Am I selfish to elope?

Congratulations everyone on getting engaged! I got engaged in June 2018 under the same oak tree where my grandparents met some 65 years earlier. My grandma passed a few months later, and while it breaks my heart that she won't be able to celebrate our wedding I was so very grateful she'd been aware of the engagement and of the special location it took place in before she passed.

Since that time, partly due to grief; partly due to having to juggle the image of what my wedding day looked like in my mind at the age of six and now at the age of twenty-six; partly due to everyone else's idea of what my wedding day 'should' be!; I've had huge trouble deciding exactly what I want for my wedding ceremony. Moreover, I have a hugely difficult family - unfortunately the difficult family members happen to be my sister, mum and dad. My sister hasn't spoken to my dad in five years, so were I to have them at my wedding day it'd be the first time they'd seen each other in half a decade. My dad has huge anger issues and a tendency to behave outside of the accepted norm and my sister has inherited this fiery temper and has no issue with causing a large scene in front of family members and in public. My mum I'm closest to out of all three, but even this relationship is strained and I've increasingly been distancing myself as her emotional blackmail and insecurities have really blighted my childhood and adult life and for my own mental health I have to try and keep her emotionally at a distance. I think weirdly my dad and sister would accept not being a part of the day if no one else was, but my mum will take this inevitably as a personal slight to her. She's become so bitter and unforgiving in her retirement and this hugely worries and upsets me, but I also don't want to sacrifice my wedding day just so she can have her moment in the spotlight. (My sister is single and so my mum will take this as her 'only mother of the bride' opportunity which is so out-dated I know, as my sister has only just turned thirty, but that's how she'll take it.) 

I've been googling so many articles on dealing with difficult family members, and I am planning on having a party six months after the elopement as I do want to celebrate with my extended family as well as my friends, but really my main concern is what if I regret not having ANY of my family and friends there. What if I turn around after marrying my best friend and there's no one to congratulate us? We've discussed the ceremony and we're planning on asking our two close friends to be there as witnesses, as we'll be marrying on our eight year anniversary and they set us up in the first place!, but what about my other friends? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot here? I'm still planning on having a hen do and stag, and on having bridesmaids at the party... It's just all completely new territory for me (I'm the first in my friendship group to get engaged) and my family are the kind of family inclined to hold onto grudges. Whatever I do, wherever I turn, it looks like I'm upsetting someone but what if I end up upsetting myself in the process? 

I've had a hard childhood and the last time my immediate family (mum, sister, dad) were together was on my graduation - which was categorically one of the worst days of my life, which sounds unbelievably privileged I know, but imagine being surrounded by proud parents and their children...and then imagine my mum blanking me except to spit spiteful comments at me for not including her in my official graduation photos (I just had a picture of myself) and my sister being incredibly rude to the point of embarrassment in front of everyone and my dad arguing with my mum as I was handed my scroll... no one was happy for me. No one congratulated me all day. And I felt so small and insignificant and unloved that day. It was unbelievably horrible. 

Sorry this is such a ramble, but what I'm really asking everyone here is:
1) Has anyone gone against what they previously wanted (a wedding) and gone for an elopement to avoid difficult family members?
2) Has anyone regretted eloping?
3) If anyone has any advice on how to tell the mother of the bride she can't be there (particularly a mother inclined to emotional blackmail and drama!) then it'd be much appreciated!!

It'd be great to just know that other people have faced similar experiences and come out the other side...

Posts

  • I really feel for you and although I haven't been in your exact situation, we are eloping. Our wedding day is tomorrow! Our families have all been very understanding and they just want us to be happy. We are having a party on Saturday to celebrate with our family and friends. I always had the big wedding dreams when I was young, however since we have been planning our wedding this way, I cannot imagine our wedding day being more perfect.

    I hope you manage to make some decisions that are right for you xxx 
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,590 New bride
    edited 20 February
    My advice would be don't tell them until it's done and you are already married - then it's done, they can't guilt trip you into having them there.They'll have a moan but that's all they can do. Good luck!
  • Sci-Fi NerdSci-Fi Nerd Posts: 52 New bride
    edited 20 February
    Oh gosh, what a tough one! I'm so sorry you're saddled with this. I agree with the above post, don't tell anyone until it's all done :) it's YOUR day. You've already taken the brave steps of putting your mental health first, continue to do that!

