Between the rising cost of big-day affairs, the stress of wedding planning, crazy in-laws and the fact that, given the choice, you'd have started you life with the man you love yesterday, it's no surprise you may be toying with the idea of eloping.
"This decision not only changes your life, but it also affects the people around you," warns wedding planner Ashley Espinal of Dulce Dreams Events. "Make sure you do what is best for you, your relationship and your long-term goals, but also realize that your choice will have a ripple effect in your life and in those of others."
So before you head to the courthouse, ask yourself these five key questions:
__1. What are the real reasons you're considering eloping? __
"Before you take the leap, you should probably think about the legitimate reasons you're doing it," Espinal says. "Are these reasons substantial enough that it won't make you regret it later on?"
2. How will your family and friends react?
"Although we may think that our friends and family's feelings don't count when making such a life-altering decision, how they react and address your new status may affect your relationship," says Espinal. "If your friends and family have negative feelings toward it, it may be a decision you need to reconsider."
3. Have you ever dreamed of walking down an aisle wearing your dream wedding dress in front of the people you love most?
"It's hard to go through life thinking of things that could have been if you would have thought it through," Espinal says. "Knowing that you may end up still dreaming of your white dress is good enough reason to stop and think."
4. Have you considered different options for celebrating your union?
"Some people think that in order to have a wedding you need to spend a certain amount of money," says Espinal. "This is not the case! There are plenty of non-traditional — and even traditional ways! — of having an intimate celebration without the headache of planning a lavish affair. As you move into the next phase of your relationship, weigh the options and consider the possibility of scaling things back a bit and finding a different and unique way of celebrating with your loved ones."
5. How will this decision change your relationship?
"For the most part, when you decide to elope, the choice can be fleeting," Espinal points our. "If this is the case, you should really take the time to talk and make sure you both are on the same page!"