Whether you’re engaged, almost engaged, not even close to being engaged, or have done it all already – you know that getting married isn’t always cheap, or easy. Especially if you’ve been dreaming up your adventure for your wedding for forever, and know what you want + want good quality vendors / attributes.
But there are a lot of ways to save some of that money we all need in these times, by switching the way you plan your adventure to celebrate this next chapter in your life – your marriage, and by cutting out things you know you don’t value.
In the spring, I hosted a styled elopement shoot for photographers, and it was a hit not only with the photographers, but with my clients and followers as well! A lot of people loved the photos, but there was more curiosity around the ideas of how to do this for a real elopement, rather than one just set up for photos. The funny part – a lot of people who were wondering about the breakdown of how to pull off a cabin elopement, were brides who were currently planning, or had already planned a more ‘traditional’ wedding! So, if you keep reading, you’ll see the breakdown of how to recreate the elopement I had created (including the price of things), and you’ll see the breakdown of an average traditional wedding!
The Idea: we rented a cabin for two nights and hosted an elopement that would be with just a couple. Simple, easy, beautiful.
Now planning a cabin elopement can be different for everyone, and can COST differently, depending on what you want, what you need, where you’re eloping, etc. etc. Below is a basic breakdown of what was needed for our styled elopement, and includes the few extra things you would need for an actual elopement…
(the vendors that I used are also linked – please directly inquire with them for actual pricing!)
Accommodations: ~$600 / night = $1200 for two nights
Photography: ~$3500 depending on travel costs and hourly coverage
HMUA: ~$300 depending on travel fees
Food + Alcohol: ~$200
Accessories (Boots, Jewelry): ~$100
Transportation (from Calgary): ~$100
Marriage License: ~$120
TOTAL – $8695
Now, keep in mind- this elopement was geared around the accommodations being the priority. Meaning being in a remote location, having an accommodation that fits 8, just for 2 people, led to a pricey per night stay. However because the accommodations were SO AMAZING, we were able to have an entire place to ourselves, and were able to enjoy some extra additions like the woodfire stove, a FULL kitchen (allowing us to save on food + drinks) a fire pit, hiking trails + a sauna! So we didn’t need to spend any extra money on extra things to do.
Also keep in mind that there were NO GUESTS involved, however there was the space + the food for it if we wanted, which would accommodate an additional 6 guests plus you two.
There are also things you could do to make this elopement cheaper, or more extravagant / ‘full out’. So keep in mind… this is just an example of an elopement. You could budget on things like accessories, food, decorations, suit / dress, and more! And you can level up the elopement with more extravagant food and drink options, an excursion like a helicopter ride, and or adding a videographer!
Some fun facts I gathered from couples who have eloped based off of my own research:
Most expensive part of an elopement: Travel / Photography
Average amount of guests from gathered info: 2-15
Most expensive elopement someone told me about was $15,000
Cheapest elopement someone told me about was $4,000
One part of an elopement people advise NOT to cheap out on: Photography + Videography
One part of an elopement people advise you can be cheaper with: Suit/Dress + Food
Now for a traditional wedding, EVERRRYYY wedding is different. The price for things fluctuates so much depending on what season you’re getting married in, what DAY you’re getting married on (hint: any day but Friday’s and Saturday’s are cheaper) , and ESPECIALLY how many guests you who (another obvious hint: the less people the cheaper 🤪)
To gather the numbers, I asked people to ANONYMOUSLY let me know how much they spent on their wedding. Some people let me know the full breakdown of how much they spent on what, how many guests were involved, and how long ago it was (inflation is REAL). Below is the summary of some facts I gathered about having a wedding with anywhere between 80-100 guests:
Most expensive part of a wedding: Catering / Venue
Average amount of guests from gathered info: 80-100
AVERAGE PRICE – $20,000 – $25,000
Would you recommend to have a wedding / would you do it again: most people said if they could go back they would do something way smaller / elope
Now again, EVERRRRYYY wedding is different. Some people save on the venue by getting married on a family property, some people save by doing a buffet rather than plated dinner, or save by doing a toonie bar instead of an open bar.
Obviously though, the more people you have the more expensive everything will be!
Other fun facts:
Most expensive wedding someone told me about was $50,000 for 60 people
Cheapest wedding I heard was $12,000 for 100 people
One part of the wedding people advise NOT to cheap out on: Photography
One part of the wedding people advise you can be cheaper with: Decor + Suit
These numbers aren’t a reflection of what you should or shouldn’t do for your celebration. YOU DO YOU. (I will say that over and over again if I have to). They are just to show some facts about planning a wedding and planning an elopement. Every couple is different, every adventure is different, every story is different. If you know you can’t celebrate your marriage without your people, have a wedding! If you want to prioritize an experience + focus more on just you two, elope!
Some people even do both! They elope, and then just have a party later with their favourite people (honestly, my favourite scenario if I’m being truthful)
Make sure you are staying TRUE TO YOU. That’s the most important thing. No matter what anyone says. And if you need any help deciding what would fit you best, need more ideas or need someone to capture your adventure truthfully and beautifully, then I’m just a message away!