Elopements can come in all shapes, sizes, and of course budgets. There is certainly no one right way to have an elopement, especially considering all the options there are for venues, entertainment, photo shoot opportunities, and sight-seeing that you can incorporate right into the celebration.
If you’re interested in getting eloped, you might be wondering just how much the average elopement costs, however. Is it similar to that of a traditional wedding, or are there ways to cut costs?
This is actually one of the best parts of eloping, and one of the reasons why couples everywhere are starting to consider it over other options. Generally speaking, the cost of elopement is typically quite low in comparison to the average cost of a more traditional wedding ceremony.
Most regular weddings in the United States hover around the $30,000 mark, which is a hefty price tag. We’re so used to weddings costing a ton of money that we don’t really think much of it, but the costs can certainly put a damper on things.
Stress related to wedding costs is a rather well-known phenomenon. In some cases, couples even take out personal loans just to pay for wedding expenses.
When you think about it, this is a little crazy. Putting yourself in debt just for your wedding seems like a surefire recipe for marital disputes and aggravation down the road.
Even cheaper weddings can run well over $15,000. It simply costs a lot of money to pay for catering for dozens of people, decorations, photography, and all the other services and parts that go into a typical wedding.
Elopements Focus on What’s Important
Because you’re not inviting 100 friends and family, buying thousands of dollars’ worth of flowers and doilies, and buying the most expensive wedding dress on the market, you’re going to save money.
Typically, elopements run cheaper than traditional weddings because a lot of the extraneous costs are cut out. You don’t realize how much all the pieces of a wedding add up until you see that final price tag.
Most elopements boil down to air fare, a hotel room or two, the cost of a marriage license and officiant, photography, and whatever events and sightseeing you have planned.
There is some variation, but for the most part, this is the bulk of what you’re going to be thinking about when creating a budget for your elopement.
Compared to what most traditional weddings entail, this is downright simple.
We’ll discuss some of these costs more in depth, so you have a better understanding of what goes into a typical elopement and how much it really costs.
Travel and Lodging
This is where the money will be spent. The major cost involved with most elopement packages is in the air fare and in whatever lodging, such as a hotel, you will be staying at.
Elopements almost always involve some kind of travel. It’s like combining the best parts of a wedding and honeymoon together, so traveling to a romantic destination is almost a given.
You don’t always have to go fancy either. Maybe there’s a place that’s special to you and your significant other someplace simple out of state that you love or always wanted to go to. Lodging for elopements can run as little as a couple thousand dollars, sometimes even cheaper if you can get package deals.
This of course is much cheaper than catering and decorations for a wedding hall.
Hotels are typically what most couples use for lodging during an elopement, and whether you are going as a couple or with some friends and family, you can usually find a great place at whatever resort or location you are staying at, and the costs won’t really be all that much. In fact, if you take the time to look around and search for deals, you’re liable to really cut costs and have an amazing experience.
Marriage Licenses, Essential and Cheap
This part of eloping can seem daunting but it’s really a breeze. When you’re getting eloped in New Orleans, the process couldn’t be easier. We have a guide on getting a marriage license in New Orleans here if you are interested.
Just make sure you know the cost beforehand (licenses are usually rather cheap) and that you don’t try and get a license during a federal holiday. You don’t want to try and get legally married and discover that everyone took the day off!
Most elopement packages include an officiant, and the cost is typically very low. The national average is less than $200, and when included in an elopement package, it can be as low as $100 or so. Obviously this is small change compared to virtually any cost of a traditional wedding.
Photography Packages are Essential
Like any wedding, elopements don’t skimp on photography. This kind of thing can make or break a ceremony, and many elopement planners go to great lengths to ensure that quality photography is their highest priority.
Capturing the best moments of the ceremony and bringing out the love that the couples have for each other in every photo is something that photographers spend years learning how to do, so good photographers are usually one of the bigger costs of any elopement.
