Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DEAR ESB: How can I convince him to elope?

I am hoping you can help me with our dilemma. You always have the most pointed advice. That kind of advice affects my soon to be husband in the best ways, which is why I'm coming to you. And the ESB community.

We have been through helllllllllll of all kinds in our wedding planning process; and yesterday, we received a tip that our venue (with which we put a huuuuge deposit down on already) is in the middle of a foreclosure lawsuit. Nice. (A little advice to all brides: research your vendors, especially with the economy the way it is nowadays. This venue is a historical site and has been in business for many years...and we live in a fairly upscale city, one that still has herds of Gucci clad people at the shopping malls...who would have thought?) I digress...

His entire family (aside from his mom, dad and sister) live in Scotland, he was born there, and he was really looking forward to having everyone come to the States to celebrate. Let me give you a glimpse into his personality, while a huge hardcore punk rock fan and the same guy you'll see wearing the same t-shirts he wore in high school...he is really traditional when it comes to wedding views. He points out over-the-top ballgowns for me (eek!) and thinks it's important to have witnesses that include all of our family and friends at the wedding...I love him, so it's hard for me to challenge his views, because I don't want to be forceful. So, as "punk rock and practical" as he is, he is not getting my point. It's still early in my debate, and I think you and the readers can help. I hope.

Given all of the hoops we've been thrown, and I won't bore you with those depressing details, I'd really like to elope. Even if it means eloping overseas, and inviting his family to celebrate in the festivities afterwards. Can you give me any advice or tips on why eloping is so awesome? I'm ready to go for it, but he's so distraught with all of the stress of this, he doesn't even want to consider other options right now. He'd rather just start looking for another wedding venue and continue this torturous journey to the SAME END RESULT. Ugh, can you tell I'm frustrated?


The man wants a wedding. LET HIM HAVE ONE.

(Image from hardtoexplain via Life in Lomo)


  1. if you do end up eloping (which sounds like a hard sell, based on your characterization of your fiance), research the hell out of marriage laws in scotland; eloping means throwing yourself at their mercy, and if they're anything like the english laws i ran up against when i got married, you might find yourself dealing with waiting periods, public announcement requirements, and so on. knowing is half the battle, &c.

  2. Agreed, 100%.

    My fiance and I have viewpoints along the same lines as you and yours: I wanted something incredibly small, casual and/or very far away, whereas he was the pretty princess who wanted the flowers, tuxes, ballgowns, etc.

    And in the end, the wedding be a comprimise. Larger and more formal than I'd like, but less glitzy and detail-heavy than he'd like. We still bicker occasionally about each others' taste in what each other's attendants will be wearing -- tuxes in the August afternoon, I ask? can't they at least wear matching dresses, he replies? -- but the important things are figured out:

    - He wants the wedding, so he handles the stressful details I don't like, which makes me happy.
    - All our families will be there, which makes him happy.
    - It took some looking, but I found an affordable dress that wasn't covered in sequins, which makes me happy.
    - He gets to dress up as much as he wants, which makes him happy.
    - Etc.

    For real... let him handle the details (supprort him when needed, of course). Let him be "bride".

    You can also do the Miss Manners-style budget wedding: Have a ceremony in someone's house or backyard, have everyone important to both of you present, and serve them all whatever refreshments you can afford (even if it's just ice cream and tea). If his family is all present, he may -- may -- be happy with less of an event-style wedding.

    P.S. My condolences on your venue. That really freakin' sucks.

  3. i say that if he wants the wedding, let him deal with all the planning and stress.

  4. That is what I did. My Bean wanted a wedding. As much as I'm enjoying the while planning "phase" I think eloping would have been lovely.

    However, I did it for him. It's what he has always wanted, the awesome wedding party shenanigans. I am glad he talked me into the whole hooplow. (Hoopla is too much).

    P.S. Scotland is an awesome place to get married. You can get married outside (unlike the rest of the UK) and it is super pretty.

