Elopeonomics: How Much Can You Save by Eloping? (INFOGRAPHIC)

It’s no secret that you can save yourself major coinage by ditching the big wedding and opting for an elopement instead, but just how much? As it turns out, a small fortune!

Couples in the U.S. are spending a record amount of money on their big day according to The Knot’s newly released Real Weddings Survey. Brace yourself (no really, you might want to sit down), the average grand total: a whopping $32,641.00! Whaaaaa?

That’s’ a year of college, a new car, or a hefty down payment on a home! Seem like an exorbitant sum to spend on a single event? I decided to dive into the economics of eloping by comparing my own elopement to the average wedding. Spoiler alert: you can save over 90%!

So just how much can you save by eloping? Check out the infographic below for the dollars and cents (and sense) of eloping vs. a traditional wedding.

Elopement Savings Infographic


Ready to Comparison Shop your Big Day Basics?

1. Ceremony Site
     Average Wedding:      $2089       Church/Event Venue
     My Elopement:           $248          Hotel Suite Terrace
     On the Cheap:             FREE         Park/Public Space
     Possible Savings:       100%

Since you won’t have a big bridal party entourage, and you’re not hosting a whole bunch of guests, you can hold your elopement ceremony just about anywhere. No need to pay for an event hall or a big church, instead have your ceremony outdoors in a pretty park or public space for free. You can say I-Do with your toes in the sand, stand atop a snowy mountain, under an old oak tree, in front of a roaring waterfall, or at city hall all free of charge. We chose to get married on the terrace of our honeymoon suite in San Sebastian, Spain with the crashing waves of the Urumea River in the backdrop for the price of a one night stay.


2.Wedding Dress
     Average Wedding:      $1469       Traditional Gown
     My Elopement:           $400         Short Elopement Dress
     On the Cheap:             FREE        Repurposed Dress
     Possible Savings:        100%

Rather than shell out big bucks for a fancy wedding gown, you can go simple or short, and less formal with an elopement. You’re not limited to bridal boutiques, so shop the sales at retailers like Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus for a pretty, packable dress. Bridal party dresses are also a fraction of the cost of wedding gowns and are often available in shades of white or ivory as well (J. Crew has a great selection). Don’t forget to check your local bridal consignment store either, my favorite has a destination wedding section and I found a short Melissa Sweet dress that I had tailored to fit me perfectly. If you want to save even more moola consider repurposing a dress that you already own and love, or borrow one from a friend for free.   


3. Wedding Planner
     Average Wedding:      $1996        Full Service Coordinator

     My Elopement:           $275          Elopement Planner
     On the Cheap:             FREE        Do It Yourself
     Possible Savings:        100%

This is an easy DIY since elopements are pretty straightforward and simple to plan. Harness your inner Martha Stewart and put a cool $2k back in your pocket by making arrangements for your own ceremony site, officiant, photographer, florist and dinner. Or if you’d prefer to bag the prep altogether, hire an elopement planner for a few hundred dollars and call it a day. Since we decided to elope abroad in a country we’d never been to before we opted to hire a planner who seamlessly coordinated our vendor needs and made the whole process painless.


4. Wedding Dinner
     Average Wedding:      $9452       $68 Meal, 139 Guests

     My Elopement:           $217          Michelin Star Meal
     On the Cheap:             $50           Mid-price Sit Down
     Possible Savings:        99%

Now here’s where you can put the most cha-ching back into your checking account: zero to few guests means a much smaller meal tab. With 139 guests at the average wedding and a $68 per head price tag, eloping equates to a savings of almost $10,000 in food alone. Swap out the catering bill for a romantic table for two, even at a ritzy restaurant, and you’ll recoup 99% of your wedding dinner expense. We treated ourselves to a leisurely 9 course meal of a lifetime at a Michelin Star restaurant for just over $200. If you are really on a budget, choose cozy and quaint over upscale. It’ll be equally as memorable (after all it’s your wedding day), and you can enjoy a mid-range sit down dinner for two for around $50. 


5. Wedding Flowers
     Average Wedding:      $2300       Arrangements/Bouquets

     My Elopement:           $100          Bouquet from Florist
     On the Cheap:             $15             Bouquet from Market
     Possible Savings:        99%

Bouquets are really ornamental icing on the cake for an elopement ceremony. You aren’t tossing it, you may not even be keeping it, but it definitely makes you feel like a bride and looks lovely in wedding photos. To be fair, you could save 100% in this category and forgo flowers altogether- many eloping brides choose to do just that. I decided that for the small sum of $100, I wanted the bridal bouquet of my dreams (it only took me several hours on Pinterest to figure out exactly what that was). For me it was money well spent, elegantly arranged blush roses and fragrant cream gardenias. My bridal bouquet made a nice centerpiece for our wedding dinner table and even traveled with us on the train to our honeymoon in Paris the next day. If you’re looking for an even more affordable version, consider getting your arrangement at a local outdoor market. There’s bound to be something in season that catches your eye, and you can usually snag a bundle of stems for around $15.


6. Wedding Photographer
     Average Wedding:      $2618       Wedding Package

     My Elopement:           $500         Elopement Photographer
     On the Cheap:             FREE        Friend/Family Member
     Possible Savings:        100%

Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event (hopefully), and though you’ll undoubtedly have amazing memories of the day, you’ll also want some stunning photos to save and share. Wedding photography packages can get costly quickly- typically involving a couple photographers, many hours and elaborate equipment. Often, after the event has been shot and the photos have been edited, there are also per picture fees for the ones you want to print or use. Hiring a professional elopement photographer is much simpler in my experience and well worth it! Instead of a team, you only need one photographer (maybe an assistant), a few hours tops and often it’s on a weekday rather than a weekend- all of which leads to savings for your wallet. Our elopement photographer was incredibly talented and his $500 fee included delivery of over 200 edited photos via Dropbox, meaning we were free to print as many pics as we wanted and make our own wedding album. If professional photography doesn’t fit in your elopement budget, consider asking one of your witnesses, a family member or friend. With the high quality lenses on DSLR cameras, and even phones now, you can get great looking images for free.


Other Elopement Savings:

So you’ll spend a heap less on wedding basics, but what about all of the other expenditures that won’t even need a line in your budget when you elope? More savings and less stress…

1. Invitations
     Average Wedding:           $445

     Elopement:                       $0

2. Rehearsal Dinner
     Average Wedding:           $1,296
     Elopement:                        $0

3. Reception Venue
     Average Wedding:           $14,788

     Elopement:                        $0

4. Reception Band
     Average Wedding:           $3,833

     Elopement:                        $0

5. Favors
     Average Wedding:           $267

     Elopement:                        $0


Money isn’t everything, but it is one of the number one issues dismantling marriages- so why get a head start on your first marital fight by parting with $32k right out of the gate? According to legal expert Ann-Margaret Carozza in Forbes last year, of all the couples she works with, “…the number one mistake they make is spending too much on the wedding.” Rather than go into debt, burden your parents or sell a kidney to afford the average traditional wedding, save yourself the headache, heartache and 99% of the cost by eloping!

For more money saving advice, check out How to Create an Elopement Budget and Save Money


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Have you saved a bundle on your big day by eloping, or come up with money saving tips I’ve missed? I’d love to hear how you plan to keep your event affordable! Leave a comment below or Contact Me