How much does an elopement cost in the UK in 2024?

If you’re amongst the increasing number of couples considering the intimate and personal experience of eloping (yay!) over planning and paying for a more traditional wedding – this post is for you! I’m an elopement planner and photographer based in Wales and some of my most asked questions include “Can you give me an estimate on how much an elopement costs in the UK?”, “How much does an elopement cost in the UK for a couple wanting a simple ceremony?”, “We’re budgeting for our big day; how much does an elopement cost in the UK on average?” and also “Considering the various options, how much does an elopement cost in the UK if we include a photographer and a small celebration afterwards?” and so to answer these questions – here’s all the info you need to understand how much an elopement can cost in 2024.

You’ve probably already looked into how to plan an elopement in Wales and maybe you’ve also already decided on the best time for you to elope, but when it comes to paying for it all – how much does an elopement cost in the UK and what does eloping actually entail financially? Is it safe to assume that it’s cheaper to elope than it is to have a traditional wedding in 2024? How do you budget for an elopement? And does eloping really save you money? These are just some of the questions you may currently ask yourself and so in this post, I’ll take a look at the real cost of eloping by comparing it to traditional weddings, and we’ll also cover how you can plan an elopement if you’re on a bit of a budget. Because – let’s face it – we’re all feeling the squeeze right now.

How much does an elopement cost in the UK? Understanding the real cost of eloping in 2024.

The Real Cost of Eloping

So depending on your location and other basic factors such as the type of ceremony you envisage (legal or symbolic), what type of accommodation you prefer (luxury, weekend away with family, super romantic bolthole with outdoor hot tub, or rustic campsite) and how long you want to stay there (day/weekend/week), whether (or not) you’d like to include other suppliers to help with details like hair and make-up, flowers, photos, cake etc – the cost of eloping in the UK can vary significantly. Plus there can be other elements to factor in such as your wedding rings, outfits (including those for your kids and/or dogs if they’re joining you) and any post-elopement celebrations and activities. Unlike traditional weddings, which can cost upwards of £20,000 on average, elopements are typically more cost-effective because couples who elope tend to spend the majority of their budget on things they really enjoy (think a romantic weekend in a cosy log cabin in the woods overlooking the mountains) rather than on things that couples having a traditional wedding are expected to spend money on.

Cost of eloping versus a traditional wedding

One of the main attractions of eloping is the intimacy and intention it offers and how it allows you to fully tailor your entire wedding day around the things you enjoy doing together. And of course – there are potential savings to be had. Traditional weddings often involve extensive guest lists, venue costs, catering for all the guests (whether you like and/or know them or not), decorations, and entertainment – all contributing to a higher overall cost. In contrast, the cost of eloping primarily involves the marriage license & legal fees, ceremony charges, and the couple’s personal expenses (travel, accommodation, attire), which can – of course – significantly reduce the financial strain.

How much does an elopement cost in the UK? Understanding the real cost of eloping in 2024.

Is It Cheaper to Elope?

Yes, eloping is cheaper than hosting a traditional wedding, mainly because costs are lower given that expenses typically associated with larger weddings (venue hire, catering, decorations, etc) are minimised. Ultimately, however, the final cost can vary widely based on how luxurious or simple you want your elopement to be and also the type of ceremony (legal or symbolic) and the location you choose.

Let’s take a look at

Let’s take a look at Hitched (a leading UK online wedding planning tool), which suggests that the average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2023 was £20,700 with an average number of 80 guests. They surveyed over 1,800 couples in 2023 to identify how couples spent their money and broke it down as follows:

Venue hire – £8,800

Catering per head (80 guests) – £6,400

Wedding dress – £1,350

Photography – £1,300

Videography – £1,150

Wedding band/DJ – £1,050

Flowers – £1,050

Invitations & paper goods – £300

Wedding hair & makeup – £690 (bride & bridal party)

Total £22,090 (couples also spent on average £4,300 on their honeymoon).

So, how do you budget for an elopement?

Start by talking about your priorities

What aspects of your elopement are most important to you and your partner? Is it the location, the ceremony, photography, your outfits, or perhaps a combination of these? Knowing your priorities will help you allocate your budget more effectively.

Set a Budget

Seems so obvious, right? Decide on the total amount you’re willing to spend on your elopement and be realistic about your financial situation. No good planning a day that’s over-the-top luxury if your budget is small. Also, consider setting aside a contingency fund for any unexpected expenses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Break down costs

To work out how much your elopement is going to cost you – you’ll need to research and list all potential expenses. Now – I’ve done a bit of a generic exercise for you below but of course, I have no idea what type of wedding ceremony you’re dreaming of, what your taste in clothes is or how much money you’d love to spend on your kids/dogs/others on your elopement day.

