Tell Me About It: She can't get into this post-elopement wedding

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: My brother and his fiancee have had issues with her parents during their wedding planning. Basically the parents want the wedding they want, not caring about the wedding she wants.

The two decided to elope the week before and then put on a second wedding to maintain the relationship with her parents. I feel a little weird about participating in all the pre-wedding stuff (bridesmaid dress, matching shoes, bridal shower, bachelorette, etc.) knowing they will have already been married. I know they're trying to do what's best for them, but a tiny part of me just feels they are not owning their decision and are asking others to help cover for them.

I'm pretty annoyed at this tiny part of myself and really want to see this as a way to support both of them! Verbal slap-down, please?

Answer: Not feeling slappy over this, I'm sorry.

While I don't love that you're in on the lie, and I too would like this couple's chances better if they stood up to her parents openly, I have a lot of sympathy for people who get pushed to the brink by outside wedding pressures.

Eloping sounds like an attempt to preserve themselves and their intimacy. Since those are paramount in a marriage, that (to my mind) is enough to hang on to as you smile through the bouquets and, oof, matching shoes.

Reader No. 1: Not trying to be snarky, just mystified: How does eloping solve any of the problems?

Answer: It makes the whole thing theirs again, in a way the interlopers can't touch. I totally get it.

Strong feelings abound. A sampling, without comment:

Reader No. 2: If the couple don't want to put up with the parents' crap, then they should stand up for their rights and be honest.

Reader No. 3: My wife and I actually were married three days before our wedding. In our state, you can just sign the license in the clerk's office and give it right back. We figured that was easier than taking the license to our ceremony. It never occurred to me that anyone might have a problem with this.

Reader No. 4: The elopement is their wedding! The second event can be called a party, but it can't be a wedding, and to put it on as a wedding under false pretenses is tacky, not to mention just plain wrong.

Answer: Well, it could be that the second one is religious and the first civil - to many, not redundant.

(Back to not commenting.)

Reader No. 5: What will they do when the bride's mom wants to be in the delivery room and they don't want her there? Have the baby first, and a pretend second delivery?

Answer: I'd like to see that, actually.

(Really back to not commenting.)

Reader No. 6: Sometimes the focus gets moved from the marriage to the wedding - this couple are moving it back to them and their marriage. As for the redundancy, a wedding is simply a public announcement of a private agreement: We are a couple, and we want the world to interact with us on that basis. A couple can say that in public at as many parties as they wish.

Answer: Thanks for playing, everyone.

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