How much does it cost to elope
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How much does it cost to elope? – The Ultimate Guide (2024)

Planning a wedding can be an exciting and overwhelming endeavor. It can also be very expensive. According to The Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is $33,900. While some couples prefer the traditional large wedding celebration, others may choose to elope as an alternative. If you are thinking about eloping, you may be asking yourself the basic question of, “How much does it cost to elope?” That’s exactly what we’ll answer in this article!

Below, we will discuss the costs associated with eloping, from travel expenses to legal fees. Additionally, this article will provide insights into ways couples can save money while still having their dream elopement.

Introduction – What is Eloping?

The traditional idea of eloping is the idea of a couple going off (often in secret) to get married by themselves or possibly with one or two close friends or family members.

These days, eloping can also mean any less traditional and less formal wedding where the couple doesn’t invite people they might be expected to invite to a more formal or traditional wedding. It’s the combination of having a less formal event with less people than you might otherwise have that makes an elopement an elopement.

Eloping can be considered a romantic way to get married without all of the fuss and expense of a more traditional wedding. It’s gaining popularity as couples look for ways to save money, time, and stress. Eloping is ideal for those who want to focus on their commitment to each other without worrying about details or obligations related to planning a large wedding.

For many couples, eloping is an opportunity for an intimate ceremony with just themselves or with close family members and friends in attendance.

Often times, elopements are planned quickly and on short notice due to the amount of time saved by not having to plan every detail of a larger wedding day event. Couples can take advantage of the flexibility that comes with eloping by choosing unique locations that hold special meaning for them such as beaches, mountaintops, parks or even their own backyard.

Don’t forget to check our full guide to eloping, here!

So how much does it cost to elope? – The Average Elopement Cost

The average elopement cost is extremely difficult to say, as it can vary so much depending on what elements a couple chooses to have in their elopement, and what they they choose not to have.

It also varies based on whether the couple invites guests or doesn’t, if they are eloping nearby or far from where they live, in a rural area, a city, or a different country entirely, what accommodation options there are, or if there are any complicated transportation costs.

That being said, the cost to elope can be as little as getting a marriage license and hiring an elopement officiant – the only two items that really cost to elope. This could be as little as $50 for a marriage license in some US states, and $200 for an officiant (which can be even cheaper if a couple knows someone). Once you take in to account transportation costs and maybe a nice dinner afterwards, the cost to elope couple be as little as $350/£300.

On the other side of things, a couple could choose to elope in a rural mountain range in a different state or country, with 20 guests, at a pricey venue, with not many accommodation options around, amazing decorations and floral arrangements, a live band, high-end catering, and an elopement photographer and videographer covering their day.

This would bring the cost to elope to a much higher figure – somewhere in the region of $10,000-$20,000 depending on the state and options available.

So the average elopement cost can be really hard to pin down as an exact figure. The great thing is, you really can make the cost to elope fit in to your budget, so looking at the average elopement cost can be a rather pointless exercise. Instead, a couple should consider their own budget when asking the question, “How much does it cost to elope?”

How much does it cost to elope? – Quick Guide on the costs of eloping

Here’s a quick overview on the items that can add up when considering the cost to elope:

  • The marriage license fee.
  • Any documentation fees (copying, lodging, etc).
  • Lawyer fees (if required).
  • Officiant fees.
  • Location fees (for the ceremony and reception).
  • Transportation costs.
  • Accommodation costs.
  • Food costs.
  • Attire hire or purchase.
  • Other vendor costs, such as an elopement photographer or elopement videographer or DJ.
  • Decoration costs.
  • Honeymoon costs.

How much does it cost to elope? – In-Depth Guide to elopement costs

Legal Fees for Eloping

Legal Fees are an important part of eloping and should be taken into account when budgeting for your special day. While the cost of eloping is minimal compared to a traditional wedding, legal fees can increase the overall cost significantly. Understanding what you’re responsible for paying in terms of legal fees is key to ensuring that you don’t go over budget.

Marriage License Fee and Documentation Requirements

Planning an elopement can be a great way to save on wedding costs and streamline the process of getting married. However, it’s important to understand that there are specific documentation requirements associated with eloping.

In order for an elopement to be legally binding, couples must obtain marriage licenses and follow any other regulations set by their state or country. Depending on where you plan to elope, there may also be additional documents needed such as blood tests, a physical exam or proof of citizenship.

The primary expense associated with elopement is obtaining a marriage license or certificate, which typically costs between $50 and $100 depending on where you live. In addition to this fee, you may also need to pay for other services such as filing paperwork or having documents notarized.

Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with obtaining certified copies of documents needed for name changes or other post-marriage requirements.

These additional costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to do your research ahead of time and factor them into the total cost of your wedding day.

