Offbeat Weddings

Family-Only Ceremony, then Elope, then Elopement Party?

Ok, this is super unusual, but I think it's our best and only option. I'm looking for advice, recommendations, ideas for how to word and structure all of this so it works.

Some background: 1) we're easily stressed out; 2) our families on both sides carry a ton of drama and there are people in my family I don't want to vacation with; 3) we have amazing friends who we love to vacation with (as a group of friends, we've all gone to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Boston, New York, and elsewhere together).

Our dilemma: 1) we want to elope in Hawaii; 2) our families support us eloping, but our moms want to be there if we do a destination wedding; 3) our friends support us eloping, but they really want to go to Hawaii with us; 4) if we were to elope in Hawaii alone, I would want to get drunk and dance afterward and this could be embarrassing if it were just me and my fiance; 5) I do not want to walk down an aisle (my father and brother/my only sibling are dead, and walking down the aisle was something we talked about a lot; it would break my heart to walk down an aisle without them by my side).

My proposed solution:

1) We do a religious type of ceremony with family only in my parents' backyard before we leave for Hawaii (this ceremony would be very short and simple, and mainly intended to appease our moms/let them feel like they were a part of our wedding in some way). 

2) The next day we would fly to Hawaii and stay at a resort with all of our friends. 

3) A few days into our friends' vacation, my fiance and I would go down the beach a ways and elope. 

4) After we elope, we do a party-on-the beach with all of our friends to celebrate (music, foods, open bar -- but not a full on reception//more of a party).

I am planning to talk this idea over with our moms in the coming month and see what they think. Then, if they are on board, I will send out Save the Dates that mention a "Elopement Party" and specifically say we are eloping and then having a party on the beach and they're invited to it. This way, people have enough time to plan for a trip to Hawaii if they want to come -- but, it will be clear this is not a destination wedding/traditional wedding reception.

I'm open to everything anyone has to say -- I'm probably the only bride on the planet who came up with exact type of multi-ceremony, destination-elopement-party concoction...

Re: Family-Only Ceremony, then Elope, then Elopement Party?

  • Wait... there is absolutely no reason to have 2 ceremonies. It sounds like you pretty much want a ceremony/reception at home and then to take your friends on your honeymoon to party. Not having some sort of reception after the ceremony is rude. At the very least you need to have cake and punch after. Once you have the first ceremony, you're married. There's no reason to elope and have another one afterward. It's also considered bad etiquette around here and will not get nice responses just to warn you.

    So why not just do the ceremony/reception with family and friends and then take your friends on your honeymoon like it sounds like you want and then you're good?
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  • Sorry, this is confusing, but I think some of you have misunderstood. We just want to elope in Hawaii -- but our friends will be there, so our moms will feel left out. We don't want to have family vacationing with us in Hawaii -- that would stress us out, be more expensive, and turn into a destination wedding (which we don't want). 

    I just want to elope on the beach and then have a party (not a reception) with friends after. 

    We're thinking of doing a little religious ceremony so our moms can feel like they participated and get to see me in my dress.

    Our family and friends are really, really understanding and nice people -- they are not concerned with etiquette, we're too good of friends for that. It was their idea that we do a little ceremony of sorts with our moms so they feel included. But everyone totally supports us eloping.

    That said, I see that it's different to say we're eloping and then joining up with friends for the honeymoon. The thing is, our friends really want to see me in my dress! And I think I'll be in a party mood after eloping.

    Are there other ideas of what we could do with our families to let them feel like they were somehow included without bringing them to Hawaii? 
  • doeydodoeydo Southwestern Ontario member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    If you are eloping, that is fine.  But any phony ceremony back home isn't going to make your parents or anyone else feel like they didn't miss the "real thing".  Just elope and call it a day.
    [Deleted User]southernbelle0915[Deleted User]
  • I think we're going to do a "marriage blessing" ceremony with our families the day before we leave for Hawaii. It'll be spiritual and give our moms a chance to give their blessings. 
  • edited October 2013
    Would skyping your ceremony in Hawaii be an option? Then they can see your actual legal ceremony taking place,
  • Skyping is a really interesting idea. I hadn't thought of that. Thank you! That might be a great compromise -- so they are not totally left out. 
  • thejucheideathejucheidea East Nashville, Tennessee member
    Tenth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    We used Skype for my grandmother, aunt and uncle to watch the ceremony from California (we're in Tennessee) -- they loved it and it worked perfectly. My dad happened to have a hotspot from work, and we used his laptop, and it was great.

  • Well, just thought I'd update y'all in case you were curious what we decided to do or if someone else stumbles upon this some day. 

    We're just going to go ahead and have a small (25-people) destination wedding, but we're going to ask our families to stay at different resorts so it's not too overwhelming for us and to lessen the chances of family drama. They all want to stay at condos anyway to make Hawaii more affordable, so it's coming together all around. 

    I told my mom about the Skyping idea, but she said it wouldn't be the same and it would be really special to her to see me get married, so we're going that route for our moms.
  • EVERYONE knows what elope means we just don't all use exactly how it's found in Merriam Webster.  Thanks to the strict constructionists for reminding everyone of that all the time. 

    Anyway also, whoever said "Not having some sort of reception after the ceremony is rude".....

    really? Its YOUR wedding, nothing you do is rude.  Its YOUR marriage and YOUR wedding and you owe nobody anything and they owe you nothing.  You're already trying like heck to think of a great way to accommodate your mothers' wants while also accommodating those of yours and your friends.

    RUDE??!?!?!?! I think NOT.  Sounds like a good albeit nontraditional way to squeeze everything in.  If it works for you, then do it.  

    My fiancé and i are getting married in Napa and we kind of felt the same way - wanted to have some friends there with us, but our parents wanted to see us get married so we felt bad inviting the friends but leaving the parents at home, and also, if we started inviting parents then it would be more like a formal reception and frankly we couldn't afford a reception in Napa, just a ceremony. So yeah we just took the all or nothing approach and are getting married privately and staying in napa the full with alone. Sometimes when it comes to all the hyped up expectations and whatnot with weddings, if you're left not being sure what to do...just take the keep it simple approach - whatever is simplest even if not ideal....and leave the friends vacation or whatever for a later date. BUT like i said if you can make that work and it gets everyone happy and getting what they want, then great. 
  • Jasmine0601
    It sounds like you settled on something that works well for you. I hope you have a lovely time!
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