The Elopement Budget Guide

Where to Save and Where to Splurge on Your Elopement

One of the most appealing aspect of eloping, for many couples, is the small price tag. Elopements can cost next to nothing, if you want them to. However, for many couples, especially in today’s world where elopement ceremonies are trendy and are seen as substitutes for traditional weddings, spending some money on their elopement is still part of the plan. However, it can be difficult to determine exactly HOW to spend that budget. So, in order to help you out, I’ve compiled a list of areas to SAVE and SPLURGE for your elopement.

Required Costs

First, let’s address the element of required expenditures. These can vary based on the location of your ceremony, but you should take them into account when planning your budget.

1. Marriage licenses – These are required to make your marriage legally binding.

2. Officiant – Although some states allow you to self-solemnize (marry yourselves), most require a licensed professional to perform the ceremony.

3. Permits – Check the legal fees associated with your chosen location and ensure you pay any required permits in order to avoid lofty fines (especially in wilderness areas).

Okay. Now that those are out of the way, we can discuss the FUN aspects of elopement budget planning.

SAVE – Your Venue

One of the greatest elements of an elopement is the freedom associated with them. You can go anywhere, meaning you can marry in a beautiful, scenic area WITHOUT dropping thousands of dollars on a venue.

SPLURGE – Travel

With that said, if you are financially able, travelling for your elopement ceremony is an amazing opportunity. This ceremony will only happen once, so you can use it as an excuse to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip and marry in your dream location.

SAVE – Flowers and Food

Another extremely alluring aspect of eloping is the lack of necessity for any pomp and circumstance. Because you won’t have a large room of people to decorate for or feed, you can keep these costs minimal or nonexistent. While some couples choose to have small amounts of flowers, such as bouquets or headdresses, they won’t need to plan out the cost of filling an entire room with flora. And while some people choose to have a celebratory dinner after their ceremony, the cost (even at a fancy restaurant) is significantly lower than catering for a room of relatives.

SPLURGE – Clothing

This may be a controversial suggestion, but even if you opt to skip the 4-digit price tag for a traditional wedding gown or tuxedo, planning to spend some extra dough on nice-looking outfits is a great idea. Again, this day will only come once in your life together, and you want to look amazing while it happens.

You don’t have to break the bank on your outfits, but investing some money into your appearance will ultimately help make for a more memorable, beautiful experience.

SAVE – Vendors and Rentals

Often, unexpected costs for couples opting to hold traditional wedding ceremonies can come in the form of chair rentals, tables, food, music, and bartenders. Vendors and venues often charge PER table and chair for rentals; DJs and bands charge by the hour; and open bars, bartenders, and caterers typically charge base fees plus per-plate/per-person prices added on. However, with little to no guests comes the opportunity to completely skip these requirements. Unless one of your witnesses needs a chair, or your ceremony requires a table for some reason, you can almost eliminate the need for these charges altogether.

SPLURGE – Photographs

Your elopement only happens once. While the memories themselves will last a lifetime, their clarity will begin to fade over time. Eventually, you may forget the smile on your spouse’s face when they said “I do,” or the color of the sunset over the mountains beside you. Therefore, hiring a talented, trained photographer to capture your big day is of nearly utmost importance. Sure, you may have a friend who can take decent photos on their iPhone for free, but if your budget allows for it, hiring a professional ENSURES that you walk away from the ceremony with beautiful images of your ceremony. These are photographs that you’ll keep with you forever, so skimping on their quality isn’t recommended.

Other Considerations

There are plenty of other ways you can spend your money when eloping, and these are just a few. Other items to consider include the following:

• Rings

• Guides (for accessing remote locations)

• A wedding planner specializing in elopements

The list could go on forever – the world is full of ways to spend your money. This list, however, can serve as a great tool when attempting to plan your budget.