How Much Does It Cost To Elope?

LAST UPDATED December 27, 2023

How Much Does It Cost To Elope?

So, you’ve done it—you’ve said yes, you’re engaged to favorite person in the entire world, and now you’ve got to decide what the heck you want your big day to look like. One of the first questions you are going to ask is how much does it cost to elope? It’s a reasonable question, especially since we have always heard how expensive weddings can get. I’ve got really good news for you though – elopements can be the best day of your life and save you a ton a ton of money. Want to know how?

Luckily, I’m here to help!

The short answer to how much does it cost to elope is that elopements can cost about: $10,000, whereas Traditional weddings can cost about: $30,000! For an in-depth break down keep reading.

Why Choose to Elope

Couples who choose to elope over a traditional wedding do so for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, there’s the intimacy of a small gathering and a day that’s focused entirely on the love you share. Then you add on the sense of adventure and the most beautiful backdrop you could imagine. (What could beat an alpine sunrise in The Rocky Mountains, or the warm glow in the sand dunes?) But there are plenty of practical reasons to refocus your priorities for your big day, too, like saving money. The hassles and expense of a large wedding also come with distractions—things that could take you out of the moment. And the most important thing is that you spend an unforgettable day with your life’s partner.

Maybe you don’t care about all the stuff that comes with a traditional wedding. And let’s be real, most wedding couples don’t even know where the traditions come from. Though you can read a bit more about some of them here! This is about what you want the most on one of the biggest and best days of your whole dang life. Maybe that looks like you and your boo, maybe a couple of loved ones, and some beautiful nature.

No matter what it looks like, your wedding day should be the absolute best time of your life, filled with a joyful, giddy, bubbling-over happiness and that’s true to you. It should be a day that you can look back on that will forever inspire you to live your most joyous happy love-filled life.

Luckily, that’s where adventure elopements come in!

Okay, so how much does it cost to elope?

How Much Does It Cost To Elope

Average Cost of A Traditional Wedding (150 guests)

Venue: $10,000
Lodging: $2,000
Catering: $11,250
Rehearsal Dinner: $2,000
Attire: $1,000
Photographer: $4,000
Decor: $2,000
Transportation: $1,000
Officiant: $400
DJ/Band: $2,000
Marriage License: 200
Hair and Makeup: $250
Florals: $1,000
Cake: $500
Event Planner: $1,500
Invitations: $500
Favors: $500

Total: $31,100

Luxury Elopement

Lodging: $2,000
Catering: $1,000
Attire: $2,000
Photographer: $7,000
Decor: $1,000
Transportation: $1,000
Officiant: $400
Marriage License: $200
Permits: $300
Hair and Makeup: $250
Florals: $200
Cake: $100

Total: $15,450

Total Savings: $15,550

Average Elopement

Lodging: $1,000
Catering: $500
Attire: $1,000
Photographer: $5,400
Decor: $500
Transportation: $1,000
Officiant: $400
Marriage License: $200
Permits: $200
Hair and Makeup: $250
Florals: $200
Cake: $250

Total: $10,900

Total Savings: $20,200

Budget Elopement

Lodging: $500
Attire: $500
Photographer: $4,000
Transportation: $1,000
Officiant: $400
Marriage License: $200
Permits: $200
Hair and Makeup: $250
Florals: $200
Cake: $100

Total: $7,350

Total Savings: $23,750

Total Potential Savings for an elopement: $15,550 +

So, you’re probably not shocked to learn that elopements are much more affordable. And that’s assuming that you’d only invite 100 people to a traditional wedding. estimates that the average wedding is actually 130 guests—that’s even more expensive food, favors, and venue space. As you can see, there’s a lot of room for that number to keep going up, and up, and up.

But if you choose to host a day that means the most to you, without having to invite mom’s ex-bosses and your fifth cousins twice removed, you’re going to save a lot of money. In fact, by eloping and getting rid of all the extra people and costs, you can save between 60 and 90 percent. And that could mean investing in a really rad honeymoon, or even a down payment on a house.

Elopements take away the stress and cost of a big wedding, but more importantly, they’re all about the couple. It means having more fun, more time with the people who really matter, and more freedom to incorporate what you value the most. And that’s the most important thing to take away—that elopements allow you to focus on exactly what you want.

