How To Budget For An Elopement
With more couples realizing eloping is an option, comes more couples asking “how much does it cost to elope?”.
While I love how more couples are wanting to elope, I am also aware of how little amount of resources and information there is out there on how to prepare and budget for an elopement. I strive to create resources for couples like you 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, elopements cost anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000. It all depends on what the couple decides to do on their elopement day. You can have as little or as much included in your elopement, its your day just for you. Traditional weddings, according to statista.com a traditional wedding in Canada on average costs $42,400. So, yes, it can be much cheaper to elope instead of having a large wedding. 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 the couple wants it to be. As an example, a couple may go to their local courthouse, sign the marriage license, have some photos taken, and have a nice dinner, this could cost less than $400f for the entire elopement However, some couples are realizing that elopements can also serve as a unique wedding experience. Some couples plan their elopements at unique they have never been before or places that hold a special place in their heart. Read this blog if you are looking for ideas of where to elope to. And keep reading as I break down everything you need to know to better understand how much it will cost you to elope
The Cost of Eloping
A lot of couples’ reasons to elope involves having the freedom to do whatever it is that they want and 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: $1,000 - $3,000
Travel: $200 – $2,000
Accommodation: $200 – $1,000
Attire: $300 – $3,500
Officiant: $300 – $800
Florals: $100 – $500
Wedding Planner: $800 – $2,000
Videographer: $700 – $3,500
Hair & Makeup: $100 - $500
Miscellaneous : $150 – $500
Important note: You don’t need to spend in all of these categories for your elopement day. Many of these things can be optional or you can also DIY them.
Let’s talk a bit more about these categories:
In my opinion, the most important of the expenses for your elopement is your photographer. I might be bias lol. 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, I would highly recommend that you team up with one for an amazing elopement experience and for somebody to capture those experiences. 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 mini 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 that is going on around the couple.
There are so many places in this world that you can elope to. You can elope in your backyard and hold a virtual wedding ceremony with your friends and family, or you can travel to Hawaii and elope right before you enjoy your honeymoon together for two weeks! 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 end up spending $600-$1000 per plane ticket. The 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 of the travelling that you be doing for your elopement adventure and add it into this category to better help you figure out your budget.
Much like travel, the cost of the accommodations for your elopement can vary greatly. You can get ready in your own home, rent an Airbnb, go glamping together in a yurt, or just set up a popup tent to get ready in.
The questions that you need to ask yourselves include:
Wedding attire, like most of the categories I have already talked about, can vary greatly. You can go as extravagant or as simple as your heart desires, or you budget allows. When it comes down to it, you and your partner should decide together what you b 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 to be the 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 second-hand wedding dress or the favourite suit in your closet, then you should do that!
The goal is to feel awesome in whatever it is that you decide to wear for your wedding.
Vendors - Officiant, Floral, Wedding Planner, Videographer, and Hair & Makeup
If you are interested in learning about other vendors and how to choose them, check out my other blog post, Elopement Vendors: How to find them, Who to book, and When to book.
Officiants lead your ceremony and help you become officially married by walking you through the ceremony. Having an officiant is ideal if you’re having a legal wedding ceremony at your elopement destination. Just to clarify, 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 where you sign your wedding license after you say your I do's, or you can bypass all of that 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. My Mother-in-Law actually married my husband and I. If you decide to have a commitment ceremony, then you can plan less budget for the officiant or have no officiant all together! It all depends on what you both want to do.
Traditional weddings usually require there to be 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 floral for a 150 person wedding. With elopements, however, you don’t have to worry about centrepieces, bridesmaid bouquets, or even ceremony floral arrangements if you want to keep it simple. Many elopement brides will opt for a bespoke bridal bouquet and the groom with a boutonniere, just a unique. By spending money on just these two items, you can get the type of flowers you want without worrying about going over budget. Sometimes having ceremony arch with floral and bridal bouquet is enough, some people want more. It's up to you. If you’re looking to save some 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, or you want to plan your elopement somewhere that you don’t speak the language or know little to nothing about the logistics and legalities of getting married there. A local wedding planner who specializes in small weddings and elopements can help keep everything organized for you, especially 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’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. While videography is definitely not a requirement for elopements, I still think that 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, I think it is important to give you a pretty detailed list of everything or almost everything possible that 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 about 90% less than the national average of $42,400 for a traditional wedding. The biggest take away is couples who elope prioritize what exactly they want more when planning an elopement versus a traditional wedding. For example, instead of worrying about what centrepieces 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 $42,400, and the absolute more expensive elopements costs $15,000, what are the differences?
The main difference is where the costs are going to for a wedding and for 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. Some of the biggest 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:
Are You Ready To Elope?