrilled you're going to tie the knot!
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 10:58:58 AM by Mustard »

Kaypeep

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 11:01:04 AM »
Start as you intend to go forward.  You are adults and should stand by your decisions.  Starting off by writing letters and sending gifts and treats to your inlaws says you think you did something wrong and owe them something in return to make amends.  Do not start off like this, implying they have some kind of authority over you.    Elope and explain to everyone why you did it.   Their feelings will be hurt and you (or your DH even more so) should explain it was a personal life decision, and acknowledge their hurt and then move on.  Offer to celebrate in person when you can, but don't let them guilt you over a choice you made as an adult about your life.  if they hold a grudge that is on them.  But don't start off thinking you have to make things right with them, or make amends.  You don't.  You have to be polite and respectful, that is all.

SamiHami

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2017, 11:27:13 AM »
You will upset/offend people when you elope. There truly is no way around it. But those feelings are theirs to deal with. You could drop little hints between now and then like, "Oh, yes, I'm sure we will marry eventually. We've been together so long we'll probably just run off and elope when the moment feels right." If they hear a comment like that now and then it won't come as quite a shock to them, at the least.

It's a bad idea to tell them a week in advance. That means you'll have a week of nonstop call, tears, guilt trips and pleas to "just let us come. How could you get married without your faaaaaamily present?" "Your sister/cousin/neighbor/former babysitter/mailman etc. etc. etc. is going to so hurt!" It will be brutal.They will try to tell you that you'll regret eloping forever. Is that how you want to spend the week leading up to your wedding?

Better to wait until afterward, then let them know-and not in a guilty 'uh...well...ummm...we eloped last weekend...." But more of a "Hey guess what! We are MARRIED! We just knew the moment was right, so we went for it. It was so romantic, just the two of us..." Anyone who starts to complain gets to hear, "Oh, I thought you would be happy for us. Besides, what's done is done now. Let's celebrate!" They'll either get on board or pout, but there's nothing you can do to control that.

Just don't ever, ever apologize or hint that you somehow did it "wrong" by not having a BWW. If you do, some of them will pounce on that like a hungry tiger and you will hear about your "big mistake' until the end of your days.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Kaypeep

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2017, 11:46:45 AM »
You will upset/offend people when you elope. There truly is no way around it. But those feelings are theirs to deal with. You could drop little hints between now and then like, "Oh, yes, I'm sure we will marry eventually. We've been together so long we'll probably just run off and elope when the moment feels right." If they hear a comment like that now and then it won't come as quite a shock to them, at the least.

It's a bad idea to tell them a week in advance. That means you'll have a week of nonstop call, tears, guilt trips and pleas to "just let us come. How could you get married without your faaaaaamily present?" "Your sister/cousin/neighbor/former babysitter/mailman etc. etc. etc. is going to so hurt!" It will be brutal.They will try to tell you that you'll regret eloping forever. Is that how you want to spend the week leading up to your wedding?

Better to wait until afterward, then let them know-and not in a guilty 'uh...well...ummm...we eloped last weekend...." But more of a "Hey guess what! We are MARRIED! We just knew the moment was right, so we went for it. It was so romantic, just the two of us..." Anyone who starts to complain gets to hear, "Oh, I thought you would be happy for us. Besides, what's done is done now. Let's celebrate!" They'll either get on board or pout, but there's nothing you can do to control that.

Just don't ever, ever apologize or hint that you somehow did it "wrong" by not having a BWW. If you do, some of them will pounce on that like a hungry tiger and you will hear about your "big mistake' until the end of your days.


I totally agree!!

Hmmmmm

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2017, 11:53:33 AM »
Start as you intend to go forward.  You are adults and should stand by your decisions.  Starting off by writing letters and sending gifts and treats to your inlaws says you think you did something wrong and owe them something in return to make amends.  Do not start off like this, implying they have some kind of authority over you.    Elope and explain to everyone why you did it.   Their feelings will be hurt and you (or your DH even more so) should explain it was a personal life decision, and acknowledge their hurt and then move on.  Offer to celebrate in person when you can, but don't let them guilt you over a choice you made as an adult about your life.  if they hold a grudge that is on them.  But don't start off thinking you have to make things right with them, or make amends.  You don't.  You have to be polite and respectful, that is all.

I'm a big proponent of "start as you intend to go" too. But I have a different take on this. I don't think trying to do something to make the family feel included implies you are apologizing for your choices. To me it says "we love you and want to have a great relationship with you". (But I'm assuming that is a true statement in your case)

You and your fiancÚ should not change the style of wedding you want. You should not feel you owe anything to his family or to yours. But I do think giving them some way to celebrate your union is a nice and gracious gesture.

Would you be open to a small celebration with his family during your next visit to their city/country? If so, then I'd recommend your fiancÚ speak with his family and let them know the two of you plan a civil ceremony only during the next few months. But you plan to travel to their city in X month and would like to have a celebration with the immediate family at that time. You could even give specifics of what your ideas of the celebration would be and limitation of the guest list.