The cost of eloping can vary depending on the couple’s situation, but one thing is certain – no matter where you decide to tie the knot, you’ll need a marriage license.

It’s important to research the local laws in your area well before your planned elopement date so you have enough time to acquire all necessary documents.

It’s important to note that couples must apply for their marriage license at least a few days before the ceremony in order for it to be valid. In some places, this timeframe may be longer – the UK, for example, requires you to “give notice” to the Government of your intent to marry, at least 29 days before the wedding date.

Make sure you contact your county clerk office, city hall, or local registry office in advance so they can provide guidance on these requirements, which forms should be filled out and what additional information is required.

Attorney and Lawyer fees

Depending on your situation, you may require a lawyer or attorney to help with your elopement.

The fees associated with hiring an attorney or lawyer will depend on a variety of factors including the complexity of your case and the specific services you require. It’s not unusual for attorneys and lawyers to charge anywhere from $200-$350 per hour for consultation services.

Additionally, you may be expected to pay additional costs such as court filing fees or travel expenses if necessary.

When budgeting for an attorney or lawyer, make sure you understand what fees are included in the quoted rate so there are no surprises down the road.

If a couple hires an attorney, it can really push up the average elopement cost.

The Wedding Itself – Cost of the elopement ceremony and elopement reception

We’ve covered the cost of legal fees and documentation fees, but what about the wedding itself? – I.e., the elopement ceremony and elopement reception.

The exact elopement ceremony and reception cost depends on several factors, such as where you choose to elope and the type of ceremony you want. While most couples won’t need any pricey decorations or party favors when they elope, there are some elements of a traditional wedding that will still apply to your special day, like clothing costs and hiring professionals like photographers and officiants.

The Cost of an Elopement Officiant

No matter how or where you decide to elope, you will need someone to officiate the ceremony. Most places require an elopement officiant to be licensed and registered.

The cost for an elopement officiant varies greatly on the area, if you know the person, and how experienced they are.

You may be able to get a friend licensed and do it for free as their gift to you, or you may have to pay for a professional. A professional elopement officiant could be as cheap as $100 or as expensive as $500, so budget around $300 for someone to officiate your elopement ceremony.

Where to Elope

If you’re considering eloping, you’ll want to choose the perfect destination to say ‘I do.’ From romantic beach getaways to national parks full of adventure, there are many options when it comes to where couples can elope. Each option will change the cost to elope for a couple.

Somewhere special to you

Perhaps there is somewhere meaningful to you and your partner you would like to elope at – where you met, a place you like to go to frequently, or the place you grew up in. You could even have it in your own back yard!

Somewhere outdoors

A beach elopement can be a great option if you like the idea of saying your vows in front of the ocean. A beach wedding could also offer a beautiful backdrop for photos, especially if you have a photographer who travels with you to take advantage of all the different locations. If beaches are your thing, consider Hawaii as an idyllic location surrounded by lush tropical foliage and white sand beaches.

For something a bit more adventurous, explore the possibilities at national parks. US National Parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite, for example, are stunning places with plenty of outdoor activities, gorgeous scenery, and breathtaking sunsets all around! The great outdoors also offers opportunities for intimate ceremonies in the mountains of Colorado or New Hampshire; imagine exchanging vows with majestic mountain peaks in the background!

If you’re looking for an elopement spot close to home, take a drive through your area’s beautiful countryside and consider getting married on a hillside, in the woods, or by the water.

If you’re looking for something truly unique, consider renting out a wildflower meadow or secluded cabin in the woods – these can make for beautiful memories that last a lifetime.

Something to note: a beach wedding will likely require a permit or rental fees, while mountain weddings will cost more due to the extra costs associated with accessing remote locations.

A romantic city

If you’re dreaming of a memorable wedding, there’s no better place to get married than a city that evokes romance like New Orleans, London, or Paris. As you and your partner stroll through the streets of one of these cities, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking architecture and history.

If you want to get a little more creative, consider having your ceremony in a beautiful hotel ballroom or an art museum. At sunset, head to the roof of a high-rise for an incredible view of the skyline.

A high-energy city

A high-energy city can be an ideal place to elope, but the cost of doing so can vary depending on where you choose to go. From bustling metropolises like London, New York City or Los Angeles to smaller cities with a vibrant culture, there are plenty of options for couples who want to get married in a fast-paced urban setting.

When it comes to elopement destinations, cities offer some unique advantages over other locations such as beaches and mountains. For starters, they provide access to all sorts of entertainment and activities that couples can enjoy before or after they tie the knot. There’s also plenty of accommodation options, restaurants and places to get a drink.

