Wedding Ceremony vs. Elopement

I’m thinking of tying the knot soon, and I had a few questions/ideas about an elaborate ceremony vs running away and eloping.

The girl I’m dating has already been married once and has been through the ceremony thingie. I’ve never been married. My thought is that the ceremony is more for the woman than the guy, and since she’s done that once and been through it all, she says that it wasn’t that important.

My question is this… for guys and gals who have been married, if you could do it all again, was the actual ceremony THAT important to your relationship? Was the money and time and effort spent to stage an elaborate or semi-elaborate event worth the return. And since I’ve never done it… guys, was it that big of a deal to you.

I think the only thing that would bother me is I wouldn’t have nice pretty pictures to look back on from the event. But aside from that… I really can’t say. Advice?

Something to think about: without the ceremony you will have absolutely no chance of ever getting that particular grouping of people together. Ever.

Wedding invites go out three months in advance. People will plan their lives around attending your wedding.

Parties you can skip, weddings you make every effort to attend.

Since you are flexible about this, what does she want?

I am getting married in November and I STILL am not sure the answer to this one.

This is the first wedding for both my fiancee and I and to be honest I think that the ceremony is for our families. We discussed a quick trip to Vegas with a marriage by the king (we got engaged in graceland) but when it gets down to it, our families would be devestated.

Now that we have settled on a ceremony we are pretty excited. I warn you now, if you are thinking of an elaborate wedding you are talking about A LOT of money. We are already up to $14k and not finished planning yet!!! It also takes a lot of work. People who have been married before say that it isn’t worth all of the frustration and money but for us first timers, it’s a very special event. Hopefully a ONCE IN A LIFETIME event. I want to go hog wild.

I think that eventually we will renew our vows in Vegas but for now an all out bash with our friends and family is the plan. Good luck.

lilah and I got engaged about a year and a half years ago. We were planning on having the ceremony this coming summer. We wanted to keep it the celebration small. At first it was to be limited to just parents. Then immediate family was included. That decision was followed by to include close friends. Soon all family, all friends, acquaintances and random strangers. Being college students, we are both rather poor, so with the huge increase in guests we had to consider eliminating the dinner in lieu of a cocktail party. We made changes here, changes there, yadda, yadda, yadda.

We were tired of making all of these concession for a day that was intended to be for us. lilah flew up to visit me. Twentyfour hours later we were wed. Eloping was the best thing I ever did. It was absolutely perfect. If I were to do it again, I would not endure a large ceremony. There were no difficult people to deal with, no problems with food or relatives. There was us and two friends which served as witnesses. I loved it.

This summer we will have a gathering of all the family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. We have already asked people if they would be interested in attending such an event. I don’t know if people would go to such lengths to attend an anniversary/wedding party than an actual wedding, but the results appear to be promising.

I don’t want to tell you what to do about your nuptuals. That decision is between you and your fiancee to be. All I can do is share my experience and let it be known that I still smile every time I think of it.

Heh…I’m kinda in the same situation. Our original plan was to elope in Europe…bringing a few friends along. My fiancee’s parents had eloped as well, so we were kinda keeping the tradition.

However, just before Christmas, she told her parents, and they showed disappointment. So, she gave in and decided to have a ceremony. I’m not a religious person, and neither is she. I know it’s going to be SO MUCH MORE of a pain in the ass planning all this crap just so we can get married.

I do understand dustMagnate’s comment, though, about getting that group of people together which may never happen again. I think it should be a very special time.

However, her parents aren’t exactly the Trumps…so we can’t invite everyone we want, so it won’t be the MOST special it could be.

But, we’re still going to Europe for 2 weeks for our honeymoon, no matter how much her parents try to talk her out of it. I’ll drag her across that pond if I have to…we’re going, dammit! :smiley:

However, niether of us have been married before, so we both do kinda feel like a real wedding would make the marriage feel more “official”.

Anyways, if she’s cool to elope…I’d say do it!

I am going to elope in the spring. We are going to spend a week or so in Vegas. Maybe take a few days and go to the Grand Canyon. We don’t have all of the specifics decided yet.

Our parents would like us to have a wedding. But, we are the ones getting married and we don’t like the idea. Our parents will get over it. We are starting our new life and should start it the way we like.

We did consider going somewhere more serious and/or romantic to get married. Vegas just seemed like so much fun though.

