Elope: (intransitive verb, pronounced i-‘lōp) — To run away secretly with the intention of getting married usually without parental consent.
Forget the dictionary. The definition is archaic and misleading. Unless she’s 17 and you’re as creepy as Mark Wahlberg in Fear, you’re (probably) not going to kidnap the girl and dash for the airport. In the 21st century, eloping is different. It’s less secretive and more dignified. Just like cyber-dating, divorce, and wearing jeans in the office, eloping is losing its stigma.
Rather than insult your intelligence with a generic, stating-the-obvious discussion of whether eloping makes sense—you’re a big boy—here’s something you can actually use: ammunition…. Cold, rational logic for why your bride should scrap the wedding.
Will these work? For the average bride who’s swooning over her wedding, maybe not. Probably not. Fine—almost certainly not. But if she’s on the fence or has mulled it over, pick and choose from these 10 arguments to bolster your case:
Think of the Children
A little farfetched? Yep. And it’s a dirty card to play, and you’re playing it from the bottom of the deck. Women only have one kind of guilt that’s more potent than Bride Guilt…and that’s Mom Guilt. If money’s tight, tell her that you’re risking your unborn child’s food, health care, and tuition for a glitzy party and lobster bisque. Imagine what $20,000 invested now could be worth in 25 years (“Have you ever heard of compound interest?”). You are spending your children’s legacy. Can she ever live with herself?
Hatfields and McCoys
There’s an old saying: “Funerals bring families together, weddings rip them apart.”* Sometimes not even a bottomless glass of whiskey is enough to melt the family tension. For these vitriolic families—and for your fiancée’s sanity—the right thing, the only thing, is to protect your bride and spare the bickering. Why poison your marriage with 12 months of a devastating family war? Embrace the Powell Doctrine: only go to war if you can win.
WHOO HOO!!!! IT’S CRAAAAAZZZY!!!
Your woman is different. Bold. She refuses to be a cliché. So appeal to her streak of defiance. What better way to exert her independence, to rebel against the world, to prove that she’s her own woman—then to whisk away to Vegas? This plan never fails. Just ask Britney Spears.
Wedding vs. Home
Pretend that someone gives you a choice: you get to drive a Lamborghini for one day, or you get to own a Lexus, no strings attached, for the next decade. This is the wedding/home tradeoff. The wedding weekend is only 48 hours, and the capital you waste—$20,000 or more—could be parlayed into a mortgage. Wouldn’t the home be smarter?
Been There, Done That
If you’re getting secondhand goods (i.e. she’s a divorcee, she’s already lived the fairytale wedding), then she might actually prefer to avoid déjà vu. Note: this isn’t a two-way street. Even if you churn through wives faster than Larry King, if this is her first time down the aisle, you must act like you’ve had a lobotomy and find every detail fresh, new, and exhilarating.
Intimacy is the mother of romance. What could be more intimate, more poignant, than just a quiet, simple ceremony between you, your beloved, and a couple of strangers as witnesses? Tell her that this moment is so special—she is so special—that you don’t want to share it with anyone. And if she’s worried about Mom and Dad, suggest…
The Beefed-Up Elope
The great compromise. No big wedding, no reception, no bullshit—it’s just like regular eloping, but the parents tag along. Everybody wins! This assuages her “Daughter Guilt” and lowers the odds of you getting served hemlock at Thanksgiving.
The Bait and Switch
Tell her that you should get eloped so that you can “immediately begin your new life together” and then, when your financial fortunes improve, you can eventually throw a blowout “5 Year Anniversary Party” that can be a surrogate, of sorts, for the ceremony she’s always wanted. If your love is eternal then she can wait five years, right? Here’s the beauty of the bait and switch: if your finances don’t improve—or if you stumble into a better way to spend $20,000 then flushing it down the wedding-toilet—you can cancel that Anniversary Party and no one will blink.
If you’re in one of those 15-year-long relationships where everyone already thinks of you as married, then a wedding can feel a little anticlimactic and weirdly underwhelming. It’s kind of like how the Catholic Church exonerated Galileo. It was the right thing to do, it was classy, and everyone universally applauded the gesture…except that it happened in 1992. Um, awkward.
This is so simple, so obvious, that many couples completely overlook it. One thing wedding planning is not: fun. The engagement process is work—spreadsheets, budgets, invoices, deadlines. Who wants that? Dashing off to Maui is a triple-shot of adrenaline. Only try this argument after a triple-shot of tequila.
*No one has ever actually said this. But it’s about time someone did.
Next up: learn about one more big, fat, expense, this time (hopefully) not paid for by you: the engagement party.