“Do We Have To Invite Family to Our Elopement?”

It’s Wedding Week on Dear Wendy! This week will be chock-full of wedding columns, gift guides, listicles, dollar dances and an open bar. If you love wedding content, this is your lucky week. If you hate wedding content, this is your lucky week because open bar. But just kidding about the open bar.


I wrote to you a while ago asking for advice about my boyfriend who hates kissing. The update on that is that we are now happy and content in our relationship…and engaged! And yes, he kisses me all the time now.

I know I’ll catch a bit of heat for this, but we’ve been engaged for two years now (I know, I know… just get married already!). We’ve faced some roadblocks and financial strains, but we’re finally at a point where we can have the wedding we want… which is to say, a Vegas elopement! I’ve never, ever wanted a big wedding (especially seeing all the stress and drama my sister’s 200+ guest list wedding this summer has created), and I like doing things a bit differently. He had always wanted to get married in Vegas but figured he’d never be engaged to someone who would agree to go along with it. This would also double as a vacation for us as in four years we’ve never had a vacation together and just had time to relax.

Now for the question: when we first got engaged and told everyone of our Vegas elopement plans, of course everyone asked if they could join us. My dad was especially eager to be there as we’re really close and he’s an Elvis fan (yup, getting married by Elvis too). Now I wouldn’t mind having my dad there at all. I know he would be happy seeing the ceremony, maybe going out for a celebratory dinner with us, then going his own way to golf. The problem is that, if I invite my dad, I’ll have to invite my mom (they’re divorced) who would, of course, bring her husband, whom I’m friendly with but have had problems with in the past and whom I’m not particularly close to (and I can think of about 100 other people I’d rather have in my wedding pictures over my mom’s husband, but asking him not to be in any would be rude). Then, of course, we’d have to invite my fiancé’s family, probably my grandparents, my sister and her fiancé… and it just snowballs until we have 20 people joining us.

I’ve told my dad that this is what I’m worried about and he said that I could just invite him, we don’t have to tell anyone, and he’ll be discreet. (He’s half joking, but I really think he figures this plan could work). What should I do? Invite no one? Only invite my dad (secretly)? Invite 20 people and probably say goodbye to what we’d hoped would be a vacation? — Vegas Bride

No, absolutely do NOT invite your dad in secret. You know very well that’s a secret that won’t be kept forever, and at some point — either before your wedding or after — your loved ones — your mother, your sister, your in-laws — are going to get their feelings hurt that they weren’t invited to your wedding when your father was. I know this is where I’m supposed to tell you to just go elope if that’s what you and your fiancé both want, but I get the feeling that maybe what you want more than a private elopement is a vacation… and to avoid the kind of stress you attribute to large, traditional weddings.

But here are two things to keep in mind: eloping won’t necessarily save you wedding stress and drama. In some cases it can create even more stress if for no other reason you have to justify your decision over and over while dealing with hurt feelings of close family members who feel slighted. As for a vacation, you can still have a wedding and a vacation — otherwise known as a “honeymoon” — though it may not be exactly how you’ve imagined it.

I have a couple of suggestions: have a small wedding where you live and invite family only (yes, even your stepfather) and then honeymoon in Vegas afterward (you can even do a chapel wedding for fun; who says you can’t have two weddings?); have a private elopement in Vegas — just the two of you! — followed by a small reception for close family where you share photos.

If you go the first route and decide to have a small wedding, inviting the 20 or so people you feel obligated to include — don’t worry too much about photos. You’ll get lots of photos, and just because your stepfather will be in some — because, yes, it would be rude to ask him to not be in any — doesn’t mean you have to order a lot of prints of those — just order a few for him and your mom — or display them or include them in an album. I mean, really. If including your stepfather in a few wedding shots is seriously a reason you want to elope, then you’re being overly dramatic. Unless you’ve left out some pertinent information about the guy like he cheated on your mother with her sister or took a photo of you climbing out of the shower when you were 16 or something awful like that.

If you decide to elope because it’s really, truly what you want, then stick to your guns and keep it a true elopement and don’t invite anyone. Sure, some people will probably still be disappointed to miss your actual wedding, but they won’t be as hurt wondering why you allowed your father to attend but not them. If no one is invited, then everyone is excluded, and, if EVERYONE is excluded, then you really can’t call it an “exclusion” at all. Invite one person, though, and then it is. And that’s when shit hits the fan.

Finally, I have one more suggestion: if you do elope, why not do it totally in secret (which is, technically, the definition of elopement). Just pick a weekend, don’t tell anyone, go off and tie the knot. No one will be able to try to talk you out of doing it the way you want to because no one will know you’re doing it. And when you come home, you can throw a small party if you want. Or not. Who cares. It will already be done! And you will have had the nice, quiet wedding you want and the drama-free vacation for just the two of you.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Genius ideas from Wendy and I wish I had written this question back in December when I got engaged. I couldn’t talk my fiancee into an elopement so it’s just as well.

    I think these are great suggestions. Just be careful if you do the at-home reception thing. You will need to be strict about a small guest list. Otherwise, because they are casual, everyone you know will think they should be able to come. And suddenly it’s large and costly and you are back to many of the same large-wedding problems you wanted to avoid.

  2. Maybe my dislike of my mom’s third husband was overdramatic, but I cannot STAND that man, and no freaking way would I have wanted him in any of my wedding pictures. Not that this would make me want to elope, but I can definitely understand not wanting him in wedding pictures or even at the wedding. (And fwiw they’re divorced now.)

    1. LW here…

      I just want to quickly clarify the ‘mom’s husband in the pictures’ thing. I don’t hate the guy, nor do I really like him, so I guess you could say I’m just sort of ambivalent towards him. He’s done/said some things in the past that have really made me distance myself from him, but I’ve always smoothed things over with him for my mom’s sake). My thing with the pictures was more so the thought of if we invited parents ONLY, I’d have pictures with my dad, my mom and her husband, and my fiance’s parents. And I guess my thought was I’d much rather my have my grandparents, sister, best friends, etc. in my wedding pictures before him. I certainly wouldn’t refuse to be in pictures with him, ever, and wouldn’t hate pictures in which he’s in… it would more so just make me disappointed to look back at pictures of my wedding day and see that HE was them instead of someone I love, like my sister or BFF. (I hope that makes sense, it was kind of rambly and confusing, I just didn’t want anyone thinking I was a spoiled brat throwing a tantrum over a few pictures, ha ha).

      1. Makes total sense. I would feel the same way.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I cringe at the thought of my stepdad being in my wedding picture too. Ugh. That’s life though with stepparents, I guess.

      3. right, but say you have tons of pics, you can just not choose to put the ones he is in in your album. not a big deal at all.

      4. SpaceySteph says:

        I do think its fair to take a couple shots with your mom and him in the picture, but also ask him to step out and just have a few pictures with your dad and mom. Or just your dad, or just your mom.
        In wedding pictures you usually go through every iteration of people just to make sure you get all your shots.
        Just tell your photographer in advance- I want a couple pictures of just me and my mom without her husband, and the photographer can tell him to step out as shes ordering people around. He might argue with you, but not with a professional photographer…. in fact, people might not even guess that you were behind it, but that its just one of many shots the photographer takes.

      5. SpaceySteph is EXACTLY right. Tell your photographer IN ADVANCE what you want to do. They are more than happy to direct people in and out of shots and to make it seem like it’s their idea. My husband does this all the time for brides who don’t want to seem like the bad guy for wanting certain photos.

      6. GatorGirl says:

        We’re making a list with all the combo’s so someone can just read it out loud (either of our two photogs). And that way we don’t forget any combo’s.

      7. My husband has started to take me to weddings to be his assistant to do just that. I stand there and say “Ok, next we have bride, Mom, Dad and Brother”.

      8. You need to think of him as your mom’s bad hairdo or horrid tattoo. He’s just part of the “mom package.” He is not a unit in and of himself.