And maybe on the day of the wedding, you and your fiancÚ send photos to them. And a bouquet of flowers to your moms to arrive on the morning of your wedding doesn't hurt either.

Congrats.

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2017, 12:17:15 PM »
Start as you intend to go forward.  You are adults and should stand by your decisions.  Starting off by writing letters and sending gifts and treats to your inlaws says you think you did something wrong and owe them something in return to make amends.  Do not start off like this, implying they have some kind of authority over you.    Elope and explain to everyone why you did it.   Their feelings will be hurt and you (or your DH even more so) should explain it was a personal life decision, and acknowledge their hurt and then move on.  Offer to celebrate in person when you can, but don't let them guilt you over a choice you made as an adult about your life.  if they hold a grudge that is on them.  But don't start off thinking you have to make things right with them, or make amends.  You don't.  You have to be polite and respectful, that is all.

I'm a big proponent of "start as you intend to go" too. But I have a different take on this. I don't think trying to do something to make the family feel included implies you are apologizing for your choices. To me it says "we love you and want to have a great relationship with you". (But I'm assuming that is a true statement in your case)

You and your fiancÚ should not change the style of wedding you want. You should not feel you owe anything to his family or to yours. But I do think giving them some way to celebrate your union is a nice and gracious gesture.

Would you be open to a small celebration with his family during your next visit to their city/country? If so, then I'd recommend your fiancÚ speak with his family and let them know the two of you plan a civil ceremony only during the next few months. But you plan to travel to their city in X month and would like to have a celebration with the immediate family at that time. You could even give specifics of what your ideas of the celebration would be and limitation of the guest list.

And maybe on the day of the wedding, you and your fiancÚ send photos to them. And a bouquet of flowers to your moms to arrive on the morning of your wedding doesn't hurt either.

Congrats.

This is what I was thinking also.  Hmmmmm worded it well.

gramma dishes

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2017, 12:58:38 PM »

...  Better to wait until afterward, then let them know-and not in a guilty 'uh...well...ummm...we eloped last weekend...." But more of a "Hey guess what! We are MARRIED! We just knew the moment was right, so we went for it. It was so romantic, just the two of us..." Anyone who starts to complain gets to hear, "Oh, I thought you would be happy for us. Besides, what's done is done now. Let's celebrate!" They'll either get on board or pout, but there's nothing you can do to control that.

Just don't ever, ever apologize or hint that you somehow did it "wrong" by not having a BWW. If you do, some of them will pounce on that like a hungry tiger and you will hear about your "big mistake' until the end of your days.

This is terrific advice!

Harriet Jones

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 01:31:36 PM »
I would wait until afterwards to tell them, also.  My BIL told his mother a week before the elopement and she made last minute travel arrangements to be there!

You may not be able to keep from hurting people's feelings, but I think putting a positive spin on it is a good idea.

Deetee

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2017, 01:34:28 PM »
Three things

1) It is absolutely you and your fiance's choice how and when to get married. 100%.
2) There is no way that the families will not see it as snub. It is a snub. People usually plan to have their family when they get married and not including them can be very hurtful.  It is (in my mind) not a terrible snub. I mean, my dad did it to me and I was a combination of a bit hurt and a little relieved. I did not have time or money to travel to see them so it was good that way, but I did recognise that I was excluded from that event. However, we have a good relationship and I strongly believe that ppl can celebrate however they wish. But I can easily see how it would hurt under different circumstances.
3) Communication should not be from you but from your fiance. Otherwise they will very much want to blame you for this decision.

Finally, if you want, they may be mollified if they are allowed to host a party to celebrate your wedding. But that's up to you. Do decide beforehand if that is OK with you.

gellchom

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2017, 02:08:37 PM »

I'm a big proponent of "start as you intend to go" too. But I have a different take on this. I don't think trying to do something to make the family feel included implies you are apologizing for your choices. To me it says "we love you and want to have a great relationship with you". (But I'm assuming that is a true statement in your case)

You and your fiancÚ should not change the style of wedding you want. You should not feel you owe anything to his family or to yours. But I do think giving them some way to celebrate your union is a nice and gracious gesture.

Would you be open to a small celebration with his family during your next visit to their city/country? If so, then I'd recommend your fiancÚ speak with his family and let them know the two of you plan a civil ceremony only during the next few months. But you plan to travel to their city in X month and would like to have a celebration with the immediate family at that time. You could even give specifics of what your ideas of the celebration would be and limitation of the guest list.

And maybe on the day of the wedding, you and your fiancÚ send photos to them. And a bouquet of flowers to your moms to arrive on the morning of your wedding doesn't hurt either.

Congrats.

This is what I was thinking also.  Hmmmmm worded it well.

This is how I see it, too.  "Start as you intend to go," yes, but perhaps they way you intend to go also means caring about other people's feelings and trying to care for them -- even as you do exactly what suits you.

I think either an elopement -- a real one, where you tell people only after you marry -- or a private or very tiny wedding are both fine.  What I think would be a mistake would be inviting or quasi-inviting them to join you, but just giving a week's notice.  I get it that the reasoning was to leave no time for them to try to change your minds.  But I think it will backfire.