Just make sure you enjoy what ever you decide to do.

The talk I had with my mom on this topic actually makes sense. She’s a smart cookie.

The wedding isn’t for you. Either of you. If you love the girl and intend to keep it that way, as far as I’m concerned, you’re already doing what needs to be done. Snag a license and a court date and you have the legal end down too.

The wedding, the ceremony is for the “public”. Its a press release, a celebration of the renewal and existance of your love. Like a Presidential Inauguration it is a public announcement of “things are changing around here, lookie,lookie”.

Now, how much you care about announcing it, or how you are comfortable announcing it, that’s your choice. It is a pile of bother.

I just got married in Sept. I wouldn’t have minded eloping, but my wife had her heart set on a traditional wedding. I was fine with it because I saw that it meant so much to her.

Bottom line is this: your wedding is just that, YOUR wedding. You should do what makes you and your SO happy. It may turn out that the thought of hurting everyone that would come to the wedding would be too much to take for one of you. On the other hand, the thought of everyone chiming in with their ideas on the right way to plan a wedding may be enough to turn you off. Just do whatever makes you happy.

4-5 months after the big wedding, the big honeymoon, and all that goes with it, I’m happy we did it the way we did. Would I have been just as happy getting married in Italy (where we met)? Sure, but this is what worked best for both of us.

Black Hole, it sounds like your fiancee is fine with eloping. You can get lots of pictures made if you do it this way. You can also buy a nice dress for her, buy lots of flowers, have as many (or as few) musicians as you like, just about everything you can do in a traditional wedding. Just because you’re eloping does not mean that you have to throw all the wedding “ideals” out the window.

Hope my $0.02 helps.

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I’m getting married on April 17th. This will be a second marriage for both of us… and our last! We both had traditional weddings the first time around and neither one of us enjoyed it so we’ve decided not to do it this time. We were going to go to Las Vegas get married there but we can’t afford it right now and we don’t want to wait another year to get married so we’re going to get married here and go to Vegas next year, when we can afford it!

We’re not going to have a church wedding though. We’ve decided to get married outdoors at one of our favorite spots on the lake. The ceremony is going to consist of the preacher, my SO, me, and our two kids. Our daughter is going to carry the flowers and our son will probably just run around and play (he’s only 17 months old!) We’ll also have our photographer there and someone to videotape everything but that’s it. That Saturday we’ll have our reception and just have one BIG party! I’m going to send invitations to all of our family and friends and make sure that everyone knows that it’s a very casual event and we’re all just getting together to have a good time.

I wouldn’t go through the hassel of planning another traditional wedding. It’s a lot of time and money for a 20 minute ceremony and I didn’t like having everyone staring at me either. I think it would have been a lot of fun for us to go to Vegas and get married but I’m happy about the way we’re doing it.

My advice to you… do whatever you want! If you want to elope do it. You can still have lots of nice pictures taken if you elope or have a private ceremony and you can still have a reception for all your family and friends to attend. Just because they won’t be watching a wedding doesn’t mean they won’t attend the reception. Everyone loves a party and that’s basically all a reception is so most of the people you invite will show up. I wouldn’t recommend an open bar though! :wink:

I eloped on December first, and I wouldn’t have had a wedding if you paid me to. Here are some things that I learned:

  1. People are less offended if they see you are really, really happy.

  2. We didn’t tell anybody we were even thinking about it until after the fact. Then we had a small party. I liked this because no one could pressure us about our plans, but I must admit some people did not like being supprised.

  3. A good line when people get indignant is “DIfferent things work for different people, but the way Betty and I’s relationship is we feel like this is a private thing–it’s seems more special if it is jsut the two of us” or something like that. The biggest problem arises when people who you know had big traditional weddings ask you “why did you do this?” It is diffucult to say to the person ‘Well, I think the way YOU did it is more or less volenteering to be bent over a barrel by the single most exploititive of all consumer complexes, and that the only way a rational person could have chosen to spend an amount equvilant to a month’s stay in Europe or grad school tutition on a single day is if they had been totally brainwashed by said consumer industry until they felt they had no choice.’ It just isn’t done. Which is why I prefaced everything I said with 'For uswhen explaining my
    wedding choice.

4)Don’t let anyone come with you to the ceremony. That way, when your aunt or co-worker says something about not being invited, you can say “I told my mother she had to stay home”.

  1. If people ask about gifts, it is best to dismiss the idea with a short "No, part of the reason we did it this way was to avoid all that. " If is is a good friend, you can add something like “We have all the blenders that we need, but if/when we ever have a baby, then I’ll come knocking!”

6)Missing the chance to get all those people together is not necisarily a bad thing. Alot of the tension at weddings comes from having to be the person you are with your boss, the person you are with your mother, the person you are with your pot smoking friends, and the person you are with your dancing class friends all at the same time.

See, that’s the thing… she’s already BEEN through this, her mom and dad saw her walk down the aisle, blah blah blah. I realize that the wedding ceremony is for the families. Which brings up an interesting point…

My grandfather passed away in September. Additionally, her dad passed on a few years ago. My Grandmother (my grandparents raised me) is bedridden in Massachusetts, so there’s no way SHE could be there. So the family that’s really important to us (I’m not real close with any other family) couldn’t be there no matter what. Her mom is of the opinion that she just wants her daughter to be happy, which she is.

What do I want… hmmm… I like the idea of eloping. I LOVE weddings and I think that they are a special event, but to be quite honest, I despise the idea of shelling out 20K plus for about 8 hours of actual “event” makes me sick.

She’s been through it all before and would rather just marry the RIGHT guy this time, instead of the wrong guy in the right ceremony.

But… like I said, I don’t want to miss out on the memories. I don’t want my daughter to not have her mom’s gown to wear when SHE gets married, I don’t want to not have pretty little pictures to show off to my friends at work… I’m very divided over it.

Manda Jo:

Well said. You make a myriad of good points.

There is a compromise position here.

A small wedding. You parents, hers, a best friend or two. Lunch afterwards. No big expense, no fancy tuxedoes or white dresses, no huge hassle.

This is what my husband and I did. It was very private and very brief, but it was very nice because our parents were there. I’m happy we did it that way.

If you can resist the urge to over-fancify the event, small and simple might be the way to go.

Thanks for the compliment. As you can see, I am rather pro-elopment.

You are going to have lots of good memories, and it is just the bridal industry manipulating you when it says that the particular memmory of a traditional wedding is going to be more special in 25 years than the memory of making love on the beach in Tahiti or seeing the Louve together or any number of things. In fact, I dare anyone to say that thier memories of walking down the aisle are any more “special” than my memory of walkng intothe courthouse–I assure that is a very special and private memory for me.

Take a third of the money you would have spent on the big wedding and put it in a nice, conservative mutual fund. In 20 years, when hypothetical daughter turns 18, say ‘I am real sorry that your mom and I eloped so that you dont have a wedding gown to inherit, but here is a consolation prize of a four years of college without having to work.’ If she is bitter, trade her in for a better daughter. Furthermore, hypothetical duaghter may well be much bigger or smaller than your wife, militantly single, or simply hate the dress.

Wedding pictures are boring anyway, and your co-workers will only be faking interest. Furthermore, they all look the same. Take a fantastic honeymoon, and show off those pictures–much more interesting.

I had a “traditional” wedding, and it cost about $1,500, reception and all. Granted, this was almost 20 years ago, but that’s still pretty cheap for the biggest party I’ve ever thrown.

I bought a dress off the rack and had it altered. I wore high-heeled white sandals I already owned - who’s gonna see your shoes under that huge skirt? We got flowers from a cash and carry place and had my brother pick them up and take them to the church. We each had one attendant (and I chose my colors based on the color of the evening gown my friend already owned). We had the ceremony at my in-laws’ church and a friend of theirs from the church made the wedding cake. We could have had the reception in the church hall, but it being a Methodist church, no alcohol was allowed. So after the ceremony, we adjourned to my maid of honor’s back yard and had barbecue (my brother-in-law stopped on the way from the church to pick it up) and champagne (my dad brought a case that was moderately priced yet drinkable) and a keg of beer. My brother-in-law also did the “official” photography and we had friends who are good with cameras as backups. No caterers, no wedding consultants, no expensive florists, no hall that cost a mint.

The point is that you don’t have to choose between mortgaging your house or elopment. As a lot of other people here have pointed out, there is a lot of middle ground, and even a ceremony that looks traditional enough to satisfy whoever in the family is sentimental enough to want one can be inexpensive and fun. I think the key is a) not letting anyone but you and your fiancee make wedding decisions and b) planning it as quickly as possible so that you don’t have time to make it more elaborate than you want.