Depending on the size and length of the elopement, they can run anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Far cheaper of course than typical wedding photography because of all the complexities of most modern weddings.
Entertainment and Adventure
What’s an elopement without some fun?
Much of the rest of the costs of any elopement tend to come in the form of sightseeing, restaurants and bars, tours or cruises, and entertainment.
You would think that this adds up, but depending on the vacation or elopement package, you can stuff a ton of romance and excitement into one week for only a couple thousand dollars or less. You just have to know where to look and be savvy about where you spend your money.
Many cities, including New Orleans, have very gracious couples packages for sightseeing and activities. If you’re looking for a packed week full of things you’ll never forget, you won’t be disappointed.
For the cost of what it usually takes to decorate a wedding hall, you could visit world class museums, have a picnic lunch in a beautiful park, go snorkeling, take a ride on a ferry, eat at the best restaurants in town every night, and still have plenty of money left over for late night room service!
The True Average Cost of Eloping
Only about $3000!
You might wonder how that’s even possible, but many couples who elope are concerned more about the romance than the flash and flair.
The bulk of an elopement package, which will typically run anywhere between $2000 and $5000, is in the hotel accommodations and the professional photography.
Unless you want to splurge on a luxurious wedding dress or a cake the size of a car, you’re not going to be breaking the bank at all for your elopement.
Quite the contrary. Many couples look at eloping as an investment.
What could be better than starting off your marriage not incurring any debt and not having to go through the stress of a traditional wedding?
Click HERE to learn the 5 secrets to a successful (and stress-free) elopement and BONUS checklist!
While eloping has taken off in recent years as a perfectly viable alternative to traditional weddings, there’s still a bit of confusion and even concern over how to announce one.
After all, you don’t want to upset your relatives and friends that may have been expecting you to tie the knot in a more traditional way. Some family members in particular can be really uptight about not being invited or involved in your marriage.
Elopements buck the trend of weddings being these big, family-orientated affairs, and focus instead on the couple. This usually results in friends and family simply not being involved in the planning or even being invited at all.
There are ways to go about announcing that you’re getting eloped without incurring the wrath of your loved ones however.
Here’s some tips on how to plan your elopement announcement.
Give Close Relatives Insider Knowledge
If you’re planning on an intimate elopement where not very many people, if any, will be invited, you’re going to want to tell your parents and other close relatives as soon as possible.
You don’t want them to find out through someone else or worse yet, through social media.
Despite elopements being relatively simple to plan compared to weddings, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the insight of close relatives, not to mention, there is a good chance they will simply want to know.
If you fear what the reaction will be, it probably means they shouldn’t be privy to the information anyway. A marriage, regardless of the circumstances, should be a joyous event. If anyone else tries to make it about them, you know their heart isn’t in the right place. So don’t lose sleep over it!
For ordinary circumstances, a little announcement card in the mail can go a long way. You might also want to give personal calls to certain relatives or show up and discuss the decision in person, but don’t let them find out from someone else. They may have really been expecting to attend your wedding and would be upset to know you didn’t even have the heart to tell them they weren’t invited or that they weren’t included.
Besides, they may have already been planning to get you a gift!
Don’t Rely Solely on Social Media
Yes, we’re living in the age of social media, but that doesn’t mean big decisions like this should always hinge on whether or not your closest friends and relatives have Facebook.
If you truly want to announce your elopement plans on social media, inform the right people in person or over the phone beforehand so there is no confusion or hurt feelings. The last thing you want to do is announce your elopement and have a dozen relatives calling you up asking why they didn’t get invited or if they will get invited.
It’s a good rule of thumb to only announce something like this on social media once it’s already kind of common knowledge, so the “announcement” only acts as a kind of official confirmation on what people already know rather than brand new news. This way, no one gets the wrong idea and you don’t have to deal with a PR crisis.
