Why elopements & destination weddings could cost less

Unpack the real costs of destination weddings and elopement packages

Maybe you’ve dreamed of reciting your vows in a breathtaking, no-filter-necessary location. Maybe you’re just looking for a way to limit how much you spend on your wedding. Maybe it’s both. Whatever the case, hosting a destination wedding or eloping could end up costing less than a traditional wedding.

And understanding destination wedding costs or the true prices of wedding elopement packages can help you decide if it’s right for you.

Destination weddings can be more affordable—and cheaper

According to popular wedding website The Knot, the average destination wedding costs about $32,000.1 That’s slightly less than the overall price estimate for weddings: $33,931.2 But the site points out that prices can vary based on your destination, the number of guests and what you want to include as part of your big day. 
It’s also important to consider where you live when comparing prices. For example, if your hometown is a major city where prices are higher, having your wedding in a dream location may actually save you money. That might not be the case if prices are lower where you live.

Decoding destination wedding costs

One reason destination wedding expenses might be more manageable is because your guest list may be smaller. Often only the couple’s nearest and dearest attend. Because so few guests will be coming, you might decide to put part of your wedding fund toward their guests’ airfare and accommodations.

To be kind to your wallet, it may be helpful to keep a close eye on your budget before offering: Even though the guest list is much smaller, you could wind up paying more per guest than you would for the usual wedding in a reception hall. Say you’re paying for 10 guests. At $2,000 each, that still comes to $20,000.

As you’re doing the math, keep in mind that while you can consider covering the costs for your guests, you aren’t obligated to. It’s typical for guests to pay for their own travel and hotel stay. Consider this: To attend your wedding, guests get a vacation. They usually understand that they will have to pay more than they would to attend a wedding in your hometown. Wedding planners suggest that couples be clear and transparent about costs upfront. To avoid any confusion, you may want to consider including information on your invitation or wedding website about how guests can get the best travel rates.
Destination weddings can also end up being a budget-friendly option because they can double as the honeymoon. The average honeymoon costs around $5,000, so this option can help you save.3

Host a party for 2: Use an elopements package to cut costs

When many people think of eloping, they think of a simple ceremony at city hall. However, a spin on the tradition is an “elopement package.” Instead of having your family and friends join in the fun, just the couple sets off on the adventure. It’s like a traditional honeymoon, with a wedding ceremony to kick it off!

So how much does it cost to elope? It depends. Some couples keep their elopement ceremony simple, while others go all out (think a tiered wedding cake, 3-hour photo shoot and fancy attire). What you choose is up to you. The cost of eloping varies, but it tends to be less expensive. Think of it this way: A celebration for 2 will likely cost less than a party for 200.

Save for the celebration

Even though costs for both destination weddings and elopement packages could be small in comparison to the cost of a traditional wedding, you’ll still likely want to have a plan. Here are a few places to start:

  1. Set a savings goal: Putting money aside each month in an online savings account can help prevent you from accidentally spending the money that you’re saving for your wedding or elopement. Some accounts have tools that can help you figure out how long you’ll need to save for and will even automate the process by transferring a certain amount from your checking account each month.
  2. Take advantage of travel rewards: Is a destination wedding, elopement package or a traditional honeymoon in your future? Consider opening up a credit card that helps you earn travel rewards or miles that you can put toward your trip. 
  3. Get a group rate: For destination weddings, some airlines will give a group discount if 10 or more people are traveling together. Hotels will often give special prices if you secure a block of rooms in advance.4 Coordinating these details can help you and your guests cut costs.
  4. Throw a party afterward: Since these types of travel destination weddings either have a small (or no) guest list, some couples have a party afterward to celebrate with friends and family. If you decide to have a party, a low-key, informal affair (like a backyard barbecue or brunch) can help keep costs down.

No matter where you tie the knot, with a reasonable destination wedding or wedding elopement package, you may have the means for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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