  3. Something Random says:

    WWS. And yay for wedding week.

  4. I think Wendy gives great advice here. The bride here has some options to consider, all of which are viable. Sadly, I agree with Wendy that it’s probably not a good idea to invite just her dad, even though I can tell that’s what she really wants. Ultimately, when you get married, it should be about you and your fiance and what you want. Part of the reason to elope is to avoid unnecessary drama, and it seems like with weddings, even elopements, the drama unnecessarily follows.

    It seems like here, the bride isn’t going to get what she wants because she’s worried about offending family members. I think it’s best if they get married with just the two of them, and then have some sort of celebration where they invite others afterwards.

  5. Yeah, you probably shouldn’t have told anyone your plans. I have a feeling you’re not gonna want to do the small wedding at home thing(?) so I’d just stick to the original plan. Your dad will be disappointed, but maybe offer to do a Vegas trip with him some other time? I don’t know. Or, sure, invite him in secret. Pretend he had business there at the same exact time you decided to get married or something (this is probably bad advice, but oh well).

    What I really want to know is what happened to the LW that Wendy linked to—that letter bothers me to this day.

    1. Wow! When Wendy made the call for updates I thought mine was far too boring for anyone to care what had happened, ha ha.

      To be honest, we’ve had a rocky relationship (serious illness, bouts of long distance, job loss, moving, etc) and probably jumped into things more quickly than we should have as he was still processing things from previous long term relationships. I really think that as a result of the aforementioned issues, he didn’t necessarily feel as close of an emotional connection to me and that manifested itself in him really holding back his affections (and the ‘kissing feels so high school’ thing was just a convenient excuse). Once we moved and things settled down (my illness under control, him getting a great job, enough time and reflection to get past his old issues) he really opened himself up and along with that came more kissing and just overall a closer connection. I didn’t have to nag at him about it – it just came naturally as we became more settled with each other and our lives. And i’m so happy because it really adds what I needed to our relationship!

      1. Oh shit, I actually meant the link within her response (the boyfriend who took a pic of the LW’s daughter). That letter bothered me so much (but I do still care about your update!! We love updates here 😉 Haha)

      2. ha ha, THAT makes more sense! I was wondering why my kissing adverse boyfriend would have been stuck in your mind for so long!

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Loving that you keep commenting! Wish all the LWs would do that. Are you a regular commenter under a different name right now? Or just the best LW ever?

      4. Well, I’ll go with best LW ever because that sounds better than what I was originally going to say, which was super lurker!

  6. Secret elopement. Do it. Just you two.

    1. I concur.

      They opened pandora’s box but telling everyone they were eloping. So, of course, people will want to be there.

      I would either elope without telling anyone or invite close, i.e., immediate family ONLY, to the vegas wedding. You can still make it a vacation with the two of you by telling everyone else what time and what church the ceremony is at and then they are on their own.

      1. and, if they just do it in secret, the family really cant even be that mad/surprised, because they already told them what they were doing! lol

  7. yep, all or nothing route is the way to go.

    LW, i did a wedding cake for a bride who did a modified elopement wedding thing, and i thought it was a great idea: she got married in vegas, like you want to. just the bride and groom were in attendance, i think they went for a long weekend. they did that sometime in the spring, and then sometime in the summer they had a small party, very low key, just a large-ish room that was a part of a mexican restaurant and the mexican place did a buffet. the grooms father (or a friend or something) was in a band, so they played some music. i did the cake. they didnt do any first dance/bouquet toss/garter/whatever traditions- although i think they did cut the cake. then, in the winter, they took their honeymoon to hawaii. so, they spread everything out, basically, which i thought was GENIUS. private elopement, small, low-stress party, AND a honeymoon, and they pretty much got to stretch all the fun for a whole year. so, maybe that is something you could look into.

    now, something i will tell you, is that when this couple made the decision to do the private ceremony, their parents were *kind of* upset. not totally, not super upset, but kind of. and the brides mother (who is my friend) said that she was only ok with it because, just like wendy said, EVERYONE was excluded. she said that if the groom’s parents got to go to vegas, she would have been very upset and hurt. but because no one got to go, it was just a bride and groom thing, she was ok with that and could accept that as the couples choice. so, it really is all or nothing. thats the only way you can go about this. now, there still are like, limitless options here. go get eloped and then have a little party back home, like my friend did. or, go to vegas and get eloped and be alone for like, 4 days, and then invite your family out to celebrate the rest of the week with you. or, do it opposite, where you spend like 4 days with your families there, get married, and then the families leave and you are left in vegas alone for a kind of honeymoon. or, invite your family to your elopement (although i dont think you want to). or, like, wendy said, just do it without anyone knowing. or, go get eloped in vegas, and then fly directly to some other location where your family will be waiting to celebrate. or, elope in vegas, and then fly directly home and let your mothers plan a party for you! there are a lot of ways to go about it, but when you start inviting people, you really do have to go with all or nothing.

  8. Avatar photo theattack says:

    Wedding week right when I get back to DW from my honeymoon. This should be interesting (and a great time to tell everyone about everything, because yay!). I missed you all, and I’m going to need someone to make an outline of everything I missed, thanks!

    In case anyone wondered, it rained the whole day of our wedding, and it was even more awesome that way. I loved it! The wedding was perfect, and we’ve had about 15 people tell us it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to. I don’t know if they’re lying, but I’m going to assume they’re not and be happy about it. Also my husband came back from the honeymoon in excruciating pain that turned out to be a hernia so we spent our first day home together in the ER. We’re really glad that’s all it was, but I feel so bad for him.

    Okay now to the LW:
    I know we’re supposed to be accepting of what everyone wants to do with their own weddings, but I don’t see the big deal in inviting your family. It’s probably unlikely that they’ll all fly to Vegas, especially if it’s short notice. When your step-dad comes it’s not really going to matter. You will end up just as married if he’s there or if he’s not, but you might end up with less drama from your family. I say that you should just invite your immediate family members casually (no formal invitations or anything) and be done with it.

    1. The rain made it memorable, right? I’m glad everything went well! The pics I saw on FB looked great!! Congrats!

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Thank you! You were definitely right about the rain adding something. I had to redesign a ceremony on the spot the day before, and the whole makeshift arrangement just seemed romantic and fun. Then again the rain calmed down when we had to take photos and right before the ceremony started, so none of us got soaked. It wouldn’t have been as fun if we had.

    2. i stalked all of your pictures through the week. lol.

      the umbrellas were so cute. someone on here suggested that, right? GG? i loved them. and the rain seemed to like, make the light better? is that a thing?

      how was dealing with your mom?

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I think Bethany suggested it, but we loved them! Thanks, Katie! I thought the same thing about the light even though that doesn’t make sense.

        I didn’t have a problem with my mother at all. We had a blast together, and everything was perfect! She did most of the decorations for the wedding, and some of the things she did in secret. It was pretty risky, but I liked all of them (and kind of stopped caring and just wanted to get married), so it all worked out. It ended up being gorgeous, and I had no idea she was doing so much for us until we set it all up.

      2. I’m glad everything went well! I also stalked your pictures, & you looked beautiful 😀

      3. You guys are right about the light. The coulda make for perfect photos. Bright sun creates shadows, washes you out and you squint in most of the pics. My husband loves shooting weddings when it’s overcast.

      4. aw yay! great to hear.

        and i guess anything wedding-related, i just automatically go to GG in my head. haha

      5. Whatever happened with your cousin, the bridesmaid? Did everything go OK with her?

      6. Oh, and your dress was really pretty. 🙂

      7. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Thank you! 😀 My cousin showed up and everything went smoothly there. We had to get her a hotel room in order for her to show up, but she was there so I can’t complain about how it turned out.

    3. Sunshine Brite says:

      Congrats! What did you do for your honeymoon? I bet the wedding was super cute and those guests weren’t lying!

