Yes, it’s the “best day of your life”.  Yes, your family might (initially) be a little confused or disappointed.  But nothing beats the low-stress exhilaration of marrying the love of your life with no one but the birds and the bees watching you (and one or more witnesses as required by your chosen jurisdiction).  A little over a year ago, my husband and I eloped, and I’d recommend it to anyone.  Here’s why.

Stick it to the WIC (Wedding Industrial Complex)

Sure, your parents are “more than happy” to cough up the $10,000 to $20,000 or more that a traditional wedding costs.  People do weddings in all kinds of ways, and there are lots of do-it-yourself options.  But if you know that you’re on the path to hotel-caterer-DJ and something feels wrong, don’t push those doubts aside.  Think, first, about these people you’re calling “guests”: about asking – no, expecting – these beloved individuals who shaped your life to take time off work, drive for hours or fly across the country – oh yeah, and buy you something, sometimes twice.  Then think about how your bridal party, your parents and, most likely, you are spending lots of money – sometimes money you don’t actually have – to have “a perfect day”.  If your perfect day comes down to what it should – committing to your fiancée for life – all the rest is just extra, and unnecessary.

I Do… Wha?

Between finding a dress for the flower girl, arranging for  special no-dairy, no-gluten, no-sugar, no-peanut meals for 17 guests and making 10 separate calls to the florist to adjust the number of boutonnières, it’s easy to lose sight of where this road is leading you.  Marriage is an intense, lifelong commitment, a vow with legal, moral and financial responsibilities unlike any other in modern society, and your engagement period is a special time to both contemplate and relax.  Even if you’ve lived together, there’s a mental adjustment that is real and necessary.  Whether you have 500 onlookers or just two, the vow is between you and your fiancée.  Our decision to elope took the stress off the day and opened our minds to the possibilities of life after our vows.

An Unparalleled Adventure

When you elope, the world is bright and awash in the unexpected.  Airline lose your luggage (as mine did)?  It’s all part of the fun.  Your honeymoon starts the moment you say “I do”, so go where you feel most alive.  Sure, that may be in your local courthouse – but think creatively!  Without the encumbrances of the WIC (and all that money you didn’t spend on the DJ in your pocket) you are free to explore.  And why not?  Your friends and family will be so happy to see the joy and pride you take in this adventure.

The Love of Humanity

I did worry a little that we’d be completely alone on our journey, with no one who cared about us there for support.  In fact, our elopement has become the most humanity-affirming event of my life.  We received cheers, honks and smiles wherever we went – even an impromptu round of applause from fellow diners as we entered a restaurant for dinner.  That love of humanity – a completely free gift from complete strangers – is a karmic blessing that no cash, toaster or set of china could match.  These people were genuinely happy for us, though they did not know us, and we carry a little of their love with us every day.

And in the End, You Can Still Have a Party

And once you come home, yes – you can still have a party!  You’ve prepared yourself for marriage, crossed the line and made it home a richer, more brilliant, happier person.  Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?