Eloping in high style means high prices

Enjoying the new elopement

The couple above could very well be mugging for a horde of loved ones clicking away with their digitals, but they’re not. The happy pair you see before you chose the new elopement, i.e. they’ve ditched the family and friends but kept the trappings of the traditionalesque wedding.

Once upon a time–as far as I’ve been led to believe–elopements were a simple affair, done on the cheap. You might visit the local courthouse or a courthouse in a neighboring state. Heck, you might even run off to the courthouse in another country. Suits and suitcases were the order of the day. Nuptial niceties might included a nice hat, a bouquet hastily purchased, or a cupcake for two.

Now elopements can cost as much as a budget backyard wedding. One company, Protege Event Planning Inc., will help you elope in Colorado for a mere $2,895. For that kind of cash, brides and grooms get a bridal bouquet and matching boutonnière, a ceremonial floral arrangement, a sweetheart wedding cake and personalized cake cutter set, champagne and personalize toasting flutes, limo service, dinner, two nights in a honeymoon suite plus a breakfast buffet, total wedding coordination (whatever that means in the context of something like this), the services of an officiant, and a handful of wedding day snapshots.

Huh. If you gave me three thousand bucks to spend on an elopement I think I could do better than that. I really do–I’d love to see Protege’s price breakdown. How would you spend your $3,000 elopement budget?

8 Responses to “Eloping in high style means high prices”

  1. Evie says:

    We ARE spending a $3,000 elopement budget 🙂

    But, we’re flying to Kauai and spending almost a week there and on the Big Island (Hawaii). So that amount of money covers all of our travel expenses (food, hotel, car, etc.), plus the actual wedding (including officiant, kick-ass photographer and tons of photos, flowers, and a little cake). We wanted to be a little fancier than the old-fashioned elopement–it’s really more of a “private destination wedding”–but it’s all about finding a good deal.

    When we were looking around, we found places that charge upwards of $5,000 for an elopement package!! Most of that fee seems to be just to have a wedding, any wedding, performed in the hotel or resort itself. Ridiculous!

  2. Evie says:

    Sorry, meant to add “plane tickets” to the list of travel expenses…just to drive home the point about budgeting…

  3. Never teh Bride says:

    All that and plane tickets for $3k! Way to go, Evie! I can’t believe some of the ridiculous package prices out there…

  4. Twistie says:

    $3,000? That’s more than I spent on my entire wedding…with close to 100 guests, a groaning board, live music, and a custom made pure silk wedding gown with handmade lace.

    Okay, that was nearly fifteen years ago, but really, I still thing 3k can go a lot further than that…as witness Evie’s grand elopement.

    And yes, NtB, elopement used to mean doing things on the cheap and usually in a bit of a hurry. That’s why when Mr. Twistie and I announced our engagement, my father started whispering four-letter words in our ears…words like ‘Reno.’ Elopements were for soldiers on leave, young women who found themselves ‘in trouble’, couples who couldn’t get parental approval, and impulsive folk like my great aunt who married her husband just six weeks after she met him. That one worked out better than folk predicted, I have to say. They were besotted with one another until the day he died more than fifty years later.

    But elopement used to mean that you scraped up the price of a ring for the bride and the JP’s fee, and a corsage or new hat for the bride if you had a bit of spare cash and did it all as quickly as the license could be arranged. They didn’t usually involve long planning sessions, comparison shopping, wedding gowns, or honeymoons. That’s a very new wrinkle on elopement.

  5. La Petite Acadienne says:

    Those “elopement” packages are crazily expensive. But, with some research and a bit of legwork, you can have something really nice for less.

    The Stonecutter and I did that. I dreamed of a wedding with my family, but it would have just been too stressful. Mom and Dad, divorced for 22 years now, still loathe each other. Stepdad and sister both have an unfortunate tendency to drink a bit too much and lose any semblance of a censor between brain and mouth. It would have been very stressful, just waiting for the s**t to hit the fan.

    But elope to a flourescent-lit courthouse, with no wedding dress, no bouquet, no flowers? That’s great for some people, but it would have broken my heart. Call me spoiled, but I wanted to wear the white dress, I wanted the pretty venue and the bouquet, and I wanted the beautiful photographs to keep.

    So, after our August engagement, and after hashing out the details we decided that we wanted to just go away to get married (staying close by to get married would have made the exclusion of our families that much more of a touchy subject). We decided on New York. We found an officiant online (a humanist chaplain — a very sweet lady). Her fee was very reasonable. She asked where we were getting married, I said I didn’t know yet, and she mentioned that in Central Park, there’s no site fee, as long as your wedding party is less than 20 people. So I had a frend in NJ scout out the park for a good location, and we decided on Bow Bridge. I then found a pro photographer who was willing to come for just an hour, as that’s all we really needed (he took almost 300 photos in that time, though!) I found my dress on EBay, with the tags still on it, for $100. And a week before we left, I called a Manhattan florist and asked for a dozen rust-coloured roses to be delivered to our hotel the following Monday (as the wedding was on Tuesday). I made no mention of the “W” word, and just brought some floral tape and ribbon, and assembled my own bouquet the night before.

    Total cost of the wedding, including dress, shoes, his suit, my bouquet, our rings, our license, the officiant, the photographer, my headpiece and baubles: $1000. The 7 nights’ worth of accommodations, our flights, and two tickets to a Broadway show came up to about $2500. Overall, I think we did quite well.

    And after we came back, Mom threw a big party for us and included my in-laws, and we celebrated separately with my Dad the following week, and it was easygoing and relaxed. : )

  6. Never teh Bride says:

    I don’t think you’re spoiled for wanting the wedding experience, La Petite Acadienne. It sounds like you took your nuptial money and made the most of it! You definitely got more for your dough than you would have gotten had you opted for some lame “package.”

  7. Pencils says:

    To me, that’s not “eloping,” it’s “getting married while on vacation.” Eloping always meant to run away secretly, frequently because people (relatives) disapproved of the match or because the bride was pregnant. Or both. My parents eloped, in the traditional sense. To this day they don’t like to talk about it, and we’re not sure what went on. I was married last year and I still didn’t hear the actual story, even though my mom and I spent a lot of time together wedding planning. And because my mom didn’t have her own white wedding, I made sure she took part in mine, including walking me down the aisle. She was on one side, my dad on the other.

  8. Pencils says:

    BTW, while on our honeymoon at Sandals in St Lucia, we saw at least one wedding a day. Some had a few to several attendants, most were alone, some were done up in full ballgowns and tuxes, some in more tropical finery. They all looked happy. Although one couple, in full ballgown and tux, looked really hot and uncomfortable later when we saw them having dinner in the fanciest restaurant. My advice, if you’re doing this in a tropical location, wear something appropriate to the area. The best looking groom I saw was in a snowy white guayabera and white linen pants, while his bride was in a pretty, but filmy and light white dress.