How Much Does it Cost to Elope?

How Much Does it Cost to Elope?

March 29, 2024
March 29, 2024

You’ve decided that the traditional route isn’t for you- you don’t want a big venue, 100+ guests, or to spend $20,000+ on a day that has to meet others’ expectations. Choosing to elope can be an easy, or even a scary decision- but I can guarantee that it will be one of the best decisions you ever make!
While you can easily get married for under $100 at the courthouse, let me break down the value and cost of an adventure elopement. Just because you’re throwing out the rulebook and ditching the traditional wedding, doesn’t mean your wedding day can’t be full of experiences.
Here’s the answer to the big question- How much does it cost to elope?

How much does it cost to elope

First, let’s address a something…

The amazing thing about eloping is there are no standards, no rules, and limits. You can do anything you dream of for your elopement day! With this limitless freedom, there are so many varying factors that will ultimately determine how much your dream elopement will cost.
The destination, time of year, availability, permits, etc. will all greatly vary, but here’s a good look at how much is costs to elope!

The Cost of Weddings in the United States

The US is full (and I mean FULL) of surreal scenery, diversity, and what I would consider to be a hub of endless opportunity! You can find moody coasts, red canyons, sand dunes, temperate rain forests, rolling blue mountains, and so much more! Not only is the US full of diverse scenery, but also activities and experiences!
Traditional wedding have become more about the guests and less about the couple. A recent survey done by The Knot shows that the average cost of a wedding in the United States is $35,000 in 2023- and is steadily rising. While there are ways to keep the total cost for a wedding lower than the national average, there is also a question of- is this worth it?
If you have began your wedding planning, and originally planned on having a traditional wedding, you may of noticed just how much pressure is put on couples. Parents, grandparents, friends, and even distant family members tend to voice their desires or suggestions, often leading couples to feel as though they need to alter their dream wedding day to keep those people happy.
While choosing to elope can be daunting for some couples (even if it’s what they truly want,) there are so many ways that you can celebrate your marriage with those you love without having to sacrifice your dream wedding day!

How much it costs to elope in the United States

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in the United States?

While this answer can vary as much as it can for a traditional wedding, there’s a few main costs that will be associated with every elopement!

To determine how much your dream elopement would cost, there are four main questions you need to ask yourself:

– Where would we elope? The state we live in? A neighboring state? Across the country?
– What time of year would we live to elope? Do we want a winter wonderland, or to walk the beach on a warm evening? What do the seasons typically look like in our dream destination?
– Who will attend? Will it just be the two of us? Will close family members and friends join us for the entire day, or maybe just the ceremony and dinner?

– What would we do? Would we relax in a cozy Airbnb until the ceremony? What about hiking and watching the sunrise on top of a mountain? Would we take a private helicopter ride or an off-roading tour? Maybe ride a sailboat at sunset? (Need some ideas for your epic elopement? Check this out!)

While you can get married for as little as $30- $100 in the United States by simply obtaining your marriage license, you deserve to make your wedding day epic and memorable!
While spending thousands on a big, traditional wedding may not seem like your idea of “perfect,” what about your dream vacation? Check off your bucket list, create experiences, and include everything you love in your elopement! Eloping doesn’t mean settling for less, it means opening the door to endless opportunities!
As someone who plans and documents epic elopement experiences, let me start by saying that eloping isn’t necessarily “Cheaper.” However, it holds so much more value for couples who want experiences over things, and who want to incorporate things they love into their limitless wedding day!

Eloping in the US

When and Where you want to Elope

The biggest varying factor when it comes to the cost of an adventure elopement is the where and the when. The costs of travel will greatly vary based on how far you live from your dream destination, and what time of year you want to go. Generally speaking, couples eloping in the U.S can expect to spend up to $4,000+ on travel costs (airfare, car rental, fuel, lodging, etc.) depending on the duration of your stay. (Psst… you can stay a week in your dream destination for less than the cost of most venues for a single day in the U.S.)
This cost will also vary based on the time of year. Summer flights to Florida tend to be higher than a flight in February or October, since Florida become a tourist hub in the summer months. Research the typical pricing for travel accommodations in your destination in the month you want to elope, to get a better idea of exactly how much you will spend on travel.
Search something like: “Typical cost of flights from (My City) to (Destination) in (Month of Elopement)”

