How to Elope on a Budget: Tips and Ideas

Elopement Tips & Advice,
8 min read Apr 20, 2024
Bayleigh and Parker

An elopement is the dream for many couples—particularly those who yearn for adventure and prefer a private, intimate ceremony. However, costs can pile up quickly when planning any wedding.

If you’ve spent time daydreaming about your wedding day, considering its budget just might be what brought you back down to Earth. Luckily, there are ways for couples to stay financially savvy without sacrificing fairytale flair. Understanding the pros and cons of eloping can also help you balance an affordable and joyful celebration.

If you’re hoping to elope on a budget, we’ve got you covered. Read on for everything you need to know about an elopement budget, from ways to save with elopement packages to building your budget to DIY decor ideas, making it easier to have a memorable small wedding.

Understanding the Budget for Eloping

Melissa and Todd

An elopement budget is quite different from a traditional wedding budget—most notably because it’s typically much smaller (generally, a few thousand dollars instead of tens of thousands).

However, an elopement is still a wedding, meaning similar expenditures (i.e. officiant, outfits, food) need to be accounted for. This means that while choosing elopement will reduce the overall cost of your wedding, you will still need to allocate your budget proportionally and be careful not to overspend on any particular service.

For this reason, elopement packages and services are an ideal option for an eloping couple. They provide a comprehensive elopement experience, offering the same classic wedding elements but on a smaller scale. Tailored to suit an intimate wedding, they incorporate key features such as wedding venue selection, ceremony organization, and essential services.

Regardless of how you plan your elopement, it’s crucial to stick to your budget and make wise financial choices where necessary to maximize the memories of your special day.

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Tips for Eloping on a Budget

While eloping typically costs a fraction of the average traditional wedding (which soared to $33,000 this year),1 it’s still a significant expense to budget for. If you’re looking to shave down your elopement cost, some strategies will keep the day budget-friendly without cutting corners.

Choosing the Right Location

Choosing an elopement opens the door to a destination wedding, offering an array of unique locations that might not be achievable for a traditional, large-scale wedding. However, it’s possible to experience that sense of adventure and capture those aesthetically pleasing photos without breaking the bank.

When choosing your destination, consider the price of airfare and hotels in the area (your guests will thank you too). Look at how the location compares to other popular wedding venues and decide if it ranks among the best places for an intimate celebration or offers a less mainstream, unique experience.

Consider the setting—a beachfront wedding might be more expensive than a mountain or forest wedding, depending on the state or city.

It’s also worth weighing your venue’s proximity to an expensive major city with the cost of transportation to the outskirts of that city.

When researching your options, don’t forget the beautiful venues that might be hiding right in your own backyard (figuratively or literally). No matter where you live, a scenic and affordable spot is likely nearby, including a national park or another natural setting ideal for an elopement. Eloping can still be an adventure, even if the journey there doesn’t take very long.

Minimizing Guest List

One of the most surefire ways to ensure your wedding stays under budget is by keeping your guest list small for your elopement ceremony. When you consider venue space, catering plates, and bar service, the cost per guest can add up.

In 2022, the average cost per guest at a wedding was $256, and the average number of guests was a whopping 117 (and both those numbers are still steadily increasing).2

When curating your elopement guest list, consider which friends and family you are genuinely closest to, and which you called first when you got engaged.

When making cuts, it might be easiest to eliminate plus-ones or opt for a kid-free wedding. From there, pare down on distant family, friends you might have drifted from, and coworkers you rarely see outside of work.

DIY and Budget-Friendly Ideas

It only takes a quick Pinterest search to prove that there’s no shortage of stunning DIY wedding ideas. Whether it’s floral arrangements, light fixtures, centerpieces, or party favors, making some of your decor yourself can help significantly cut down costs. There are plenty of beginner-friendly options, requiring only a quick trip to the craft store.

Consider asking family members or friends to contribute unique touches to your wedding day, such as a homemade wedding cake, or enlisting one of them as your elopement photographer. This way, your wedding’s atmosphere will be truly unique to your love story, and will be comprised of contributions from your story’s key characters.

If DIY isn’t your thing or you’re short on time, there are plenty of budget-friendly decor options on the market. Get creative with personalized centerpieces, napkins, or candle holders from Etsy, or use second-hand antiques (like old books, vases, or Mason jars) as decor. You can even forage your own bouquet of wildflowers.