  5. I've considered eloping, and think it sounds like a damn good idea. My guy, on the other hand (all art punk & sensible?) wants fancy schmancy traditionalism. We'll meet halfway. Just tone down the tradition. You're lucky to have a guy like him, who knows you well enough to know that later in life you'll have wanted a beautiful wedding. He's doing it for you, not him, trust me.

  6. Scotland used to be (like, in Jane Austen's day) the place that young English couples would elope to (kind of the same idea as running off to Vegas to elope). Of course, I have no idea what the rules are now-a-days, but that seems like a neat "tradition" of its own :)

    You might find it easier on both of you if you just reevaluate the wedding and make sure BOTH of your needs are being met. It shouldn't be all about either of you, just like your relationship. I don't like the word "compromise", but if you both write down what it is that you want to get out of a wedding experience, you will probably find more common ground than you realized and in any plans you make, look back to your list and ask yourselves, "does this fit into the picture of what I want my wedding to be about?"

  7. I am all for eloping, but if one partner wants a wedding I say have the wedding.

    Weddings aren't like not eating at a restaurant because the other doesn't like the food or something. They are bigger and it looks like your fiance really respects them.

    So I agree with esb.

  8. Also, that sucks about the venue. I really hope you get your money back.

    I agree with possible having it at a home if possible?

  9. Um...never posted a comment on a blog before, but I can't help myself. We decided to elope...half elope...something like that (his family was there, mine wasn't - for various reason, but mainly because we were in Switzerland and my family is entirely in America). We said, we get married now celebrate later all together. Good plan, right? Well, except for the fact that pretty much everyone in my family was pissed off that I had half-eloped and totally not into the marry now, celebrate later idea. We sent out classy announcements informing everyone that we had gotten married and I got exactly zero replies from my relatives. My parents haven't spoken to me since then, which was five months ago.

    Personally, I loved my quiet little wedding without drama and pomp and wouldn't have changed a thing. (Maybe that's selfish since so many people are upset...) It was absolutely beautiful and trouble-free.

    But apparently, eloping offends people. Who would have guessed.

  10. AGREEEEEE. Totally understand the dilemma, but it becomes clear once you get engaged that weddings are not about the couple so much as everyone who loves them.

  11. i hate to break it to you sister, but it's not *your* day, it's *his* day too. you're going to have to meet in the middle. i'm into the idea of having it at someone's home. if you live is a "fairly upscale city" with "gucci clad people in the shopping malls", surely you must know someone that has a big enough yard to put on loan for the day. obviously, it doesn't have to be completely his way and you don't have to wear some over-the-top ball gown. (the thought of my husband picking out my wedding dress is making me laugh hysterically) you do, however, have to come to terms with the fact that his opinion matters just as much as yours.
    let me also point out that being engaged and planning a wedding can really have its moments of suckage. don't let them fool you, it sucks for everyone. i've been with joe for 5 years and those 10 months were hands down the most difficult 10 months of our relationship. but if you ask me, and i bet if you ask anyone else, it was all totally worth it.

    p.s. our caterer pulled out; i KNOW where you're coming from.

  12. Both of you are involved, so you have to come to some sort of agreement.

    Start by talking. Prepare by making a list of the reasons why you want to elope vs. having a wedding. He can make a list of what he wants. Hopefully you can come to some sort of compromise.

    If both of you really spend some time thinking about why you want what you want, sometimes things get clearer.

    Of course, sometimes they don't. But you guys still need to compromise.

  13. I agree with 17 beats on this one.

  14. Pointed advice, love it!

    Getting married in Scotland is less hassle than in England: http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/regscot/getting-married-in-scotland/i-want-to-get-married-in-scotland-how-do-i-go-about-it.html . ESB is right though, and what you really need to do is go for a long walk with your man, talk it all through, and arrive at some sort of reasonable compromise. Also, I expect you've already done this, but phone the venue, it sounds like you need to start thinking about if/how you can get the $ back. Good luck x

  15. similar to rachel- i would do lists. lists are good. each sit down and write what you want the wedding to feel like. see what he writes. you may both want the same thing, just see different ways of getting it.

    if you still can't find a middle-of-the-road compromise that meets both of your "visions" then, what the hell. have a wedding... and let him handle things.