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Thanks! We went to Tybee Island and Savannah, GA. We spent about half the time on the island and half the time in the city. It was a lot of fun!

      2. GatorGirl says:

        Did you go to Moon River?

      3. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yes, we did. We got the best crème brulee cheesecake there! It was so freaking good. I didn’t care for the beer I got though.

      4. I saw Tybee Island on HHI once and i just near died and wanted to live there forever. I really need to explore that area of the country more, it’s amazing!

    4. Lemongrass says:

      Congrats! The pics on fb look really nice!

    5. GatorGirl says:

      The umbrella pictures were super cute!!

    6. Congrats!!! I saw your post below about how happy your MIL was to see you… it’s wonderful that it turned out well for you, but please keep in mind that some of us weren’t so lucky.

      Some of us (ahem, ahem) went out of our way to be inclusive, and ended up with my MIL not speaking to me after the ceremony – NOT SPEAKING TO ME AT ALL DURING THE RECEPTION – and skipping the Sunday brunch. It was awesome and combined with the lack of family attendance at the last minute it was the worst slap in the face. My point being that sometimes trying to extend yourselves for others… can make things worse than just taking care of yourself 😉

  9. LW – I just want to tell you about my husband’s family. So his cousin eloped. They snuck off just the two of them like 5 years ago. There are still very wierd things that come up years later because they didn’t get married in front of family. Like, my grandfather in law just died and each grand child got an inheritance (nothing earth shattering but a very nice surprise). every married couple and great grandchild was named except for the eloped wife. She still wasn’t validated years later. These kind of things happen all the time to them. Like they are still a “fling” or “who knows” because they “turned thier backs” on the family. Just know, it might be less stress for the day but can cause more stress for the next few years.

    1. Wow, that’s stunning to me that just because someone eloped, their marriage is viewed as less valid.

      1. The family looks at it as that the couple “snuck away” and turned thier back on the family. It has been YEARS but this thing still lingers. I just feel like people should know that some families take elopements very personally.

    2. yea, i have a friend who’s family member gets the same kind of shit, only because they didnt get married in a church.

      its pretty crazy. i honestly wouldnt advise someone to not elope because of that, though. that is so much more a reflection of the terrible family members then the couple.

      1. I agree. I have various family members and friends who’ve eloped and no one cared. I think couples just have to gauge their own family’s reactions (or decide not to care).

      2. See, I would say that many brides say “IT’s my day.” but that is not true. It is two families coming together. I think if the family really has strong feelings, then doing a small 20 person wedding can save years of heart ache.

      3. well, thats true, and if you are weighing the no-guest elopement vs. the possibility your family will be offended, i mean thats a real thing that you need to weigh and decide what consequences you are able to handle.

        BUT even if you go the no-guest route, and your family is sad they werent in attendance, that definitely does not mean they should treat you as not married, forget/reject anniversaries, and really just reject the fact that those two people are married. in my opinion, thats where it shifts from understandable that family is mad/sad, to outright just being terrible people. you just cant pretend that two people arent married because your mad you didnt see it. thats ridiculous.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t really see the point in acknowledging an anniversary. Of course I wouldn’t pretend they aren’t married and I’d respect the marriage, but I would not be sending anniversary wishes to someone who did not want me at their wedding.

      5. I’d probably feel that way if I was like personally singled out as the only family member or friend who wasn’t invited, but if someone I knew chose to elope or have a tiny, tiny wedding of immediate family, I wouldn’t hold it against them or treat their anniversary any different than anyone else’s. (As in, just saying “happy anniversary” or something. I guess I don’t do much other than that anyway.)

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        I guess if I saw them, and wasn’t in the immediate family, then I would just say it. Like if it was a co-worker or someone then I would. if it were my dad who didn’t invite me to the wedding, then I would not acknowledge it.

      7. see, or is it terrible to not have your grandparents see you get married? your parents? These people who loved you your whole life and you can’t be bothered with them on the biggest day of your life? Are you an ungrateful child for doing that? Those feelings stick around a long time and can get you kicked out of a will. The LW should think about who she is hurting with eloping.

      8. well, i think there is a big difference between wanting a private ceremony/private vows/private whatever and “cant be bothered with people who loved you your whole life”. just because you go the private route doesnt mean you cant be “bothered” with the people in your life.

        also, not everyone sees weddings as the biggest day of their lives, too.

        overall, people shouldnt make OTHER people’s weddings about them. everyone takes things so personally…

      9. lets_be_honest says:

        I really don’t think its super crazy to feel hurt that you weren’t invited to your child’s or grandchild’s wedding. Do you? Or are you just saying try not to be hurt by it.

        I’m in agreement with csp.

      10. im saying that a couple who wants a private wedding ceremony is not trying to say “fuck you” to their whole family. their want for a private whatever does not equal hatred or a deliberate and calculated attack that was meant to make everyone feel bad.

        like wendy said, if a couple was to only invite one parent, that is intentionally excluding others, and it makes it fairly obvious that the bride and groom didnt want privacy, they just picked and chose who would come. if a couple elopes and does it alone, with or without telling people, like my friend did, that does not speak to any exclusion of anyone. all it means is that the couple wants to be married in private, and they are entitled to that.

      11. lets_be_honest says:

        Ok, but you really wouldn’t feel even the slightest bit hurt that you didn’t get invited to say, your sister’s wedding?

      12. like i said, as long as she was going the private, bride and groom only route, no. actually, i kind of really understand why you would go that route anyway- the thought of saying those really deeply personal things, the vows, in front of people makes me uncomfortable. i totally understand the close-less, the private-ness, the whatever you want to call it, when a couple just wants to be with only each other when they tie their lives together.

      13. I wasn’t at my sister’s wedding (and neither was my mom). I would have liked to be there, but they did a quick courthouse wedding with short notice because my BIL was in the military. I don’t feel hurt or offended.

      14. lets_be_honest says:

        Wow, good for you. I know I would be sad I missed it.

      15. lets_be_honest says:

        @rachel, that previous comment was for katie. I guess I’d be more sad, than hurt.

      16. I mean, I guess at the time I was a little sad I couldn’t be there. But they did what was best for them, and honestly, I’m glad they didn’t go all out to plan a wedding they couldn’t afford just to make the families happy.

      17. I would be hurt if I did not get invited to my daughter’s private wedding, but I would also suck it the hell up. Because honestly, I can totally see her doing this as she is super, seriously, majorly private and personal. This is the child who did not bother to mention to anyone for months that she had her period, bought her own supplies, and got on with life. She is just really fucking private. I would realize (and I have thought about this, we’ve actually discussed it even tho she’s only a teenager!) it wasn’t about me, it was about her and the guy, but it would still sting… but I’d suck it up! I’ve told her flat out I can see her doing it, and she smirks at me with that sideways grin that means “oh mom I am so glad someone on this earth gets me.”

      18. SpaceySteph says:

        I’m with you LBH. I remember my grandmother saying for years that she would never live to see my wedding (she didn’t, died 7 years ago, but my 3 other grandparents did)… I think that’s a major milestone for most grandparents that they want to make it to their granchildren’s wedding.
        So if you decide to take that away from them because you want it private, I can totally see how that is very offensive. Not all families are like this, of course, but I come from a family like that. If I eloped, I wouldn’t have been surprised if my grandfather took my whole (pretty sizable) inheritance away or other such retaliations.

      19. lets_be_honest says:

        See, with an example like this, I just can’t imagine how anyone could call your grandmother selfish for her feelings on this. And what are you supposed to do (pretending your grandma didn’t pass)? Hey granny, its my life and this is what I want. Sorry to crush your lifelong dream, but my wedding ain’t about you.

      20. SpaceySteph says:

        This is exactly how I feel. And I’m not saying you need to throw a huge $50,000 wedding in order for your grandparents to see you get married (in fact you can get married in a small but not private ceremony for like $200, with no reception and those key people will still be glad to be invited). I’m not saying you have to invite all 5 aunts and 20 cousins.

