By eloping, we were able to avoid all the nerve-racking and exhausting wedding traditions that just weren’t “us.”
My heart pounded as the organ music swelled. More than one hundred guests stood and turned, the entire chapel collectively holding its breath as they waited for the bride to make her grand entrance.
I self-consciously stepped into the aisle and snapped a photo of her when she appeared. She looked perfectly comfortable with all eyes on her, somehow seeming to manage a beaming smile and eye contact with every single person in the crowd on her way to the altar.
Later, there would be another grand entrance of the newly married couple in the reception hall, followed by emotional speeches, first dances, and a raucous party on the dance floor: the bride getting low to pounding pop music and strobing lights, surrounded by a sea of friends and family members cheering her on.
Fortunately, my job as the photographer was to blend into the background and document all of these moments, and I was happy to stand on the sidelines and watch the new couple celebrate in their big, showy way. Still, by the time they had been sent off by a procession of hugs and sparklers, I was exhausted. And I couldn’t help the sense of dread that filled me when I imagined myself in the bride’s high-heeled shoes. I knew, in that moment, that a big wedding would never be in my future.
Fortunately, when my husband and I got engaged years later, he agreed — and we set about planning our own perfect dream wedding: a small, intimate, modern elopement.
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Why a Modern Elopement Is the Perfect Introverted Wedding
The word “elopement” might sound scandalous and taboo, calling to mind an image of a crazy young couple recklessly stealing away to get married without their parents’ approval. But that’s not what modern elopements are (and it’s certainly not what my husband and I did). Instead, modern elopements, which are increasingly popular, usually just mean a small, intentional wedding with around 10 guests or fewer.
Everyone wants their wedding day to be perfect (or at least, as perfect as it can be). For introverts, that might mean bucking tradition and doing things differently. Here are five reasons I’m so glad I chose an elopement, and why I highly recommend it to any introvert who’s ready to tie the knot.
1. You can ensure everyone on the guest list is — and always will be — deeply important to you and your marriage.
We introverts tend to dislike shallow socializing and small talk. The thought of sending out dozens of invites to distant relatives, acquaintances, and coworkers we may or may not even like was enough to make me cringe. (Not to mention the fact that, should all of those people actually show up, we’d be spending a significant portion of our wedding day having to entertain small talk with them.) I also hated the idea of looking back on my wedding photos and seeing a huge bridal party made up of people we’d since fallen out of touch with.
Instead, we decided to only invite our immediate families — our parents and siblings. With a small guest list of just six of our favorite people, we could feel confident that everyone in attendance would always be near and dear to us. After all, they had already played an important role in our relationship and would be lifelong supporters of our marriage. And we had plenty of time to interact meaningfully with each of them on our wedding day!
Of course, best of all, I didn’t have to shake a bunch of hands, try to remember my in-laws’ friends’ children’s names, or spend hours making the rounds to thank each guest for coming. Less is more is truly the ideal scenario.
Whether you decide to invite a handful of close friends and family members, or no one beyond the officiant and the bare minimum number of witnesses, eloping gives you a chance to curate your guest list and include only the people you really want with you on your special day.
2. You can skip the phone calls — and all the traditions that just aren’t “you.”
When I thought about what I wanted out of my wedding day, the words that came to mind were authenticity and meaning. I wanted a sentimental day that focused on celebrating our marriage and the joining of our two families.
We wanted everyone at our wedding to have an important role to play, so we ended up DIYing most of our elopement. It felt like the perfect way to celebrate who my husband and I are as a couple. As an added bonus, it meant we didn’t have to make a bunch of phone calls to vendors (huge score, since making calls can stress introverts out more than anything).
My mother-in-law cooked all the food, so there were no caterers to worry about. My mom made our wedding cake, so we didn’t have to coordinate with a baker. My sister officiated, so we didn’t have to get a stranger up to speed on our relationship and what we wanted out of our ceremony. And I didn’t have to make small talk with a stylist while they got me ready for my big day — I had my sister-in-law (a professional hair stylist) do my hair instead.
We were really fortunate to have all of these skills within our families, and I highly recommend getting your own loved ones involved in whatever ways you can — whether that’s recruiting your crafty mother-in-law to help you make decorations or asking your musically inclined brother to curate the perfect playlist for your party.
We were also able to avoid all the traditional wedding things that just aren’t “us” — the goofy entrance into the reception venue, a night of flailing around on a dance floor, a garter toss (the horror). None of that would have been fun for us, and acting like it was would have detracted from a day that we wanted to be special.
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3. There’s so much less stress without an audience to “perform” to.
There is something so performative about walking down a long aisle, standing in front of everyone you know, and exchanging vows with all eyes on you. It’s an unfortunate truth about getting married: You will be the center of attention. And that’s a lot of pressure for an introvert who prefers to stay out of the spotlight.
Fortunately, when you elope, that pressure is reduced. I was nervous enough when it was time to start the ceremony; I can’t imagine how I would have felt with hundreds of eyes on me, with the pressure to put on a show to impress them all. Instead, everyone there knew us well, and we were able to be our awkward, nervous selves.
As a highly sensitive introvert, I was also worried about how I would handle all of the big emotions of the day — especially in front of an audience. I knew there was a chance I would get overwhelmed and completely lose it during the ceremony, and I didn’t want to break down in front of everyone I knew. (For the record, I actually held it together better than I expected to. I teared up only as much as the rest of our families did, so it all worked out!)
4. You can avoid months of pre-wedding conversation.
This might be one of the biggest perks of eloping: You don’t have to tell a soul if you don’t want to.
Beyond our tiny guest list, I didn’t tell a single person about our engagement or plans to elope until after the wedding, when I returned to work with a ring on my hand. A coworker of mine was getting married around the same time as I was, and it was all anyone could talk about leading up to her wedding. I silently laughed to myself as everyone teased her about her impending nuptials, peppered her with questions about the wedding plans, and weighed in with their opinions about every detail of her big day. You don’t realize how invested everyone is in your personal business until you announce that you’re engaged!
It was so nice to not have to have those conversations or hash out every detail with anyone who asked. Keeping my little secret was the best decision! By the time the news did get out, the pre-wedding jitters had already been put to rest. I was much more relaxed about it all and able to handle a day or two of “Congratulations” from friends and acquaintances.
5. You’ll have the flexibility to adjust plans as needed.
With just our families in attendance, there was so much less pressure on every single aspect of our day. For instance, we didn’t even have to commit to a set ceremony time! We were able to just hang out with our families while we got ready and sipped champagne, and then, when everyone was ready and the sun was just right (because you’ve got to get those golden-hour pictures), we all gathered around for the ceremony.
For an anxious, overthinking introvert, it was perfect — I could relax knowing that nothing was set in stone. Without a huge audience waiting on me, I felt (mostly) in control of the day and had the flexibility to change plans as needed.
At the end of our wedding day, we were still exhausted — so much so that we almost forgot about the personal vows we’d written and decided to share after our families left, just between the two of us. As we sleepily read our vows to each other in the dark, I was grateful, content, and certain that we had pulled off exactly the wedding day we’d wanted to have: low-key, relaxed, meaningful, and memorable. We’d survived — and on our terms.
I know eloping might not be for everyone. Ultimately, getting married is a promise between you and the person who knows you best. It can be an intimate and emotional thing, and you should do it in a way that honors you and your relationship, traditional or not. So find what works for you, and enjoy your big — or small! — day.
You might like:
- Why Having a Small Wedding Is Perfect for Introverts
- 4 Tips to Survive (and Enjoy) Your Wedding Day as a Highly Sensitive Introvert
- Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing
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