I like the idea of eloping and sending flowers to your parents telling them.  It would also be fine to have a very tiny, immediate family only or parents only and perhaps a couple of best friends and maybe grandparents -- whatever suits you.  But give people more than a week; that's just considerate, especially if they have to travel.  Or tell them a few days before that the two of you are going to have a private wedding.  (If you can stand it, let them give some kind of party to celebrate later with family and friends, if they like.)  Any of these will work -- but what is crucial is how you communicate it.

If anyone tries to push you to have a bigger wedding or change any of your plans, do stand your ground, but be nice about it.  It's not about winning a battle or drawing lifelong lines or power relationships.  Ideally, you want to do exactly what suits you and make everyone feel valued and loved.

And you can do it.  The trick is to think about what it is they are feeling, acknowledge that, give them some reassurance, and thank them for helping you to have your wedding the way you want.  (I just realized what an unfortunate acronym that makes ...) 

Resist the temptation to try to avoid hurt feelings by minimizing your wedding as "see[ing] us essentially sign a piece of paper at the town hall."  It's a common mistake, and it's easy to see why we reach for it: "Heck, I'm not excluding anyone from anything important; it's just paperwork."  But you know it's more than that.  Your wedding isn't important to them because they want flowers and cake; it's because it's the beginning of your marriage.  That's exactly as important to those who love you whether it's in a government office or in a cathedral or a fabulous ballroom.  You know that.  Don't inadvertently insult them by implying otherwise -- that they'd only care about seeing you married if they get a fancy party out of it.

More important, it's implying that their presence at this big moment isn't important to you.  That's the real problem.  You won't be able to avoid their being disappointed -- and if you think about it, aren't you glad that they do care? -- but you can absolutely avoid it being hurtful and problematic.

My brother and I are very close (he is the best).  He and his husband lived together as married for many years and were considered by the whole family as such.  When the laws changed and they could get married legally, one day I got a surprise text with a photo of the two of them smiling at City Hall.  They had gone with one other couple and were each other's witnesses.  They had told our mom the night before, and she offered to jump on a plane, but they asked her not to.  Of course we were all disappointed -- we would have loved to be at and for that matter host whatever kind of wedding they wanted.  But as close as my brother and I are, I wasn't hurt or upset -- no one was.  He made it clear that this was what suited them, which we completely understood, not that they don't love us or think we are unimportant in their lives.

So that's all you need to do, too.  Make your choice, (1) tiny wedding with sufficient notice to those you do invite, (2) private wedding just the two of you with notice to them before, or (3) elopement (just you two but no notice before).  Then communicate it in a way that makes everyone feel valued and loved.  You don't have to defend your choices, but you don't have to make it a battle, either.

For example, let's say you choose option (1) above, and you decide to invite parents and siblings only.  You call or write with ample notice.  Mom calls and asks you please to let her make a BWW/asks you to invite Uncle Herb and Aunt Lurlene/suggests you come to her city/something else.  Don't say, "Mom, it's no big deal, it's just paperwork" or "It's our wedding!  Don't tell me what to do!" (either of which is likely not only to engender hurt feelings but also to raise doubts about whether you are mature enough to marry).  Say, "Mom, I hear you; I know it's a disappointment and you'd love to have a big wedding/invite the family/whatever.  You know we love the family.  We truly are sorry that it disappoints anyone, and I hope that Uncle Herb won't give you a hard time.  But this is what suits Cuthbert and me, and it's what we've decided to do.  I know that, even though it's not what you would have preferred, I can count on you to understand and to support us.  You always have."

Start your marriage off by making your own decisions, yes, but also with maturity and kindness.  You'll never regret it.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 09:56:58 PM by gellchom »

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2017, 04:17:39 PM »
Say, "Mom, I hear you; I know it's a disappointment and you'd love to have a big wedding/invite the family/whatever.  You know we love the family.  We truly are sorry that it disappoints anyone, and I hope that Uncle Herb won't give you a hard time.  But this is what suits Cuthbert and me, and it's what we've decided to do.  I know that, even though it's not what you would have preferred, I can count on you to understand and to support us.  You always have."

Start your marriage off by making your own decisions, yes, but also with maturity and kindness.  You'll never regret it.

  *** Winner ***

artk2002

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Re: Including/not offending people when eloping?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2017, 06:22:04 PM »
Good luck, and congratulations!

Please understand that weddings are not just about the couple. They're about community and by cutting the community (for example, family) out, you're going to offend people. There's no way around that. You have to decide whether the potential for offense is greater than your desire to stay out of the limelight or not. You will be depriving people of the opportunity to participate in a major community event and that's going to hurt. How badly and for how long? Only you know your families and friends well enough to figure that out.

Edit: The truth is, you could have a major blow-out and still offend people. Weddings and babies bring out the It Must Be This Way in people, in spades. They all will have opinions and whatever you do will go against what someone thinks is right.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 06:24:18 PM by artk2002 »
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.