  16. and dude, that whole "venue pulled out" thing is so friggin common lately, it makes me sick to think about it.

  17. Gretna Green! Lindsey M. Nelson is right, Scotland - and the town of Gretna Green in particular - is the traditional eloping spot on my side of the world. You could "elope" there and still have a wedding with lots of people there, including your fiance's family. If you google Gretna Green you'll see there are lots of places that offer package deals for exactly this so it needn't entail a lot of stressful planning. As far as I know the laws in Scotland allow you to do this, whereas in Ireland, where I am, there are all kinds of annoying notice periods and form-filling to be done, and it sounds from previous comments that England is similarly tedious. If Gretna Green sounds too cheesy because of its history, there's a place in Crear which organises weddings too. It seems to be an artist centre in the middle of gorgeous scenery - Peonies and Polaroids photographed a wedding in this spot and the landscape was stunning. Of course you said that your fiance wants to have everyone over to America, but maybe this would be an alternative. Good luck.

  18. Minus your particular venue hassle, your story is our story (and we've had our own venue nightmares too.) He wanted big and fancy and I wanted a small backyard bash. I was shocked that my artsy sensitive partner wanted a big formal to-do and it took me a long time to work through my resentment towards him and his huge family for putting me through this wedding planning stress and expense. But we did work through it, because a wedding is really important to him, and he's shaped up on the getting involved part/taking the stress off of me (Demand that. Really.) And we found a way to make it ours so that it works for both of us. And he shows his appreciation all the time for the work I'm doing and validates that yes, this stressful and occasionally really hard and awful. And, since I'm "better" at this wedding planning stuff, he's picking up the slack elsewhere in our relationship (cooking and other chores) to balance it all out. That overall balance has been instrumental is keeping me sane and not resentful, and seeing the wedding as a shared priority in our overall lives.

    But then again, sometimes it's amazing too. And working together has made it so much more meaningful than any of our initial individual hopes. It's made it harder too, but it feels like we're working towards marriage with the process of compromise. And I'm finally really on board with why doing it this way will be meaningful for me, him, us, and our families.

    Parts of this sucks. A lot. And the venue search left me furious and tearful more than I'd like to admit. But once that's taken care of, a lot of this gets easier. And your search won't necessarily have the same result next time (though I know how it can feel that way now.) So on this next round, make him research venues. Make him look for real weddings that meet his vision and talk about why. Sit down with your real wedding inspiration and talk about what excites you. Make him put together a realistic budget breakdown and ranked priorities. That all got us on the same page with our real priorities and why we wanted a wedding in the first place and opened his eyes to how hard this really is. But it also opened my eyes to why this matters so much for him.

    So yeah, even though I understand the pull of an easy elopement, my partner would always have resented me. So it just wasn't in the cards for us. But our big, casual-end-of-fancy wedding is.

  19. This is the best comment thread ever, for about a billion reasons.

    And yup, big party with everyone there was more important to him than to me. But, a wedding is a wedding, and it was wonderful. So there is that. And yeah, planning sucks. Hard. That said, it makes it that much better when it's over ;)

    PS Tell him to butt out on the dress. You can can make sure he doesn't *hate* it if it makes him more comfortable, but that is it. Your body, your dress.

    PPS Gretna Green! Yay!

  20. Here's the thing (and this coming from someone who fully digs eloping, in fact I very often wish we would have eloped and just had a rockin' honeymoon instead): It is easier to regret not eloping, than to regret not having a wedding. I hope that makes sense. If you don't have a wedding and he wanted one every time the topic of weddings comes up, or you go to someone else's wedding he will feel bad, and you will probably feel bad because you can see it upsets him. If you grit your teeth and have the wedding, you probably aren't going to feel that same way about elopements, you know?
    So I say have the wedding, but make sure he knows that if at any time during the planning he is game for an elopement just say the word and you are on board. And since the wedding is so important to him make sure that he is part of the planning, it isn't fair to expect you to deal with the entire headache.

