I’m going to break down what it would cost to Elope.
Eloping is on the rise! According to a 2019 study, 62% of engaged couples would consider eloping. Three out of five married couples would elope if given a “do-over.” While some people are looking for a more scaled down intimate event, others are looking to elope for a more budget friendly option. But what does it really cost to elope? I’m here to help you break things down.
It’s no secret that weddings are an expensive event. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $28,000, but prices increase with your guest count. The more people you invite, the more food you need to buy and a larger venue you’ll need to rent.
Obviously, the price of eloping varies just like the price of a traditional wedding. There’s a large cost difference between running down to city hall and flying across the world to say your “I do’s.” (If you’re unsure about how to elope or what kind of elopement you want to have, check out my blog about how to elope – link) No matter how you choose to elope, there are four constants you’ll need to invest in.
Things you’ll need for your elopement:
Marriage license – This price can vary from state to state, costing anywhere between $10-$150. If you’re planning on eloping in a state different from the one you live in, you’ll want to get a marriage license in that state. For information about the price of a marriage license in the state you’re hoping to elope in, Google is your best resource! If you’re wanting to elope outside of the United States, it may be wise to get legally married in your home state and have a symbolic ceremony abroad.
Officiant – While some states allow you to get married without an officiant (self uniting marriages – link), most require you to have someone officiating the ceremony. Professional officiants can cost anywhere between $300-$500 dollars, but you can also have a friend or family member get ordained online and marry you instead. This ordination process is typically free, but they may have to take some courses and register with the state. If you want more information on online ordination and your state’s laws, click here.
A venue and/or permits – No matter where you’re eloping, it’s likely that there’s going to be a cost. Even getting married at city hall can cost between $20-50 depending on your city. If you’re hoping to get married at a private venue (a restaurant, museum, botanical garden, etc.) you’ll need to pay to rent the venue, but if you’re more interested in somewhere public (beaches, national parks, etc.), you’ll more than likely need to fill out and pay for a permit. (link to NPS permit guide) Special occasion permits can range anywhere between $50-$500.
Personally I think a photographer for your day is very important
Photographer – Whether you’re eloping at city hall or somewhere abroad, it’s likely that you’ll want your special day captured. That’s where an elopement photographer comes in. Elopement photographers not only take incredible photos, but can also help with planning, make recommendations if you’re unsure on where you want to elope, location scout for the perfect photo spots, and assist with anything else the day of. Elopement photographers can cost anywhere from $4,500 PLUS. If you have any questions on eloping or are looking for a photographer, I’d love to chat with you!
Things you can consider adding for your elopement
Outside of these elopement must-haves, there are a few “variable” costs to consider. While these may not be an essential cost, they definitely can add to your elopement!
Travel – When it comes to the cost of eloping, choosing whether or not to travel will make the biggest impact on your budget. If you choose to travel, budgeting for flights and hotel accommodations is essential. This can cost nothing for a hometown elopement or $5,000+ to travel somewhere abroad. My elopement photography packages include travel cost, inquire with me here to get a custom quote!
Family and friends – Eloping doesn’t mean it has to be just you and your fiance – you can invite any family and friends who are important to you! Any additional guests will add to your total elopement cost, but if you want them there, having those you love surrounding you is worth it!
Wedding attire – Are you and your fiance picking out something new to wear on your wedding day or are you planning on thrifting something secondhand? Maybe you have something you love sitting in your closet already? New wedding attire typically costs $3,000 for the couple.
Things to consider to make your day unique to you
Hair and makeup – Are you planning on doing your own hair and make up or hiring someone local to where you’re eloping? The U.S. average cost of wedding hair and makeup is $300, but prices may range based on your location.
Florals – If you’re eloping in the forest or on top of the mountain, you may not need florals for decorations, but you might still like to have a bouquet. A wedding bouquet and boutonniere cost on average $300. So make sure you budget this is for your cost to elope.
Food – Even though you’re not feeding hundreds of people or having a three course meal, food is a must! Whether it’s stopping at your favorite local diner or having a fancy dinner with your families, having a plan for food is so important.
Cake – If you’re not hosting a traditional wedding, you may not think about having a wedding cake. While it’s not necessary for an amazing elopement, cutting the cake is a fun tradition to include on your wedding day. A small wedding cake typically costs under $200. If cake’s not your thing, have a wedding pie, cheesecake, or pastry!
Other things to consider
Musicians – While you won’t need a full band or DJ as you would with a traditional wedding, you may opt for a single musician or small group to play some music before, during, and after the ceremony. The average cost for ceremony musicians is around $500.
Excursions – If you’re traveling somewhere new for your elopement, booking an excursion may be a fun way to celebrate your marriage! Whether it’s a guided hike with your fiance or a wine tasting with your family, having a new experience with your loved ones is such a special way to add to your elopement.
Remember an elopement prioritizes YOU
With all of these variable costs, it’s important to remember to prioritize what’s most important to YOU! This is your day to celebrate your love however you want.
So how much does it cost to elope? Using the averages above, you can elope for around $15,000. Eloping is an amazing option if you want to get married on a budget, have a more intimate wedding day, or want to travel somewhere new with your nearest and dearest.
Cost to Elope if you go all out, it depends on what’s important to you for your day:
License – $100
Officiant – $400+
Permit/venue – $200+
Photographer – $4,500+
Travel – $3,000+
Attire – $1,000+
Hair and makeup – $200+
Florals – $500+
Food – $300+
Cake – $150+
Musicians – $400+
Excursions – $400+
TOTAL – $11,150+