Lots of people wrestle over whether or not to elope. Eloping was once considered scandalous, at least if you were upper class and a lot was riding on your marriage. Today, marriage is more of an emotional bond as opposed to a political contract. Elopement is definitely going to work better for some people.
Maybe you want to elope because you’re interested in a straightforward marriage ceremony. Maybe you want to elope because you don’t like the thought of a big wedding. In that case, I say go for it. You don’t owe anyone a big wedding, even if they say you do.
If you want to elope because you’re trying to avoid having to deal with your in-laws, that’s understandable. Obviously, it’s going to depend on the situation a lot. However, I’m still going to say that you should usually go with it. It’s your marriage, not theirs. If they’re going to ruin the wedding, you should stop them. They might be upset about it, but it’s possible that they’d be upset anyway. If it’s just a matter of choosing what they’re going to be upset about, then I still think you should make your wedding your own.
Obviously, you know your in-laws better than I do, and you know your situation. Sometimes placating them for one day is the right way to go, and sometimes you’re better off trying to slip beneath their notice. Everyone’s in-laws are different, and we weren’t all blessed with loving and understanding ones.
You may have the sort of in-laws that are going to give you embarrassing memories that you’ll have to live with for years, in which case, you’re better off eloping for the sake of your wedding album alone. If you have loving in-laws, you may regret it if you elope. However, your loving in-laws will want you to follow your bliss, which may not include a big and traditional wedding.
On the plus side, your in-laws will probably help you out more financially if you do decide to go with a traditional marriage. On the other hand, if you elope, you may not even need the help in the first place. Everything is a cost and benefit analysis, and I say weigh the pros and cons in favor of elopement.