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Is an Elopement More Cost Effective Than a Traditional Wedding?

It's reported that the average cost of a wedding in 2023 is around $29,000. For some couples, that may seem financially doable, however, for others, that may seem like an astronomical figure that far out of their reach.

The idea of an elopement has been around since the 13th century, and has been an option many couples have chosen as an alternative to having a traditional wedding. If you'd like to check out more on how to plan an elopement, we've got you covered! Check out our blog post here on our top tips on planning an elopment:

An elopement can be more cost effective, as well as more intimate for engaged couples who are looking to have those two factors as part of their big day, depending on your preferences and how you chose to plan your elopement.

Here are some ideas to think about when planning your elopement to make it more cost effective, which in turn, will lead to a more intimate wedding betwen you and your partner!

#1 - What are your priorities?

Deciding on what you're willing to splurge on, and what you're willing cut, will be one of the key deciding factors on the cost-effectiveness of your elopement. Would you rather make the ceremony the centerpiece of your elopement and splurge on a great officiant, photographer/videographer to capture the moment? Or would you rather spend the money on the destination and ammenities? The choice is up to you!

#2 - Think about your destination

The place of your elopement destination can heavily impact the cost that you pay for your elopement. If you are planning on going to a destination that is considered a "hot spot" attraction, you are more likely to pay a higher price for the name and reputation of the well-known destination. If the desination requires pay for airfare or ammenities, keep that in consideration as well when deciding on how much or how little you're willing to spend. Here are some ideas to think about when planning your destination, in order to make it more cost-effective:

  • Consider traveling in the off season: Although the cherry trees may not be blossoming in Washington, D.C. during the month of November, think about having your elopement during the "off-season." This will not only cut costs on airfare, but will also cut costs when it comes to amenities.

  • Be flexible with dates: Although traditonal weddings are most likely to occur on Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's, whose to say that you can't have your elopement on a Tuesday evening? Having an elopement on a weekday can help cut costs, as many places raise their prices Friday's through Sunday's in comparison to Monday's through Thursday's.

  • Consider how you will travel: If the destination you and your partner have chosen is across the country, your first instinct may be to immediately buy plane tickets and call it a day. However, if you're looking at cutting costs, consider either taking your own car, or renting one, to add to the experience of your elopement! Not only will this help cut down on travel costs, but it will give you and your partner an opportunity to road trip together, and create even more of a memorable elopement experience.

  • Elope outside rather than inside: By chosing a national, state or local park for your elopement, you will save money on having to pay for venue fees. Not to mention the scenery for pictures will be absolutely stunning!

  • Opt for all inclusive packages if possible: When looking at your elopement destination, finding a place that offers all inclusive packages on photography, an officiant, permit fees, hotel accomodations and food for the couple, will not only help with cutting the cost, but can also save hours of research and contacting various vendors in a place that you may not be familiar with.

#3 - Consider cutting the catering

If you have a short guest list, or no guest list at all, there's no need to spend the money on a traditonal caterer. Instead, consider renting a food truck or opt for a picnic with your significant other. If you are staying at an Air B&B, consider even cooking a meal together, and enjoying not only the meal together once it's been cooked, but also the experience of your first cooked meal together as a married couple.

#4 - DIY your decor

Depending on your elopement destination, you probably aren't going to want to have a lot of decor in the first place. You also have to consider the fact that your decor will most likely be traveling with you to the place of destination as well, so keeping it simple will help cut costs. Here are a few ways to DIY your decor:

  • Repurpose and upcycle: Look for items you already have or can repurpose. Mason jars, old picture frames, and vintage items can be transformed into charming decor pieces.

  • Utilize paper: Create paper flowers using your wedding colors, use them for boquets, centerpieces or decorate the ceremony space. You can also use it to craft personalized banners or garlands with the your names, wedding date, or meaningful quotes. Also, think about how easy it will be to travel with paper decor, in comparison to something breakable!

  • Use personalized photos: Personal photos of you and your significant other's journey is not only a cost effective way to decorate your ceremony space, but it adds a personal touch to create a more intimate atmosphere for you and your significant other.

#5 - Ask for contributions from friends and family

If you are planing to tell your friends and family about your elopement prior to it happening, ask them to contriubte to your elopement rather than giving a traditional wedding gift, or purchasing something off of your registry. You can also set up your registry with items that you will need to bring on your elopement, so if they're insisting on purchasing something from your registry, that's an option that will benefit you, and them! You can also set up a cash registry for your elopement through Birdie. The link to that website is here:

Yes, traditional weddings can be beautiful. But an elopement holds a different kind of magic. It's about prioritizing your love, your freedom, and your own happily ever after. It's about saying "yes" to a lifetime of shared adventures, not just one extravagant day. Using these tips to help plan a cost effective elopement will help you create an elopement of your dreams, as well as one that's financially attainable.

Happy planning!

The Wedding Talk Team



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I'm Lynea, founder of The Wedding Talk. Our mission is to inspire, education, and simplify the wedding industry for those of you getting married and wedding vendors in the industry. Pop over to my socials to get all the tips and tricks you'll need.

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