The cost of a wedding vs an elopement – what you need to know
It is pretty common for newly engaged couples to have a dilemma about how they will crown their love. Of course, your decision should be based mainly on the experience you’re looking forward to receiving, but you can’t forget to consider the cost factor in the whole picture.
So, if you still can’t decide whether you should skip having a big celebration and make your special day all about the two of you, here’s a wedding elopement cost overview that should help with your choice.
Wedding vs elopement
Before I explain the differences in the budget you need to assign for a traditional celebration and elopement, it’s important to set your priorities straight. These two hold a completely different approaches when it comes to honoring your love, so you’ll need to consider a variety of factors before reaching a final decision.
For one, they mainly differ in the number of guests you’re going to invite. Smaller parties are usually around 50-100 guests, while the larger ones can host up to 300 – or more! This is something that directly affects the expense range because the more people you’ll invite, the bigger your budget should be. In addition, traditional celebrations usually include having a ceremony at a church or a venue and are followed by large-scale parties, which include dinner and dancing.
On the other hand, elopements are more about personal experience, celebrating all the special emotions you hold for one another in an intimate manner. More often than not, elopements also include traveling to a faraway destination, usually somewhere you two have always wanted to go. You can either decide to travel alone or with a few of your closest family and friends, along with your destination photographer and celebrant of choice.
So, talk to your partner about the idea of how you both picture your dream day to look like, and let your values guide you towards your final decision. Although I can’t (and don’t want to) interfere with your vision, I can give you a brief overview of the expense both types of celebrations cost in the hope of helping your final choice.
Wedding elopement cost
You probably already know why the cost of a wedding vs. elopement differs, but let me paint the full picture so you can make a more informed decision. On top of their wish for an adventurous and intimate marriage, many couples decide to elope because it’s more affordable. However, keep in mind that the final expense also depends on the type of elopement you’re going for. Suppose you dream of travelling to a spectacular location and spending several days fully enjoying everything that place has to offer. In that case, you’ll probably end up paying more than if you’ve hosted a wedding with 50ish people. So, let me paint you a general picture of how large your budget should be for both of them.
Average wedding cost
I know how tough can planning your budget be, which is why I would recommend that you don’t come up with a definite number on your first try. Although you’re definitely aware of how much can you spend on your wedding elopement cost, it’s good to include the flexibility factor.
Roughly speaking, a traditional celebration costs around $30,000- $35,000, depending on what you wish to include and the state you’re hosting it at. Due to the increase in prices worldwide, expect that you will need to slightly extend your budget compared to what you could expect to spend in the previous years. So, if I do a general breakdown of the average vendors’ expenses, this is what it would all look like:
- Invitations – $510
- Venue- $10,000
- Photographer- $2,600
- Videographer – $2,100
- Event planner- $1,900
- Live band- $3,900
- Reception DJ- $1,500
- Florist- $2,400
- Cake- $600
- Favors- $440
- Rehearsal dinner- $2,400
- Bands- $5,800
- Hairstylist and MUA- $250
But one of the biggest factors that will influence your budget will be the number of people you decide to invite. It goes without saying that the longer your guest list is, the more you’ll have to spend, which influences the cost of everything – from invitations and favors to catering and dinner plates. So, given the fact that the plates usually range from $45 to $75, for 50 people, you’ll pay from $2,250 to $3,750, and for a hundred, this budget goes up to $7,500. And this is only for the dinner part of your event.
As I said, this is just a rough estimate, and you can include or exclude plenty of things. So, the final wedding over elopement cost would depend on all the little bits and pieces your special day is made of.
Average elopement cost
Now, things get a bit more unpredictable when it comes to elopements. In general, couples think they will spend far less money if they elope than if they opt for a traditional celebration. But with so many adventure options and faraway destinations, it’s pretty hard to determine whether this is true.
So, you can expect to spend as little as $7,000 for a simple elopement – which includes the two of you and a couple of vendors; or as much as $25-$30,000 or more – if you wish to travel to a remote destination with a few of your friends.
Here’s a list of all the factors you need to consider when calculating your dream elopement cost.
- Marriage license
- Location permit
- Number of guests
- Travel costs
- Food and drinks
- Hair and makeup
- Adventurous activities
So, you probably didn’t expect to see such a long list, but don’t feel overwhelmed yet. You should feel free to exclude a few elements you think don’t fit your vision. Ideally, you and your beloved will need to sit down and discuss the things you think matter and create a plan that includes them. Then, you can talk with your destination planner, and they’ll be able to provide you with a more precise sum of how much your wedding elopement will cost.
The pros of both wedding vs elopement
I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to bother with the negative aspect of things, so I’ll give you a list of both events’ advantages. Ultimately, these should be enough to help you decide on your path, leading you to the experience you dreamed of since your partner got on one knee in front of you.
Traditional wedding pros
- You’ll get to invite all the people that matter in your lives
- You’ll have plenty of spotlight moments
- If you’re a party person, you’ll enjoy the joyful atmosphere, especially on the dance-floor
- You’ll get more gifts
- You’ll get to use your creativity while thinking about the theme, decor, and every other detail that will make your special day unique and personalized
- You’ll enjoy an intimate atmosphere, feeling free to express all your emotions as they arise
- You’ll get to travel to a distant location, perhaps a place from your and your partner’s bucket list
- You can make an adventure out of the whole experience
- You’ll feel less pressure since you’ll have fewer things to plan and worry about
- Your day will be 100% about you two
- You can plan to have an elopement and honeymoon together
- If you decide to take a few of your closest family and friends, a destination elopement would be a great travel opportunity for them, as well
- There’s a chance that you’ll face lower wedding elopement cost than hosting a traditional celebration
The experience factor
Marriage celebrations are all about crowning your love, so no matter how you decide to do them, ensure you fully embrace the occasion. After all, the experience is what matters most, so whether you’re celebrating it with two or two hundred people, your focus should be on feeling comfortable and getting the most out of each situation.
In the end, your decision should be based on what you and your spouse-to-be value in life and how you have always envisioned your dream day to look like. If you’re a couple who is adventurous at heart and want to celebrate their genuine love in an intimate ambiance, then eloping would be a logical move. Of course, how much money you can allocate definitely plays a major role in your decision, but if you put that aside briefly, you’ll see that what’s important is to be happy with the option you choose in the end.
I truly hope that the information I’ve shared about wedding elopement costs will guide you on your way to discovering what you truly want and need. And if the idea of elopement sits most comfortably with you, then I’ll be more than happy to help you plan your once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Please reach out to me through my website, and I’ll help you explore all the wonderful destinations you can choose to celebrate your love at.