How an Elopement Could Save You Money and Help You Avoid COVID Wedding Stress

For many American couples, walking down the aisle is a rite of passage. But the novel coronavirus has had major impacts on many a pair’s ability to say “I do” in front of their friends and family. With most large gatherings all but outlawed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, many soon-to-be brides and grooms have had no choice but to make alternative arrangements.

Changing wedding plans isn’t cheap, of course. While the average cost of a wedding reception was just over $13,000 in 2012, the costs associated with weddings have only risen in recent years. And when you’re forced to change the date of your wedding, you’ll likely need to forfeit deposits at the very least. In some cases, couples have found themselves in the midst of a legal battle with venues or vendors in an effort to recoup their losses.

If you plan on rescheduling your big day to another time when the pandemic isn’t such a looming threat, there are still some ways to save. You might forgo a ride in a limousine to the church, for example. While there are more than 130,000 limos in service across the U.S., opting for a less opulent form of transportation might make sense if you’re trying to curb costs (and even reduce exposure to others outside your immediate circle). Keeping the guest list small for your rescheduled reception can also help, as you won’t need as much food with fewer people in attendance. And while the U.S. consumed 33 million hectoliters of wine in 2018, you’ll be able to keep drink costs down with a more intimate wedding, as well.

But some couples don’t want to put their weddings on hold — and they may not necessarily be tied to the idea of a large and elaborate ceremony. If you’re looking for an alternative that will still allow you to tie the knot in the midst of the pandemic (without putting others in danger or spending a lot of dough), eloping may be the best option.

According to Wedding For $1,000, one study recently found that up to 30% of American couples choose to elope. And wedding industry businesses throughout the U.S. are now reporting that elopement-style weddings are definitely on the rise nationwide, thanks to the coronavirus.

Contrary to popular belief, elopements don’t have to be just between the bride and groom — nor does it have to be a secret. However, you certainly can save a lot of money by getting hitched in this fashion. While the costs of eloping can vary widely depending on the details of the day, professionals estimate that you might spend anywhere from $600 to $5,000 on your elopement; when you compare that to Wedding Wire’s recent figures that show the average American wedding now costs upwards of $30,000, you’ll probably start to see the appeal.

Some couples do choose to rent a small venue for a reception after their elopement, but you can just as easily have a small backyard get-together with a select few or have the entire event outdoors in nature and practice social distancing with your closest family members and friends. You won’t need to spend money on flower arrangements (other than the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonniere), music, or even an over-the-top wedding dress. Whatever food and drink you do choose to provide will be on a much smaller scale, if anything; if you choose to hire a photographer (which most wedding planners would still recommend for elopements), the session will likely be a lot shorter and will, therefore, be less expensive. Traveling anywhere for a destination elopement or subsequent honeymoon isn’t a great idea right now, so you can stick close to home for now. Not only will you be doing your part to keep the virus contained, but you’ll be in a better position to save up money for when you can travel to celebrate your union.

Without a doubt, opting for a more intimate wedding alternative can help you avoid COVID-related stress and necessary rescheduling. But generally speaking, elopements can be a truly budget-conscious way to go. You won’t risk going into debt as a result of getting married and you’ll be able to start saving for the future. Best of all, you’ll break things down to the basics and be able to focus on what really matters. It’s easy to get caught up in the small details (and end up spending more than necessary as a result). But if you already know you’re keeping things small and intimate, you’ll have an easier time saying “no” to non-priorities and will guarantee you’ll be surrounded by people you truly love on your special day.