    I've been engaged SIX MONTHS and I'm still unpicking how my wedding should look due to a whole host of family issues  which includes different religions, not speaking to certain family members, not wanting others there, etc etc. 

    I've given myself plenty of time and permission to take my time deciding, and at the end of the day as long as I end up married I'll be happy enough. Give yourself all the time in the world to figure out what YOU want.

    Try to remember that as you said, you'll be marrying your best friend!  
  • Congratulations on your engagement and what a lovely, special place for it to happen! 

    Im with MrsC, not selfish at all and I’d go do it and then tell your parents/family afterwards. *If* that’s what you want - there’s also an argument that if you actually want a wedding with guests you should have that, and tell your immediate family that you expect them to show up, behave civilly on the day and be happy for their daughter/sister and if they think there’s even a slight chance they can’t manage that then they’re not invited. But I know that’s easier said than done. 

    I would really work on setting some healthy healthy boundaries for yourself, particularly with your mum. Maybe look into counselling or at least do some googling and reading up about toxic families/relationships, how to establish boundaries and how to resist giving into FOG (fear obligation guilt) which it sounds like your mum likes to play on. Whatever you decide about the wedding, I think that could really help you moving forward with your family. Remember you can’t change or fix them, you didn’t cause their behaviour and you’re not responsible for it. You’re an adult about to start a brand new family now, you get to decide who gets to be a part of it and what behaviour is expected from anyone who wants a relationship with you. Good luck with it. 
  • I really feel for you and although I haven't been in your exact situation, we are eloping. Our wedding day is tomorrow! Our families have all been very understanding and they just want us to be happy. We are having a party on Saturday to celebrate with our family and friends. I always had the big wedding dreams when I was young, however since we have been planning our wedding this way, I cannot imagine our wedding day being more perfect.

    I hope you manage to make some decisions that are right for you xxx 
    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, especially when your wedding day was THE VERY NEXT DAY! Really I'm so grateful that you took the time to reply considering how busy you must have been - and huge congratulations on getting married!

    I'm pleased that your family supported your decision to get married in the way that you wanted. Thanks again for your kind words, as this is such a difficult time for me xxx
  • MrsCToBee said:
    My advice would be don't tell them until it's done and you are already married - then it's done, they can't guilt trip you into having them there.They'll have a moan but that's all they can do. Good luck!
    Thanks v much for messaging, the only thing is I don't think I can in good confidence not tell my family in advance...

    Since I last posted I'm coming a bit more to terms with my decision and taking the time to come to terms with the elopement, with no one outside of myself and my fiance knowing has definitely helped - although I'll eventually have to tell people, including the couple who we want to invite to the elopement!

    It's tricky though as my fiance has always wanted to elope and been very vocal on that, so I know my mum will blame it on him. He was willing to put his feelings aside and have a wedding if that's what I wanted (he's honestly the best person I could ever be marrying!) but the anxiety I was having over imagining my sister, dad and mum being there was just crippling. 

    Is it wrong to tell people when we're planning to elope, or from everyone's experience does that end up putting more pressure on us?
  • Oh gosh, what a tough one! I'm so sorry you're saddled with this. I agree with the above post, don't tell anyone until it's all done :) it's YOUR day. You've already taken the brave steps of putting your mental health first, continue to do that!

    I've been engaged SIX MONTHS and I'm still unpicking how my wedding should look due to a whole host of family issues  which includes different religions, not speaking to certain family members, not wanting others there, etc etc. 

    I've given myself plenty of time and permission to take my time deciding, and at the end of the day as long as I end up married I'll be happy enough. Give yourself all the time in the world to figure out what YOU want.

    Try to remember that as you said, you'll be marrying your best friend!  
    Thanks for posting, that means a lot! It sounds like we've been engaged a similar amount of time and I'm sorry you've got so many family issues to sort but it's reassuring to know you've been in the same position as me wondering and unpicking what exactly to do! And that it's ok to give yourself time to think!