The Cost of Elopement Attire

Another greatly varying cost is attire. Will you purchase or rent a suit? Do you still want an extravagant dress, or would you like something simple yet beautiful? One thing to consider when shopping for your attire, is what exactly your dream elopement looks like. If you plan on trekking through a rainforest, hiking in the mountains, or running through down the beach as waves crash onto shore- your attire is bound to get dirty! (And don’t let the fear of dirty attire stop you, it’s epic!)
Another thing to consider is how physical your elopement will be. Elopements tend to have a lot of exploring and activities, most of the time while you’re in your attire, so it’s important to choose a dress and suit that is comfortable and designed for adventure! Most elopement dress are around $3,000 new, however you also have the option of buying consignment, sales, or even renting! Suit rental start around $150 and up, and the average purchase price of a suit is around $500- $800 and up.

Cost to Elope in the US

The Cost of Elopement Vendors

A big cost difference between a traditional wedding and an elopement is the vendors. A traditional wedding typically has a Venue, dj, caterer, a florist that creates multiple bouquets and arrangements, an officiant, hair and makeup artist for multiple people, a photographer and videographer, a planner or coordinator, and even additional vendors such as live painters, photo booths, and many more. To entertain 100+ guests, couples typically spend $15,000+ on quality, professional vendors and services. (Psst… $15,000 can cover a week long vacation in your dream destination!)
Elopements typically have an officiant, photographer (and sometimes a videographer,) a florist, and a hair and makeup artist. You can also hire an elopement planner, but most photographer who specialize in elopements will handle all of the planning, like me!

Your Elopement Photographer/ Videographer:

Your photo and video team will be the most expensive vendor- and for a good reason! Images and footage will be the only thing you take home from your elopement day (and a traditional wedding.) Elopement photographers also typically handle planning, so this can even make a specialized elopement photographer more than a typical wedding photographer, because they are doing so much more to make your dream elopement happen!
For a quality professional that is capable of planning the experience of a lifetime and documenting every moment, you can expect to pay anywhere form $3,000- $15,000 depending on how much coverage you have, if you get photo and video, their experience, what’s included, etc.

Your Florals and Décor:

The cost for florals and décor will be significantly less than a traditional wedding. Most florist for a large, traditional wedding will make bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids, boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen, and often a lot of floral arrangements for guest tables and to place around the venue! An elopement on the other hand, typically only has a few bouquets and boutonnieres (or only one of each if it’s just the two of you!)
You can plan to spend around $100- $350 on florals for your elopement, which is a lot less than the average $2,000- $5,000 that couples spend on florals for a larger wedding!

Your Officiant:

There are two ways of going about the legalities of eloping (especially in a different state than the one you reside in-) having a commitment ceremony or a proper ceremony. If you plan on being legally married during your ceremony in your destination, then you will need an officiant who is licensed in your destination who can legally marry the two of you.
If you file for your marriage license in your destination before your elopement, or file for your marriage license in your home state, you can have what is referred to as a commitment ceremony! A commitment ceremony is like an actual ceremony, but isn’t legally binding. You can still read each other your sweet vows, and commit to one another- without having to deal with the legalities and paperwork of getting married! I typically recommend couples to either file a marriage license in their home state/ county, or to arrive at their destination a few days prior to their elopement, so that on the big day, they don’t have to hassle within paperwork! However, if your dream is to be legally married in an epic location, hire an officiant who is willing to adventure with us to your ceremony location! Most elopement officiants range from $250- $600.

Elopement pricing and packages

The Average Cost of a Traditional Wedding vs. an Elopement

While the costs can vary on both sides, the traditional cost of a wedding (one day) in 2023 is $35,000. The traditional cost of an elopement (4 days, 3 nights) is $15,000.
What’s more important than the numbers, is the value. To a certain demographic, a $35,000 traditional wedding is their idea of the perfect wedding day- and that is totally okay! However, to other couples, that amount of money spent on a wedding doesn’t feel worth it, and a traditional wedding would hold no value for them. You deserve to have the wedding day of your dreams, and if your idea of the perfect day is filled with hiking, taking a dip in a hot spring, and having your first dance beneath a clear night sky- an elopement will be much more valuable that a traditional wedding.
A $20,000 traditional wedding and a $20,000 elopement are the same when it comes to cost, but every couple will find loads of value in one over the other.

Now that the Big Question has been Answered…

If you realized that an adventurous elopement is a lot more aligned with your idea of the perfect wedding day, let’s make your dream elopement happen! Check out the elopement experience that I design and document for epic couples just like you, and bring your wildest dreams to life!

Cost of an Elopement