Elopement Etiquette

Let’s face it, you eloping despite the lack of expense of a formal wedding, the headaches of planning and coordination, and the peace of mind, has not made you popular among your loved ones.  Despite the faux pas there are obvious etiquettes of announcing your secret nuptials that should be followed to put a balm over hurt relationships.  Here’s how to break the big news:

The rule of thumb to keep in mind here is that the closer they are, the sooner they should be given the news (and yes, order counts).  Make sure you're following proper elopement etiquette and try making your announcement as joyful as possible.

The Couple’s Parents:

The parents of the couple always come in first (assuming that you are childless or have discussed this with your children before jumping in).  Traditionally, the bride’s folks come first followed by those of the groom, and always, always make sure the news is shared either in person or via telephone depending on the circumstances.

An in-person announcement is highly preferred with the assumption and conduct that the news will be met with joy.  This should occur immediately after you return from your elopement experience, and not two weeks or two months after your secret nuptials.  Either of the folks would better appreciate hearing the happy news from you directly, and not through the grapevine.  If you cannot do so immediately due to a pre-planned honeymoon or other business after the elopement, ensure that you inform them over the phone.  Give both of your parents to speak with each of you separately.  This is the moment to make them feel that what they have to say is important and you have called them because they are important for you both.

It is very important to make an in-person announcement of your elopement to your parents if you feel that the decision will be met with shock, concern or their disapproval.  There are legitimate reasons why a parent may react unenthusiastically to an elopement, so being prepared to address questions and apprehensions in a non-defensive way may help make the conversation go more smoothly.  Even if you feel that their reaction is unreasonable or crass, breaking the news in-person is considered as respectful and will go a long way towards accepting your new spouse in the family.

Siblings:

You may seek assistance of your parents in informing your siblings if you feel that their reaction has been positive and accepting.  This may go a long way towards seeking unity behind your decision and healing bruised egos and hurt feelings.  This may also be a good way to go if your siblings are married and live far from you.  You may also opt to share the news over the telephone or in person depending on your relationship with them and their reaction towards the news.

Close Friends:

Many people cherish close friendships that are as important to them as their family ties.  However, such friends are often more understanding of your choices and are readily able to celebrate your newfound partner.  These friends can be brought into the good news via the normal mode of communication you use with them, via a phone call, text or email.  However, it is essential to introduce your spouse in person at the earliest possible opportunity.

Sharing the news via email or social media is not recommended, and is only acceptable after family and close friends have been informed via the acceptable methods above.

Gabriela Cobian