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How Much Does it Cost to Elope?

Elopement cost

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Are you contemplating skipping the craziness of planning a wedding and eloping with your loved one? If you find it hard to justify spending money on a grand wedding and prefer a day dedicated solely to you and your partner, elopement is the ideal choice.

Lately, many couples are opting to elope the old-fashioned way, like visiting City Hall and acquiring their marriage certificate from a judge. Most find this process simple, straightforward, and relatively cheap.

Some couples prefer getting slightly creative, eloping in their favorite park, at the peak of a mountain, or traveling to an epic destination to say their vows. Others prefer to do several activities as they elope, like declaring their love while skydiving or on a kayak.

Regardless of the style of your elopement, you’ll still have to factor in the amenities of a traditional wedding, such as florists, cake bakers, drivers, and a photographer to capture your special moments on your big day, to mention but a few.

Given the array of elopement options available, you may wonder about the costs accompanying this type of wedding celebration. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place! To help you figure out how much it costs to elope, go through this guide to the end.

The Average Cost of Eloping

One of the biggest questions couples begin researching if they’re thinking of eloping is, “How much does it cost to elope?” Even though there’s no set price tag to elope, on average, most couples spend $ 5,000 – $15,000, way much less than a traditional  average wedding cost of $29,000 in 2023.

Elopement is highly affordable if you intend to forego the entire wedding frills. With an elopement, you’ll only be required to pay a small fee for your marriage certificate, plus a government employee is required to legally officiate your marriage.

Something ideal about eloping is the chance to choose what you feel is important to you and ignore what you feel isn’t necessary. After all, the day you choose to elope is only for the two of you and no one else!

Elopement Costs: The Breakdown

As you plan your elopement, you’ll definitely have to incur some costs on essential things that you’ll find hard to ignore, such as the following:

  • Travel costs
  • The number of guests to invite
  • Florist
  • Cake Baking Costs
  • Officiant
  • Musicians
  • Car/helicopter tour cost
  • Outdoor guide cost
  • Photographer & videographer cost
  • Elopement attire

1. Travel costs

Obviously, if you choose to stay closer to home for your elopement, the costs will be less expensive compared to hosting the event offshore. Should you elope to a nearby national park, state, local conservation area, or city park, the photography and ceremony permit will cost you anywhere from $0-$400.

If you plan to elope within your region, for example, Rhode Island but want to elope around the Finger Lakes region, say in upstate New York, you may need to factor in gas for travels along AirBnB or hotel costs.

Traveling internationally or during peak seasons will be more expensive because of the costs you’ll have to handle. You may want to add an additional $1,000-$5,000, especially for offshore travel costs.

2. The number of guests to invite to your wedding or elopement ceremony

How many people you invite to your wedding or elopement ceremony makes things slightly expensive or manageable. However, the costs will be low for an elopement compared to a traditional wedding. For a conventional wedding, you may have to hire a large venue, plan for meals, or even housing for some of your guests.

If you wish to keep your costs low, eloping is the best option, as you don’t have to spend more to impress your guests. Having a small but meaningful outdoor elopement with a few guests won’t be expensive. You can add an extra $500 – $5,000 if you plan to add some housing or feeding costs.

3. Florist

To make your elopement a success, you’ll need to hire the services of vendors to assist you on your special day. For example, you’ll need the services of a florist to make the bride’s bouquet and a set of other flowers you may need.

The average florist will charge you anywhere from $60 – $1,000 for the bride’s bouquet. The average price stands at around $175. For a floral archway, you’ll have to add another $500 or more. Many eloping couples choose to forgo bridesmaid flowers, but you may have to include such when eloping.

4. Cake Baking Costs

A majority of couples, even if they choose to elope, prefer to have a special cake, cupcakes, or a favorite treat on their special day. On average, the national price for wedding cakes is around $350 – $450. However, most eloping couples request smaller cakes, some of which cost around $50.

