My boyfriend is close to his family, so eloping would hurt their feelings, and they are super-nice and welcoming to me. I can't, however, take the chance of my family ruining such an important occasion as they have ruined high school, college, and Ph.D. graduations; grandma's funeral; sister's wedding, to name some.
How do we tell his family we want to elope so I don't burn bridges with them, but not make my family sound like the nutters they are? Yes, my boyfriend is OK with eloping; it's in breaking it to his family that we find ourselves in a pickle.
Answer: "But not make my family sound like the nutters they are": That ship has sailed. Stop worrying about how your family appears to others. They're not you.
"So I don't burn bridges with them": You either have a wedding and let the nutter chips fall where they may, or you elope. If you choose to elope, then your boyfriend alone tells his family, or you and he tell them together, that you're ready to get married now, so you're going to. You're free to mention here that your strained family situation would make a wedding difficult at this time - and you're also free not to say that. Also assure his family that you will have a post-wedding party.
That is, if this all sits right with the two of you. If his people withdraw their affection over a decision that's a couple's business alone, then the bridge already had kerosene on it, and any spark was going to consume it. Truly.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, or chat with her online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.