About a year ago, a friend of mine eloped to New York. She’d only been engaged a few months and it was a complete surprise - and it was amazing. Lewis and I spoke about it a lot over the next few months, talking about how cool it was to just shrug off the responsibilities that come with a ‘real’ wedding (i.e. a traditional one) and run away, free of the financial and organisational obligations and just thinking about the two of us and our own wants. It felt like a very ‘us’ thing to do. So much so, that when we were randomly chatting about marriage with his mum back in October, she told us that she wouldn’t be surprised if we ran off one day, and Lewis told her to expect it.
So when we got engaged, there was one big question hovering over us: Would we actually have a wedding at all?
I was torn. I really loved the idea of it being just the two of us, enjoying the very essence of what a wedding should be about: our love and our time together, with no distractions and no interruptions. I adored the idea of running away somewhere cool, and calling our loved ones afterwards to let them know what we’d done, celebrating with them properly when we got home, after we’d had our private moment to treasure together. But then I kept thinking - would I be missing out? No wedding meant no bridesmaids, no dress shopping, no hen party - no sharing in the planning with anybody else. Eloping would be a magical, surreal experience, but also a very insular one, and I wasn’t sure I felt totally comfortable with it.
A ‘real’ wedding, all bells and whistles, is an expensive decision, and a huge commitment in terms of money and time. We were both uneasy with the idea of spending so much money on one day, even if it is a special day, and there were so many traditions that we just didn’t connect with. But the more we thought about it, the more we determined that a wedding doesn’t have to be traditional to be beautiful, and it doesn’t need to follow a set of rules to be a wonderful experience. So we started thinking about offbeat venues, traditions we could skip, and things that we would prioritise when it came to the finances. It would be a hefty commitment, but with an end result that would make memories for everyone we love, not just the two of us.
I went through all the options, writing lists with different ideas and ways to do it: eloping alone, eloping with our siblings, eloping with two friends. A big wedding, a small wedding, an evening wedding. A ceremony with just our families, with a big party later.
It was such a confusing time; we really didn’t want to be bound by the traditional confines of a wedding, and really, all the expense and waste that comes along with it. But we also kept coming back to the fact that we have friends and family that we love, that would be happy for us to elope, but to whom it would mean the world to watch us marry. We wanted to share in that joy with them, and that was the overriding feeling that we couldn’t shake off.
So after weeks (and I mean weeks) of going back-and-forth on it, we decided: we would have a wedding with all of our friends and families, but only on the condition that we could find the venue that felt absolutely right. If we couldn’t, then we would elope. So yeah, still not exactly what you’d call a cast-iron decision, but it felt like progress.
It took us a long while and there were a few times when I felt fairly certain that we’d have no option but to elope, but I am very happy to report that, four months after we got engaged, we’ve now set our date and booked our venue - hello September 2019! But more on that in my next blog post…
But really, what I want to say is this: your wedding is your wedding, whatever anybody else thinks. I had more people than I’d care to tell me that I would regret eloping, or implore us not to do it - but really, that’s nobody else’s business. Making this decision was difficult for us and - shocker - it wasn’t helpful at all for people to be negative about what we were suggesting doing for our wedding. What was incredibly helpful was those people who told us to follow our hearts and do whatever we felt like doing - they’d be happy for us either way. It freed us up to make the choice that felt right for us.
If you’re in a similar dilemma, listen to the people who will celebrate your marriage whether there’s a big wedding or whether you celebrate privately. For us, it helped to crystallise that it would mean so much to those people to be there with us, if they loved us enough to let us do whatever we wanted with no judgement. Special shoutout to my mother-in-law on this one, who told us that she’d be delighted for us either way, but mentioned that she’d be honoured to be at our wedding - that word was a lightning bolt moment for us. To realise that it really meant so much to other people helped us make the decision that we wanted to celebrate our journey with them; the people that have supported us and watched us blossom together over the past eight years, those who have loved us and laughed with us. We have so many special memories already and we decided that we wanted to create these most special of memories with them too, on our wedding day.
Already I am absolutely certain that for us, this was the right choice. I’d have loved eloping, but I know I’ll love our wedding even more - because it was the decision we chose together.