5. Officiant

As briefly mentioned earlier, in most cases, eloping couples will need to be accompanied by a few witnesses and an officiant to officiate their elopement. Officiants will cost you anywhere from $500 – $800 to officiate your ceremony.

elopement officiant

An alternative and cheaper option is to hire or ask a loved one to become ordained. But in some states, an officiant isn’t even necessary. To ensure your elopement goes on smoothly, check your area’s marriage laws to find out what’s required of you. Alternatively, you many opt to elope to states that are easy to wed legally.

6. Musician(s)

Other vendor costs that you’ll have to factor in are musician costs. Hiring a band will cost you anywhere from $500 – $900. If you are on budget, consider hiring a DJ over a band as DJs are cheaper than a band.

7. Car/helicopter tour

Are you planning to hold your elopement ceremony at an outdoor destination out of town where you’ll find off-roading a fun activity with your partner? If you elope at such locations, you may consider renting a 4×4 vehicle like a Jeep Wrangler. Hiring a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler can cost you about $300 per day.

If you prefer a helicopter, especially to take you and your partner to your elopement spot, plan on paying anywhere from $300 per person per hour to several thousand dollars, especially if you’d like the chopper for the day.

8. Outdoor Guide Cost

Couples that choose to elope mostly opt to do so at epic locations or foreign countries where a tour guide may be a significant requirement. If you prefer an adventurous elopement and wish to visit mountainous regions or hike to someplace stunning, you’ll require an outdoor tour guide.

On average, hiring an outdoor tour guide to show you around, especially in locations you need to become more familiar with, will cost you anywhere from $200 – $1,200 per person, mainly depending on the adventure you wish to have.

9. Photographer & videographer cost

With the average wedding photographer costs standing at USD 3,000, photography accounts for 10% -12% of wedding budget. The costs will also depend on how much coverage you prefer.

You’ll spend less than average if you only want a few hours. But for a full day coverage, be prepared to spend a considerable amount that could cost you anywhere from $2,000 – $7,000 for an experienced videographer or photographer.

10. Elopement Attire

Elopement Attire

Even if you choose to elope, you must plan for your elopement attire. Ensure you factor in what it will cost to purchase a dress, suit, or alternative clothing you find ideal for your elopement. In the United States, for instance, a wedding dress costs an average of $280 – $1,600, with others falling in the range of $1,000. For grooms, a suit ranges from $300 – $1,000.

How to Save Money when Opting to Elope

While elopements are much cheaper than traditional weddings, you’ll be surprised to find several other ways to save more of your money on such small nuptials. Below are a few suggestions to save even more bucks on an elopement:

1. Hold your elopement ceremony on inexpensive wedding venues

If you choose to hold your elopement ceremony in a private location, you’ll likely spend more, almost similar to couples hosting an entire, blown-out ceremony.

We recommend hosting your elopement ceremony in inexpensive wedding venues.

2. Do your shopping wisely

The bride-to-be’s wedding dress is arguably one of the most expensive items for an elopement. However, paying for a full-on gown may be optional, especially if you’d like to forego the traditional wedding ceremony alongside the reception.

As the bride, you may want to find a cheap but cute white maxi dress instead of a full wedding gown that may cost you more.

3. Consider doing an exciting yet inexpensive activity

Most couples incorporate memorable and other fun activities into their elopement ceremony, though such can be relatively cheap as other activities such as skydiving. Picnicking, hammocking, hiking, stargazing, and popping champagne are all fun yet inexpensive elopement activities.

Wrap Up

There you have it, the cost breakdown of eloping in the U.S.A. Its a fact that most elopements are cheaper compared to most traditional weddings, with the most significant costs saved on the reception.

If you’re on a budget or want to avoid all the hustle accompanying a conventional wedding, an elopement is the best choice. After all, it’s a day dedicated to just the two of you. 

I am Megan Nova, a wedding planner and Author based in New York City. My vast exposure in the wedding planning trade and my passion for storytelling has inspired me to share expert advice and creativity on this blog.

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