  21. I thought eloping sounded excellent about every other day throughout the planning process. As did my husband. But in the end, we had a super fun day and are so glad we did the wedding thing - stress aside. It really is fantastic to have all the important (or most) people in your life in one place to celebrate the two of you. I know that totally sounds cliche, but it's true.

    Could I have still handled eloping? Probably. But I'm glad we didn't.

    And - wedding planning is good practice for working out battles later in your relationship. After some soul searching and talking, you two will come up with a good solution. I'm sure of it.

  22. I've never commented here before either, but coming from someone who has eloped (like, elope, elope, as in didn't tell one single soul except the two witnesses, which were not our parents) I would NEVER do that again. Eloping was fine, aftermath = MUCH WORSE than I ever imagined. People that I never thought would be upset were. My parents, SO HURT. By the way I'm divorced now and engaged again, he's never been married and wants a big wedding, I don't. We'll meet halfway, backyard bash with a live band, and bunch of beer!

  23. OMG. OMG. OMG. I love you all, and your crazy, serious, cautious, and blatant comments!
    I went home after writing this email to ESB and guess what? The man said to me, point blank, let's go to New Orleans and get married. Tonight.
    We booked the tickets, our best friends tickets, our parent's tickets, and had an elopement party in New Orleans this weekend. We walked the "Second Line" down Bourbon Street, stopped for a Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's and bought our wedding bands at a consignment shop. We are marrrrrrrrrrrrried. And we both loved it. And I didn't have to talk him into it. I didn't even bring it up. He did. And it's amazing. And we're happy. And everyone (except my sister) is super happy for us!
    p.s. we still might have a little party in Scotland next time we visit, we sure did miss having those family members there:)
    p.p.s. Celia, just because you live somewhere fancy doesn't mean you're fancy too. :)

  24. Oh yes, and we put in a dispute with AMEX regarding the venue. I'll keep you all posted on what happens next...you all are so kind. xoxoxo

  25. Congrats!!! Sounds like everyone wins. And- can we see pictures????

  26. I have no good advice for this except, if you do have a wedding try not to get stressed out and resent your partner for wanting a wedding. And also, I think you'll find a lot of joy out of the compromises the two of you will make in planning a wedding or elopement together. Best of luck!!!!!!!!!!

  27. well THAT worked out well.

  28. FUCKING BRILLIANT! Better than a big overpriced wedding any day.

  29. I have pictures on my facebook account - I'd love to be your friends! www.facebook.com/withoutgrace

  30. Crazy! So happy it worked out!
    I can see a long & happy marriage in your future :)

  31. All of you are all kinds of awesome.

  32. Hi, nightlarke, WE ARE TWINS. Almost completely.

    My fiance just said to me, last night, that he kind of wished we could elope (uhh, not after dropping $5k on the venue, dress, photographer, DJ...). Yet he's the one who is insisting on tuxes and "doing it right" and matching flowers.

    He's still irked by the non-matching dresses (and in BLACK, oh sweet heavens!), I'm still hoping the guys don't look too penguin-like, and we're making it work. We'll compromise our way through to the end, and then we'll be married and it'll be OVER. It's surprising just how much I can't wait until it's just done with. :)

    Original writer, I'm here a little late and you got your adorable elopement, so CONGRATULATIONS, and way to go. :D

  33. Im in the same predicament. I want to elope, for me weddings are about two people not random people that have absoultley nothing to do with your relationship. I think elopements are soo intimate and romantic (as long as they are classy and not some drunken night in vegas). I have been to so many weddings before and for me the vibe I get is just a parade of materialistic things and not really about the love that two people share. My partner wanted a big wedding, but i convinced him other wise so we agreed on immediate family and best friends to have a destination wedding in Vegas (im in Australia) but Im still not satisfied. Im thinking of possibly having a small wedding at home (his wedding) and on our honeymoon in the Maldives renew our vows (my wedding) so I can still have the romantic wedding I want. Obviously each to their own on what type of wedding they want.