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How Much Does it Cost to Elope?

If you're planning an elopement in Texas, you've probably asked this question. Perhaps you're in the midst of planning a big celebration and are overwhelmed by the costs - how much could you really save by throwing tradition to the wind and eloping?

You can spend $35 on your legal marriage, or you can spend anywhere from $5k-25k on the adventure of your dreams! That number may seem a little steep, but still pales in comparison to the $34,000 that the average couple spends on their wedding day. When you elope, you can cut out the things that you don't really care about, and focus on what matters.

Let's break down the cost of an elopement.

Start with what matters the most. Do you value photography the most? Perhaps you and your boo are more focused on scenery or adventure. Maybe you really want to marry in a spot that's accessible for your family members. Whatever is most important to you, put it at the top of your list. That'll probably be the first thing you book.

What does an elopement budget look like? Here is a budget based on the average expenses we've seen from our own couples, based on our area in North Texas:

Travel/Accommodation | $500 - $2,500

Attire | $500 - $3,000

Officiant | $450 - 800

Florals | $100 - $500

Photography | $2,200 - $7,500

Videography | $1,400 - $5,500

Planning/Coordination | $1,000 - $4,000

(Planning services are often offered by elopement photographers!)

There may be some vendors that you hire that you wouldn't normally consider for a traditional wedding, and some unique factors to ask of your vendors depending on the nature of your adventure. This is where we love to emphasize experiences over materials.

For example, you may want to consider hiring an adventure guide if you're going to an area that you've never experienced before. If you want to explore an Alaskan glacier, you may have to book a helicopter pilot and/or an ice-climbing guide. For a desert horseback adventure ending in a cowboy-style picnic, we know just the stables to contact in Big Bend. A private chef can even come to your cabin while you share your wedding cheesecake in a hot tub overlooking the mountains.

But after you take into account the expense of adventure, you'll remember that you're not paying for 150 meals, a DJ, or a bedecked dance floor. You're getting to experience the adventure of a lifetime exactly how you want, and that is worth so much more (unless you want to party with 150 of your closest friends, then do that!)

While it may seem obvious that you're saving money by eloping, you may be wondering why you're not seeing cheaper prices from vendors when you mention you're eloping. We assure you, vendors are not trying to capitalize on the word "wedding" or "elopement".

Florists, tailors, and caterers know that this is the most important day of your life, and want everything to be as perfect as possible! As a vendor, we know that extra attention to detail and small touches can make a huge impact on your day - and that does require extra labor and higher quality materials.

By prioritizing experiences over things, you'll cut the costs of the "traditional" items that bigger weddings accrue. You can have a custom cascading bouquet, but since you're not getting center pieces for 15 tables, you're ultimately spending less than the average nearlyweds.

However, if you're having trouble stomaching the "wedding tax", there are tons of ways that you can save money and still have the gorgeous elopement of your dreams.

One of our favorite ways to save on florals is to make your own! Matt and Paul made their own arrangements from a fresh grocery store bouquet, a rattlesnake houseplant, and fallen juniper branches. The result was a gorgeous and unique arrangement that truly reflected them as a couple and the landscape they married in.

We also love thrifting for secondhand decor and attire. Can you believe that Trey's $1200 wedding suit (suspenders included!) only cost us $15?! It looks and feels like it was custom tailored for him too. We love the thrill of the hunt. You can also join Bride-to-Bride or Buy Nothing groups for treasures from other brides who have already had the day of their dreams. If you're set on something brand new for your wedding dress, we think Lulu's and JJ's House are great places to start for beautiful adventure-friendly bridal looks.

To save on location fees, check with your adventure photographer or elopement planner for locations that don't require a permit (they do exist, and we don't geotag these locations). You may be limited by scenery or time of year, so we think it's best to do some research on your favorite locations. Regardless, even a Special Use Permit on public land will still be much cheaper than a traditional venue! For intimate affairs, a secluded Airbnb or Vrbo are wonderful alternatives to hotels or cabin buyouts. For rustic or camping experiences, we love Under Canvas and Hipcamp!

We might be biased, but we think it's totally worth it to invest in your elopement. You deserve to look back on this day with happy memories, wanting to relive it over and over. Make intentional choices in planning your elopement, and leave out the things you don't want or identify with. This is your chance to celebrate the first day of the rest of your lives in a meaningful and unique way.

Remember, your budget doesn't have to fit the numbers given here. Ours certainly didn't. Spend only the amount you feel comfortable spending. Whether you spend a little or a lot, your elopement day will have so much more value to you because it will be exactly what you want it to be. And gosh darn, we want that for you.

Learn more about the Trail Magic elopement experience here, and then give us a shout!

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