Welcome to part three of a very candid series I’ve written on how me and my husband were able to get married and buy a house in the same month – without significant financial help – and with money still in the bank. I’m sharing this with the world in hopes that others can take a page out of our book and also pursue this path if they choose to do so. This week I’m sharing some of the costs associated with planning our elopement and how we were still able to incorporate our friends and family into the celebration.
When I started to share that Carson and I were eloping, many people didn’t quite understand what that meant.
“So, you’re having a shotgun wedding?”
“Are you like, going to just wake up one day, decide to go to City Hall, and get married?”
I want to be clear that our elopement was still a very intentional and planned thing that still incurred its own share of costs. We wanted to elope in the beautiful Rocky Mountains and have bad ass photos to show for it. I still wanted to wear a wedding dress and still wanted Carson to wear a suit. I still wanted to fuss over hair and makeup and have a beautiful bouquet of flowers! So, we still did all of those things.
It’s important to understand that Carson and I are by no means major trendsetters when it comes to an outdoor elopement, or an “adventure” as this well-known elopement planning site so poignantly puts it. In fact,
Pinterest reported a whopping 129% increase in searches for “elopement photography ideas”
over the last year. I’ve already reiterated how much a big wedding costs these days, and many many others are opting to create a special day for just themselves at a fraction of the cost!
Colorado is one of a few states that allows for self-solemnization, meaning you can actually marry yourselves here. No priest, pastor, rabbi, or officiant needed! This has made Colorado a huge destination for couples wanting to get away and elope, just the two of them. We did ultimately decide to have our local pastor marry us, so it was just us three and our photographer present while we shared our vows.
Once we finalized our decision to elope, we still had lots of planning to do, some of which mirrored a traditional wedding. We knew that our top priority was to get amazing photos of our day, so the photography was our biggest splurge money-wise. We found an elopement photographer (yes, that’s a very real thing) that we both liked, and like many others in the profession, he was able to help us with the many facets related to an outdoor elopement. This included scouting the location and determining whether any permits will be needed, figuring out a “plan B” in case of weather or other unexpected circumstances, and helping us not look overly posed or awkward as we took the photos (perhaps the hardest part of his job!). We knew we wanted a late fall elopement, so we set our date based on our photographer’s availability.
Once we set our date, we were able to share it with friends and family, some of which were kind enough to host celebrations for us! A few of my precious friends hosted a beautiful bridal shower for me while Carson’s dad and stepmom hosted a fun cookout where all sets of our parents got together for the first time. Carson and I both had our respective bachelor and bachelorette parties. I coordinated with my hairdresser, florist, tailor, and makeup artist. After our ceremony, we went on a “mini-moon” in Telluride. Once we got our photos back, we sent out wedding announcements and set up a wedding website so that our favorite people could still feel like they were a part of the celebration. We both still felt like we were able to hold onto the things that make engagement periods so fun and special but in a way that worked for us both financially and emotionally.
After it was all said and done, I am loosely estimating Carson and I’s out of pocket cost to be about $7,500.
This includes photography, all clothing items we purchased for the evening including wedding bands, my hair/makeup, our trip to Telluride, and our wedding announcements. Certainly not cheap by any standards. But as I’ve said before: the average cost of a U.S. wedding in 2019 was $38,700. I’m no mathematician but I’d say we got ourselves a pretty good deal!
As sure as we were with the decision to elope, it didn’t come without a few struggles. Sentimentality was probably the biggest hesitation I had personally when it came to eloping.
As a little girl I dreamed incessantly of having a huge wedding with all my family and friends.
Important Elopement Details:
As I will assume most young girls do, I didn’t picture it any other way. It was truly hard for me to let go of that dream piece by piece, but it helped to remember two things:
1.) The backbone of a wedding is that it is a happy time to share with friends and family. We still got to do that. We made so many wonderful and irreplaceable memories with the people we love during that season. Not having a big wedding didn’t change that at all!
2.) Let’s face it, Childhood Lauren didn’t understand the value of a dollar. Childhood Lauren (may I be so bold to speak for myself!) would not have wanted Adult Lauren to go into massive amounts of debt to finance a wedding. Childhood Lauren would have rather bought a house too!
And speaking of that house, tune into Part Four, where I begin to discuss that process!
Until Then, Keep Slacking,
Photo: Mountain and Mood Photography Website: https://mountainandmood.com/ Instagram: @mountainandmood