Zoe Helene and Chris Kilham, Kauai, 2014

Elope: Pros and Cons of Skipping the Wedding
Chicago Tribune
by Jessica Reynolds

Somewhere amid the chaos of wedding planning, a couple may find themselves imagining how much easier it would be to drop everything and head down to the courthouse to say "I do."

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When Zoe Helene, 51, and her husband, Chris Kilham, 63, eloped in 2007, it was a mix of passion and timing. The two had known each other for two years and had dated some of the time, but she was living in Asheville, N.C., and he was in Amherst, Mass. When their relationship picked up again, Kilham asked her to go on a trip with him to South Africa.

"I said to myself, I wasn't going on that trip unless we were married," Helene said. Several days later, the pair went to the Amherst town hall and exchanged vows. "We went outside. There was no dress. There was no engagement ring. There was no nothing."

The couple married under a tree while it was drizzling out, and the officiant read "a beautiful Navajo wedding vow," Helene recalled. Afterward, they called family and friends to share the news.

The trip wasn't the only reason they were married, but Helene realized if she was going to uproot her life for a relationship, it needed to be serious.

"After we eloped, I thought maybe we should have a wedding," Helene said. But when she started making a list of potential guests, she realized too many people she would want to attend wouldn't be able to. "I didn't like the idea of some of the really important people not being able to be there."

Very few people showed animosity toward them for eloping, she said, and those who did were people they didn't know well. "Most people were there for us and thought it was romantic," she said.

Helene and Kilham celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary July 23.

August 2015