So, you've decided to elope. Congratulations! That's a huge decision and one that's often as emotional to make as it is to discuss with your loved ones. Rather than throw your parents into a state of panic, you'll want to approach them with this news gently—and preferably prior to going through with the plan.
Tell them in advance.
The number one priority for telling your parents you're going to elope should be letting them know in a timely manner. And by timely we mean before you walk down the aisle at city hall or on a remote island. Little causes more hurt feelings than an elopement that comes as a complete surprise to your loved ones.
Explain your reasoning.
Whether you're eloping because you don't want to deal with the big production of a wedding, can't afford a larger affair, prefer the intimacy of a wedding that's just the two of you, or want to marry quickly, it's important to let your parents in on the reasoning behind your decision. Let them know it's not an easy decision for you to make, and certainly not an easy thing to tell them, but you really feel it's the best choice for the two of you as a couple.
Let them know it's not about them.
You're not eloping in order to avoid having your family and friends by your side at your wedding, but you may need to explain that to your parents in order to avoid hurt feelings. Be clear that this decision isn't about them, but be compassionate toward their emotions, too.
Realize that they may not actually mind your decision.
Some parents breathe a huge sigh of relief when they find out their kids would rather elope than have a wedding. Give them a chance to react on their own rather than stressing about how you think they'll react. Your (sometimes predictable) parents may actually surprise you on this one.
Remember they raised you to stand your ground.
It's important to stand firm in your decision. Your parents may see your elopement as a problem for them to solve—offering money to contribute to their idea of a wedding, or exclaiming that you can still have a small wedding that your family is part of. If you're comfortable with their solution, go for it. But if you're being convinced to have a wedding you don't really want, standing your ground is crucial.
Find other ways to include them in your relationship.
One of the things parents look forward to most about planning a wedding is the opportunity to catch up with old friends and family they don't otherwise get to see all in one place. You might offer to host a big party to celebrate your elopement, or you might do something more intimate like introduce your in-laws to your parents at a family dinner or vacation. There are plenty of ways to get your parents involved in your relationship and bring them in the loop of the family you're creating with your partner, so let them know that even though you're eloping, you still intend to incorporate them into your new life.