How to tell your family you’re eloping is one of the most asked questions we receive as elopement photographers. It’s often not an easy conversation to have and can involve feelings of shock, disappointment or even hurt in some cases.

A traditional wedding is the expectation ingrained from the minute most couples get engaged. Because of this, many end up giving in to the generational and societal standards that encompass them, instead of following their heart and celebrating their wedding day the way THEY truly desire.

Telling your friends and family that you’ve chosen another path can be intimidating, but lucky for you, we have loads of experience both personally & professionally on to best approach the conversation. And we’ve gathered for you 6 steps to tell your friends and family you’re eloping.

How to tell your family you're eloping in the mountains.

Step 1: Tell Them Face to Face

We recommend telling your loved ones, as soon as you’ve made your decision to elope. Sit them down over dinner or coffee and break the news face to face. If an in-person meet up isn’t feasible, FaceTime works too! As tempting as it may be to share the news over text or social media (avoid this at all costs!!!), your loved ones deserve the love and respect of being told in person. That way you are able to make your intentions crystal clear, avoid any misunderstandings/hurt feelings and allow them the ability to ask any questions they may have. Try to be as sensitive as possible during this initial conversation and be prepared for some potential tears.

How to tell your family you're eloping in Glacier National Park.

Step 2: Share your Reasons Why

Speak from the heart and share not only your reasons why you want to elope, but also, why a big wedding isn’t for you. When people understand your perspective, and see/feel your excitement it’s a lot easier for them to come to terms with your decision and gain their support.

There are a lot of reasons why people elope, but here are a few common one’s we see :

Intimacy & intentionality

Adventure seeking


Desire to travel


Financial Goals

In our case- we are private people who feel most at home in the mountains, so we opted for a micro wedding on the shores of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. It was an absolutely magical day full of emotion and authenticity. A bear even wandered through our ceremony (which we didn’t even notice at the time!), and our families supported us the entire way. I wouldn’t have done anything differently! We got the chance to explore, jumped (aka fell) into a Glacial Lake, and had a wedding day that was all about us.

Step 3: Understand their Perspective

Inevitably, there will be people that are shocked or upset by your decision. Try your best to be understanding and sensitive to their feelings and emotions. For those especially of an older generation, elopements are often associated with secrecy or in some cases, family disapproval. Understanding their perspective makes it easier to approach the conversation in a gentle manner. It might be a good idea to show them photos or videos (check one out here!) of an elopement similar to what you had in mind! This will give them a visual representation of how special, amazing and intentional elopements can be.

How to tell you're family you're having an adventure elopement.

Step 4: Get them Involved

Share the details of your day with your friends and family and let them get involved! Contrary to popular belief, there is still a lot of work that goes into planning an elopement. Between booking travel arrangements and lodging, to attire and honeymoon plans, there’s a lot of areas where you could enlist their help and expertise. 

Eloping also doesn’t have to mean giving up on your favorite wedding traditions! Take your mom and girl’s dress shopping with you, have your friend’s throw a bachelor/bachelorette party, take something old, new, borrowed and blue from your loved ones and incorporate that into your day. Another one of our favorite’s is having people write the two of you letters to read on your big day. The smallest things, can really make a difference in making your friends and family feel included.

Step 5: Remember the Day is About You

It’s likely that you will get some pushback in the process. People will try telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. It’s important to stand your ground! You’re doing this for a reason, you know what you want! Don’t let anyone steer you off the path because of potentially hurt feelings. THIS DAY IS ABOUT YOU. As long as you’ve tried your best to be honest and open about your intentions, you can’t control what other people think or feel. If you’re happy, those you matter will be happy for you too.

Intimate elopement in Montana.

Step 6: Document Everything

Documenting the full experience of your elopement allows you to relive your special day for years to come! Here’s an outline of what your photos/video could involve:

The first look.

The epic hike to your ceremony spot.

The reading of your heartfelt vows.

The happy tears as you say “I do.”

The sunset views.

Dancing under the stars at the end of the night.

If you’re having a celebratory reception after your elopement, a video or slideshow of your images will definitely make your guests feel included and a part of your day!

How to Tell Your Family You’re Eloping

All in all, an elopement does not have to mean excluding family and friends! Share the news face to face and make your reasons crystal clear. Understand their perspective and know that there may be some feelings of disappointment and initial shock. Involve your friends and family in the planning process and incorporate traditions that make them feel included. Document the entire process for everyone to share and feel a part of your day. Lastly, and most importantly, remember that this day is about YOU!

  1. […] Lastly, you’ll need one witness – you get to decide whether this is a friend, family member, or even your photographer! We love being witnesses for our […]

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