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!