How to Include Family in Your Elopement

Deciding how to include family in your elopement, whether they’re present on the day or not, can be an unforeseen item on the planning list.

It can get tricky sometimes, can’t it? Narrowing down the guest list, telling people your plans, hearing objections over some people not being invited…

So let’s talk about it.

Table of Contents:

  1. Can you invite guests to your elopement?
  2. How to include loved ones who are present
  3. How to include loved ones who are not present
  4. Handling objections

Can You Invite Guests to Your Elopement?

Short answer? You can totally invite some guests to your elopement.

It used to be that it was only a “true” elopement if it was just you. But eloping has evolved over the years into more of a state of mind. A “we can get married however we want” mentality that has empowered folks just like you to have the wedding day you actually want.

Personally, I currently cap things at 15 guests. There’s always a wee bit of wiggle room, but I have to set a number somewhere, you know? Otherwise things can very easily stray into “big wedding” territory, and that’s just not where I do my best work. Which you deserve.

As a quick note: I say “family” every so often, as that what most people are searching for. But most of the time, I prefer to say “loved ones” instead. Consider this an all-encompassing discussion about the people in your life.

How to Include Loved Ones Who Are Present

Elopement days don’t always have the same sort of “group activities” as big weddings, so if you want to include your loved ones in the proceedings, here are some ideas:

  1. Have an engagement party. Celebrate your love with the people who care about you.
  2. Get ready with your loved ones on your wedding day. Have breakfast together, get ready together, prep for the day.
  3. Have an elopement ceremony with your guests, then exchange private vows. So many of my couples do this on their elopement days—it’s the perfect way to have both the privacy to share vows for your partner’s ears only and have a wedding ceremony that everyone else can witness.
  4. Have a post-elopement reception. I’ve had a few couples do this. You can either have a private elopement with a reception for guests later in the day, or have a full elopement day to yourselves with a reception weeks or months later.

How to Include Loved Ones Who Are Not Present

Whether you’re eloping alone or have a large group of loved ones not present, here are some ides for including folks not physically with you on your elopement:

  1. Incorporate family heirlooms. Jewelry, timepieces, clothing items…Bringing something along to carry with you (and photograph) can remind you of people not present and make them feel like they’re with you in spirit.
  2. Set out memorial photos or items for lost loved ones.
  3. Phone calls or video chats are a great way to show your loved ones a “sneak peek” at your day.
  4. Ask your loved ones ahead of time to write letters for you. You can read them on your elopement day together.
  5. After your elopement, send people the photos! Most photographers, including me, deliver your elopement images in an online gallery that you can share with anyone you like.
  6. Get albums made, both for you and your loved ones. Having a printed album that tells the story of your elopement is an excellent way to share the experience with anyone who visits. You can also order duplicate albums for whoever you like.

Handling Objections

Here’s the truth of the matter: eloping can be tough for some loved ones to get on board with, whether they’re invited or not. And at the end of the day, it’s your wedding and lifelong memories.

On the other side of it, I totally get not wanted to upset anyone and have that hanging over you. It’s a balance, and it’s not always easy. Take all the time you need to sit with it and process everything.

If you really do want to elope alone or cut down the numbers, and people are giving you grief over it, there are different ways to handle the objections. It’s all going to depend on your own style and relationships.

Sometimes, people are upset because they don’t truly understand your elopement vision. Try explaining how excited you are about your plans, and how much you’re looking forward to everything you have planned. Start there, see if your genuine excitement and joy makes them reconsider their stance.

If someone is really on your case, clear and concise may be the easiest way to go. Let them know you won’t be changing your plans, and that you’d love to include them in one of the ways listed above (or not, you aren’t obligated to be nice to people who are being mean to you).

Again, end of the day, it’s your elopement, not anyone else’s. Your loved ones will understand, and if they don’t, that’s kind of on them, isn’t it? Their feelings aren’t your responsibility, and you absolutely deserve the wedding of your dreams.

If you’re looking for planning help and need an elopement photographer, book a free vibe check with me to see if we’re a good fit! You can reach out via email here.

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