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Running Away Remains Popular Way To Marry
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Prospective grooms no longer have to climb ladders to their sweethearts' windows late at night and race with them across state lines to elope.
Instead, these nontraditional weddings often are announced and held with the full blessing of everyone involved. Many times they are planned far in advance with arrangements made as carefully as in a typical wedding.
Eloping has gained popularity in American culture as a hassle- free, less-expensive way to tie the knot. Many couples --and their families -- are seeing elopement as an attractive alternative.
Dr. Louise Davis, Mississippi State University extension child and family development specialist, listed several reasons why couples choose to elope.
"Many couples don't have the money or want to spend it for a big wedding," Davis said. "Time constraints lead some couples to elope, and the opportunity to marry without stressful preparations sways other couples."
Still others choose to elope to avoid conflicts that may occur when families and stepfamilies are brought together.
Societal views of eloping have changed somewhat through the years, as has the way an elopement is carried out.
"Now more than ever couples communicate better with their families," Davis said. "The couple still has to make the decision on what's best for them, but they are including family more in the decision."
As in a typical wedding, communication is key to the event's success. The couple should discuss what each wants and should explain to their families why they are eloping.
"Both sides of the family deserve to know why," Davis said. "Not giving a reason can lead to speculation and hard feelings.
"And if the reason the couple is eloping is because of their families, they won't avoid the problem by eloping. They will have to deal with the problem at some point, or it will create more problems."
Some couples who elope choose to include families in the big event by having a reception afterwards. Others adopt some elements of a traditional wedding and hire a photographer, carry flowers, buy wedding clothes and send out announcements later.
"They can have whatever kind of elopement they want," Davis said. "The extras they have depend on the couple's desires."
Money and the cost of a big wedding are becoming more of a consideration for prospective couples, said Dr. Beverly Howell, extension family economist.
"People are looking for alternatives to traditional weddings that are meaningful to family, but realistic to budgets," Howell said.
"Many couples today are already established in their lives, professions and financial situations and may find that a large wedding does not fit in their plans," she said.
Such couples are turning to eloping, wedding packages and scaled- down weddings, Howell said. They are creating the wedding ceremony they want without being held to tradition.
Alana Thames of Starkville, eloped with her husband, Jason, in November 1996.
"We're both rather against formality and how big, expensive and frivolous a wedding can get," Thames said. "To me, it shouldn't be that way. It's pointless the amount of time and money that would have been put into a wedding."
Three weeks after getting engaged, the couple was married in Tennessee. They told both families in advance, took pictures of the ceremony and had a wedding reception in mid-January.
Afterwards, they called friends to tell the news and sent a wedding announcement to their newspaper. The Thames plan to take a honeymoon this summer when Alana is out of nursing school.
Thames only regret is that she unexpectedly hurt her mother's feelings by eloping. Her mother wanted the opportunity to be at her daughter's wedding.
"But in any wedding situation, you can never please everybody," Thames said. "The couple ultimately has to do what they want to do."