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Emily
Just Said Yes September 2020

Elopement Guilt?

Emily, on September 1, 2020 at 9:19 AM Posted in Family and Relationships 0 21
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I'm experiencing an immense amount of elopement guilt. My fiancee and I are still planning on exchanging vows this Thursday, but with just us and our photographer. We're super uncomfortable being around others right now (we haven't even done any socially distanced hangs or outings to see family), and have already planned (hopefully) to have a large celebration next year. My fiancee's family lives in New York, we live in DC, and my mother is in the area. We've indicated that we're more comfortable exchanging vows solo - both because my mom and my step father are both super high risk, and because we don't want to hurt my fiancee's family or have them feel more left out than they already do. We're having a Zoom hang with our immediate family later that day so that we can celebrate a little bit together (we've sent champagne to our family members participating!). My mother is super hurt, and to the point of being very passive aggressive when we've spoken this past week - she doesn't understand our decision, but says she'll respect our choice. Of course I want my mother there - we want all of our families there! But given the pandemic, we're just not comfortable.

Am I way off base here?

21 Comments

Latest activity by Kyle, on September 16, 2020 at 7:25 AM
  • Lisa
    Rockstar July 2022
    Lisa ·
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    I don't think you're off base at all. Your wedding is about you and your fiancee - you should do what works best for both of you, as opposed to what others want. If you wanted to, you could live stream the ceremony? That way, your family members can still feel like they're attending, but without the risk. Otherwise, if that's not an option, do what works best for you and your fiancee, and don't let anyone pressure you into anything that isn't what you want.
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  • Lisa
    Rockstar July 2022
    Lisa ·
    • Flag
    Also congratulations on your upcoming wedding!
    • Reply
  • Katie
    Expert January 2021
    Katie ·
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    This is so tough. After we had to scratch our original plans, we seriously considered eloping just us two for similar reasons. We were excited about it, and then we did finally see my family socially distantly and afterwards I knew it just wasn’t right (for us) to not have them there. We ended up planning a small ceremony of 15 closest family members and we couldn’t be happier with the solution. It’s different for everyone, but I couldn’t help but feel that I would ultimately regret not having anyone there.
    • Reply
  • Mrs. Spring
    Master April 2021
    Mrs. Spring ·
    • Flag
    No, you're not off base. Your mom is upset which is understandable but she should turn it down with the passive aggressiveness. I plan on eloping in DC next year. My grandma is super bummed that I'm not having a wedding. May I ask where are you exchanging vows?
    • Reply
  • Emily
    Just Said Yes September 2020
    Emily ·
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    Thank you! I appreciate your thoughts. Congrats on your upcoming wedding!

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  • Emily
    Just Said Yes September 2020
    Emily ·
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    That sounds super special! And we did think about that, but still felt uncomfortable. Congrats on your wedding!

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  • Emily
    Just Said Yes September 2020
    Emily ·
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    That's super tough, I'm sorry you're experiencing that. We're planning on exchanging vows in the Haupt Garden of Smithsonian Castle - they open at dawn, so it should be pretty empty, and we'll hopefully have great light. Ash Woods is also a really pretty location, and the National Arboretum is also really pretty. Please let me know if you'd like recommendations!

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  • Margaret
    Master October 2020
    Margaret ·
    • Flag

    You're not off base in your feelings. Your feelings, worries are yours and your FHs. There is no reason to feel guilty.

    Any bride and groom that have voluntarily opted to change plans have that right. No one should judge them. Just like anyone that is going forward with plans should be treated the same way. Everyone has a reason why they are doing what they are doing and no one has the right to intervene.

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  • Marisa
    Master October 2021
    Marisa ·
    • Flag

    I can understand your point of view and your mom's disappointment. In all honesty what can we do except be as gracious about it as we possibly can. Smiley heart

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  • Melle
    Legend June 2019
    Melle ·
    • Flag

    I can see both viewpoints but at the end of the day you are doing this for their safety and can celebrate with them later on when it's safer to

    • Reply
  • Shirley
    Expert November 2020
    Shirley ·
    • Flag
    If you don't want your mother there for YOUR safety, I think you're in the right.


    If you don't want her there for HER safety, you are in the wrong. Some mothers would literally die to see their child married. I can't tell you the number of family members who have told me they would be hurt if I didn't let them come to the wedding for the sake of their health. Also, your parents and FHs parents are adults who can weigh their own risks, and we as younger people need to stop telling them what they should and shouldn't do.
    • Reply
  • Alyssa
    Super December 2021
    Alyssa ·
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    I completely disagree with this. I don't think OP would be able to live with herself if she allowed her mom to come and then her mom ended up literally dying because she came to OP's wedding.

    DO NOT feel bad about eloping now and celebrating later. It makes sense, be happy and enjoy it.