        I’m not even saying that you HAVE to invite your grandparents or parents or anyone… but I am saying that you shouldn’t be surprised if your parents, grandparents, and siblings WANT to witness your wedding and are hurt if you exclude them. You don’t have to take full responsibility for other people’s feelings, but you can’t pretend you didn’t see it coming either.

      21. I think it is one thing not to be invited to a wedding of a coworker, friend, cousin. But your parents? So you can look at a wedding as a day that you made it official with your partner. Or you can look at it as a step in a family legacy. You came to your wedding because your parents and grandparents found each other. That your marriage is bringing two families, cultures, and traditions together. Your love may hopefully bring children that will continue that line. It is so much bigger than the couple involved. It is why Gay Marriage is so important to people.

        Elopements are historically running away from disapproving families. As you get older, you look back at this one day that you are surrounded by the people you love. You are taking away that dream from your parents by doing this. I mean, I promise you, every sleepless night that parents have and every year they watch thier child grow up, they pray to see that child happily get married to someone they love. For every little girl dreaming of her wedding, there is a parent who has dreamed of it since the day that little girl is born. I think when you are young, you are so much more cavalier about how much you mean to the people who love you.

      22. “You are taking away that dream from your parents by doing this”

        again, dont make other people’s decisions about their own lives about you.

        and also, again, not everyone thinks that marriage is this all-encompassing life achievement. its kind of an unhealthy attitude our society holds, actually.

      23. I think you are down playing how much people really love you. Marriage is in every culture and has been for thousands of years. It is as important as family. marriages and families are all different but nonetheless important. If a boyfriend broke up with you or cheated on you then said “this was a decision about my own life and had nothing to do with you,” does that make it hurt less?

      24. actually, if your family members really and truly love you, that means they want you to be happy, and if a private wedding ceremony is what would make you happy, they will be on board with that.

      25. lets_be_honest says:

        Such a good point about the cheating.

      26. lets_be_honest says:

        Sounds as selfish as you can get.

        Its basically saying I don’t give a crap about your feelings, and I’ll do whatever it is that makes me happy no matter what you think (the you being people that have spent their lives taking care of you). F’d up if you ask me. But f’d up or not, its still the definition of selfish.

      27. so then how it is any LESS selfish for the family members to demand to be included, and then if/when they arent, throw fits and refuse to acknowledge marriages? that, actually, is as selfish as it gets- and even worse, because its not about your life. you are, again, taking someones life and making all of THEIR choices about you.

      28. lets_be_honest says:

        They aren’t demanding to be invited. They are simply hurt by not being invited.

        I didn’t say anything about a demand, throwing a fit or refusing to acknowledge a marriage. All I’m saying is it is selfish to exclude your parents/grandparents. You can’t deny that.

        Doing something that makes you happy and thinking about no one else or their feelings is what selfish means.

      29. i mean, if its just that cut and dry for you, sure. i just cant imagine going through life trying to figure out how people were trying to offend me that day with their choices that actually have nothing to do with me.

      30. lets_be_honest says:

        Nice quip. I don’t go through every day trying to figure out how to be offended by people.
        I’m pointing out that doing something, anything that will make you happy and not consider how other people may feel is selfish.
        Fact of the matter is people have feelings. I like to take other people’s feelings into consideration and don’t think doing so is such a hardship on me.

      31. But this isn’t anything. This isn’t not going to Thanksgiving this year because you want to go on vacation. This is commiting your life and your family to bonding with this other person for the rest of your life. God willing, this happens once and you are blowing it off that suddenly you have to check with EVERYONE and EVERY decision to not make a social gaff.

      32. so you never make a decision based on whats best for you? you never decline an invite ANYWHERE? because that, by your definition, is selfish. you only operate on what other people are thinking and feeling and never by what you think or feel? i mean, i dont think people should just be like “fuck everyone else im doing what i want” but there can definitely be a balance struck between weighing your own needs and desires while be conscious of others feelings…

        i mean, this has much more far reaching implications then weddings. if your aunt and uncle wanted to do something else for christmas one year and the whole family got mad at them, thats ridiculous. they are allowed to make their own choices. they are allowed to structure their life how they want it to be, up to and including not going to a big family christmas if they dont want to. you know? i mean i just cant understand how it is hurtful to see someone making the right choices for their life. i would think its much more hurtful to see someone go through the motions of something (especially something so personal and important as a freaking wedding) all the while knowing that they dont even want to be there doing what they are doing.

      33. lets_be_honest says:

        Haha, I’m not claiming to have never done something selfish, but yea for the most part, I do try to think of other people’s feelings first. Absolutely.

        Actually, I was complaining somewhere else on this thread about wishing I could find a better balance relating to that because my mother’s day was kinda crummy. But, really, I’m glad I made other people’s mother’s day good, so it was worth it to me.

        But I really am reading your comments as fuck everyone I’m doing what I want, because that’s pretty much what you’re saying in so many words. Don’t consider your parents’ feelings over what you want for your wedding. I mean, hey, everyone is different, and everyone has different families too. Whatever works for you. Guess I’m just defending the grandparents who really would be very hurt to not be included.

      34. Avatar photo theattack says:

        It’s not just about the bride and groom though. My parents were ecstatic to welcome their son-in-law into the family. They had a big emotional moment with him too because they love him so much. I had pretty much the same thing with my mother-in-law. My MIL cried when she saw me in my gown and told me how much she loved me. Even though your relationship is the focal point of it all, there’s a lot more going on than just that. The whole family is changing. It’s being there to welcome a new member into the family and to celebrate the start of another nuclear family unit. People visit new babies in the hospital because they want to welcome the newest member into the family. It’s not really that different for a wedding.

        Up until the day before our wedding I thought I wanted a private ceremony, and I was just putting up with our big wedding because I knew he wanted it. It ended up being so important to me that we had our loved ones there though. Our vows were still intimate because I was completely focused on him and didn’t even think about other people being around, but when we left the ceremony and everyone was crying happy tears and loving on us, it was SO worth it. Unless a family is abusive or dramatic, they’re probably not going to ruin your wedding day. Maybe you get slightly nervous saying your vows in front of them, but who cares? It’s not worth it to hurt someone’s feelings (inheritance or not, I hate that argument) over potentially having 30 seconds of discomfort.

      35. LBH- “Don’t consider your parents’ feelings over what you want for your wedding.”

        so you would honestly rather have, say your own daughter, or your sibling or someone, go through the whole wedding process -which as we have seen on here with theattack and GG is terrible and stressful and not very fun- just so that *you* could see it happen? you would rather see them, uncomfortable in a proper wedding dress, fighting against whatever it is that made them not want to do the wedding-in-front-of-people thing, just so you or your grandparents could feel loved?

        i just dont believe in that, in general, wedding or not. so yea, i guess to you i am like “fuck everyone” but really im not… because i just live in a place where people are empowered to make their own decisions about their life and i support them, even if the decision is not something i necessarily wanted. because its not my life that is affected. my life goes on, happy or not, whether i see someone get married or not. it doesnt change reality- they still get married, i am still here doing whatever im doing, and we still have whatever bond that existed before.

      36. lets_be_honest says:

        @katie, I personally don’t care. I just know some people would a lot. But going with your example, if it was very important to me, but my daughter or sister came to me and explained that they know how much it would mean to me, but that they couldn’t possibly bear having me there, then I would be understanding. I guess a way you and I could meet in agreement on this is by the bride sharing her feelings with the people who might feel hurt. Hopefully then they would be understanding. I would def have that talk before the wedding though.

      37. lets_be_honest says:

        @the attack, everything you just said is why I would end up having a wedding even though I don’t love the idea of me having one.