And remember, the odds are good that your daughter won’t want to wear her mother’s dress or won’t be the same size anyway.

I enjoyed my wedding. Keep in mind that I enjoy traditions, but I never do anything just because that’s the way it’s done As a result, I tend to pick up on what I like and has meaning to me, and don’t bother with what doesn’t work. I’m also too creative for my own good.

This means my wedding was about halfway between a traditional wedding and getting married in a field with a bouquet of daisies - and somewhat unique.

I also probably had one of the most inexpensive weddings you can have - it’s not absolutely necessary to go into debt on a wedding. Part of this was luck and part of it was shopping around & doing things myself rather than paying for them:

The wedding was in a community center. For a hundred plus dollars we got:
A room with an enclosed patio (ceremony on the patio, reception in the room).
A trellis divider we used as a backdrop for the ceremony
Setup of chairs and tables
Coffee and tea service.
A fire marshall because we had candles :rolleyes: which was over half the cost.

I designed my invitions on a computer, then had a printer print them up from my design.
Mom made my wedding dress
One friend was a photographer - his wedding gift was our pictures
Another friend was a keyboardist - he played for our wedding
I bought tulle & silk wisteria to trim the backdrop and Dad made candle holders for the backdrop. It turned out beautifully!
I served snacks only - cake, punch, a veggie tray, and a champagne toast. IMHO, it is paying for a full meal for every guest that is the most useless and expensive aspects of a wedding.
My maid-of-honor gift was the dress she wore - she picked it out, so she would have something that she could wear again.
The biggest expense was flowers - but I didn’t have a problem paying more to get what I liked because I hadn’t spent all my money in other areas.

I did have a small wedding (< 60) because I just didn’t have that many people to invite. I could have had 20 or 30 more people without having to change anything (except a slightly larger cake) All told, I spent less than 1K, nearly half of that went to the flowers.

Like I said, I’m too creative for my own good. I think getting my family involved also brought us even closer together. I have wonderful memories of my wedding, and am proud of how beautifully it turned out. (shame I can’t say the same thing for the marriage)

If I get married again, I will probably want to do something similar at my house, because it is a beautiful house with nice landscaping.

I’ve never been married, but Demo and I have been discussing it. This will be his third, my first, and we are not really sure what we plan on doing. I know he wants a nice, somewhat formal event, and it sounds nice, but economically and functionally I don’t think it’s feasible. Our families live on opposite sides of the country for one thing. A big, fancy wedding has never really been something I cared for or dreamed about, although occasionally the thought of Demo in a tuxedo tempts me. I’ve mentioned Vegas a couple of times to him, and he is absolutely appalled by the idea.

The best mix of eloping and a more formal wedding I have found is a destination wedding. Consider just immediate family and a couple of close friends flying to Hawaii or someplace special to the two of you. Not only will you save money, but you can begin your honeymoon immediately! And many places have consultants who specialize in arranging all the decorations and paperwork before you arrive. Literally, all you have to do is show up. This seems more and more likely to be what we will do when the time comes. Congratulations and Best Wishes!

I know I’ve told this story before, but hubby and I eloped, and I have no regrets at all about it. In fact, we went to the courthouse for the license, to an accounting firm for a notary to do the honors, and after a quick McLunch, we went back to work. Romantic, eh??

Our 6th anniversary fell on a Saturday, so we did a reaffirmation of vows in church and had family and friends there, then back to the inlaws’ for a party.

We just had our 17th anniversary - not bad considering we knew each other all of 6 weeks (dated 4 weeks) when we eloped… Of course, if MY daughter pulls a stunt like that…
:smiley:

We eloped – and we didn’t tell anyone until our first anniversary. This year we celebrate our 22nd anniversary, and things are fine, so far.

I’ve never had much use for the big church ceremony, but I’m not a Christian. I used to think we were missing out on the gift side of things (we didn’t have a toaster for 7 years), but with what weddings cost today, I think it’s even or better.

If you do elope, be sure and call family right away, and write everyone you would have invited, telling them of your happy event. Don’t procrastinate – we did, and it just snowballed. No-one was happy to find out we’d been married for a year. Her father never forgave me, and both mothers were really pissed.

On the plus side, we had to make it work together, with no reliance on family. Our marriage is really strong because of this, although we had some hard times along the way.