Elopement Expectations

by epi on April 18, 2012

Q: My daughter eloped last week and announced that she will be having a big wedding in a year or so and wants us to pay for it. I don’t think it is appropriate to have a big wedding now especially a year or two later and I think she and her new husband should have to pay for it. Am I way off base here?

A: No, you’re not. It was your daughter’s and her husband’s decision to elope. If they want to renew their vows in a year or so that would be fine but they should pay for the expenses. A renewal of vows is a simple religious ceremony where the couple recommits to one another. It is NOT another wedding with gowns and flowers and ushers and bridesmaids – although there is some industry push to make this happen. It often occurs at the time of an anniversary of the marriage. Therefore, the party that follows is actually an anniversary party, which can be as big or small as the couple plans. It can include a replica of their wedding cake, a band, dancing, etc. A guest is not expected to bring a gift but if they would customarily give the couple an anniversary gift, then the gift they would take would be just that–an anniversary gift – not a big gift of wedding gift proportions. Otherwise, a gift is not required. Sad to say, some couples understand this to be another wedding, and actually register for gifts, wanting to have “the wedding they never had” because they eloped or had a very small ceremony and reception when they were married. This is not what a renewal of vows should be.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Winifred Rosenburg April 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

Speaking of anniversaries, is it normal to celebrate anniversaries just as a couple or is a family party the way to go? I always thought anniversaries should be celebrated just as a couple with the exception of big milestones like 25th and 50th. My husband and my one-year anniversary is coming up. His mother asked us if we wanted to have a family party. If this is the norm, are there guidelines about whom should be invited (in case she asks)? Any other anniversary traditions anyone wants to share would be welcome as well as I’m obviously new at this.

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Alicia April 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Well norms vary by family. So why not talk to your husband about what his family normally dones and if the two of you would rather it be just the two of you or a group party. Whatever you and your husband wants is what matters.
You can host a party for really any reason you feel like and invite whomever you like. Tommrow is national Garlic day you could host a national garlic day party and invite everyone you know. As log as you are hosting and do not expect others to pay, bring you gifts, ect then go ahead and host anything you want party wise. ( yes I will chuckle if you host a Garlic day party)

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Ashleigh April 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

It would be the best smelling party around ;)

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Sarah May 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

I am an American woman recently married to a German man, and we live in London. My husband and I married in a family-only civil ceremony in June of 2011. Several external circumstances forced us to make the party small and rather rushed despite our both having many friends we would have normally invited, the main reason for our two-month engagement being the expiration of my UK visa. Since then, my parents (who live in a small town in the central US) hosted a wonderful party for us but the guest list was largely comprised of their friends and my childhood friends because of the venue size and the location of my hometown (not great destination for international guests).
Now to my dilemma: between my husband and me, we still have many friends from Europe, the US and Asia whom we have not invited to celebrate with us. What would be an appropriate way to include our friends from three continents in our happiness without appearing to think we need three parties to celebrate our marriage? It seems excessive in terms of both cost and time, but we also need to let a lot of people know about the marriage without their feeling excluded. We are about to move to Zurich. Should I integrate an announcement of our marriage into our change of address cards – in a personal and tasteful way that perhaps welcomes visitors to our new home, or should we invite all our friends from New York, Hong Kong and Europe to an informal celebration weekend in Zurich sometime in the fall? (We will have been married for over a year by that time.) I’m at a loss for how to deal with possibly hurt feelings and an awkwardly late celebration. Thank you!

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Winifred Rosenburg May 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

A wedding announcement is a good start. Is there a wedding video you can send as well? If not, include a picture. Also a personalized note saying that you are sorry that they weren’t able to be there because the wedding plans happened so fast and you’re looking forward to seeing them soon.

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Elizabeth May 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I believe it is generally accepted around these parts that a wedding celebration over a year after the actual wedding is no longer a wedding celebration, but an anniversary party or similar. Unfortunately, we cannot always have the celebrations that we want, and while your concern for your friends’ feelings is admirable, people do understand the situation you and your husband were in and will understand. I think that most people will want to see you and spend quality time with you rather than undertaking the expense to travel on a specific weekend for a party (where it is hard to spend quality time with people and you will have a lot of other guests vying for your attention). I would make your ‘change of address’ into something more like a wedding announcement that is cute and tells your story. An open invitation for a visit is nice too, but only if you mean it! People will be happy for you – wouldn’t you be if the situation was reversed?

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David December 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Sarah,

In this day and technological age, the easiest and most appropriate way to “share” your wedding, with those abroad or otherwise cannot attend, is to offer LIVE or RECORDED streaming of the festivities. This is no complicated technological feat and is easily accomplished.

Websites such at TVUnetwork are a resource to make this happen. If live streaming seems too daunting, then there are ways to put recorded videos online such as in YouTube, or on an exclusive password protected website with a video player. Video files can be hosted online, on Amazons digital data storage for instance, and accessed to stream with a player on your website.

If you have the financial resources, and large enough groups in each area, you could even synchronize the viewing for all by hosting in a banquet room at a hotel in each area and having a projector put it on a large screen. This would work with live streaming or recording. Other cheaper and quick ideas would include using available technologies like webinar and teleseminar technologies and having phone lines and speaker phones/microphones set up in each of the few respective banquet rooms.

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Dainise April 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm

With regards to elopement, my husband and I eloped in February and are now hosting a party for family and friends (four months after we married). I’m uncertain if the party can be considered a reception, and more importantly, if it’s completely inappropriate to register for gifts. The party is informal and we’ve used an online invitation site, but some guests have asked if we have a registry. What is the etiquette in this situation?

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Elizabeth April 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Usually a reception follows an event, so it would be better not to call it a reception but rather a ‘celebration’ or simply a party. The whole point of an elopement is to escape all the trappings of a formal wedding, is it not? The bridal registry is part of those trappings, I’m afraid. Simply tell your inquiring guests that you do not have a registry, but you are desperately in need of nice dish towels/bedsheets in blue/etc – or, even better, that you appreciate the gift of their presence and good wishes only.

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Joanna May 1, 2013 at 9:46 am

I agree with Elizabeth. For all I know, things may be different nowadays, but overall my impression has always been that if a couple chooses to elope, they forgo the entire party altogether.

I suppose the reason for the elopement may matter, also. Only you and your husband know what the circumstances were, so only you can decide if a party/reception is now appropriate. Most likely, though, friends and family would be glad to help celebrate your milestone, and of course won’t want to come empty-handed. I think I’d go with Elizabeth here too, though, and not put out an official registry, but simply tell inquiring guests where you stand with things.

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