Wedding Planning: Eloping Edition

I recently got engaged and the first thing everyone asks is “When’s the big day?” Well, that is a great question.


One thing my fiancé and I know for sure is that we want to elope. The sappy reason is that both of our parents eloped and are still together, so that has to be good luck. The practical reasons could go on for pages. First of all, weddings are insanely expensive. Secondly, I am an event planner by trade and I know if I had a big wedding I would micromanage so severely I would not be able to enjoy a second of my own wedding. While these served as our main deciding factors, I fully believe our wedding should be about us, no one else.  


The automatic association with eloping is that it is free. Well I’m here to tell you that is not the case. At the very least, you have to pay to file a marriage license.  The cost varies by state and can be anywhere from five dollars to over $100. The price tag that is a wedding only goes up from there.


At the bottom of the budget is the epitome of eloping: the “courthouse wedding.” While the only mandatory cost here is the license, you may still want to pay for an officiant and have a mini ceremony.  


My fiancé and I are eloping privately, just the two of us. However, we are planning for destination eloping. The biggest expense in our case is the destination; we want to be on our honeymoon when we say “I do.” For us, it will be a beach.  As self-proclaimed beach bums, we got engaged on the beach and that is where we would like to continue our story. Destination eloping can be anywhere, though. There are no rules when it is just you and your significant other.


In addition to travel and lodging, we had to find an officiant in that area for a reasonable price. This part was a little trickier for us as not every person licensed to marry is supportive of same-sex unions. We also want a photographer there to capture the ceremony. This helps ease the spite of our friends and family who wish they could attend. Remember wedding planning is often done in advance and wedding photographers get booked up quickly. It is easy to procrastinate planning when you think not much goes into eloping, but this is one reservation you do not want to let slide.  And lastly for our expenses, I do want a little pizazz. While I am forgoing a traditional wedding dress, I still purchased a dress specifically for the wedding. I also want some adornments on the beach, like an arbor. These costs can add up quickly.


Lastly, some couples elope with a small group of friends and family to witness.  In this case, you must figure in the costs of a small reception, seating and additional wedding decor like guest books, additional photography sessions, etc.  


The moral of the story is that we are eloping to save money and are still spending a good chunk of money to get the wedding that best fits us. Don’t make the mistake of not planning.