A Guide to Elopement Budgets.
So, here’s the deal. You could drive down to the courthouse and tie the knot right then and there. That may cost you only about $100.00. That cost will cover the marriage license, ceremony, and gas.
But that’s not what this “how much does it cost to elope?” blog post is about!
In fact, I want to bust the myth (a la Adam Savage) that elopements are nothing more than a quick ceremony. Or, that they’re just something that couples do when they don’t feel like spending money. Too often, people think that your elopement is any less worthy of investing in than any other wedding day.
A small ceremony doesn’t mean this day isn’t important. If anything, I’d say that deciding to get married your way, instead of the way the wedding industry says you should, and being intentional about how you start the rest of your lives together makes it even more meaningful!
One of my favorite things about elopements is that you get to decide what matters to you – there are no rules, so you can spend money on whatever would make this day truly amazing. For some couples that means a delicious meal, for others, it means a kayak tour, and for you, it could be a flight to Iceland.
This guide to elopement budgets will break down the cost of eloping! So, let’s answer the question – how much does it cost to elope?
Did you know that in 2019, the average wedding in the United States cost a whopping $28,000? That’s a pretty hefty price tag!
It’s difficult to answer the question of “how much does it cost to elope?” with a dollar sign, as elopements are so customizable, and each one is so different. One couple can do a hiking elopement close to home, while another can jet off across the globe – and those two elopement budgets are going to look totally different!
The great thing about elopements is that the money you spend goes to experiences, as opposed to things. So much of the traditional wedding budget goes to single-use items and things that will just be thrown out at the end of the night – but when you elope, you invest in experiences that you’ll remember forever! Like a helicopter ride, a backpacking trip, or whatever it is you’ve got planned.
Not only that, but you actually get to decide what to spend your money on! If you’re a foodie, hire a private chef – but if you prefer a burger, spend that money somewhere else. If you dream of a dazzling elopement dress, allocate more of your budget there – but if you want to go more casual or aren’t into dressing up, grab a white sundress and spend the money on traveling to the place you’ll wear it!
I’d estimate that the average elopement cost is between $10,000 and $15,000, but it all depends on what suits the two of you!
In a traditional wedding budget, the venue is usually the biggest expense – averaging $10,000. But when you elope, your “venue” is the great outdoors! You can elope on public lands, like national parks, state parks, national forests, and more – but sometimes it isn’t as simple as lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trail.
A lot of places require a permit for wedding ceremonies, even small ones. But, this depends on where you elope, so do some research after you’ve chosen a spot!
The price of a ceremony permit varies a ton, and can be anywhere from free to $500 – but most are around $100-$300.
Your elopement budget is going to include some of the standard wedding stuff too – like rings, jewelry, shoes, and whatever you’ll be wearing for the ceremony!
When you shop for elopement dresses or suits, don’t be afraid to think a little outside the box.
If you don’t want a huge gown (which would be a little hard to carry around all day anyway), you can look in bridesmaids sections, or online stores like Lulus that are more elopement budget-friendly.
For suits, if you want a more casual look, sometimes dress pants and a button-up are perfect!
Elopement attire can range anywhere from $300 to $3,000, so decide how important this is to you.
If you want to elope somewhere completely new and epic, you can pack your bags and hop on a plane! Or you can take a road trip or just a short drive from home.
At your elopement destination, you’ll need somewhere to stay, and this can be anything from free camping to a luxurious resort – so the travel portion of your elopement budget is pretty variable!
Think about things like flights, accommodations, and rental cars, and it can help to look up average costs for any elopement locations you’re considering to help you decide.
The most exciting part of any elopement day is planning all the adventures you’ll have! This can be anything – and I mean literally anything. It can be something free, like a hike, or something like a helicopter tour! I encourage you to invest in this portion of the day, as your elopement is truly once in a lifetime – but it’s not about money, it’s about doing whatever would make you the happiest.
The cost of your elopement doesn’t equal the value – and your elopement budget doesn’t have to be a blank check. The value and significance of this day come from the fact that you’re tying the knot, and getting married to your best friend. So when you ask yourself, “how much does it cost to elope?” keep in mind that your experience matters more than the dollar signs.
I’m a little biased, but this isn’t just me tooting my own horn – your elopement vendors are one of the best investments you’ll make! They’ll be able to guide you through the entire process, and will ensure an experience that’s nothing short of incredible. There are a number of vendors you can hire, but most couples don’t opt for all of these!
Hair and Makeup Artist – $300 – $1,000
Florist – $500 – $3,000
Officiant – $300 – $1,000
Elopement Planner – $2,000 – $5,000
Baker or Cake Designer – $100 – $1,000
Elopement Photography – $3000 – $9000
Elopement photography is likely going to be a big portion of the budget, so when you ask “how much does it cost to elope?” make sure you know the benefits of investing more money here!
I have a confession… I didn’t want to spend money on a photographer when I got married! It felt like a huge expense we could live without, but when we ended up having a wild night at our favorite place I was so, so happy we invested in a professional. I love looking at my photos and reliving the entire incredible experience – and that’s why it’s such an honor to be on the other side of the camera for so many couples.
Along with taking the photos, I’ll be your adventure buddy and elopement guide – helping you find the perfect place to tie the knot, getting the right permits, and anything else you could possibly need! Not only that, but your guide to elopement budgets
Ready to chat about your dream day?
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