    • Reply
  • Angel
    Expert August 2020
    Angel ·
    • Flag

    Not off base at all! I can actually 100% relate to this. Our wedding was cancelled due to the restrictions in place. We decided to elope on our original date anyway. We live in SoCal, and so does my family (which just mainly consists of my mom, sister, and grandpa). My husband's mom and brother lives in Oregon, and his sister and dad live in NorCal. I was VERY sad that my family couldn't be there, considering they technically could've been since they were right in the area. They were let down too, it broke my heart. But it wouldn't be fair to my husband's family, since it's a lot harder for them to come down, especially during these times. So, we bit the bullet and eloped. I will say, it was very underwhelming. I still don't feel married, I still can't wait for my big day with our families. However, it was very stress free and an intimate moment I know we will cherish forever. At the end of the day, you're doing this for everyone's safety, not because you WANT to. I wish you the very best and so sorry you're going through this, I really feel your pain!

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  • Shirley
    Expert November 2020
    Shirley ·
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    I disagree with this disagreement. I have a chronically ill family member risk her life to come to my cousin's wedding. It was *her* choice and *her* life to come. Her perspective is that she only has one life and would rather have a short, full one than a long, secluded one. Should we just not invite her to anything forever?
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  • Marcia
    Expert March 2021
    Marcia ·
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    Idk I don't totally disagree with this...

    My sister has an acute illness, and the flu could kill her (and almost did a couple of times). In a way, every day is the pandemic for her. When I suggested not having my wedding because of her, she and my parents laughed because...my wedding would have been a threat to her in 2019! But even more than that, my sister told me that she is capable of making her own decisions about risk, now and always. We invite her to family Christmas (sometimes up to 40 people) and she comes every year, knowing the risk. Other times, she won't come to things. She is an adult who can decide how much risk she is willing to take. If she got sick at my graduation party, could I live with myself? What about my bachelorette party? What about on the flight coming to visit me? I would have to learn to live with myself because I wasn't stopping her.

    No shade at OP though because I felt the same way during this pandemic. I would refuse to see my grandparents and parents for their sake, ask them not to go to the store, etc. Finally my (step) grandpa kind of snapped at me: He fought in the U.S. military, why in the world did I think he needed me to make decisions to protect him? And he's kind of right. My mom is a trained surgeon. My dad grew up in an extremely dangerous neighborhood. These are smart people who have weighed risks before, without my help. Why did I think I could tell them what they should and shouldn't be comfortable with? My grandpa is willing to risk his life to see his grandkids--and more power to him.

    I still struggle with thinking about people getting sick at my wedding, and I won't be having a big one to increase the odds of my family deciding it is safe enough to come. If OP doesn't want to take any risk, she shouldn't!!! But I think we all need to let other adults make their own decisions and take their own risks, including (maybe especially) the vulnerable people in our lives, and we need to stop taking responsibility for the decisions of other adults.

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  • Breann
    Devoted June 2020
    Breann ·
    • Flag

    We eloped and have no regrets. I'm not super close to my mom and his parents were upset.

    But how a person reacts to your reasons and decisions doesn't invalidate them unless you let it, so don't second guess too much. Sorry it's not easy though.

    • Reply
  • Jana
    Master October 2022
    Jana ·
    • Flag
    Everyone's feelings are valid. You have to adapt and evolve in a pandemic. In a perfect world, you might have more guests, but you have to make the best of the situation. While it's understandable that your mom is upset, she needs to redirect her anger and not treat your elopement like a personal attack.
    Take a deep breath and you'll be married to your best friend with the opportunity for a larger celebration at a later date.
    • Reply
  • Mrs. Spring
    Master April 2021
    Mrs. Spring ·
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    Okay that would be nice. I'll pm you.
    • Reply
  • Yasmine
    Rockstar October 2020
    Yasmine ·
    • Flag
    You’re not off base. You’re entitled to do whatever you want, it’s your wedding. Elopement always seem to have people on their feelings, I think she just wants to be their for her child as most parents do. But if it’s a decision that you and your fiancé made then everyone has to respect it!
    • Reply
  • K
    Just Said Yes June 2021
    Kyle ·
    • Flag

    I understand how you feel. My fiance and I are doing the same with just an officiant, witness, and photographer. We live in Philly, my parents are in Texas, and fiance's parents in South Jersey. I wish we could have family there but with COVID and travel, it's not safe. Everyone understands and appreciates our decision. But it's definitely emotional not having it be what you expect with the people you expect--for everyone involved. I'm close with my family, too, so it's tough but others in my extended family have eloped before and I think any COVID bride needs to make some nontraditional decisions--to each their own.

    I'm still seeing next year as the "big day" where I can celebrate with my family. I'm not wearing my real dress for the elopement, so it will make next year's vow renewal special. Not changing my name until next year, and I'm still going to have my dad walk me down the aisle for the vow renewal.

    My main thing is to keep the 2 days separate enough from one another--one intimate and one giant celebration with some of the ceremonial aspects. A backyard wedding would have been way too much pressure with the travel & COVID so it would have been uncomfortable in my opinion--and then next year would have felt odd doing a large celebration since I think they're 2 more traditional kinds of weddings.

    Anyway - good luck and be confident in your decision as long as it's right for you and your fiance! The last thing you'd want is to step out of your comfort zone and then have a negative thing happen--everything nowadays is a risk that needs to be assessed by all parties involved.

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