How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Colorado Versus Throwing A Traditional Wedding?

Cost to Elope in Colorado vs. Cost of a Traditional Wedding

It should come as no surprise that one of the primary driving forces behind many couples’ decision to elope is finances after they take the time to compare the cost to elope in Colorado, even if it is a destination away from home, vs. the cost to throw a traditional wedding. Over the last couple of decades, the cost of throwing a traditional wedding seems to have really skyrocketed. Don’t get me wrong, there are ways to save when throwing a big wedding if that’s what feels right for you, but a lot of couples are choosing to save money for other life-expenses and elope in Colorado.

The holiday season is a popular time for engagements to take place, which means a lot of beginning stages of planning conversations about how couples want to get married. And you know what? The truth is there is a dramatic difference in eloping versus throwing a big traditional wedding and I am not just talking about the finances. 

Although I don’t recommend that you use finances as the sole reason that you choose to elope, it is oftentimes a large part of your decision. In effort to help make this big decision a bit easier on you and your partner, I’ve written today’s post about the primary financial differences between the cost to elope in Colorado and throwing a wedding. I really hope it helps!

Two brides embracing at Lost Gulch Overlook in Colorado after their sunrise elopement ceremony, Cost to elope

The Average Cost Of Throwing A Traditional Wedding

First of all, I want to preface these numbers by telling you that it does vary from state to state and there are many variables that can impact the average cost of throwing a wedding. For example, the average cost of a wedding for 100 guests versus even just 130 guests can be staggering. So please keep that in mind.

Brides.com reported that the average cost of throwing a wedding in Colorado was $44,000 and The Knot’s annual real weddings study reported a similar average spend of $40,000 for a ~100 person wedding ceremony and reception!

Here are some of the things that take up a large portion of traditional wedding budgets that you don’t typically need to budget for when choosing to elope:
Wedding venue for the ceremony and reception (with a high capacity for guests)
Catering – including desserts and alcohol
Rentals of chairs, tables, linens
DJ or live music for reception
Transportation
Personalized favors

While I completely understand that your wedding day is, and will always be, one of the most important days of your entire life that is a massive chunk of change. Especially, if you will be paying for it yourself. 

The Average Cost to Elope in Colorado

Obviously, the cost to elope in Colorado is dramatically less than that of throwing a larger “traditional” wedding. While you can certainly have costs add up with some of your choices, it is very doable to have the elopement of your dreams for $10,000 or less. That is a savings of at least $34,000 on average!

The difference in having dozens or even 100+ people there is certainly one of the biggest factors resulting in such an extreme difference. But I’m sure you’re probably wondering exactly where some of these big differences are coming from. Here is a breakdown of how and why the costs can climb so high. Keep in mind, these numbers are also based on averages and could change based on your own personal preferences and priorities. 

Photography and Videography

Wedding: $4,000-$7000

Elopement: $2,500-5,500

One of the biggest differences between the cost of wedding or elopement photography and videography is how many hours of coverage you plan to book depending on what you’re hoping to have documented. Check out the post below on how many hours of coverage you need for your elopement!

We always recommend having your elopement videographer and photographer there for the same amount of time.

Florals

Wedding: $2,000+

Elopement: $300-$1,000

Floral budgets for big weddings typically include ceremony or arch decor, reception table centerpieces, bouquets and boutonnieres for the couple and their wedding attendants / immediate family members. The cost of flowers for an elopement typically include personal flowers (bouquet and/or boutonniere) for the couple, possibly for a few VIP family members or wedding attendants and a simple ceremony floral statement piece if the ceremony location allows it.

Bonus info: Our favorite Boulder area elopement florists are A Florae and Boulder Blooms

Bridal bouquet with bouquet charms that have photos of the bride's dogs, Cost to elope in Colorado
This beautiful bridal bouquet was made by A Florae

Venue – Cost to Elope vs. Throwing a Traditional Wedding

Wedding: $5,000-$10,000

Elopement: $0-$1000

The cost of venues for traditional weddings vary depending on the location in Colorado and what items are included with the venue (such as tables, chairs, linens). When finding a Colorado elopement location there are several locations to choose from that are free, depending on your guest count, several low cost options that can be reserved for the ceremony or a small intimate reception. It’s always a good idea to have an Airbnb or VRBO that can be used as a backup in case of bad weather, so that is factored into the above listed budget too!

One of our favorite low cost elopement locations in Colorado are the ceremony sites available to reserve in Rocky Mountain National Park. Read more on that by clicking the button below!

We also have great resources on our website for the best elopement locations if you’re inviting guests and our favorite locations where you can host an intimate ceremony AND post-elopement celebration in the same place!

DJ

Wedding: $1,200

Elopement: $0

Some couples do opt to hire a live musician for their ceremony or event, which we love! Oftentimes, couples will forego having music at their celebration, or play music from a bluetooth speaker. Regardless, the cost savings compared to having a DJ or music for a big wedding vs. elopement is one of the big budget savers.

Food & Alcohol

Wedding: $10,000 (~100 guest average)

Elopement: $200-$500

A nice dinner out, a private chef at your home or Airbnb, or even an intimate catered post-elopement celebration is going to be one of the biggest savings when it comes to comparing the cost of a big wedding vs. elopement.

Bride and groom share a small picnic near Artist Point in Boulder after their elopement at Sunrise Amphitheater, Cost to elope

Cake

Wedding: $500-$1,000

Elopement: $0-$100

The more people you have to feed, the more the cost of a big wedding adds up against the cost to elope. Some couples skip having a cake or dessert for their elopement, but if you choose to get a small cutting cake, a little box of personalized cookies, or even set up a small picnic the cost is much less for an elopement versus a wedding.

After reviewing the Cost to Elope vs. Throw a Traditional Wedding Weigh The Pros & Cons For Yourself

Although my team and I are huge fans of elopements, and many of them have eloped themselves, the truth is that it isn’t the right decision for every couple. I strongly encourage you to be honest with yourself and weigh the pros and cons of each.

If you have always dreamed of having the huge traditional wedding, will you be devastated at a more intimate ceremony for just the two of you? Is the cost to elope worth the savings? The two of you are the only ones that can make this decision for yourself, but if we can be of any further help in making the decision, please don’t hesitate to comment below or reach out to us directly. We photograph elopements as small as a couple with no guests and weddings as big as 300+ people and multi-day events; and everything in between.

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