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Elopement: handling emotions and wording invitations

A destination wedding or elopement should come with a caveat saying something along the lines of ‘can cause serious irritation among close family and friends’. Why? Because, however great you handle things, there will always be one person that’s hurt because they didn’t make the ten-person guest list for your wedding on a remote Indonesian island. Or another person that’ll be angry because they’re only finding out about your marriage now…after it’s happened.

So, focusing specifically on elopements, how do you handle the backlash of emotions that come with this territory? And how do you word the invitations to a post-elopement celebration?

Reassure people that your elopement wasn’t because you didn’t want them there

A lot of the time, people’s hurt and anger stems from not knowing the reasoning behind something. So before you send out your post-elopement reception invites, make sure you have a chat with your close friends and family about why you and your partner chose to elope.

Be sure to emphasise that it was a big-picture decision, not a we-didn’t-want-you-there decision. And the sooner they know why, the quicker they’ll be able to process the information and deal with it before the celebration. They might not like your decision, but at least sharing your point of view will allow them to lump it.

Bad Choice Versus Good Choice

If you’re going to share elopement stories, be extra sensitive

Even if you’re not the bragging type, be wary of who you share your tales of elopement with. If people who are still hurt are listening in, they might see it as bragging, which will only add fuel to the fire. So, to avoid the glare of the green-eyed monster and the ‘I wouldn’t have done it like that’ type comments, only share your elopement stories with those that are genuinely interested and genuinely care.

Honeymoon Wedding Couple Travel

Try not to react to emotionally-fuelled comments

In some cases, people will express their anger at the situation through tit-for-tat comments like ‘Why should we bother coming to your post-elopement wedding celebration when you couldn’t be bothered to invite us to your wedding in the first place?

Rather than reacting defensively, accept that emotions can make us say stupid things. Then calmly emphasise that the very reason why you’re throwing a wedding celebration is because they are important to you, and this is an opportunity to celebrate your happy news with your loved ones.

Portrait of Couple Celebrating at Party

Be warm but clear when wording your post-elopement invitations

Although most people will know you eloped, not everyone would’ve got the memo. So make it clear at the top of your invitation, and do it in a way that suits your personalities.

You could get straight to the point with something as simple as ‘We eloped!’ or ‘I Do. Me Too. We Did!’.

You could put a caring slant on things with something like, ‘You were there in our hearts’.

Or you can bring a bit of humour into the mix with a rhyme, like this:

Time moves quickly and so too does life.
It’s no wonder we were so anxious to be husband and wife.
With our days filled with work and our schedules full too,
We decided to do the crazy thing; we ran off to say ‘I do’!

Along with all the details of the occasion (date, time, location, dress code), make sure you also specify that you’re inviting people to your ‘wedding celebration’. The last thing you want is people turning up and expecting to see you walk down the aisle and exchange your vows.

Wedding Invite

And if none of the above works…

There’s no guarantee your loved ones will agree with, or like, your decision. But if they love you, they’ll learn to live with it. And if they block you out altogether, yes it will hurt, but don’t make the same mistake they did and take someone else’s decisions personally. Handle things with grace and accept their decision (like it or lump it).

If you’ve recently eloped and had to handle emotional responses from your family and friends, we want to know. How did you handle those that were hurt, and what did you find most challenging about the whole situation? Share your stories in the comments box below.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.

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