With more couples realizing eloping is an option, comes more couples asking us “how much does it cost to elope?”.
While we are loving how more couples are realizing what it means to elope, we are also aware of how little resources there are on how to prepare for an elopement.
This is why we strive to create resources for couples like you, including our guide on how to elope, to better help you plan the perfect elopement together.
What is the cost to elope? Is it cheaper to elope or have a wedding?
On average, we have seen elopements cost anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000. It all depends on what the couple decides to do on their elopement day.
Traditional weddings, according to The Knot, averaged just under $34,000 in 2019. So, yes, it can be cheaper to elope instead of having a wedding.
So how did we come up with all these numbers for elopements? What should be included in the cost of an elopement versus a traditional wedding?
When it comes to the cost to elope, couples need to consider multiple things and understand that elopements can be as elaborate or as simple as they want.
For example, a couple can easily go to the courthouse, sign their marriage license, take a few photos, and have a nice dinner, and the cost to elope would be less than $300.
However, couples are realizing that elopements can also serve as a unique wedding experience. So many couples plan their elopements at unique places they’ve never been to before.
We’re going to break down everything you need to know to better understand how much it cost to elope.
Let’s Break Down the Cost of Eloping
A lot of couples’ reasons to elope involve having the freedom to do what they want, how they want on their wedding day. That freedom also includes spending as much or as little on each of these items below.
Average Elopement Budget:
Photographer: $2,500 – $7,000
Travel: $200 – $2,000
Accommodation: $300 – $1500
Attire: $300 – $3,500
Officiant: $300 – $800
Florals: $100 – $600
Wedding Planner: $1,000 – $3,000
Videographer: $2,500 – $6,000
Miscellaneous : $150 – $500
Important note: You don’t by any means need all of these categories for your elopement day. Many of these things can be completely optional or you can DIY them.
Let’s talk more about each category:
One of the most important expenses for your elopement is your photographer. This is the person who is responsible for documenting your wedding day and overall adventure together.
While some couples may not want to opt for a professional elopement photographer, we always recommend to team up with one for an amazing elopement experience.
If you’re looking to plan an elopement like the ones we have featured on our site, then teaming up with one of our photographer members will guarantee you a unique and personal experience.
It’s important to note that some photographers wear multiple hats during elopements. Most photographers include not only photos but also act as guides and planners too.
Most of their packages include either a half-day or full-day of coverage for elopements. We encourage you to ask what’s included in their overall package experience.
It’s also important to remember that elopement photographers are different from wedding photographers. Elopements are more intimate and focused on the couple, rather than everything going around the couple.
Team up with an elopement photographer near you.
There are so many places in this world you can elope to. In fact, we have vendors who specialize in elopements around the world because there is no limit on where you can elope.
Since the limit on travel options are nonexistent, the cost of eloping becomes a little complex. One couple can spend $50 on gas, while another couple can plan on spending $600 per plane ticket.
Our best advice here is to decide where you’re going to elope and account for those travel expenses whether it be car rentals, flights, or train tickets. Consider all the travel you will need for your elopement adventure and add it into this category to better help you figure out your budget.
Much like travel, the cost of accommodations for your elopement can vary greatly. You can get ready in your own home, rent an Airbnb, glamp together, or put up a popup tent to get ready.
The questions you need to ask yourself include:
- Where are we getting ready?
- Are we staying the night somewhere?
- Will it be just us staying at this accommodation?
- Are we having a multi-day elopement adventure?
Answering these questions can help you decide what budget to set for this category. We personally recommend getting ready and staying at Airbnbs. This option is relaxing, intimate, and unique.
Check out our favorite Airbnb wedding venues.
Wedding attire, like most of the categories we mentioned, has a lot of wiggle room. You can go as extravagant or as simple as you would like.
When it comes down to it, you and your partner should decide what you both prioritize for your wedding day.
Since you’re deciding to elope, that means you have the flexibility to allocate your budget on the things you find are most important.
If that means getting an amazing wedding dress or a custom suit, then go for it!
With that being said, if you want to rock an Amazon wedding dress or your favorite suit in your closet, then do it!
The goal is to feel awesome in whatever you decide to wear on your wedding day.
Officiants lead your ceremony and help you become officially married by walking you through the ceremony. We have plenty of members on our site who specialize in officiating elopements, and some photographers in our directory are even able to officiate your wedding!