      38. Avatar photo theattack says:

        @Katie, All of the wedding planning is hard when you have a big wedding. It’s easy to include your family in a courthouse marriage where you wear whatever you want and don’t have to hire anyone and then pile everyone up in the minivan and head to O’Charleys or Pizza Hut afterward.

      39. “not everyone thinks that marriage is this all-encompassing life achievement. its kind of an unhealthy attitude our society holds, actually.”


      40. Wait I was somewhat with you until this. Valuing marriage isn’t unhealthy at all. People can wrap it up in all kinds of nonsense about registering with the state and legalese being unpalatable to them but at the end of the day people choosing a life partner is a big ass deal and something +99% of people want in their life. Whether or not it comes with official paperwork. it’s actually a major achievement. A wedding not so much, I’m with you there. We need to get back to the days of Best Dress and cake and punch in the church reception hall. But yes, a marriage is a BFD and let’s not be silly it’s a major milestone!

      41. there is nothing wrong with valuing marriage, but there is a whole lot wrong with making marriage an all encompassing life achievement that you have to get to be a successful human. those are two different things.

      42. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I have two kids and I haven’t spent any time dreaming about their weddings. The wedding day wouldn’t be my focus anyway. I focus on maintaining a strong and emotionally healthy family because I think that is the best legacy I can give my kids. The weddings are only a day in the life of a marriage. To put a lifetime of focus on that one day seems to me to be misguided.

      43. lets_be_honest says:

        I think you can focus on that, and still want to be at your kid’s wedding.
        Of course not every parent dreams of their kids’ wedding. But some do. I guess the thing here is every person has a general idea of what would break their parents heart. If this wouldn’t affect you, your kids know it and it’d be fine for them to elope because they know it wouldn’t hurt you.

      44. But it isn’t one day. It is the start of welcoming someone into your family for the rest of your life. These two kids you have. All you do for them to make them these great, well adjusted people. Then they don’t want you around for the biggest moments? are you at every game right now? every play? every recital? and to not have them want to share days with you once they are older because they want peace and quiet in Vegas? that wouldn’t hurt?

      45. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        My husband’s parents weren’t at our wedding but they welcomed me into their family the first time we went to visit them. They took me to meet every relative and took me to see their favorite places. You can be welcoming and loving without being at the wedding. They were always kind and supportive and I get along with my MIL much better than with my mom.

        If my kids wanted to elope so that they could buy a house I’d be glad that they didn’t burden themselves financially just to put on a show for me. I want what is best for my kids and skipping a financial burden is best. I’d be happy for them. In many ways I’m hoping that they have very small weddings or that they elope just to skip all the tension that seems to go with weddings today and because I’d love the money to be spent on something other than the wedding industry. I think they’d get a bigger benefit from putting the money to other uses. If they want a big wedding I’ll also be happy for them if that is the way they go but in the back of my mind I’ll be thinking of what else they could have done with the money.

      46. Noone is saying big wedding here. IT isn’t the difference of courthouse vs 20k event. It is the difference of spending 2k on a vacation to vegas to 2k at home with your family.

      47. I really like this skyblossom, thanks

      48. Sue Jones says:

        The operative word is “happily married to someone they love”. Being married is different from GETTING married. Especially when weddings are so expensive and over the top these days… In fact, what I have noticed over the years is the bigger the wedding, the shorter the marriage.

      49. Temperance says:

        Okay, this comment really bothers me. You keep assuming that all families are nice, normal, and non-toxic. You know what kind of people refer to others as “ungrateful”? Toxic, abusive families, like mine.

      50. lets_be_honest says:

        Good call. My comments about this are for nice families, obviously not toxic/abusive ones.

      51. Fair if you take one comment out of the larger conversation. But I formed it as a question you need to ask yourself. Do you owe it to your family to be there to love and support you during big life events? She didn’t mention anyone being toxic or abusive in this letter. She is trying to balance her wishes along with her family’s wishes.

      52. A wedding is just one day. That’s something that we tell people all the time. That the marriage is what’s important, not the ceremony. I think that if you are close with your family and allow them to love and support your through your marriage, that’s the important thing. I don’t see how someone who comes home and has a party to celebrate with their family is any worse than someone who lets their family watched the two minutes of vows.

      53. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        This is how I feel. I want my kids to have strong, happy marriages and the wedding day itself doesn’t determine that and sometimes people go into so much debt to put on a dream wedding that they create a financial burden for themselves that destroys the marriage over time.

      54. lets_be_honest says:

        Your kids are lucky to have a reasonable mom. I agree. I just think its worth making sure your parents understand your (very good) reasons not to have a wedding. I assume most would.

      55. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        @LBH I can’t reply under your comment so put it here. I’m pretty laid back so maybe that’s why I feel the way I feel. I also can’t see making my kids weddings about me. I really just want my kids to be happy.

      56. DEFINITELY nothing toxic or abusive about my family – everyone is very supportive and loving and generally mature and rational. I honestly never considered getting married alone as being something that I’m taking away from my parents. I guess because my sister’s wedding has turned into this huge (expensive – I’m the MOH)ordeal, complete with a shower, stag and doe, and bachlorette party on top of the wedding itself, with talk about how many presents they’d get and people getting upset because other parties/events were planned near her wedding – it REALLY turned me off of the whole idea of the wedding as an ‘event’ more than the wedding being how you begin your marriage. I really honestly just wanted my wedding to be simple, low stress, and not all about presents and money (certainly not saying that all or even most weddings are about that, but I’ve seen too many turn into something materialistic instead of meaningful). I wanted my wedding to be about the marriage we were beginning, and not the WEDDING and how the ceremony makes it the most important day of your life. To me, it’s moreso how you approach your relationship and marriage and how you plan to spend your life together and incorporate your preexisting family into your newly formed family than it is about the significance of the ceremony itself.

      57. @catz47 — Elope by yourselves in Vegas (I had always dreamed of that as well and couldn’t pull it off sadly) and then have a little party or get together afterwards. It’s so hard not to become a bridezilla – but you seem to have your head on your shoulders really well. Keep focusing on the really important things, and your fiance, and you should be fine:)

      58. lets_be_honest says:

        So aside from his parents having the cost issue, is the only reason you don’t want your family there because of your stepdad? I agree 100% with your logic, and its so refreshing to hear, but I guess I’m missing why you won’t invite immediate family. It doesn’t sound like you don’t want them there. So why not just invite your immediate family and if they can make it, great, if not, too bad.

      59. I guess the things holding me back from inviting immediate family are the fact that his side wouldn’t be there at all, the risk of losing out on a honeymoon because people want to do group things (and I’d feel obliged to spend time with them too… I don’t want to feel guilty for spending my time alone), and that if I did immediate family, I’d automatically want other people there too, so like I said, it snowballs into 20 people there… my (worst ever) analogy for that is if I’m on a diet and one day I have chocolate, pizza and a carrot, the diet is kinda busted at that point anyways so why not have a ice cream and fries too? (yeah, the carrot represents my stepdad… I don’t love carrots, nor do I dislike them, they’re just… carrots).

      60. lets_be_honest says:

        haha, love your analogy!
        I understand the snowballing. I’m sure I’d be the same way.
        I’d tell your family you don’t want your fiance to feel sad that only your family is there so you’ve decided to have it just the two of you. I think that’s really kind. Plus, you added somewhere that your family is pretty understanding, so I think it’ll go over fine.

      61. Avatar photo theattack says:

        You know, you can make your wedding into whatever you want it to be. You can have a simple wedding without having to give anything up or exclude anyone. It’s all about the couple’s attitude. You can skip the other events and just have a simple ceremony with your closest people there. And really your vows can make it what you want it to be. Our vows were pretty lengthy because we talked about what marriage meant to us and how we were starting a new family together and our commitment to each other.

        But if what you want to do is elope, that’s fine. I’m just wondering if it’s really what you want to do by some of your comments. I personally would rather err on the side of including people and celebrating with them (especially if they’re not dramatic people) than to exclude them and wonder what if later.

