Elopements vs Big Weddings. Whats the cost?

So I may be biased but there are so many benefits to choosing an elopement over a traditional wedding. You get to plan the day exactly as you’ve envisioned, without any outside pressure or expectations. You get to spend the day with the love of your life, without stressing about making time to say hello and thank you to your entire guest list. Plus, you have the major allure of an elopement: the affordability. If you’re considering an elopement, keeping the costs low may be a high priority for you, and I don’t blame you!

The average wedding in the Northeast is around $67,000. If you’re reading this post it means you’re probably looking for cheaper alternatives, and you probably agree that $67k is way too much money to spend on a single-day event. That money could be your future downpayment on a house, a luxurious, months-long honeymoon abroad, or the beginnings of a baby nursery. Saving the money on a giant wedding by eloping can be majorly beneficial to your future. In 5 years (heck, even one year), you will be thanking you for going through with an elopement, saving that cash, and staying true to yourself!

Where to skimp, and where to splurge

The beauty of eloping is that you get to choose what you’re investing in based on what’s important to you. If you want to do your hair and makeup yourself, you can cross a stylist off your list. There’s a chance you don’t care about staying in a fancy hotel, and you’re cool with a modestly priced cabin rental. Maybe you want to pay for your best friend to register as an officiant to marry you, making the experience more meaningful and saving money on an officiant. If you’re eloping with just you, your partner, and an officiant present, you will save a huge chunk of cash on a venue. It’s all completely up to you, and no matter what you choose to save the money on, your elopement is bound to be cheaper than a typical wedding.

Even though this is a more affordable option, some of the costs may come as a surprise to you. But don’t forget: an elopement is still a valuable investment, just not as big of an investment as a standard wedding. Hiring amazing photographers and vendors ain’t cheap, especially if they are experienced and knowledgeable. They are the ones who will ensure that your day goes on without a hitch. A great photographer will help you with your elopement planning from start to finish, and ensure that you have memories that will last a lifetime. 

How does the cost really stack up?

I’m sure you’ve been reading this and thinking, “Okay, but how much savings are we talkin here?” It’s hard to give exact costs, because your elopement dreams and desires may be completely different to someone else’s. But to give you a better picture of how the costs compare, here are price breakdowns of a traditional wedding and a standard elopement: 

Traditional Wedding Cost

  • Reception venue – $21,000
  • Ceremony venue and officiant – $300
  • Catering – $7,000 ($70 per person, with 100 guests)
  • Photographer – $4,500
  • Videographer – $3,000
  • Florist – $2,000
  • Wedding Planner – $2,500
  • Rehearsal dinner – $1,900
  • DJ – $1,200
  • Makeup and Hair – $500
  • Wedding cake – $500
  • Transportation – $800

Total: ~$45,200

Keep in mind, this is only the beginning of what can potentially be included in a traditional wedding. A dress, suit, venue decor, invitations, bridal party gifts, wedding favors, and so many other potential costs are not included here. These things add up fast!

Elopement Cost

  • Marriage License – $28 (for New Jersey, but varies by state)
  • Weekend at  an Airbnb or Inn – $530
  • Photographer – $2,500
  • Florals – $200
  • Affordable dress and suit – $900
  • Dinner – $250

Total: ~$4,400

The elopement costs are all rough estimates, and you can obviously spend as much or as little as you’d like. If you’ve always wanted that dream dress but it’s a lil pricey, go for it! Or if you wanted to rent a small, inexpensive venue to accommodate for a handful of guests, you do you. But even with the most expensive or extravagant elopements, you can save up to $25k compared to a traditional wedding. That is a crazy amount of money!

Regardless of what kind of elopement you have, you will definitely be saving money in some way. But more importantly, you get to have a day that is completely free of rules or boundaries. You don’t have to deal with the chaos of a giant wedding. You get to share your vows with the love of your life, and not with hundreds of eyes on you. You and your partner can be your quirky selves, laugh over your inside jokes, and share your first kiss as a married couple on top of a mountain. The opportunities are quite literally endless!

Ready to get the ball rolling?

Hi, I’m Beatriz! I’m an elopement photographer based in the Northeast. If you’re interested in having me help you plan and capture the elopement of your dreams, shoot me a message! You can contact me here or email me directly at hello@beatrizveray.com. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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