However, maybe you’re looking to save some money in this area.
Having an officiant is ideal if you’re having a legal wedding ceremony at your elopement destination.
You probably read that and said, “what??”
Let’s clarify this statement.
When you decide to elope, you can also decide what you want to do during your ceremony together. You can have a traditional wedding ceremony and sign your wedding license after you say your I dos, or you can bypass the paperwork and have a commitment ceremony together.
You can also ask a family or friend to marry you both if he or she has an officiant license.
If you decide to have a commitment ceremony, then you can plan less budget on an officiant or have no officiant all together! It all depends on what you both want to do.
Check out our commitment ceremony guide for more information.
Traditional weddings usually require A LOT of floral arrangements. While you can always keep these floral arrangements simple to reduce the price, you’re still looking at spending more than $1,500 for florals for a 150 person wedding.
With elopements, however, you don’t have to worry about centerpieces, bridesmaid bouquets, or even ceremony floral arrangements if you want to keep it simple.
Many elopement brides will opt for a unique bridal bouquet for their wedding day. By spending money on just your bouquet, you can get the type of flowers you want without worrying about going over budget.
If you do want to have flowers on your ceremony arch and bridal bouquet, then check out our florist members who will be happy to help!
If you’re looking to save money in this category, then consider DIYing your wedding bouquet by buying your flowers from a wholesale seller.
Maybe you’re planning a micro wedding together, or you want to plan your elopement somewhere you don’t speak the language or know little to nothing about the logistics of getting married there.
A wedding planner who specializes in small weddings and elopements in that area can help keep everything organized for you if you have a hard time planning your elopement on your own.
Hiring a planner is also a great way to connect with other vendors to help make your elopement dream come true.
If you aren’t sure you need a planner, we recommend starting a Pinterest elopement board to see what type of elopement you’re envisioning.
If you’re planning a full-on elopement experience, some couples may want to opt for a videographer.
Hiring a videographer is a great way to record your ceremony, including your personal wedding vows to each other.
Check out these emotional elopement vow ceremonies.
While videography is not a requirement for elopements, we still think it can make for an awesome way to remember your elopement in the future or to show your friends and family at your post elopement party later on.
While there aren’t many miscellaneous things that fall into this category compared to a traditional wedding, there are some things to consider saving a small budget for that may come up.
Some of these things may include accessories, vow books, elopement venue permits, marriage license fees, any food or drinks for your special day, and hair and makeup. Another thing you may want to consider is how you’re going to announce your elopement. Some couples love buying custom elopement signs!
While many of these things can be a DIY project or skipped all together, we find it’s important to give you a detailed list of ALL the possible things you may want to include in the cost of your elopement.
Is it Cheaper to Elope or Have a Wedding?
Even though the average cost to elope varies, the total cost is 95% always less than the national average of $34,000 for a traditional wedding.
The biggest take away here is couples who elope prioritize what exactly they want more when planning an elopement versus a wedding. For example, instead of worrying about what centerpieces will be going on the tables, the couple can focus on where they want to elope.
Cost of Traditional Weddings VS. Elopements
So if a traditional wedding on average costs $34,000, and the more expensive elopements costs $15,000, what are the differences?
The main difference is where the costs are going to a wedding and an elopement.
The most expensive category for weddings tends to be the cost of the reception venue, averaging $10,000.
While the most expensive category for elopements tends to be the photographer.
So your big wedding costs go towards housing a spot for your 150-300 guests list to celebrate with you.
While some may be ok with this, others aren’t. These venues usually don’t have all-inclusive packages most of the time, and you’ll be limited to a 4-5 hour event. This also means you’ll end up paying for multiple things out of pocket such as the wedding cake, your wedding planner, a DJ, a Florist, and even food sometimes.
On the other hand, your biggest expense during your elopement tends to be with your photographer, who is hired specifically to focus on you two and guide you through an epic adventure together.
Without going through each of the cost categories between a wedding and an elopement, here are the key takeaways on what is a priority for weddings versus elopements:
- Traditional wedding prioritizes traditions, rushed timelines, and a massive guests list.
- Elopements prioritize the couple first and foremost, an intimate experience, and plenty of opportunities to incorporate new traditions and old.
So are you ready to plan your elopement?
If you’re ready to create an amazing wedding day experience like no other, then let’s start planning!
Still have questions? Let us know in the comments section.