Elopement photographer - a newlywed couple kiss at the front of a boat, sailing on a lake. Photographed by drone

How Much Does Elopement Cost?

Ever wondered how much an elopement costs and whether you would be able to afford your dream day in a non-traditional destination? Read on to find out.

Ever dreamt of skipping an elaborate wedding venue in favor of getting hitched without all the fuss? Or perhaps spending your big day in your favorite travel destination seems more appealing than a church wedding with hundreds of guests? If this is you, then an elopement wedding could be perfect for you and your other half. But how much does an elopement cost and will you be able to afford your dream day? Keep reading to find out.

Elopement weddings vs traditional weddings

According to a survey by The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the US last year was $28,000, not including the engagement ring. Wisconsin came in slightly lower at $23,000, while popular elopement destination Florida came in at $27,000 and California at a whopping $33,000! If those kind of figures are beyond your reach or you simply don’t want to pay that much to get married, there’s good news. Elopement weddings are generally much cheaper!

On average, the cost of elopement varies from $5,000-$15,000. Of course, there are more affordable options if you don’t mind a simple wedding carried out by an officiant at your local courthouse. In fact, getting married in LA can cost as little as $91 for the license and $35 for the ceremony. But if you want something a little more tailored, there are plenty of options out there that don’t cost the Earth. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of average elopement costs.

Cost of elopement – a breakdown

To help you figure out the kind of costs you can expect when you elope, here are some broad averages (not including the price of a marriage license which you’ll need to get first):

  • Travel $200 – $2,000
  • Photographer $2,500 – $8,000
  • Attire $300 – $3,000
  • Officiant $300 – $800
  • Flowers $100 – $500
  • Accommodation $300 – $1,500
  • Wedding Planner $1,000 – $5,000

As you can see, there is a lot of variation in these costings and that’s because each one will depend on a number of factors. For example, whether you choose to stay local or travel, and whether you want your photographer to cover the whole day or just the ceremony. However, the biggest cost saving comes from not needing a traditional reception venue and catering.

If you’re working to a tight budget, read on for several ways to keep your elopement wedding costs down without compromising on the things that matter most.

3 ways to keep elopement wedding costs down

1.    Choose your location wisely

Eloping often involves getting married somewhere close to your heart. If you plan to wed locally, your favorite park, beach or woodland could be ideal, as these tend to be public land. Instead of hiring a private venue, all you’ll need is a wedding permit and a licensed officiant.

Or, if you’d like to go somewhere sunnier than your current state, how about flying south to Florida or California? That way, you can enjoy beautiful weather without having to splurge on international plane tickets. The average cost of a round trip ticket from Wisconsin to Florida is around $200 at the moment, which is considerably less than it costs to leave the country!

2.    Pick and choose exactly what you want

The great thing about an elopement wedding is that you only need to worry about the aspects that you really care about. For example, there’s no pressure to follow tradition and provide catering and entertainment for your guests. Similarly, if you’re happy with a second-hand dress and a fuss-free Airbnb for the duration of your stay – great!

Instead, you can tailor your big day to your own wants and needs – whether that’s selecting just a few things off the breakdown above or all of them! Plus, you may even save enough to add a memorable activity to your day or extend your trip into a longer vacation.

3.    Decide whether you need an officiant

In most states, you’ll need a licensed officiant to conduct your wedding ceremony. As you’ve seen, the cost of hiring one varies greatly and is likely to cost more the further they need to travel. However, did you know that you can get a friend to sign up online and officiate your wedding for you? In California, for instance, there are no specific laws or paperwork to fill out, you just need to become an ordained minister, which you can register as online.

Alternatively, you may not need an officiant at all. If you’re happy to leave the legal bit ‘til later, you could opt for a commitment ceremony during your elopement instead. While not legally binding, this is a thoughtful way to express your love in a setting of your choosing.

Book a specialist elopement photographer for your big day

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer for your elopement, you’ve come to the right place. I am a specialist in elopement weddings, whether you want to get married locally in Wisconsin or travel further afield.

In particular, I am experienced in planning and photographing elopements in both Florida and California, so you can enjoy your dream wedding in the sun without the hassle of arranging a traditional wedding venue.

Keen to learn more? Book a virtual or in-person consultation with me to start your elopement journey today!