We were discussing wedding options – a conversation that occasionally rises and somehow never ceases to entertain. At some point (and this one also never ceases to come up) someone suggested that the whole business would be much simpler (not to mention cheaper) if the couple would just elope.
I don’t think I’d mind eloping much. It’s got panache, plus the additional fun of a clandestine and subversive act – even if you know your parents are cheering you on while pretending not to hear you sneak out.
But halachically, are there too many issues? Sneaking off together at night – even assuming you creep out the front door and don’t get carried down a ladder – could pose yichud problems. Especially if you drive off to a different town under cover of darkness.
But forgetting that, what about the wedding ceremony? I’ve always wondered – exactly how many of those guys under the canopy are actually necessary? Don’t you just need two witnesses? Because a requirement to gather a minyan of men who are willing to assist your elopement would pretty much stop any such wedding right in its tracks. But two witnesses – that’s doable.
Now, do you actually need them to be willing witnesses? Meaning, do you need someone to “perform” the wedding, like all those Christian elopees who rush to Gretna Green? Dig up two romantically inclined Jewish men to stand by and sign off on business? Or can you march into shul after shacharis, announce “harei at mekudeshes li” and slip a ring on her finger and a kesuba into her hand?
I wish there was a place to look all this up. I don’t think there’s a sefer in Eichlers about hilchos elopement. Can anyone help me flesh out the details of this most essential subject? Perhaps we can publish a small informational pamphlet for the newly engaged. In-these-tough-economic-times, I’m sure it would be well received by the greater community.