Let’s talk money, honey!! Today I’m going to show you how you can absolutely, 100% have your dream adventure elopement without spending your entire life’s savings on it. Because let’s be real – the expectations for how much you spend on your elopement or wedding are kinda insane in today’s society, and it’s simply not realistic to be spending $100K on one day of your life (unless you actually have the $ for it and want to do that – in which case, you do you!). Especiallyyyy if that money is going toward elements of your wedding that you don’t actually care much about (hello, family members who pressure you to spend money on inviting 200 people you barely know).
I’ll be going through 10 ways you can save money on your adventure elopement, which can apply to any sort of elopement/intimate wedding as well. Feel free to take what’s helpful and leave what’s not – only YOU know what you want your elopement to look like, and I hope that these suggestions show you that you can make it happen without breaking the bank!
How to Prioritize Your Elopement Budget
Real quick, I wanted to give you a couple of tips when it comes to prioritizing costs for your elopement, and how to make sure you spend your money on what’s actually important to you.
Elopements are ALL about bringing the focus back to you and your relationship, and away from the traditions/expectations/pressures that often come with bigger weddings. Bigger weddings also tend to come with crazy expectations when it comes to how much money you spend, and sometimes couples feel like they have to spend a certain amount in order for their wedding to be “worthy.” That is SO not the case, and the beauty of elopements is that you can truly do whatever you want (or don’t want) to do.
When you’re planning out your elopement budget and are trying to make sure you spend your money on what matters to you, here are a few of my biggest tips:
- Set your priorities: figure out what each of your top 2-3 priorities are, agree on 2-3 priorities together, and be okay spending a bit less on the rest. Put more of your money toward those priorities that mean more to you and prepare to DIY some of the other elements, or at least set lower budgets for the lower-priority items/services. E.g. If your priorities are your photographer, your accommodations, and your guest experience, then put most of your money toward those and be okay spending less on florals, attire, etc.
- Think about the future: remember that your elopement is not the last day of your lives – you will have a LOT more to spend money on after the big day! Think through what big purchases might be coming soon after your elopement (e.g. a honeymoon, a new home together, etc.) and be realistic about how much money you’ll need for that. Yes, your elopement is a HUGE day and is so important, but remember that you don’t have to put your life’s savings toward it only to find yourselves broke at the end of the night!
- Consider asking your friends to contribute to your honeymoon instead of a registry: if you don’t have much to ask for on a registry, or that’s just not your vibe, consider asking your guests to contribute to a more meaningful fund instead – e.g. your honeymoon, a down payment on a house, etc. Or even specific experiences/activities, such as a ziplining tour on your honeymoon or a sunset boat cruise!
10 Ways to Save Money on Your Adventure Elopement
Now let’s move onto 10 great ways you can save money on your adventure elopement, if they fit your dream day and what you’re envisioning!
1. Buy second hand attire
Second hand/used attire is SO underrated for elopements, in my opinion. If you’re not dead set on buying a brand new outfit for your big day, you have sooo many other options: you can buy used pieces, or you can even rent pieces if you don’t care about keeping your outfit after your elopement day!
Brides for a Cause is a great option if you’re local to the Seattle area – they’re a nonprofit that resells used wedding dresses to raise money for charity. You can also check out Facebook Marketplace or your local thrift stores and you might find a gem!
Another option you have is to sell your own attire after your big day if you want to try and make some of your money back, through somewhere like Facebook Marketplace.
2. Opt for dried flowers instead of fresh, or local instead of imported
One way to save money on your flowers is to opt for dried flowers over fresh, as they usually come at a lower cost – and you can even preserve them after your elopement in a photo frame or some type of pressed album! Many florists offer dried floral bouquets over fresh, or can incorporate dried flowers into bouquets with fresh greenery/foliage.
You’re also more likely to save money if you invest in local flowers over imported flowers, as you won’t have to factor in shipping costs/pay the higher price tags that come with flowers that have been imported. Many florists only work with local farms and flowers, and some will have different pricing for local vs. imported flowers used in your bouquets/arrangements.
3. DIY your decor
Decor is one of the easiest parts of your elopement to DIY, especially if you’re eloping somewhere like a national or state park where you really can’t set up much decor in the first place! You can easily find used wedding decor on Etsy, or buy materials from your local craft stores and get creative.
If you have any talented friends or family members, I’m sure you could enlist their help when it comes to decorating, too! And if you have any friends who are talented when it comes to simple woodworking, you could even ask for their help creating an arbor/arch for your ceremony, then just add a few flowers and voilà – you’ve got a beautiful ceremony setup.
Don’t overthink your decor, especially if you’re eloping somewhere with an already beautiful landscape: use decor to enhance rather than distract from the scenery, and keep it simple!