This should go without saying, but don’t announce your elopement on social media when you’re already on your physical elopement. If most of your friends and family had no prior knowledge of your elopement and suddenly see pics of you on a beach in wedding attire tying the knot, there may be some hurt feelings.
Avoid tasteless social media stunts like this at all costs. They almost always backfire.
Give Yourself Plenty of Planning Room
Don’t wait for the zero hour to make the announcement.
You may have planned only for certain people to accompany you, but after announcing your plans to a specific family member, they may make a good case for why they should come too, and if you agree, trying to work them into the plans at the last minute might be a hassle.
You also want to give yourself plenty of room in case someone does, despite your efforts, react poorly to your decision. This will give you time to talk to them and help them understand why you chose to get eloped. This way you don’t leave on the wrong foot with anyone.
Also, there’s something about formally announcing plans that helps our brains to see scheduling conflicts where we previously thought there were none. You may have planned for your elopement on a certain week but by announcing the actual date, your mom informs you that something big is planned for that week or that the destination you chose is having a holiday or something else going on at that time, etc. Getting a different perspective and bringing your plans to light can often provide second opinions and help you with your blind spots.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Tell Everyone You Know
While you want to inform the right people, your elopement isn’t everyone’s business. You don’t have to send out a ton of announcements or take out a page in your local paper.
The general rule of thumb is, if you were having a small traditional wedding, who would you invite? Tell those people you’re getting eloped, but don’t stress yourself out about telling many people beyond that.
Elopements are about eliminating stressors and having a fun, exciting marriage ceremony. Don’t get too caught up in making sure your elopement is known to everyone you ever met.
Provide Helpful Information
If you do send out announcement cards of any kind, include general information about the ceremony or anything else you want your family and friends to know, to let them feel like they are a part of the loop.
You can provide the web address of your registry or elopement page if you have one, and a heartfelt thanks for them being a part of your life and that you want a happy send off on the day of.
Make Sure You Photograph Every Moment
Everyone who doesn’t get invited is going to want all the juicy details of the elopement, and what better way to do the talking than with great photography?
A professional elopement photographer should be a staple of any elopement ceremony anyway, because capturing the right moments and preserving them for generations to come is one of the best parts of any elopement.
Your friends and family are going to want to feel connected to the event and see what went on, especially since you likely held your elopement in an exotic location. Let photo albums do the talking so you don’t have to have an hour long phone call with everyone you know.
This is when you can feel free to go crazy on social media. Once you know all the right people know, and you’re officially eloped, it’s time to break out the photos and go all out on Facebook and Instagram. This is what everyone wants to see, and it’s your moment, so play it up!
The benefit of having a great elopement photographer is that they are going to grab those gasp-worthy tear-jerker shots that everyone will love and feel connected to. This is the perfect way to include friends and family in on the elopement that you weren’t able to invite.
Just remember, keep it casual and classy. Your elopement announcements should reflect the essence of your elopement!
Click HERE to learn the 5 secrets to a successful (and stress-free) elopement and BONUS checklist!
An elopement might be infinitely simpler to put together than a wedding, but that doesn’t mean a little planning isn’t necessary.
In fact, one of the biggest mistakes you could make after deciding you want to get eloped is not putting any thought toward planning and just leaving everything to chance.
Elopements are supposed to be fun and spontaneous compared to traditional weddings, that’s part of the allure! But the best elopements are planned elopements, and this is why elopement planners are such a big deal.
Even if you’re planning on having a minimalist kind of ceremony with very few guests not too many vendors or things to coordinate, it’s important that you understand what you need to do in order to pull off an elopement and how having an elopement planner can eliminate most of your stress and take everything off your hands so you can better focus on the actual ceremony!
Managing Everything in the Background
A good elopement planner will go out of their way to ease your burden and clarify things so you don’t have to scramble to do a ton of research or figure out any local legal jargon.
If you are thinking of food and floral vendors, among other services, do you really want to be calling these people left and right and trying to arrange everything yourself? In a city you may not be familiar with? All while packing and picking out your perfect dress?