        And since you say: “To me, it’s moreso how you approach your relationship and marriage and how you plan to spend your life together and incorporate your preexisting family into your newly formed family…”

        It sounds like you want to include family in your lives. It doesn’t make sense to me to focus on the shift in family without actually including your family.

      62. i agree with theattack, and i think maybe you are doing the “screw the wedding” just for the sake that weddings, as AP would say, per se suck? like the whole thing is stressful and materialistic and gift-grabby and bla bla bla, so just scrap the whole wedding. i have also had those thoughts, and sometimes i really think if i were to ever marry id just screw the whole thing, BUT- theattack is right that you can make your wedding whatever the hell you want it to be. it can cost as much or as little as you want. it can include or not include whatever traditions or ceremonies you want. it can be as big or as small as you would like.

        so my grand plan if i ever do the wedding thing: im not going to call it a wedding. im going to call it a planned elopement, a la offbeatbride ). so, then, if i ever feel that twinge of bridezilla, or if anyone starts veering into dramatown, or starts with the “shoulds”, im going to be able to say “oh im just eloping. i dont care about that. its not like this is a wedding!”. and to me that will make sense and i hopefully wont get all crazy.

      63. @Catz47 – all that stress and pomp has gotten out of control. But there are two days in your whole life that your friends and family try thier hardest to be there for you – wedding and funeral. I think it is easy to say, forget it all. But these people Love you and want to celebrate you and your future marriage. Once you get married there will be lots of vacations and adventures. My friends and I have all been married for almost a decade and since then lots of people have moved away or passed away. MY Best Friend lost her dad right when he turned 60 and the pictures of them dancing at her wedding are priceless to her. On my desk right now is a picture of my grandfather and I which I love and he is now gone. Another friend’s mother had alzheimers but when she heard neil diamond she still got up and danced; for that one moment, she was back to herself again. My cousins all get together and dance around my Grandma at weddings because she can’t dance and she just laughs and laughs. I just think people worry about all the stress and expense but don’t realize that everyone who loves you wants to do all of these things. They want to celebrate you. I knew a couple who got married in thier family room. Or one who got married under a pavillion at a state park. It is about the people and I worry that on your wedding day you will sit there alone before the ceremony and think “I wish my mom was here.”

      64. ” Do you owe it to your family to be there to love and support you during big life events? ”

        NO – and thankfully my parents did a good enough job raising an independent adult that they would never have dreamed of putting their needs before mine. Following your logic csp I should attend the university my parents want and get the job they want… maybe they can eventually tell me where to live!

        It would be one thing to be disappointed, I would understand that as a parent perhaps but to be crushed because you missed an event that no one else attended… and to hold a grudge!?! Parents sometimes have to miss things… maybe they can’t afford to fly across the country to see graduation, or won’t be there for the birth of your child… but they have should have their own lives and get over it!

      65. See, I don’t think it is needy and pathetic to want to be with loved ones for a big event. I stated it above and will state it here this isn’t basing your whole life around other people. It is taking the feelings of the people who are closest to you into account when making huge life decisions. In my opinion, blowing off the family for a vaca in vegas seems harsh to a family you love. This isn’t blowing off Thanksgiving one year it is your one and only marriage. You have the rest of your life to vacation. why not renew your vows in vegas in 10 years or something.

    3. lets_be_honest says:

      Are we cousins? Because the same thing happened with my cousin who eloped! Aside from everyone you said, everyone was also mad that she hurt her parents by eloping, and then not even telling them for over a month. It was weird.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        ps My dad didn’t invite us to his 2nd wedding, and in the 10 years since, I refuse to acknowledge their anniversary. I still think he’s a dick for it.

      2. I actually don’t acknowledge anyone’s anniversary…I feel that is for the two people involved. I’m always surprised when someone (other than my husband) remembers mine.

      3. Seriously, we could be. There was also this thing where for each of the cousins, we give a set amount for a wedding. Then they eloped and some people were like “a marriage is a marriage so give the money.” and aothers were like, “we weren’t invited so we shouldn’t give anything.” It got very awkward.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t blame them for not sending a wedding gift. If you were not invited, why would you send a gift? I don’t send wedding gifts to people who didn’t invite me to their wedding. Maybe a small token gift, but no obligation for a gift at all if you ask me.

      5. GatorGirl says:

        I agree 🙂

      6. BTW – I don’t think we are cousins. I think we are Dear Wendy soul mates 🙂

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        Awwww. I <3 you. (it took me way too long to figure out how to make that heart, so I hope you like it)

  10. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    My husband and I had 2 weddings. The second one was 12 years after the first because he converted and we had to have the ceremony to be married under Jewish law. We didn’t have any guests because we had had the big wedding and this was sort of a formality and we thought, not particularly meaningful to our parents. It took years (and maturity) to realize that they absolutely wanted to be there but respected our decision. To this day, I regret my shortsightedness, not only for them but for me too.
    When I think of the big wedding, the thing I remember the most is being surrounded by love. I’m not advocating a big wedding or inviting people you don’t want to invite. I’m just sharing my regrets. Life slips by quickly, my father’s gone and I wish he had shared that experience with me.

  11. Obviously you can choose either of those options, but I think you should just elope by yourselves. Though I think it sort of ceased to be eloping once you told everyone. The thing about small weddings is that people do get offended. Drama isn’t only reserved for big weddings. I realize they shouldn’t, but if you invite any variation of the 20 you mentioned, you’re going to have people who think they should have been there but weren’t invited. Some people aren’t OK with actual eloping, but you guys are, so just take advantage of it. Go, have your vacation and then come back and throw a party for your family and friends.

  12. I actually did the Vegas wedding a year ago and it was everything I hoped it would be! My hubby and I got engaged in February and told everyone we would be getting married in Vegas May 5th and if they wanted to they were more than welcome to join us. We were so lucky to have 40 people take us up on the offer. We also had the ceremony broadcast via webcam. It was stress-free and everyone felt included. The ceremony was literally 7 minutes and we had some awesome pics (Viva Las Vegas Chapel). It was a blast having so many people there to celebrate with us. The day after the wedding everyone else flew home and we took extra time to honeymoon out in California and Vegas before coming home. It is your day, but also your parents have been looking forward to this moment since the day you were born…it probably be best to find some way to include them.

    1. I like this. We are eloping – if you want to come and hang out – come and hang out – there is nothing structured or planned except the ceremony – it’s at the Little White Chapel at 10:00 am – Hope to see you there… but we will be starting our honeymoon right after so here is a link to other things you can do while in Vegas for the weekend!
      No obligation of the groom and bride to entertain or plan or anything of the things they were trying to get away from by eloping – but anyone who wants to see them get married, can.

    2. I think this is a great idea, especially since the cat is out of the bag.It’s a way to include people without having to deal with too much stress/drama.

    3. We had a few arranged events-10:00 Cocktails Thursday night at Mandalay Bay, Friday night dinner together and obviously Saturday after the ceremony everyone went to the strip, but we didn’t stay in one big group or anything. This was a vacation for them too so we didn’t want our guests to feel like we monopolized their time.

  13. I’d just like to say, eloping doesn’t have to bring drama. My family pretty exclusively throws giant weddings. As in, my grandmother’s first cousin apologized to my grandmother when his son didn’t invite my generation to his wedding. That’s an apology for not inviting a second cousin once removed. And even they would end up OK. Just make sure to celebrate the marriage with your family and treat everyone equally, and you’ll be fine.

  14. Sunshine Brite says:

    My brother and SIL did Vegas with about 12 or so of us. It was so much fun for me as a 17 year old and I got to see them exchange their vows in a low key ceremony at a Vegas chapel. There was a minor bit of hassle as the SIL’s mom is fairly handicapped and she was worried that the environment would be too much for her and SIL’s sister was bringing her kids along and she was worried she’d pawn them off on everyone else.

