Welcome to wedding planning friend! If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re trying to figure out if you want to elope or have a larger wedding and are hoping to see elopement vs wedding cost. For the sake of this article, I’m keeping the topic to cost between the two of them! If you’re trying to decide what to do, check out my article on the pros and cons of elopements and big weddings to know which is right for you!
According to the 2019 Newlywed Report from Wedding Wire, hometown weddings cost on average $27,000 and destination weddings cost $32,000. Even in a post-pandemic age, these prices will continue to be average.
A lot of people assume eloping is a more cost-effective way to get married. While it is cheaper, eloping is an alternative option for couples who don’t want to deal with the stressors of having a big wedding. The bonus from eloping is you’ll most likely spend way less than a traditional wedding, but that doesn’t have to be the number one reason you’re deciding to elope.
Eloping is special. Eloping should be more than a quick ceremony! It’s an opportunity to do something completely different. For example, you can say your vows on the top of a mountain on a hike, or on a sailboat at sea, or at a private dinner. It can be all day or more than one day! It’s a chance for the two of you, (and maybe a few guests) to celebrate yourselves in an intimate, meaningful, and less stressful way.
This is where you can see by adding activities to your day the price can increase. Just remember this is your wedding day! If you’re thinking about doing something amazing, let’s live your day to the fullest.
Check out my resource on unique Washington timeline options. You can see how you can celebrate for a full day!
As a former bride, I planned a large wedding and I was stressed throughout the day. Unfortunately for me, my wedding day was a blur. Thanks to my photographer (and videographer) who had an amazing eye for capturing details and moments, I can look back and remember all the little things I forgot and remember the joy I did feel on that day! I never questioned paying several thousand of dollars for photography. That was going to be the one thing I got to take away after the wedding and keep for years to come. (well, that and my husband 🙂 )
As a photographer, my goal is to help you create a day where you can adventure, slow down, and really enjoy something beautiful for your day that comes alive in photographs.
My prices start at $2,200 for a 4-hour elopement and extend to multi-day elopements. I pour my heart and soul into each couple I photograph. It’s not just “a job” where I show up, shoot, and am done. You’ve poured your heart and soul into creating a day that will be memorable to you two. You want to find a photographer to also invest that time back into you! I take the time to tell your story in a beautiful and artistic way. 🙂
I specialize in adventure elopements! This is more than just a mini ceremony. My pricing reflects all the adventure photography expertise I bring to the table! I adventure in the outdoors myself, and I help scout locations and make sure you have plenty of ideas on how to make your day special. After months of planning, I photograph it! Check out my pricing page here for more information!
If you value your partnership, and you’re putting effort into your day, don’t devalue your day by not investing in someone amazing to take those photographs for you!
Now let’s break down the cost between the two: Big Weddings and Small weddings. I’ve actually pulled the cost my husband and I used for our wedding! You can see a real wedding and how it can compare to an elopement!
Guest Count: 120 guests
Our goal: Have a party where we and the rest of our guests could have a good time! We value good documentation and prioritized vendors who would document our day well! We did DIY where we could to save money.
|Venue (we ended up getting this for an entire weekend, with the ability for 18 guests to stay on site!)||$4,900|
|Photographer ***our must-haves – we value documentation!||$3,000|
|Videographer ***our must-haves- we value documentation!||$4,300|
|Wedding Day-of Coordinator||$1,500|
|Catering + Reception + Dessert (~$35 a head)||$4,200|
|Bartender + Alcohol (we bought our own and were able to bring it in. We had to use the venue appointed bartender)||$2,600|
|Porta Potty (outdoor venue)||$400|
|Chair Rental for the ceremony||$500|
|Hair and Makeup Artist||$600|
|DIY Decor (Includes Silk Flowers)||$1,400|
|My husband’s outfit||$150|
|Misc (Rehearsal Dinner, Food for Venue day of, wedding bands, debauchery party, vendor tips, shuttle for guests, wedding party gifts)||$4,400|
Guest Count: 2-12 people
**Please note these are just estimates. You can vary your budget based on what you value for your day. The biggest piece of advice is to invest in good photography or videography. That way you can look back and relive your day for years to come!
Elopements vary because there is no “one size fits all” on what is right or what you’re supposed to do, therfore you can do whatever you want! You can do something that costs more money like an adventure tour, or you can do something simple!
|The venue or Permit|
**If you choose to elope in the outdoors, you’ll most likely need to pay for a special event permit and a photography permit. For example, Mount Rainier National Park is currently $175 for their permit as of March 2022. It’s WAY cheaper than a venue, but it’s still a cost. If you want a venue, you’ll have that cost instead which is the higher end of this budget.
**We specialize in the outdoors, care about the land, and know how to photograph in different environments (more so than a larger wedding photographer would know how to prepare for.)
|$2,200 – $7000|
|Catering + Dessert (~$50 a head, because you can splurge with less people)||$100- $600|
|Partner 1 Outfit||$150 – $3,000|
|Partner 2 Outfit||$150 – $3,000|
|Misc (Lodging, travel, additional ideas)||$500 – $4,000|
|Washington Marriage License||< $100|
|TOTAL||$3,200 – $21,500|
|Optional Add-Ons||COST (Low Cost – You can go big)|
|Private Adventure Tour (Ie Helicopter, Private Plane Ride, Private Whale Watching Tour, etc)||$1,500-$5,000|
|Videographer||$2,200 – $7000|
|Wedding Day of Coordinator||$1,500- $3,000|
|Alcohol (Maybe you have a nice bottle of something!)||$200|
|HMUA**If they have to travel to you, it will be more expensive! But you can do your hair and makeup by yourself!||$600|
|ADD Ons TOTAL||$6,200 – $16,000|
As you can see between the elopement vs wedding costs, elopements are definitely cheaper. However, there’s a wide range of costs within an elopement! The beauty is you can mix and match to make a day you are going to remember! You can go big or you can go small! Whatever you do, you get to make your day into an incredible, unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
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