How Much Does the Average Elopement Cost? |

How Much Does the Average Elopement Cost?

How Much Does the Average Elopement Cost?

Jul 3, 2020

Eloping offers a bold, fun, and exciting start of a new chapter in life. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that eloping is also one of the most cost-effective ways to get married – a great choice for those looking to skip the exorbitant costs of a wedding.

Elopements still cost money. But luckily, planning a budget isn’t very difficult. Unlike a traditional wedding, where there are practically hundreds of things to think about when budgeting, an elopement budget is simple: travel, lodging, and a photographer are the main components in an elopement budget – that’s it!


As with anything, costs will vary depending on your vision for a dream elopement. In fact, elopement costs can fluctuate dramatically; on WeddingBee, a popular wedding and elopement forum, couples have reported drastically different numbers. For one person, “including our weekend getaway (minimoon?) ours will cost just over $2000,” while another newlywed said they paid “around $18,000” for theirs.

Women sharing their stories with online magazine Refinery29 put the wide range of costs on display: for some couples, the total cost ended up being less than $500, yet others noted that elopement “cost a lot more than I expected,” with total budgets reaching well into the thousands.

One thing that’s fairly consistent throughout most people’s eloping experiences is that, unless you’re traveling somewhere exotic, a photographer will likely end up being the biggest investment you make towards your intimate wedding – we’ll dive into that shortly. Unlike an average wedding with a cost of around $35,000, elopements are highly variable and the cost will depend on what you want to do and where you want to go.

So, how much does the average elopement cost? Couples end up spending around $6,000 to elope, on average, with most of these intimate, destination weddings landing somewhere between $2,000 and $20,000 in total costs. But the real number for you could be anywhere within or outside of that range.

No matter your budget, though, the first thing you’ll need to think about is a photographer.


Sure, flowers and a dress are things to consider (not to mention travel!), but the main portion of an elopement budget goes to a photographer, and for good reason.

“[Couples] know photos are currency this day and age,” says Jenny MacFarlane, founder of Eloping is Fun and wedding photographer, in talking to Glamour about the rising interest in elopements.

Kim Thompson at The Plunge advises“If you want to preserve this important day, consider ponying up for a professional photographer. Good photographs are a way to share the moment retroactively with the important people in your life. You can even use one of the better ones as the invite to your post-elopement / wedding celebration party.”

An elopement photographer helps to capture your day, and often, elopement photographers will do a lot more than take photos.

An experienced elopement photographer will:

● help you plan your day

● figure out logistics

● get permits

● deal with other surprise technicalities that come with eloping

One of my favorite things about being part of each couple’s memorable day is sharing the experience I’ve gained from hundreds of photoshoots. Investing in an elopement photographer returns value to your elopement beyond just the photographs – I help keep your day on track, watching out for common pitfalls and forgotten hoops to jump through, so you can focus on each other. So, how much does it cost to hire an elopement photographer like me?

Truthfully, the average cost of an elopement photographer depends on the photographer you choose. Different photographers charge different rates, and the amount you pay will depend on the style and quality you’re looking for in an elopement photographer. But the biggest factor affecting how much your elopement photographer costs is how long you’re looking to book a photographer for.



As with most elopement planning, the amount of time to book a photographer depends entirely on you. Some couples prefer to stick with a cheaper, short photography session, and that can work. Other couples might want a photographer sticking around for a full day elopement adventure to make sure the magic of the entire day is captured. Booking a photographer for longer also means you’ve got a better chance to get the added benefits of having someone help you figure out your wedding day.

I’d recommend at least a four-hour elopement shoot, but all day is usually the best option if you can make it happen; there’s something special about having the entire day documented from start to finish. All in all, an elopement photographer will generally cost you between $2,000 and $15,000, depending on the photographer and how long you choose to book them for.

Remember that an investment in the right elopement photographer translates into captured memories that’ll last forever, that you can show friends and family for the decades to come. How much of that day are you going to want to relive as you flip through your photo album? Most couples look back and want more photos from their day than just the few moments of their San Francisco City Hall wedding or elopement.

A couple’s favorite memories are often the electricity in the air as they wake up realizing today is elopement day. Or the thoughtful moments getting ready. Or the eager drive up to their “spot” in Yosemite.


The happiest couples opt to invest in having a photographer with them all day, while others hire one for a few hours. Your budget should be dictated by what’s important to you – what elements of your elopement day are going to make the longest, fondest memories? How important is it to you, as a couple, to have tangible memories captured forever?

Don’t let planning to elope stress you out – remember, you want your wedding day to reflect you as a couple. The amount you spend on your elopement is completely personalized, but it’s a general rule of thumb that travel, lodging, and a photographer are usually the biggest pieces of the puzzle. Once you’ve got those figured out, you’re all set for a perfect elopement!

The couple’s I’ve had the honor of joining on their adventure weddings that end up most excited about their photos are the ones that are sure to book a full day elopement photography session. You want someone who can capture each step of your love-filled, stress-free day. I’d love to be that someone. I’ll make sure your memorable day is captured moment-by-moment so you can focus on the one that you love and the joining of your lives.

Photography aside, location and travel are likely going to be your next biggest expenses.

That changes if you’re planning to elope close to home, but most couples choose an idyllic elopement destination. Whether it’s Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, you’ll need to plan your travel budget carefully.

The price of travel changes depending on the time of year you’re traveling and how far in advance you book flights and hotels. In the end, the amount you spend on travel is completely dependent on what fits comfortably in your budget. Couples spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on travel for their elopements.