    So yes, it was a hassle coordinating everyone, but it was a really memorable wedding and mini-vacation. And it was everyone’s vacation so people spent it differently. We agreed on some times to meet up, but some sat by the pool, some gambled, I don’t think anyone sprung for a show but they could’ve, etc. I wish I remembered if the couple stayed a few days longer or not than the guests, but that’s an option. I don’t think so because their honeymoon was somewhat up at the races that year.

    I think this is an all or nothing decision with having people there.

  15. SasaLinna says:

    As cool as it would be to live in a world where a couple could simply invite whoever they wanted and not get any shit for it from anyone, in reality it often doesn’t work that way. In particular, inviting only one parent (if you have a relationship with both and there are no special reasons to exclude one of them) simply won’t go over well. To me it just wouldn’t be worth the drama, and yeah, lying about it is a bad, bad idea. It sounds like an actual elopement with zero guests would be best in this situation, because the LW is more or less envisaging an elopement already, and not a small wedding.

  16. Rebecca Grace says:

    I had an amazing Vegas wedding and if your Dad wants to show up and give you away what is the harm? It doesn’t matter what you do, someone will not be happy. Do what YOU want, it is your day. Just know that others will probably not be happy for a bit.

    1. see, If you invite one parent, I think there is HUGE harm. you could devestate you mom and his parents. it isn’t just being unhappy. it is starting your marriage on shaky ground with both families that they might never get over.

      I can’t imagine taking the people who raised you, sacrificed for you, then you turn your back on them and say “my favorite parent is … dad.”

  17. painted_lady says:

    LW, I concur with what everyone else has said regarding eloping – do it, don’t do it, but you have to do either one or the other, because inconsistent rules are where people get their feelings hurt. And maybe this is my perspective on stuff because of recent events, but I feel like part of marriage is accepting the spouses of loved ones and the loved ones of spouses. Should you force a relationship to be closer than it is? No, but marriage means you’re a package deal, so if you invite your mom, you have to accept that her husband is part of the deal. Just like even if you’re not crazy about some family member or other of your future spouse, if your spouse loves them, you need to accept that person as part of your life – not saying you’re not doing that, but these are two sides of the same coin.

    I’m saying this because my cousin, C, got married this weekend. He and his sister, K, have always been really close, and even though she’s never been crazy about C’s now-wife, L, she’s made an effort and been civil. They’ve gotten into it a few times, but K agreed to be a bridesmaid. Then K ended up pregnant accidentally, but she’s keeping the baby because she’s 29 and can afford it and wants to be a mom and has no idea when she might meet someone. As soon as she found out, L asked K to drop out of the wedding as it would “draw focus” and “send the wrong message.” She wasn’t invited to the rehearsal dinner, she wasn’t in the church pictures – the only reason there’s visual record of her attending is because my aunt grabbed the photographer and had him take pictures of K and C at the reception. K is understandably really, really hurt that L would ask to exclude a family member, and then that C went along with it. And really, it drew more focus than if L had just had a preggers bridesmaid because there were a mismatched number of attendants and everyone knew exactly what was happening even though K and my aunt only told me.

    Point is, if what you’re trying to avoid is hurt feelings, elope or have a really small wedding, but you can’t pick and choose who’s there when spouses are involved. Well, I mean, of course you can, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone beyond “This is what I wanted,” but then you also have to accept the fallout.

    1. i really, really love using getting married as re-framing the way this LW views her mothers marriage as well.

      PL is right, is it two sides of the same coin. if you want people/family/whoever to accept and see your marriage as valid (and, as stated above, sometimes that wont happen when you elope!), you absolutely need to give that basic respect to other people.

      1. painted_lady says:

        That’s a good way of putting it – that it’s about respecting the marriage. I mean, your spouse becomes your family, and unless the person you’re wanting to exclude has done something truly unforgivable (abuse, violence, etc) you don’t get to ask people to choose. It’s not okay, and you have to be prepared for the fact that that person may not choose you.

      2. I feel so bad for your cousin’s sister! Sounds crazy… I can’t imagine allowing my fiance to dictate to my sister that she wasn’t even allowed at the rehearsal. Total bitch move. WOW!

      3. painted_lady says:

        Yeah, in the ceremony, I kept looking around for her – we’ve always gotten along really well and were closer to sisters growing up than cousins. My dad and I had pretty much decided that *she* backed out so she wouldn’t have to deal with awkward questions, because she’s showing now and not everyone is aware she’s pregnant yet – it’s a very long story, but she didn’t find out until she was so far along that no doctor in our state would abort. But she sat in the back and then found me at the reception. We spent the entire reception making fun of everything (it was a pretty tacky, over-the-top wedding) and she kept handing off her champagne to me and the friend she came with, and the waiters kept giving her more because she was sitting and they thought she just hadn’t gotten any yet.

  18. lets_be_honest says:

    Why not just tell everyone they are welcome to come to Vegas for the ceremony, but your honeymoon will begin directly after the ceremony (or after a quick “reception” dinner)? That way they can be there for it, but leave you alone after it.

    That, or tell your dad he can’t go because no one is invited.

    I guess I don’t get why you don’t want the 20ish people there. Cost, maybe? Of course if you just want to be alone, I get that, but then you say you don’t mind if dad is there.

    1. Well she says her dad would be happy to go to the ceremony and then leave them alone, which makes me think maybe her mom is the type that would want to be *doing* things together for the rest of the trip. But yeah, framing it as, the rest of the trip is their honeymoon could be one way to help that.

    2. I didn’t really want 20 people there because of cost, yes, and because I did want the time alone with my fiance and while many of those 20 or so people will respect our boundaries, I know that others won’t or will pout that we don’t want to spend more time with them. Another issue with inviting more people is that my fiance is 95% sure that his parents, and by extension sister and grandparents, wouldn’t come. They live further away (we all live in Canada), don’t have much money (and fiance and I couldn’t afford to pay for their airfare and accommodations) and really never travel. My fiance said he’s okay with whatever decision I make and would be totally okay with his parents not being there, but I’d feel really bad for him if I had my family there and he didn’t.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Hmm, yea that would be sad if your family was there and his wasn’t. Although it sounds like your fiance is really understanding, so that’s a big plus!

        I’d invite no one then.

      2. or you could let your side come to the vegas part, and then do something else with his side at a later date/in canada.

        as far as the people wanting to spend time with you part, you just have to structure the time correctly. build your alone time into it. give you family ideas for activities or whatever, or just directly say that your honeymoon starts on X date at X time. like, if you printed it out, you could literally say “pool time X, X show, dinner at X, ect, X date at X time the honeymoon starts- your on your own!” or something.

      3. Maybe just elope then – no family at all. And tell your dad that it would cause too much conflict for him to come in secret and it isn’t fair to your mom or to your fiancés family – but you’ll send him some pics. When you get back have a BBQ reception – showing pictures and telling your Elvis stories.

      4. Avatar photo Pamplemousse Rose says:

        But wouldn’t they have to travel to where you are for a wedding, if you did it at home? Is a trip to Vegas much more expensive than travelling from their location to your location? I’m guessing your in Western Canada as you said they’re further from Vegas – I’ll bet a 4 day package from where they are to Las Vegas is less than flying across Canada plus accommodations.

      5. Southern Ontario actually… and they’re in Northern Ontario. To visit us they’d have an 8 hour drive, and they’re so travel-adverse they haven’t visited us in the 1.5 years we’ve been living down here. Also, it would be cheaper for us to fly to Vegas because we could depart from Detroit, where they’d have to leave from Toronto.

    3. lets_be_honest says:

      Also, I guess everyone’s in the camp of “be selfish because its your wedding.” I mean, I guess that works for some people, but its pretty sad to me. The idea of my mom being heartbroken that she didn’t get to be at my wedding (and add on that my dad did!) is heartbreaking to me. I couldn’t do it.