Couple kisses at their mountain elopement

Total for a traditional wedding: Roughly $30,000 – $35,000

The biggest factors here are obviously the venue (a place that probably looks like so many others you’ve already seen and been to) and the catering (one plate per each distant family member ain’t cheap). Maybe you invited more people than you ever intended because you needed to fill more space in the venue. Maybe you end up eating more food from the buffet than you actually want, because you paid for it—or, you don’t get to eat at all because you’re so busy saying hello to all those distant family members.

Oftentimes, when you ask how much it cost to elope, what you realize is with a traditional wedding you’re spending the most money on the things you don’t really care about!

The Cost to Elope Breakdown

Of course, even with elopements, there are varying factors that will affect overall cost. Luckily, it all comes down to what you think is worth investing in. So, let’s say that you’ve just saved 75 percent of your budget, or $24,000. Now you can put a down payment on a house, or save for you kid’s college tuition fund, or even pay off some of your own student loans. And you can still have the elopement of your dreams

Let’s talk about how you can have a dream elopement that’s just focused on the two of you. A day that you’ll be thinking about for the rest of your lives, for a cost that’s only 25 percent of what you originally expected.

How Much Does it Cost to Elope: Travel

Where you choose to host your elopement—whether it’s across the world or in your own backyard—is one of the biggest variables in cost. It could be the difference between a quarter-tank of gas or a plane ticket abroad.

If you’re traveling more than a few hours from your home, you’ll want to consider the cost of transportation—whether it’s gas or a plane ticket—plus general travel costs such as lodging, food, and activities. If you spend more than one day in your destination, park and forest passes required by your elopement location, etc. You’ll also need to think about whether you’ll be paying for a handful of family and friends to join you on your elopement.

Travel can either be low cost or very expensive. You’ll get a better sense of what this would cost you once you start honing in on what your dream day feels like. If you start getting the sense that you need to spread your wings, you can start to anticipate higher costs. The trade off here is that either you were always going to travel for your wedding, so these costs are moot. Or you decided not to have a traditional wedding and therefore can you use all the tens of thousands of dollars you saved to put towards your destination elopement.

How Much Does it Cost to Elope: Attire

This is another area where you could go all out or decide to save your pennies. Here are some things to think about:

  • I’m getting married somewhere outside. Do I care if my attire gets dirty?
  • Do I want to be able to keep my suit afterwards, or would renting work better for me?
  • Will I need to consider cold weather, and what does that look like—a fashionable stole or a puffy jacket?
  • Do I need to invest in new hiking shoes, or will my old trusty boots take me where I need to go?
  • Do I want to wear my favorite outfits that I already own, or buy something at a thrift store? Or support a small etsy store?

Like many aspects of your elopement, there’s almost no wrong answer—and that leaves a lot of wiggle room in your budget. I always advise my couples to be comfortable. You don’t want to be freezing so bad that you can’t enjoy your day, or so hot and sweaty that you can’t relax. Other than that, what you wear is entirely up to you.

Close up of cake at an elopement picnic

How Much Does it Cost to Elope: Food and Drink

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that you’ll need to budget for food and drink, even without a traditional wedding. But you’re obviously a smart couple, so you aren’t going to hike on an empty stomach, or forget to bring champagne for toasts.

Would you rather just hike in a few granola bars and a bottle of cava for a ceremony that’s just the two of you? Or would you prefer to reserve a private room in a restaurant to celebrate with your guests afterward? Food and drink during your elopement is extremely important. After all, we eat on a regular day so we should expect to eat on our wedding day! The choices of how you do this are also varied.

You can spend a couple hundred dollars on a very fancy picnic with an exquisite bottle of champagne. Or you can get some pizza and chow down on a pie. You can even hire a private chef to cater your meal. The important things to remember here are that A) you want to make sure you are eating and drinking during your elopement and B) you want to do what’s fun and makes you happy.

You were always going to eat during your wedding day, that’s a given. The difference between an elopement and traditional wedding is that you aren’t feeding a few hundred people at the same time. So even though this will cost you money, ultimately, you are saving a ton of it!

How Much Does it Cost to Elope: Florals

Weddings are an emotionally beautiful event, and they should also be visually beautiful. Enter – flowers <3. Flowers add a very pretty hint to your day. Once again, how you incorporate florals into your day can vary dramatically. You can have a simple bouquet or you can get massive floral pieces to decorate your dinner table or picnic area. You can get a boutonnière or a flower crown. There are so many choices available to you and each one gives you an opportunity to be authentic to yourself.