  1. Legal & venue fees: The cost of a marriage licence in the UK (we call it Giving Notice which is basically just you signing a piece of paper) is £35 per person (unless you’re not a UK citizen in which case it’s £47 per person). Expect to pay £57 for a basic ceremony in a registry office and you’ll also need to cover room charges which can go up to £200 (or more if you prefer a pretty ceremony-only venue to which the registrars will have to travel). If you decide on a 2-part wedding day that also includes a symbolic ceremony (on a beach, on top of a mountain, by a waterfall) you will also have to factor in costs for your celebrant. As with photographers, their charges do vary but expect to pay on average £500.
  2. Travel and Accommodation: Include travel costs to and from your elopement destination and any accommodation before or after the ceremony. How much you spend on travel and accommodation is entirely up to you. Some of my previous couples have stayed in luxury country houses with their family for a week, booked a scenic log cabin in the middle of a forest or overlooking the mountains and some have also travelled in their camper van or stayed on a campsite. There are options for everyone ranging from £20/night on a campsite to £1000 for the week in an Air BnB.
  3. Wedding dress/suit: Consider the cost of outfits for both of you, whether you’re going for something formal or more casual. Also include items you intend to buy for your kid(s)/dog(s)/other(s). You can pick up a pre-loved wedding dress from Oxfam from £50 (I’m not saying you have to. I’m just saying you could if you wanted to) or spend in the region of £600 for a dreamy dress from Needle & Thread. Plus everything in between.
  4. Photographer: If capturing the moment is important to you, research and include the cost of hiring a professional. Expect to pay on average £1500 for shorter coverage of your day or let your photographer help you plan a more adventurous multi-day experience. If you choose to elope to a beautiful part of the UK that you are not familiar with (Wales, Scotland, Ireland) – go for a photographer like me who specialises in elopement photography – we know the area you’ve chosen like the back of our hand and can help you craft a totally bespoke adventurous wedding/elopement day showing you all the best places and knowing when to go where for the most magical sunsets and sunrises for a truly once-in-a-lifetime wedding day.
  5. Rings: Allocate a portion of your budget for your wedding bands. Prices very much vary depending on your preferences and the materials you love with options ranging from buying from the high street to creating something entirely extraordinary and original.
  6. Celebratory Meal/Activities: Whether it’s a fancy dinner at Ynshir or Sheeps & Leeks, a simple picnic, or a pizza takeaway in your hot tub after an adventure-packed wedding day, don’t forget to include the cost of your post-elopement celebration. Add memorable activities like a guided family kayak adventure with the family on Llyn Padarn if your budget allows or check out the best budget-friendly things to do in Eryri (Snowdonia) if you’re on a tight budget.
  7. Extras: Flowers, cake, hair and make-up, or any other additional elements you wish to include. These are beautiful additions to any wedding day and look great in pictures so if you can I’d highly recommend you allocate some of your money on extras. You will probably end up spending less on flowers than you would if you budgeted for a more traditional wedding as you don’t have to dress a room (just go for a beautiful big bouquet and/or flower crown), probably have a smaller cake (especially if there are just the two of you).

How much does an elopement cost in the UK?

Let’s assume it’s just the two of you eloping to Wales for a weekend and based on the generic examples above, here’s a breakdown of what you can realistically expect to pay (on average) for your elopement wedding:

Legal & venue fees – £750

Accommodation/fuel – £500

Wedding outfits – £750

Rings – £500

Photography – £1,500

Flowers/cake/make-up – £1,000

Paper goods (let people know you’ve eloped) – £250

Wedding day meal/activities – £500

Total £5,750 (massive saving!)

Now obviously you can re-allocate your funding as you please – maybe you want to add a romantic humanist-led ceremony but you don’t fancy a fancy meal, or you’re staying in a small hut for the weekend without family but want to include more guide-led activities. Just juggle your money around whichever way you like because how you spend your money is entirely up to you. From luxury or large properties for the whole family to come together for a weekend of celebration to just you and your dog in a tent or a campervan on a campsite for a week, the choice is all yours.

How much does an elopement cost in the UK? Understanding the real cost of eloping in 2024.

Eloping on a Budget

Eloping on a budget is entirely possible with careful planning and prioritization. Consider a registry office ceremony followed by a mini adventure around beautiful locations nearby, minimalistic rings, make your own cake/floral decorations and enjoy a simple but still super romantic celebration. Remember, the essence of eloping is about the experience and the commitment being made, not the extravagance of the event.

Does Eloping Save Money?

Yes, in most cases, eloping can save you a significant amount of money. Without the financial pressure to entertain and accommodate large numbers of guests, you can focus your entire budget on personal preferences, making the day truly about your love for each other. Use whatever money you save on a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon, a future home, or other investments for your new life together.

So there we have it. Eloping in Wales is definitely an attractive alternative if you’re a couple looking to celebrate your love a bit on the wild side without the financial and logistical complexities of a traditional wedding. While the cost of eloping can vary, it generally offers a more budget-friendly way to start your married life. By focusing on what truly matters to you and your partner, and with careful planning and budgeting, you can create an intimate and memorable elopement that not only saves money but also resonates with your personal values and dreams for the future.

How much does an elopement cost in the UK? Understanding the real cost of eloping in 2024.

What do I know about elopements in Wales?

Well, having photographed couples elope to Wales since 2020, I’ve picked up some real-life skills along the way that can help couples just like you plan an adventurous elopement here. I know the ins and outs of Wales’ most scenic and hidden gems, from the dramatic coastlines of Pembrokeshire to the majestic peaks of Eryri (Snowdonia) and can suggest locations that match your vision, whether that’s a rugged mountain backdrop or a serene beach setting. I’ve also built a network of reliable and talented local suppliers, such as florists, videographers, and beauty artists who can deliver high-quality services to fit any elopement style and budget and so I’ve compiled this post to simplify the process of grasping the true cost of eloping in 2024. When you choose to elope you are not choosing to marry on the cheap – you are simply choosing to marry in a more intentional way that allows you to have an incredible wedding experience and you will end up spending your money on all of the things you love and enjoy and not feel sad about having to spend it on things that don’t mean anything to you. If you’d like me to help you plan an incredible wedding experience in Wales – contact me.

You may also find these elopement planning guides helpful:

How to elope in Wales

The Ultimate Guide to Planning an Elopement in Wales

Eloping with your dog – the Ultimate 2024 Guide

The Best Places to Elope in Wales – 2024 Guide

Seasonal changes and the best time for you to elope in Eryri (Snowdonia).

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