Eloping: Saving Money on Your Big Day

Eloping: Saving Money on Your Big Day

My husband and I got married on a whim. We lived across the country from our families, and we had put off our wedding for three years. Planning a wedding from 2,000 miles away just wasn’t happening. So one day, on a beach in South Carolina, we eloped to the tune of seagulls, whispering waves…and $300.

Unintentionally, we had saved thousands of dollars, all by marrying each other non-traditionally. Now, eloping isn’t for everyone, and you will have to weigh the losses against your savings. For some, though, eloping can save a boatload of cash. Let’s look at where you could save and where you could miss.

Wedding Costs

Weddings cost. Weddings cost big. From the wedding dress to the hall to the flowers, all of the miscellaneous costs of the wedding can add up rather quickly. Altogether (including the reception), the average wedding now costs about $25,000 to pull off in a "reasonable" amount of style.

Eloping Costs

On the other hand, eloping can be much less costly. Depending on factors, the wedding could cost as little as $25 or as much as a couple thousand. The factors to consider include:

  • Judge or Justice of the Peace: Who performs the ceremony will be one cost to think about. A judge will often marry you for free (at the courthouse, during her regular hours). A justice of the peace can charge you for performing the ceremony.
  • Marriage License: The license cost depends upon the state in which you are married.
  • Venue: If you decide to elope in a venue, there may be fees on top of the others. For example, tropical retreat weddings will often add a venue fee into the total fee.
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: If you wish to decorate, purchase wedding outfits (which are often not the full, traditional garb), throw a reception, or hire a photographer, these costs will also need to be added on to your grand total.

Emotional Aspects

When you consider eloping instead of hosting a wedding, you might miss out on some of the traditional highlights. Missing the opportunity to invite family, walk down the aisle, dance your first dance, and wear a traditional wedding dress could be breaking points to the eloping idea. The importance of these traditions should be weighed before a decision is made.

If you have weighed the things you will miss with the perks of eloping, you can decide on your best option. Remember, there are differing levels of elopement and of traditional weddings: you may wish to host a more elaborate elopement for your closest friends and family or pare down a traditional wedding to share your joy with others.

Whatever you decide, as long as you and your partner work together toward a solution, your agreed-upon choice will be perfect.

Are there any other ideas for ways to save money on wedding costs or on an elopement? Did anyone else out there elope?

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cashflowmantra.com's picture

cashflowmantra.com wrote:

Wed, 06/29/2011 - 15:55 Comment #: 1

Well, I didn't elope but I will be telling my daughters that they get a lump sum to start a new life. Pay for a wedding, a car, down payment on a house, honeymoon, whatever. Here you go. Spend according to your priorities.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 07/01/2011 - 16:52 Comment #: 2

Awesome idea! I may have to implement that myself!

Lindy Mint's picture

Lindy Mint wrote:

Sat, 07/02/2011 - 17:11 Comment #: 3

Eloping wasn't really an option for us, and neither was a small wedding because my mom has about a million friends. But we were still able to have a big wedding on a decent budget, and we did it in a way that "felt" small by hosting it at a restaurant patio instead of a giant resort.

There is a pay off to having a large wedding - tons of wedding gifts! But we probably would have eloped if we'd had our first choice.

Weekend Reading: Canada Day Weekend Edition | Invest It Wise's picture

Weekend Reading: Canada Day Weekend Edition | Invest It Wise wrote:

Sun, 07/03/2011 - 17:05 Comment #: 4

[...] Eloping: Saving Money on Your Big Day (MomVesting) [...]

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Tue, 07/05/2011 - 18:55 Comment #: 5

Lindy Mint, awesome job hosting a big wedding on a small budget and making it feel small!

I think I would have had a small wedding if we lived in the same state as the attendees, but I was so stressed trying to plan even a tiny wedding from 2,000 miles away that we decided to elpe while on vacation. Someday we'll host a vow renewal -- maybe at the ten year mark :-)

Angela England's picture

Angela England wrote:

Sat, 12/31/2011 - 23:05 Comment #: 6

@cashflowmantra - That's exactly what my parents did. We had heard that the average wedding costs in Oklahoma were $16k so my parents allotted half of that and anything left after the planning of the wedding was OURS for whatever purpose. We ended up using $3k as a down payment on a home. I still had a lovely wedding - three attendants, 150-200 guests, out-of-town family, huge dinner reception, etc. We bought a giant case of precooked brisket from Sam's Club and ready-made rolls and some ladies from our church volunteered to prepare the dinner.

I paid a friend to make our wedding cake and bought her the equipment she needed from Michael's with 50% off coupons and then we gave her a little extra cash.

We managed to have a beautiful, big, lovely wedding for around half our allotment and no one was the wiser. AND we pulled the whole thing off in only 4 months of time!