Location Costs of Eloping

Location costs are an important factor to consider when planning an elopement. Whether you choose to get married in your own backyard or a foreign country, the cost of the location can break the bank if you are not prepared. It is important to evaluate how much different locations will cost before settling on one for your special day.

The price can vary dramatically depending on the season and availability of your chosen location. If you want to get married at a formal venue, the best thing to do is to call the venue and ask their costs.

Remember, public places are likely to be the cheapest, but they may not be free. There may well be a rental or permit cost associated with getting married there. And don’t be fooled by thinking any old field is public land – it is very possibly privately owned, so make sure you ask any landowner before trying to get married at one of these locations.

Transportation Elopement Costs

If you decide on a destination elopement (or, really, anywhere not close to where you live), then airfares, car rides, taxi costs, and other expenses must be taken into account.

You may have to factor in transportation costs for any guests you have, as well. Yes, you could ask them to get themselves there if it is not too complex, but you may want to book group transportation if you are planning on eloping somewhere that is hard to reach.

You may want or need to rent a small van in order to get everyone from the airport or hotel to the ceremony and back.

If you want to keep costs down, see if the guests can drive themselves. Or ask around on local groups to see if anyone wants to pitch in!

Accommodation Costs for an Elopement

Don’t forget, if you are considering eloping any further away than a relatively short drive from where you live, you will need to consider accommodation costs the day before and/or after the elopement.

Find out how many accommodation options there are, as the fewer there are, the more expensive they are likely to be.

You will also want to make sure there are enough options for any guests you invite (whether you are paying for their accommodation or not).

Wedding Attire Costs for an Elopement

You still have to think about what you are going to wear when you elope. Will you wear a tux or suit? Will you wear a dress? These are important questions to ask yourself. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on something you’ll only wear once, but at the same time, you don’t want to have a huge bill for an outfit that’s going to end up in the back of your closet.

You could save money on your wedding attire by borrowing from a friend or family member. A lot of women don’t want to wear their wedding dress again, so it’s not uncommon for a bride to ask if she can borrow her mother’s dress. You could also check out your local Goodwill or thrift store for deals on clothing.

Food Costs at an Elopement

Are you going to formally feed your guests at your elopement? Or would you rather go for a meal somewhere with any guests you do have? For example, you could have a picnic in your backyard or head to the café for drinks and dessert. Either way, food is going to cost you something. If you’re going out somewhere, make sure it’s somewhere you can afford and that your guests will like.

Decoration costs at an elopement

Don’t forget to think about decorations at your elopement!

You are likely going to want to make your venue at least somewhat unique to you as a couple, and decorations really help with this.

Decorations don’t have to cost a lot – you can use simple flowers or items from around your home. You can ask a family member or a friend to help you.

Alternatively, you might want to hire someone to decorate your elopement venue, especially if you don’t live nearby.

Either way, consider decorations when you are thinking about how much it will cost you to elope.

Elopement Photographer and Videographer Pricing

Are you going to have your special day captured by a professional? You’ll need to think about the cost of hiring an elopement photographer and/or videographer. The benefit of using a professional is that you don’t have to worry about capturing the event. The downside is it can be costly. Professional elopement photographers can cost from between $1200/£1000 – $2400/£2000, depending on their experience and quality of work.

You could save money by asking guests to take photos. They may not be professional, but they will surely spark great memories after the day.

You could also find someone new to the industry who is looking to do work for free or cheap for their portfolio.

Either way, you have to consider elopement photography pricing when thinking about how much it costs to elope.

Other vendor costs for an elopement

If you want to have any other vendors, such as a DJ, decorator, hair and makeup specialist, or a full elopement planner, you will have to take in to consideration those costs when budgeting your elopement, too.

Honeymoon costs for after the elopement

Have you thought about having a honeymoon after you elope? This doesn’t have to be a big trip – even a couple of nights at a nice hotel can class as a honeymoon.

Whatever you choose to do for your honeymoon (if you decide to have one), take it in to account when considering the cost to elope.

Conclusion: So how much does it cost to elope?

Eloping is a great way to have the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank. It’s an intimate, romantic, and special way to celebrate your love that is sure to be remembered for years to come. With minimal required costs associated, it’s something you can work into nearly any budget.

You really could make an elopement work with a budget as little as $350/£300 (or as big as you want, of course!).

So don’t let cost be a deterrent from pursuing your dream wedding – consider eloping! It could be just the thing you’re looking for when it comes to celebrating with your partner in style.

Don’t forget to check our full guide to eloping, here!

More Resources

Hosting a budget-friendly elopement

If you are planning on having some guests at your elopement, and are thinking about serving food, be sure to check out our guide on the cheapest wedding food ideas, that will keep your elopement budget friendly!

Elopement locations to consider

Not sure where to elope? Check out our other Ultimate Guides on…

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