If the pressure of planning and pulling off a formal wedding makes you weak in the knees and headed for a panic attack, you could find that eloping relieves the pressure. Some friends and family -- including your parents -- may not understand why you decided to elope. Accept their reaction as their choice and eloping as your choice, helping your parents deal with any disappointment over not having a traditional wedding.
If you decide you want to elope and have set the date to some time in the future, let your parents know before you go, if you think that it will help them adjust better. You could schedule a time to meet and let them know what you’re thinking and why. You might invite them to come with you or meet you in Vegas so they can attend the wedding, perhaps even having your dad walk you into the room or down an aisle. Be prepared to explain why you think eloping is your best option without the need to justify your reasoning -- perhaps you plan to use the saved money for a new home or just want to do something quick and simple so you can get back to the kids.
If you know your parents won’t approve of your choice of wedding venues, and you are willing to accept that, you could call them when you arrive in Vegas. It will be too late for them to show up at the wedding, but perhaps calling prior to the ceremony will allow them to feel like they knew about the wedding before it occurred. Your parents might not like it, but perhaps you can have a celebration involving family and friends after the wedding that will help everyone feel more involved.
So much of life appears on social media today, so consider letting your parents and other family know that you’re eloping on your social media pages. This might offend some but makes it easy to let everyone know about the wedding at the same time so no one feels slighted. Post a picture of the two of you together, possibly taken during the wedding. Make time after the wedding to come over to see your parents with pictures, a video and souvenirs from your honeymoon. Elicit their help for a post-elopement celebration that could include a vows exchange they can witness.
If you want to keep the element of surprise, invite your parents to meet you in Vegas and handle your elopement as a destination wedding they won’t know about until they actually arrive and you whisk them off to the chapel or justice of the peace office for the ceremony. The best situation for this option is when your parents love your fiancé and are thrilled that you are getting married -- perhaps after a period of living together when they kept asking when you were going to make it legal. Many Americans who live together prior to marriage find eloping to be easier and cheaper than big weddings, suggests University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite.