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7 Solid Reasons To Strongly Consider Eloping

Marriage

Ever since I was a toddler, I've been a Nashville girl. That's why it brought a smile to my face when I recently read the headline "Couples from Around the World Visit Middle Tennessee to Elope." Cool. Very cool.


Since I'm a marriage life coach, I oftentimes get asked what I think about eloping. Honestly, if I were to ever jump a broom, I'd probably be the rent-a-vacation-home-and-have-a-really-small-wedding-there kind of gal. But when it comes to big weddings vs. eloping, let me just say that I personally believe eloping sometimes gets a bad rap; specially since a lot of people think that it's some sort of consolation prize rather than a well-thought-out plan.

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You might be shocked about how much of the hype surrounding throwing a big wedding is rooted in debt and superstition. The diamond engagement ring? It came out of DeBeers going broke and then convincing us that it's a symbol of love in order to keep their doors open. Big white wedding dresses? In the Bible, women wore colorful attire; it's actually Queen Victoria back in the 1800s who started the white dress, long veil, and ridiculous huge wedding cake thing. Bridesmaids all looking alike? Supposedly, that's to confuse evil spirits (so is being carried over the threshold).

So yeah, whenever I hear that a couple is taking the "No thanks, we'll pass" approach to the idea of having a huge ceremony and reception (or even not wanting folks present), I don't look at eloping as being cheap or not thinking things through. For (at least) the following seven reasons, I find it to be quite smart, financially-savvy, and a wise approach to marriage overall.

7 Reasons To Consider Eloping

1. Eloping Is MUCH Cheaper

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The average wedding right now? It runs somewhere around $33,340. I promise you, if there's one thing I still can't manage to figure out is how a couple comes up with that kind of cash when monthly bills have the potential to take us all out sometimes.

Anyway, the cost to elope? If you went the City Hall route, based on where you live, you're looking to spend no more than about a hundred bucks. If you decided to have a super intimate affair in your home or a friend's house, you could pull that off for $1,000-3,000 easily.

Just think about the kind of down payment you could put on your starter home or the amount of student loan debt you could pay off if you went this route. Isn't the savings alone just a little bit tempting?

2. It Leaves Room for All Sorts of Other Possibilities

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No one said that just because you're not going the traditional route that you're forced to see the Justice of the Peace. The true definition of elope is "to run off secretly to be married," so what immediately comes to my mind is having a destination wedding. The two of you can go to Hawaii or you and a few of your closest friends can head off to a resort in Colorado (there are some really nice ones during the fall and winter seasons).

Or, if it's time for you or your beloved to get a new vehicle or you want to start a company together, the thousands that would've went to one day can now go to something that will last even longer.

3. You Can Have the Honeymoon of Your Dreams

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Here's something else that's pretty interesting. There are studies that indicate that big wedding marriages actually increase a couple's odds of ending in divorce. Meanwhile, going on a honeymoon improves a couple's chances of staying together.

I get that too. While weddings are (or at least should be) a public declaration of two people's decision to commit their lives to one another as their loved ones celebrate that fact along with them, the honeymoon is all about just the two of them. It's about building intimacy and making quality time a top priority.

Keeping all of this in mind, did you know that only 1 in 4 married couples say they had the honeymoon of their dreams? If you elope, you don't have to be this kind of statistic. The Bahamas, Italy, Greece, Belize—these are just some of the fantasy spots you can actually afford to visit because you've got more money in your pocket (Google "affordable dream honeymoons" for more info on how).

4. It’s Virtually Stress-Less

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Another article that I checked out on this topic is "Stressed-Out Americans Embrace Elopement." Although it's several years old, since eloping is actually a current wedding trend, it still holds relevance.

A lot of marriage therapists and couple counselors believe that if there are two things that can really test an engaged couple, it's a road trip and planning their wedding. On the wedding planning tip, it makes sense why they would say that. If you want to really see how someone handles money, pressure, family, and expectations, watch them in the months leading up to their nuptials.

Why choose to be stressed out if it can be avoided? Marriage is going to come with enough challenges without volunteering to put some on your plate. If you want to enter into your union cool, calm, and collected, this is another reason why eloping may be the best thing to do.

5. You Don’t Have to Worry About Naysayers

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Now, I'll be the first person to say that if the 10 people closest to you are looking at you like you are absolutely crazy for getting married, it would behoove you to ask them why. Like I said in another article, until you're officially a man's wife, you're not. This means that until you say, "I do," YOU are your top priority. You need to make decisions that are best for YOU alone. If the ones who truly care about you see red flags, pause and look into them.

But then there are just haters. Folks who are being critical, just because that's how they are. That said, what you don't have to do (ever) is get someone's permission to get married. Blessings are nice, but you are grown and so is your beloved. With all of the energy that you might be tempted to spend while trying to get everyone on board with your decision, the two of you could already be married and done with it—and by "it," I mean the (potential) drama.

6. It Frees Up Romantic Space

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Some of y'all remember when Beyonce played the love interest in Case's music video "Happily Ever After" (that song is still the jam!). That marriage proposal was dope! I was the bridesmaid in a wedding where the husband did something very similar for his own bride, including having a car pick her up from work with her outfit awaiting her.

Why am I bringing this up? I can't tell you how many wives I've talked to who have hindsight regrets as they've run down the list of concessions they ended up making when it came to their wedding, all because something wasn't in the budget or they felt pressured to please—and by that, I mean appease—a picky or dissatisfied family member. I also can't tell you the amount of husbands who've said they wish they could've done some extra-special things for their bride but they didn't feel like their voice was being heard during the wedding planning process.

When two people elope, since it's just them, not only does it keep the background noise down to a minimum, it frees up cash to be all kinds of romantic and extravagant. With no budget worries or regrets.

7. It’s Just About You and Yours

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Why is this article bringing all sorts of slow jams to my mind? Somebody please cue in "Just Me and You" by Tony Toni Tone because out of all of the reasons why I am Team Elope, this is probably the biggest one. I say that because, honestly, probably one of my favorite things about eloping is it puts the focus right where it's supposed to be—on two people who are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. No more, no less.

They don't need an audience. They're not caught up in a lot of extras. So long as they've got together, it's all good. And you know what? It really is.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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