How to convince your parents you want to elope

July 9, 2019

One of the biggest (and scariest) hurdles when it comes to eloping can sometimes be in how to deal with parents.

It seems scary and it is one of the most common reasons why so many couples want to elope but then revert back to a traditional wedding, to appease everyone.

Eloping is perfect for couples who like to have a day more about the experience and less about the show of everything. Elopements are also ideal for couples who are introvert-extrovert, who want taking the time to go out and hang around with their friends but only in short bursts.

However, what can sometimes stop a lot of couples from their dream elopement adventure is the fact that while it may be your dream, parents don’t think it is the dream wedding that parents said envisaged for their children. So the question is how to convince your parents you want to elope.

In this article, I’m going to tell you:

  • Why parents can ‘lash out’ and become hostile when it comes to your wishes to eloping
  • How to get parents on your side, through explaining common mental hurdles
  • An example script, and also how to communicate with them your desires, so they end up respecting your choice but also supporting you and the best way possible.

As an Australian elopement photographer, I’ve spoken to countless couples about the same kind of problem and the problems they face with their parents and trying to get them on their own side.

Why parents don’t like the idea of eloping

So why aren’t parents down with the idea of eloping? As with many parts of the human condition, we seem to have our own expectations of people and parents especially have their personal views and expectations of how they think their children are going to grow up. Many parents will not agree that you want to elope, simply because it isn’t what they originally envisaged for you.

It can be scary when it comes to thinking about why your parents won’t agree that you should elope, but there are reasons for it.

Reason 1: It’s breaking the ‘norm’, and it can shock them

I remember when I showed my conservative white 1950’s parents my first tattoo. My dad absolutely freaked out and told me to get out of the house and he never wants anything to do with me anymore.

They had grown up where it was frowned upon to have a tattoo, and that getting a tattoo means that I am a ruffian and a thug.

It’s simply a shock to the system. It’s disrupting their reality that their ‘sweet little angel’ wants to fly up a mountain and get married with a sick outlook, rather than the traditional church that ‘we did back in our day’.

The times are a changing. Generations bring new trends and ideas with them. However, you have to realise that this happens every generation, and your parents were no different. This is why you’ll see older generations complaining about things like protesting climate change, when back in their day they protested the Vietnam war.

So understanding that their anger and upset is most likely a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that you aren’t fitting their mould of reality, is key to appreciating why they react the way they do.

Reason 2: They feel left out

Another big reason the parents don’t like the idea of eloping is the fact they’re not involved in the ceremony, and that they won’t be there to see everything.

Reason 3: They feel it is ‘disrespecting them’

If you have controlling parents, this may seem a similar phrase to you.

Parents may sometimes be against eloping is that it is seen as ‘rude’ because you aren’t inviting everybody and the kitchen sink.

Well, I’ve got news for you, as it’s all very well having the kitchen sink there, but when you have 40 kitchen sinks that you are inviting ‘not to feel rude’, it’s going to come at the expense of the intimacy of the day, and of your wallet. The bottom line is that it is not rude at all to not want everyone there. It is your day, and you should be able to get married that be how you want, whether that’s on top of the mountain, in the ocean on a floating raft, or even by the side of an active volcano.

To put it bluntly, your parents have had their wedding now it’s your turn to have yours.

So what do we do?

However, as much as it would be straightforward to say this (and I’m not necessarily against this), a family is essential, and so to get them on your side, being tactful can be very helpful. In order to work out how to convince your parents you want to elope, we need a little bit of tact.

Have the adult conversation

One of the most potent ways to get them on your side is simply to have an adult conversation with them about why you want me to elope, why it means a lot to you and why you’ve made that decision.

Parents more often than not also want to feel like they’ve been heard. This means that when it comes down to it, it will be a conversation. Take the time to listen to them and acknowledge what they think. If they say “we think you should have a nice wedding with everyone invited”, let them say that, and then respectfully tell them why that isn’t what you’re looking for.

At the end of the day, your wedding is not your parent’s wedding. They already have their marriage, and that experience was right for them at that time. However, having an adult conversation with them, explaining why eloping is the right decision for you, and why you want to start your married life together with a really personal and intimate ceremony, will save you a lot of stress in the long run. It’s a tough conversation to have, but if your parents genuinely want the best for you, they will be able to respect that you’re both adults and that eloping is what you want.

They will probably freak out and throw a tantrum

Be aware that when you go into this situation and tell them that you want to elope, chances are they will throw a tantrum.

I’m going to be real here; you have to simply accept this and ride the lightning.

The difference is, is that you’ll be in control of the situation and you’ll be setting the grounds, rather than them finding out from someone that you want to elope. If you go to them and make it clear that this is what you want, you’re approaching the sitaution and creating the conversation.

However, at the end of the day, this is your wedding, and your life. I know I’m going to say that a thousand times, but I really do mean it.

You can’t let the day of your dreams be dictated by someone who was in a completely different generation where views, rights, and political climates were incredibly different.

I believe that when you go to someone and treat them like an adult, and say “hey, so we’ve decided to elope to New Zealand”, you’re offering to break bread and come from the more mature place.

If they throw a tantrum, then if they are worth their salt as parents, they will come to accept this and get over it. I know this sounds harsh, but this hard conversation will enable you to really and truly have the day and elopement of your dreams.

You can do it.

A note on adventurous elopements

Another reason why you might all be a good idea for your parents to get involved is purely from the point of view that if you want to hike on your a leg and you won’t be hiking for a few hours chances are Mum and Dad aren’t going to be keep being able to keep up with you both. And the end of the day if you want to go and spend your time hiking up a mountain and saying your vowels on top of a vast plateau, then your parents just simply won’t be able to make it (at least I know mine couldn’t do it!).

A sample conversation script (on how to convince your parents you want to elope)

A simple conversation goes something like this:

“We want to elope because it represents who we are as people. I know that you always want what is best for us, and we’ve decided to elope because we want to have something that reflects us as a couple, and as individuals.

We know that this news might come as a surprise, but we want to assure you that you’re a big part of our lives, and we would love for you to help us with organising our big day.

We also would love to have a private meal with yourselves, so that you can be a part of the next steps of our lives together”.

Why photography will help them and you relive the experience

So now your parents have got the gist that they aren’t coming along, but they still feel a bit left out.

So let’s reassure them so that they get more on your side with everything.

Let’s address their first concern; they won’t be there to see everything, and they will be missing out on this meaningful ceremony.

The great news is that because you’ll be hiring an elopement photographer, you and they are going to be able to experience your big day time and time again, through beautiful and authentic images that they’ll be able to have the rest of their lives. It’s also why so many couples I capture, prefer to have a full day’s coverage of their elopement so that the whole process can be documented, from start to finish.

Photography is the best way to preserve these moments and to share them with everyone who wants to appreciate just what you both experienced. If you want to learn how to convince your parents you want to elope, bring up the photography that you’ll be having on your big day!

Get your parents involved in the research for your day

While having photography from your day is incredible, there are some other ways your parents can help with your big day.

Parents can be great when it comes to doing research for you, from vendors to hotels for you both to stay at during your elopements. These are essential tasks that do need to be researched, so you asking them to do that can mean a lot.

One important note, however, don’t take this as a way for them to dictate what’s going to happen on the day. Rather have them help out in terms of calling up vendors arranging different things and logistically giving you a helping hand.

Here are some key examples of what they can do to help:

  1. See what beautiful experiences there is the area that you could do while you elope.
  2. Lookup cheap flights for your elopement.
  3. Research hotels which may suit yourselves best for your adventure.
  4. Research which vendors may be best suited for the area you’re looking to elope in.

So now your parents have understood where you’re coming from, and they’ve helped get vendors and some other important stuff for your day sorted. Great!

Now really show them how appreciative you are of them by reassuring them that they can be part of the celebrations.

I recommend that you both do something beautiful for your parents after or before your big day. For example, you could take them out for a nice meal to their favourite restaurant, or even treat them with an extraordinary experience which includes all of you so that you all get to spend a bit more time together.

Many couples I work with actually love to throw a mini-party for their family and friends when they get back from their elopement so that everyone can congratulate you both and really enjoy themselves properly with you. Parents are welcome to this, and it yet again creates an atmosphere where you can enjoy yourselves without having to feel obliged to say hi to 120 people on your big day.

In summary

To answer the question of how to convince your parents you want to elope, if you take the time to do the above, then your parents will be a lot less resistant to your ideas of having a person elopement, which focuses more on the experience, and less on the showiness of a traditional big wedding.

So remember to:

  1. First, explain to them what your own reasons are. Talk from the heart.
  2. Second, reassure them that because they are getting an excellent photographer, they will be able to see every critical moment and relive it in beautiful imagery.
  3. Thirdly, tell them that their help in researching different parts of the day would be really appreciated.
  4. Lastly, assure them that you want to do something really great with them so that you can all celebrate your marriage together.

Don’t give in

Weddings and elopements can be a very emotional point of view for a lot of families. It’s easy sometimes to give in just do what your parents thing. So many couples I’ve spoken to wish they’d eloped but simply didn’t because their parents gave them hassle for their choice of just wanting to do in a very personal way.

I don’t think that’s the right thing and I don’t think it’s right that parents ultimately, for lack of a better word, ‘bully’ their children into the traditional way of marriage. This is 2019, and we do things definitely now from where we did with the last generation did. This means that people want to go climbing up mountains and they want to go and spend their money on something a lot more personal rather than spending $10,000 on the specially made set of napkins which don’t really represent them or the experience they want for their wedding.

This can be a tough conversation to have on your parents, but ultimately this is your wedding day, and however, you want to do it is up to you. Don’t sacrifice what you genuinely want to do for your day. If you want to really know the secret to how to convince your parents you want to elope, be real, authentic, and honest.

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