A couple things to consider with florals – most florals will die. Every year wedding couples throw out enormous amounts of florals. You’ll also have to carry or bring them, so you may want to consider size relative to your activities. You can go with live florals or even wooden ones. You can even make your own – perhaps out of pages from Harry Potter books (swoon). The budget here is really going to depend upon how elaborate you want to get. Florals aren’t your only option for decoration though, so feel free to explore if florals aren’t your thang.

How Much Does it Cost to Elope: Photography

We know, we’re biased. But I’m an elopement photographer for a reason: because I believe that amazing photography can capture the true feeling and look of your day in a way that inspires your love for the rest of your lives. Cheesy? Hell yea, and so am I. I also mean it. Aside from the experience and memories of the day, the next thing you take with you are the photos. That’s what remains. That’s what you hang on your walls and show off to your family and friends. That’s why it’s so dang important to find the right photographer. To invest in a photographer who not only can capture your love story perfectly, and who delivers inspiring images of your truest selves that will last a lifetime—but also a photographer who wants to help you have your absolute best day ever.

Photographer rates can vary quite a bit. A lot of times people look at photography rates and have a lot of questions. Photographers are small business owners, and aside from shooting and editing photos, we have a lot more to do! We have to do our own marketing, sales, bookkeeping, legal work, and purchase all our own gear and tools, which isn’t cheap.

Need a photographer who can help guide you to save time and money? You’ve got it. Someone to make you laugh and feel comfortable in front of a camera? No problem. I’m here to help you focus solely on each other and to have the time of your life. Leave the lasting memories to me—all you need to do is fully live in the moment.

How Much Does it Cost to Elope: Musician

Your dream wedding may include walking up to your partner with gorgeous soft music playing in the background. Maybe it’s a cello, a violin, a guitar, a trumpet, or even a tuba player. If you decide to go with a live musician it could add some costs to your day. Nothing like playing some Lady Gaga on a trumpet as you say I do!

Cost to Elope: Permits

There are an extraordinary amount of elopement locations across the country and world, and many of them require permission to have a ceremony there or take professional photography. This is done for several reasons: 1) The managing groups want to protect the area and limit how many people use it 2) the protecting areas want to ensure they have enough staff to handle the location and need to adjust appropriately 3) They don’t want to be overrun with wedding ceremonies.  In order to accomplish these goals, locations oftentimes require permits and those permits can vary in cost.

Permits can vary from $25 – $500 depending on the location. They can also take time applying and receiving them. Sometimes permits will include a photography permit, other times you’ll need to buy that in addition to the ceremony permit. The photography permit may be required for any commercial photography use, so if a photographer is getting paid, they’ll need a permit.

Save Money on Your Honeymoon

Most couples spend an average $5,000 extra on their honeymoon. A lot of that cost goes to travel. What if you combined your honeymoon and elopement location? You’d save some money because you are already celebrating in the area you are going to party. Sometimes couples don’t include their honeymoon costs into their wedding costs, and are shocked to see their prices increase even more. Whereas the cost to elope can include a lot of your honeymoon expenses and end up saving you a lot of money.

An Expensive Traditional Wedding Does Not Mean a Fun Wedding

Here’s the truth – just because you are spending tens of thousands of dollars on your wedding day does not automatically mean you will have a great day, let alone the best day of your life. A lot of wedding couples are so overwhelmed by everything happening on their day they forget lots of the important moments. Their traditional wedding day becomes about pleasing others, fulfilling traditions they know nothing about, and checking boxes as opposed to focusing on their love and their commitment for each other. Spending tons and tons of money on a day not focused on you may not be what you desire.

How You Can Save Tens of Thousands of Dollars When You Choose to Elope

There are so many amazing reasons to elope, and saving money is certainly one of them. A traditional wedding on average costs $30,000, but depending on where you are and what you do that can easily be twice as much, sometimes triple. It’s not unheard of for a regular couple to have spend $100,000 on a single night of their life.

But that’s not you. Know that you know the answer to how much does it cost to elope, you recognize the cost is far less expensive, and that it will actually give you the freedom to have one of the best days of your life.

Meet Your Adventure Elopement Photographer

Colorado Elopement Photographer stands next to a Jeep

Hi! I’m Adam. Elopements are my thing and helping you find the best Colorado elopement photographer for you is what puts a smile on my face. I can help you figure out the best elopement package and help you plan the day of your dreams. If you are excited about creating your perfect day and are curious where to start, reach out and ask. I can’t wait to hear from you!