Of course not! Elopement planners make it their business to know their city or area in and out, so they know where to get the best deals, where the good eats are, and how to most efficiently handle all your needs so that everything runs smoothly and you barely have to lift a finger.
Yes, an elopement doesn’t have as many pieces to think of as a wedding, but weddings themselves can be exceedingly stressful. Simply planning for a trip and making the big leap into marriage can be a daunting prospect for some people.
Do you really want to be worrying about if the flower arrangements are done on time or delivered to the right address?
Let a professional handle it. You’ll be glad you did.
No Need to Get Technical
It’s not really a secret that the last thing a couple wants to do before their big day is research local laws on marriage certificates and public park regulations just so they can pull off their own elopement ceremony without a hitch.
This does not fall into the ballpark of “spontaneous” or “fun.”
Though many cities and towns have pretty simple guidelines for all of this kind of thing, letting a professional who knows their city like the back of their hand and can arrange everything for you in the background is worth its weight in gold.
No need to get mired down in legal jargon or technicalities. A good elopement planner will set you up with the perfect officiant for the ceremony, will make sure you know how to properly obtain your marriage license, and will do as much of the work for you as possible outside of signing the actual certificate for you!
That’s a whole lot better than waking up one morning and deciding you want to get married halfway across the country and ending up there a day later not knowing the first thing about how to actually get legally married there. That’s not exactly romantic.
In order to get the best possible experience on your elopement, it stands to reason that you would probably have to spend hours researching what the best venues for food, entertainment, and other amenities are, correct?
This is work that shouldn’t have to burden you in the days leading up to the ceremony.
Elopement planners have already established connections all over their city, and know exactly who to go to in order to fulfill your requests. They know the hot spots, the best way to manage your time, the best places to eat, and the best deals on flowers, music, or anything else you might need for your elopement.
Since they’ve spent years becoming knowledgeable specifically so they can help their clients, an elopement planner will be able to much more than you could ever do alone, and they’ll do it in half the time. They are in the business of making sure they put together the best possible ceremony for their clients, so that means capturing the best of what that city has to offer and packaging it just for you.
Photography: the Secret Ingredient
Capturing the moment with great video or photography is probably the most underrated part of putting together an elopement ceremony.
After everything is said and done, you’re going to want to look back on the memories and see the best moments captured. Sure, memories themselves are priceless, but sometimes you can’t put a price on a perfect picture that captures a special moment.
The best elopement planners either know the best elopement photographers in town, or they provide elopement photography services themselves, like I do.
Photographing my couples and seeing their faces light up later on when they get to see their ceremony captured perfectly just the way they remember it is one of the best parts about providing elopement planning services.
This is not an area you want to try and pull off yourself or go cheap on. There’s a gulf of difference between a hobby photographer and a professional. In order to get those crisp shots at just the right times, with the right lighting and angles, you have to go with someone who knows what they’re doing and loves their craft.
If you’re interested in an elopement package for New Orleans with everything you could ask for in an elopement ceremony and more, plus my professional photography services, you can see more details here.
A great elopement planner will go out of their way to make sure you have a stress-free and beautiful ceremony that aligns with your vision. Don’t try and pull off an enter elopement yourself, it’s much easier to go the professional route and know that your ceremony is in good hands.
For some couples, the prospect of elopement can seem like a massive undertaking. There’s certainly a lot of misconceptions when it comes to just what an elopement entails.
It’s common to wonder if an elopement is right for you, or what you can or cannot do in an elopement.
This guide will demystify your fears and set the record straight. I want couples feeling happy and confident with their decision to have an elopement, and there’s no better way to accomplish this than informing them.
Here’s everything you need to know on how to get eloped!
Pick a Location
It all starts here.
Part of the appeal of having an elopement is that you’re not bound to the traditional expectations of holding your ceremony at your family church or local hotel or similar venue.