4. Cut down on your guest list
If you’re open to having a fairly intimate (or even totally private) elopement, cutting down your guest list will easily be one of the quickest ways to save money. Having just a few guests will mean way fewer mouths to feed, less lodging to pay for (if you’re helping pay for their stay), and fewer permits to pay for if you’re eloping in a national or state park. Invite just your closest, most special friends & family members who will really make your day meaningful, and hang out with the rest of your loved ones later on with a post-elopement celebration of some kind! You can also opt for a totally private elopement with no guests, in which case you’ll save a TON of money since you won’t have anybody else to pay for other than yourselves :)
5. Have a reception/party later on
Speaking of post-elopement celebrations, a great way to save money (or at least spread out your spending over time) is to have a reception/party of some sort LATER on rather than right after your ceremony! A lot of couples actually did this when COVID prevented them from having large weddings, and it ended up being an option I freaking loved to recommend to see couples choose. You can have a private or intimate elopement ceremony, then celebrate with more of your friends & fam a month later, a few months later, or hey – even on your first anniversary! This will allow you to spread some of your spending out over a longer period of time, rather than spending money on both a ceremony and a reception all in one day. You could plan a weekend getaway, a dance party reception at a formal venue, or a trip for everyone!
6. Opt for a potluck, picnic, or food truck instead of catering
If you’re having a fairly small elopement, there’s really no need for you to hire an expensive caterer like you would for a bigger wedding! With a shorter guest list, you obviously have fewer mouths to feed, which means you can open your mind up to a bunch of other options when it comes to food other than a caterer who provides a certain number of bulk meals for you.
Here are a few fun ways to provide food on your elopement day, whether you have multiple meals for your guests (e.g. brunch and dinner) or you just want to enjoy some late-night snacks!
- A potluck that you & your guests contribute to
- A picnic after your ceremony
- Charcuterie boards for appetizers
- A food truck – pizza, BBQ, late-night snacks, the options are endless!
- A mobile bar for cocktails & bubbly
- A meal you all cook together in your Airbnb
- Rent a private room in a local restaurant/pub/brewery/winery
7. Elope out in nature instead of at a venue
Another way to save biggg bucks is to elope somewhere out in nature instead of at an actual venue, such as a national or state park. You’re going to save SO much money if you’re not renting a venue space for the whole day or weekend, as venue prices can get steep pretty quickly depending on your guest count, catering needs, how long you want to celebrate, etc. Opting to elope at a national state park will not only allow you to elope somewhere with stunning scenery and give you the chance to explore an amazing place, but will also cut all the venue costs! You’ll only have to pay the parking/entrance fees as well as any fees associated with a Special Use Permit you may need for your ceremony.
Want some examples of amazing places to elope that don’t require you to book a venue? Check out some of my personal favorite elopement locations in the PNW below!
10 Best Places to Elope on the Oregon Coast
12 Best Places to Elope Near Seattle
How to Elope in Olympic National Park
8. Ditch the wedding favors
Next up: if you want to prioritize your guest experience and really allow your guests to have an AMAZING time at your elopement, you’re free to ditch the wedding favors! Typically, larger weddings come with this expectation that the couple gives every guest a wedding favor – which is sweet in theory, but they’re usually little trinkets that the guests will never actually use. Instead of spending your money on favors your guests probably won’t care about, spend that money creating an unforgettable experience for them and for you!
9. Reserve a campsite instead of booking an Airbnb
If you’re down to sleep in a tent and cozy up in your sleeping bag out in the middle of nowhere, then you can save a ton of money by camping for your elopement instead of booking an Airbnb or making a hotel reservation! If you’re eloping somewhere super scenic with lots of potential for exploring, find a campsite that you can set up camp at and take advantage of the beauty around you. Campsite fees are going to be MUCH cheaper than booking a room somewhere nearby – plus you get to experience the location in a totally different & beautiful way!
10. Elope during the off season
Finally, a great (and easy) way to save money on your adventure elopement is to elope in the off season! By “off season,” I just mean whatever season is the least busy at the location you want to elope. Obviously, you’ll need to keep the weather in mind – you won’t want to elope in the mountains in the winter, because snow will probably be blocking the roads + trails, so maybe you opt for a mid-fall elopement instead to avoid the massive summer crowds. Travel & accommodation costs are typically cheaper in the less busy seasons, and sometimes Special Use Permits are cheaper as well. And it’s a bonus that you’ll be able to have a more private elopement if you find a location that people don’t tend to visit during the off season!
I hope these 10 tips helped give you an idea of JUST how many ways there are to save money on your adventure elopement! You truly can create the day of your dreams with whatever budget you have, as long as you prioritize well and know what your must-haves are, and what you’re willing to sacrifice to have them. If you’d like some more elopement planning tips like these, be sure to check out my full guide to How to Plan An Elopement!