Off-Season and Weekday Savings

“Wedding season” typically falls between late spring and early fall (depending on the climate where you live, the weather between April and October tends to be the most predictably pleasant).3

Weekends are the most popular days of the week to get married, as work schedules are taken into account and bonus events like rehearsal dinners and morning-after brunches need to be squeezed in.

However, eloping is meant to be flexible and can take place any time of year (and day of the week). If you’re looking to take advantage of off-season or weekday savings, an elopement package can make a cozy winter wedding or beachfront summer wedding a worthwhile consideration.

A Monday elopement is an ideal excuse to create a long weekend, while getting married on a Wednesday would keep the high going for the rest of the week.

Economical Travel and Accommodation

To allocate more of your budget towards the wedding itself, consider opting for more affordable travel or accommodation.

Research cheap flights in advance, and purchase your ticket on a Sunday (when airline tickets are at their best prices).4 For California residents, a venue in San Francisco or San Diego can make for an ideal destination, and you can even opt for a road trip or scenic train ride to make it more cost-friendly.

Take stock of all of your options in the area when it comes to accommodation, and book on a weekend about two weeks in advance for the best rates.5,6

Which hotels offer the best bang for your buck, and would a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast offer a more memorable experience at a better price point?

If you’re traveling in a big group, Airbnbs tend to be 33% cheaper than hotels7 (just be sure you and your fiancé have your own space, and there’s plenty of space to get ready on the big day).

Financial Planning for Your Elopement

Alicia and Michael

The first step to building a budget for elopement (or any wedding, for that matter) is sitting down and planning. Take stock of where you and your partner are financially, and consider whether any friends or family members will be contributing to the cost of the wedding.

Research weddings similar to yours and elopement packages, and compare with the amount you feel comfortable spending in order to arrive at a ballpark total. From there, it’s time to break down the budget.

Considerations for Setting a Budget

While elopement ceremonies and receptions tend to skew small compared to a traditional wedding, the same key elements remain. The factors to include in your budget typically align with those core parts of a wedding, including:

  • An officiant
  • Wedding photographer and videographer
  • Floral arrangements, bouquet(s), and boutonniere(s)
  • A wedding planner
  • Bar service
  • Hair and makeup
  • Wedding cake and caterer
  • Musicians
  • Venue rental and decoration
  • Wedding attire
  • Party favors
  • Rings
  • Invitations and signage

Consider which of these elements are most important to you and your partner, and then research vendors local to your venue (or consider an all-in-one elopement package, in which you select services to be curated and included).

Unexpected Costs to Consider

When planning any wedding, consider it a guarantee, rather than a potential, that unexpected costs will come up. Don’t panic—but plan accordingly.

These might include:

  • Additional wedding dress tailoring
  • Gifts for the wedding party
  • Additional photography/video editing
  • Additional fees from the venue (i.e. for linens, tables and chairs, or dance floor installation)
  • Marriage license fees
  • Postage for invitations
  • Transportation from the ceremony to the reception
  • Adjustments for weather
  • Corkage and cake-cutting fees

Be sure to add a little extra padding to your budget (and/or have a contingency plan in case you encounter any of these added costs).

Grab Something Blue and Save Something Green with Simply Eloped

Bridgette and Jacob

While eloping is significantly less costly than the traditional wedding, planning a wedding is an investment no matter what. However, there are steps you can take during elopement planning to ensure that tying the knot doesn’t break the bank.

Be conscious of your budget every step of the way, from curating your guest list to booking flights and hotels, and carefully plan your budget while accounting for unexpected costs that may pop up.

If you’re hoping to plan your dream elopement on a budget, Simply Eloped has you covered.

Our elopement packages feature dozens of scenic destinations customizable to your heart’s content. (Plus, you can opt in or out of services like photography and florals). No matter your budget, there’s a package and dream destination for you.



  1. Forbes. Average Wedding Cost: How Much Should You Budget for Your Big Day?
  2. Bankrate. Average wedding cost: wedding planning tips for 2023.
  3. Martha Stewart. The Most Affordable Months of the Year to Get Married.
  4. Forbes. What’s the Best Day and Time to Book Flights?
  5. Afar Magazine. The Best Time to Book a Hotel Room, According to Travel Experts.
  6. CNBC. Here’s exactly when to book a hotel to get the best deal.
  7. USA Today. Are Airbnbs cheaper than hotels? Depends on your trip details, travel site survey says.
Elopement Tips & Advice
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