It’s important to have a budget in mind when planning an elopement. In this blog, we will break down some of the major costs to consider when planning an elopement, as well as some practical tips on how to save money throughout the entire process.
Average Cost of an Elopement
On average, most couples spend between $5,000 and $15,000 on their elopement. How much you spend greatly depends on how you prioritize your budget and where you choose to spend your money. However, elopements generally cost much less than traditional weddings, which can set couples back an average of approximately $30,000.
Elopement Cost Breakdown
Every couple will have different costs and vendors that they need to consider, but these are some cost categories that are common among most elopements. The cost of each category can vary significantly by geographic region, but knowing the average costs of these items can help you plan for what to expect.
The average couple spends between $500 and $3,000 on wedding attire for their elopement; this cost includes a suit, wedding dress, accessories, and any alterations that these garments need.
Floral costs vary greatly, depending on whether you are just looking for a simple bouquet and boutonniere or a more elaborate bouquet and additional floral décor. The average eloping couple is usually in the market for a simpler bouquet and boutonniere and will spend between $150 and $500 for these flowers.
Hair and Makeup Artist
The average amount for one bride to spend on having her hair and makeup done ranges from $250 to $400.
The cost for an elopement photographer varies significantly depending on their experience and the services they offer, as well as the number of hours you’re looking to hire them. In the elopement photography industry, it is very typical for the photographer to provide significant planning assistance in addition to photography services. This may include things like providing location assistance, permit help, aid with logistics, and more. Typically, elopement photographers provide much more planning assistance than traditional wedding photographers, potentially eliminating the need for an elopement planner. The average couple spends between $2,000 and $6,000 on an elopement photographer.
The average couple spends between $1,500 and $4,000 on a videographer. This cost generally depends on what type of coverage you’re looking for and the experience level of the videographer. If you’re looking for only ceremony coverage for your elopement, this will cost much less than all-day coverage with a highlights video.
The average couple spends between $400 and $800 on an officiant when they elope, though this cost can vary depending on the experience level of the officiant.
Why It’s a Myth That Elopements Are Just Cheap Weddings
As you can see from the cost breakdown above, many of the costs of a traditional wedding also apply to elopements, just on a smaller scale.
In fact, some costs, such as wedding attire, hair and makeup, photography, and videography, are the same or similar whether you plan a wedding or elope because the services themselves don’t change much.
And while some couples do choose to elope purely to save money, even more couples nowadays choose to elope because they want to have a wedding day that prioritizes their commitment to each other and focuses on what they want rather than what others might want.
These couples might spend less in some categories, such as a venue or catering, but more on other things, such as an epic adventure experience or a great photographer.
Eloping is all about prioritizing what’s important to you, whether that be your budget or your experience.
How To Save Money on Your Elopement
Start With What’s Important To You
I’ve listed some very practical tips on how to save money on your elopement in the following sections, but the best thing you can do to cut costs is to prioritize what’s important to you.
I recommend that the first thing couples do when they start planning a wedding is to sit down together and have an in-depth conversation about two things. First, they should discuss what is really important to each of them on their wedding day. Next, they should talk about the things that are not important to them.
For example, perhaps it’s really important that you have a destination elopement in a fun place, but you feel that celebrating with an expensive meal is not so important. What is or is not important will differ for every couple, so you’ll want to have a conversation about your priorities with your fiancé. Once you know what is most important to each of you, it will be easier to deal with budget issues down the road as all the pieces start to come together.
Find a Free Venue
One of the best things about eloping is that because you will only have a few guests (or no guests at all!), you won’t need a traditional venue. There are many parks and public spaces that allow small wedding ceremonies. Every location is different, and some do come at a small cost. You’ll need to do your research to see what is allowed and whether you need a permit at a given location.
Choose a State Where You Can Self-Solemnize
There are a few states in the US that do not require you to have an officiant for your wedding day, which would allow you to cut the cost of having one.
For example, in Colorado, you can marry yourself and don’t need an officiant or any witnesses to be present. Another example is Pennsylvania, which does require witnesses but does not require an officiant.
Consider DIY Options
There are some elements of your elopement that are easier to DIY than others. If you want to save some money, you could choose to forego certain vendors and take care of these things yourself. Some of the easiest options include creating a DIY bouquet and doing your own hair and makeup.
Choose a Wedding Dress That Already Fits
One of the more surprising things of getting married is how much it costs to get wedding attire tailored. Some brides try to cut costs by buying an inexpensive dress online, only to spend equally as much getting the dress tailored. The same applies is true of suits.
If possible, go with attire that you are able to try on before you buy and choose items that fit you very well in order to minimize alterations costs.
Remember That It’s Your Day
Above all else, when it comes to your elopement, remember that this is your wedding day, and you can do whatever you want when it comes to your budget. If you want to nix something listed in this post, you should! Or if you want to include something else (like a tattoo artist who can give you elopement day ink), do it! The bottom line is that you get to make your wedding day whatever you want it to be when you elope, and that makes for a pretty amazing day!