      In my mind, weddings are a joining of the families. Unless your families are truly awful, I can’t imagine excluding them. And this is coming from someone who otherwise loves the idea of eloping (I don’t want a big wedding or anyone staring at me).

      1. I’m with you 100% on this. But I like making other people happy, so I don’t understand the me first mindset. Kudos to those who don’t give a shit though.

        And LW, I’m not saying at all you’re like this. I actually really feel for your situation and I don’t know what the best answer is. I’m leaning towards nobody attends though.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        I wish I could meet in the middle a little bit more to be honest. I had a crappy day yesterday because rather than doing anything I wanted, the day revolved around other people’s happiness and I didn’t really feel like it was reciprocated, which can be a crappy feeling.
        Now I feel selfish for saying that, and sound martyr-ish too. Oh well.

      3. Temperance says:

        <3 You aren't selfish for wanting to be recognized as a mother. Maybe next year, you can make the plans with your kid/s and husband instead of letting your mother/MIL run the show?

      4. I guess that’s been my biggest problem here, is that I’m trying to find a balance between doing what I’d like to do while at the same time making everyone happy and not hurting any feelings. I even considered just going to the courthouse and having whoever wanted to come just come, but at the end of it all I think I’d look back with regret that I didn’t go to Vegas.

      5. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Just a random idea, but could you have a Vegas-themed courthouse wedding and then honeymoon in Vegas?

      6. Thanks for the idea (and congrats on your wedding!). I am starting to consider non-Vegas options… my cousin’s husband offered to marry us (he’s not ordained or anything) in his backyard in a zombie themed wedding, ha ha

      7. is there an elvis impersonator where you live? there has to be somewhere. have him marry you in your backyard in a zombie themed wedding!

      8. OMG, zombie-themed wedding sounds amazing.

      9. As someone who got married a million years ago. I will tell you that the theme, details, all the things you agonize over in a wedding are things you don’t remember. What you do remember are the photos of you and your grandparents that pass away later or siblings making silly faces. I remember dancing with my brother and him telling me how happy he was that I was happy or my sister said that I was “the brightest soul she has ever known” in her maid of honor speech. I remember my mom sitting next to me at the groom/mother dance and holding my hand. Those moments are the ones that you might regret not having.

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        Wow! You’re really old!

        Love your comment!

  19. Once they tell everyone about the wedding, it’s no longer an elopement I don’t think…

  20. My brother and his wife eloped, and I was invited. Aside from the cost of flying last minute to attend the ceremony, I chose not to attend because I didn’t want to explain to my parents why I knew/went when they were not clued in if it ever came out that they had eloped. Of course, even when they were eloping, they let me know they would be doing a small family celebration at some point. So, I didn’t feel as guilty knowing about it.

    They were secretly married for about 18 months before they got ‘married’. My younger brother and I both knew, but I don’t think my parents were ever clued in. To this day, they think that the ceremony that they had was their real wedding. I think that they were happy to have a more relaxed day. They got married in a park, were ‘married’ by a friend, and rented a room at a local community center, and brought all of the food from the local farmer’s market. They did it all for about $300.

    My favorite part of the whole thing? In the 18 months that they were secretly married, my cousin got married. My SIL decided to come out and meet the whole family. While we were waiting for the marriage to start, my aunt was running around like crazy getting things ready for the ceremony. My SIL promised my mom that she would not make my mom go crazy like that at their ceremony. My mom said “Well, you could just elope. That would work. Or, have you eloped already?” And then the ceremony started so my SIL never had to answer that question. All of us kids had to bite our lips to keep from laughing too hard.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      If they were having a regular wedding in 18 months, why did they have the secret one?

      1. I don’t know, my brother never does things the ‘normal’ way.

      2. To be different, or in my case, I needed health insurance and spousal assistance when my husband’s company moved him. I lost my job, and we were already engaged with deposits down so we went to the courthouse on some random Thursday and continued on with our lives. I didn’t want to air my personal issues to the world or forfeit celebrating with my family, who I hadn’t seen some of them in years.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh, that makes sense.

      4. It did for us anyway! It is unconventional, but I’ve known a few others who have done it for various reasons, immigration, military, health insurance, etc. I think the pressure to have a big wedding and celebrate with family that may be scattered geographically makes it more common then some think. 3 out of 8 weddings I went to (including ours) had couples who did the same.

      5. Temperance says:

        I had to do this because I needed to get on Mr. Temperance’s health insurance, and since we had to fund the entire thing ourselves (my parents weren’t going to contribute, except to buy my dress …. which was only so my mother could criticize my body for a few hours and choose the dress she liked, NO THANKS), we couldn’t have any sort of real wedding beforehand.

    2. it was like she KNEW!! haha

    3. LOL I love your story othy!! My husband and I did something similar (secret legal wedding about 11 months before the bigger wedding) and a few close family/friends knew and that was it. A few months after bigger wedding, we were playing Taboo with my husband’s family and his uncle who didn’t know about the first ceremony, gave the clue: “What mandalee and husband would have done if they didn’t have a big fancy wedding” and his cousin guessed “elope” and we were all trying so hard not to laugh that my father-in-law ended up spilling his drink, which distracted everyone lol

      To the OP, at this point the cat is out of the bag with your elopement, so the easiest may be to just invite the 20 people you mentioned, and keep it a casual thing. I get not wanting certain people in the pictures, I felt that way about my husband’s fathers girlfriend, but you can arrange it so he’s in a minimal amount of group photos and that’s it.

  21. Lemongrass says:

    Think about what you will care about in 20+ years. After everyone forgets about it or gets over the hurt, what memories are the most important for you. Will you regret not having your parents with you after they pass away? Will you regret having other people there and not just the two of you?

  22. Sue Jones says:

    My husband and I sort of eloped, then we had a party, though everyone knew what we were doing so it wasn’t a secret, but we had a very small wedding with my husband’s then 5 year old son, another couple and the officiator in our living room and then the next June had a big party with the whole family, etc. I say, why not? It is your wedding and you can do as you like. My parents had a very small wedding also so it sort of ran in the family… I kind of roll my eyes at the Bridezilla trends these days… Save your money for a down payment on a house!

    1. that’s why we’re trying to do things as frugally as possible while still having some fun, we’re trying to save up as much as we can for a house!

      1. FYI – a good website to see how you can have a cheap wedding is younghouselove.com. There is a tab about thier wedding and they price out how they did the whole thing cheaply. Cheaper than if you flew to Vegas.

  23. GatorGirl says:

    All or nothing LW. Either invite all of your parents (both of you) or none of them. (Unless one is craycray for reals.)

    I’m in the office this week guys. Also 13 days until my wedding. ECK! I’ll probs be posting later in the day since my boss isn’t too keen on me DWing all day 🙂

  24. Bittergaymark says:

    Announcing that you are getting married in Vegas isn’t eloping. Its a destination wedding. Or it sure sounds like it. You open is where you actually run off unannounced and get married… Of course if you tell people you’re going to Vegas to get married they are going to assume it’s a destination wedding and they will want to tag along…

  25. Here’s what my parents did: They eloped for real in Nevada – don’t think it was Vegas (maybe Tahoe? I’m not familiar with the area). They were on a vacation to California and just hopped over to Nevada.And then went on a honeymoon. Anyways no one knew about it. Not even us kids (second marriage for my mom) And then when they got home they had a very very small wedding ceremony in a church where family only was invited. Then we got a huge thai take out buffet and had a small reception at our place afterwards. It was nice. And I don’t think anyone was upset. So that’s a way to get everyone included and for very cheap.

  26. The only situation I can really see where it’s okay to invite a few family members, but not all is in the case of a toxic/abusive/crazy family. Otherwise, I think it will likely blow up in your face, because even if it’s not your intention to purposefully exclude some people, it will certainly look like that. People get really sensitive about these things, and take them too seriously, in my opinion.

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