You’re free to pretty much tie the knot wherever your heart desires.
Think of an elopement as a wedding and honeymoon in one, and you can see why the practice is becoming more and more popular.
Having the option to fully control every aspect of your ceremony and truly make it your own, in every way, this is something that a traditional wedding can’t really offer.
It’s also worth mentioning here that a location can largely dictate what kind of elopement you want to have.
Looking for a tropical getaway and an elopement ceremony on the beach? Someone where in the mountains? A gorgeous historical park like the kind found in New Orleans?
Do some research into the kind of ceremony you want and then plan your location accordingly.
Intimate or Inclusive?
The next major step in planning an elopement is deciding the size and style of it.
Do you want your ceremony to be nearly as complex as a wedding, with dozens of guests, full catering, and tons of decorations?
Or are you looking for something far more intimate, perhaps only you, your significant other, and a magical week together for just the two of you to share?
Something in between?
The size of an elopement largely dictates what you can and cannot do, as well as where you can hold the actual ceremony, what kinds of catering and planning expenses you incur, as well as the overall “feel.”
Part of the appeal of elopements are the ability to have a much more intimate, simplified experience compared to the average wedding. Less people you hardly know, less expenses, less stuff to think about, less stress, less drama.
Elopements tend to focus on the couple, not just traditions. This is why small, intimate elopements are so popular.
The small size of most elopements enables you to save money on accommodations and catering, which gives you the ability to book really nice hotels and spend more money on fun and enriching experiences rather than suits and flowers.
On the other hand, if you have an extended family that really wants to see you get married but you just can’t fathom going the traditional route, there’s nothing wrong with packing your entire family and holding your ceremony halfway across the country.
You just have to plan for it first!
Plan Your Budget
The least fun part of any wedding, but the good news is, elopements certainly simplify the process quite a bit.
In fact, compared to most weddings, you’re going to be cutting out a lot of the fat and saving a ton of money.
There’s just certain things that don’t really come up in an elopement. You’re not going to be decking out a wedding hall for 60 people, buying expensive catering, hundreds of floral displays, balloons, confetti, decorations, table settings, and all the other little things that make planning a wedding a financial nightmare most of the time.
When planning your elopement budget, you want to focus on three main things:
Once you have these three points down, you can kind of play around with your budget a bit and add or subtract as you like. The next most important thing you should splurge a bit on is either an elopement package, elopement planner or elopement photographer, or all if you’re lucky.
You should also take your time looking for airfare and hotel deals. Don’t make snap decisions, you can save a lot of money if you just take your time, plan your destination, and hunt for deals.
Every penny you save in the travel and accommodations, you can spend having the time of your life once you finally tie the knot!
The Legal Side of Things
Of course, the marriage license aspect of an elopement is important too. This is why you have to decide where you want to get married before most of the rest of your planning, because the laws on marriage licenses differ from state to state and at times even from county to county in those states.
The majority of the time, there is a slight waiting period after you sign a marriage certificate application, that can range from 24 hours to about 72 hours. There is also always a clerical fee attached to the process of filing a marriage license application.
Please do your homework in this area. The last thing you want is have your ceremony bungled because you mistimed the waiting period or worse yet, decided to get married during a federal holiday!
If you’re interested in getting eloped in New Orleans, we’ve already written an extensive guide that covers everything you could ever need to know about getting a marriage license there along with professional and experienced officiants who will help with all the legalities required.
There are also a few other legal matters to research before taking the leap and spending money, such as the regulations a park might have for the size of certain groups, park or beach permits for parties or gatherings, and other such minor hurdles.
Usually these legal issues are very easily taken care of, but they can be a headache if you wait until the last minute or even worse, forget about them completely.
Don’t wait. Once you and your significant other decide on where to get eloped, do your research and even call the local government if you have to in order to get all the info you need to have a great elopement ceremony.