    And I will be marrying my best friend. I do have to try and remember that. :)

    The only thing is I don't think my family will ever forgive me if I don't tell them beforehand...it's going to be really hard to navigate how to tell my mum.
  • Congratulations on your engagement and what a lovely, special place for it to happen! 

    Im with MrsC, not selfish at all and I’d go do it and then tell your parents/family afterwards. *If* that’s what you want - there’s also an argument that if you actually want a wedding with guests you should have that, and tell your immediate family that you expect them to show up, behave civilly on the day and be happy for their daughter/sister and if they think there’s even a slight chance they can’t manage that then they’re not invited. But I know that’s easier said than done. 

    I would really work on setting some healthy healthy boundaries for yourself, particularly with your mum. Maybe look into counselling or at least do some googling and reading up about toxic families/relationships, how to establish boundaries and how to resist giving into FOG (fear obligation guilt) which it sounds like your mum likes to play on. Whatever you decide about the wedding, I think that could really help you moving forward with your family. Remember you can’t change or fix them, you didn’t cause their behaviour and you’re not responsible for it. You’re an adult about to start a brand new family now, you get to decide who gets to be a part of it and what behaviour is expected from anyone who wants a relationship with you. Good luck with it. 
    Thank you for the congratulations - it really was such a special place for it to happen. We're planning on having photos under the tree and I know I'll treasure them forever. Thanks so much for taking the time to post, too. I've never heard of FOG so I'm definitely going to be googling that as that literally sounds just like my mum!

    From my reading online of advice columns it looks like I'm not the only daughter out there with a difficult, controlling mother. This line from you really helped, again thanks so much for posting: 'Remember you can’t change or fix them, you didn’t cause their behaviour and you’re not responsible for it.'

    I think the only thing is I don't think I can not tell them we're eloping, but I think I need to create a clear plan of action of how I'm going to tell them that we are eloping. We're planning on having a large party later, so there's still plenty of room for my family to let us down then!, I'm considering putting my mum, sister and dad on the same email and expressing to them how I feel and how I need everyone to support us on the day, so they all know they're in the same position. But I don't know if that's just asking for trouble! So I'll see.
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,590 New bride
    edited 21 February
    MrsCToBee said:
    My advice would be don't tell them until it's done and you are already married - then it's done, they can't guilt trip you into having them there.They'll have a moan but that's all they can do. Good luck!
    Thanks v much for messaging, the only thing is I don't think I can in good confidence not tell my family in advance...

    Since I last posted I'm coming a bit more to terms with my decision and taking the time to come to terms with the elopement, with no one outside of myself and my fiance knowing has definitely helped - although I'll eventually have to tell people, including the couple who we want to invite to the elopement!

    It's tricky though as my fiance has always wanted to elope and been very vocal on that, so I know my mum will blame it on him. He was willing to put his feelings aside and have a wedding if that's what I wanted (he's honestly the best person I could ever be marrying!) but the anxiety I was having over imagining my sister, dad and mum being there was just crippling. 

    Is it wrong to tell people when we're planning to elope, or from everyone's experience does that end up putting more pressure on us?
    If you don't want to tell them beforehand, you really don't have to - you aren't responsible for their reaction. I still stand by my advice of not telling them, as whether you do or don't, they still won't be invited, but if you do tell them beforehand, they are going to unleash a barrage of emotional blackmail to try to get you to change your mind, and make the rest of your engagement an absolute misery.
    What do you gain by telling them beforehand? And what do your parents gain? They are going to get the raging hump either way so you might as well make it as easy on yourself as possible.

    And by the way, I say this from experience - my mum's whole side of the family is very narcissistic and self involved, i just refuse to engage with it. I find an information diet and not showing them a reaction when they do explode the best way to deal with them.
  • Oh bless your heart ❤ you didn't need to thank me for replying xx

    We put a little note in with everyone's Christmas cards to tell them our plans. I'll see if I can find it and post a pic on here for you. As I said, everyone was very understanding; I hope you will have the same xx 
  • This was our little note:


    Ohh how lovely!! Don't mean to hijack the thread, just wanted to say this is gorgeous!
  • Thank you @Sci-Fi Nerd 

    @newtonlou92 please feel free to use our little note and any of the wording, if it's of any use to you xx 
    I really hope you're doing okay xx 
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