Cheap Places to Elope
Elopement is becoming a popular option for today’s couples looking to get married. It’s not hard to see why.
Your wedding day is supposed to be all about you and your partner, but that fairytale wedding you’ve always imagined can be a stressful and expensive affair. According to a survey conducted by The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2021 was $28,000. That’s a lot of money for a one-day party.
In addition to costs, there’s also the stress and aggravation of planning a wedding. A traditional wedding, reception, and honeymoon involve spending a lot of time and money making sure everything goes smoothly. Between finding an affordable wedding venue, dealing with vendors, putting together a guest list, choosing a wedding cake, and handling wedding logistics, couples are opting to elope instead of dealing with all of that.
You can still have a unique adventure or destination wedding that fits your budget when you elope. However, choosing the right place to elope on a budget can be challenging.
Eloping involves planning and budgeting for your estimated cost. It’s not nearly as much work as a traditional wedding or conventional wedding reception. That’s part of the appeal.
- Cheap Places to Elope
- Why Elope?
- 15 Cheap Places to Elope in the U.S.
- 1. Niagra Falls, New York
- 2. Yosemite National Park
- 3. Lake Tahoe
- 4. Glacier National Park, Montana
- 5. Central Park, New York City
- 6. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- 7. San Francisco City Hall
- 8. Tybee Island, Georgia
- 9. The Grand Canyon
- 10. Big Sur, California
- 11. Balboa Park, San Diego
- 12. Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia
- 13. Miami Beach
- 14. Las Vegas, Nevada
- 15. Puerto Rico
- The Cheapest Places to Elope on a Budget
Cost: Your entire wedding budget could be the cost of fuel to drive somewhere close and the fee for a marriage license from the county clerk or registration office. If you’ve been saving for a wedding but decided to elope instead, you could use a fraction of your savings to cover the approximate cost of your elopement and keep the rest.
Less Planning: Planning your elopement can be as simple as you want. It might only take a day or two to line up everything you need. If you want something a little more elaborate, some venues might offer you a preferred list of vendors or have elopement packages where all you have to do is show up.
Reduced Stress: You don’t have to put up with flaky vendors, do wedding cake tastings, or audition bands. There’s no running around crazy trying to get everything sorted, your mom inviting people you haven’t seen in years, or rearranging seating due to family drama. Eloping cuts out the stress caused by handling the wedding logistics.
Wedding Attire vs. Elopement Attire: Traditional wedding attire often costs thousands for something you only wear once. Elopement attire can be whatever you have on or a favorite outfit from your closet.
15 Cheap Places to Elope in the U.S.
If you’d like to stay in the U.S., there are many incredible potential elopement locations to consider that won’t cost you much. You can choose from city landscapes, picaresque sites in nature, sandy beaches, or interiors with splendid architecture. Here are some of the cheapest places to elope in the U.S.
1. Niagra Falls, New York
Getting married near a natural wonder like Niagara Falls could be incredible for you and your partner. With roaring waterfalls and stunning scenery, it’s a romantic setting for your wedding and a popular choice for elopements.
Your wedding ceremony doesn’t have to be on land either. You can get married on a boat or in a helicopter with the falls’ majesty as your backdrop.
A marriage license costs $40, and there is a 24-hour waiting period before the ceremony can be performed. Wedding planners in the area offer elopement packages starting at around $400 for the bride and groom plus two guests.
2. Yosemite National Park
Local, state, and national parks are another great option for nature-loving couples looking for cheap wedding venues and endless photo ops. Yosemite National Park is home to breathtaking locations like Tunnel View, Glacier Point, and Half Dome. You’re sure to find a remarkable and memorable setting to exchange vows.
3. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a beautiful place to get married and a true destination elopement. Mountaintops with breathtaking views, a gorgeous alpine lake, and lush forests spanning as far as the eye can see. You can choose to get married and honeymoon in a luxury resort or a rustic cabin.
If you venture to the Nevada side, Crystal Bay and Incline Village offer stunning views and a no-hassle marriage license procedure with no waiting period.
4. Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park features over 700 miles of trails, melting glaciers, spectacular lakes and meadows, and impressive waterfalls. A special use permit, which costs $125, is required. The park service requires at least 20 business days to process your application, so plan accordingly.
5. Central Park, New York City
New York City is a bucket list trip for most people. Why not elope and get married in Central Park? It’s a favorite park among couples wanting a beautiful elopement.
Central Park is in the city center but still offers plenty of intimate spots for a quiet ceremony and fantastic pictures. Superb locations for photo ops in Central Park include gazebos in Wagner Cove, A Treehouse for Dreaming, Bow Bridge, and Bethesda Terrace.
6. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Colorado is one of the most beautiful mountain areas in America. One of the most gorgeous locations for eloping in Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park.
The park is only about 70 miles from Denver. You’ll find lakes, rivers, streams, and 350 miles of trails surrounded by mountains. Sapphire Point, Silver Dollar Lake, and Lake Isabelle are picaresque locations for religious or civil ceremonies.
7. San Francisco City Hall
Getting married at San Francisco City Hall is unlike any city hall or courthouse ceremony. You won’t be getting married in some drab office. The City Hall in San Francisco is widely considered one of the most beautiful public buildings in the U.S.
You can book a one-hour wedding package for $1,000, which includes an hour of private use. That price allows you to have a small private ceremony or invite up to 100 guests. You’ll need to line up your officiant for religious or civil ceremonies and get a marriage license from the county clerk’s office.
8. Tybee Island, Georgia
About 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, Georgia, Tybee Island has mild temperatures, sunshine, and natural beauty. Beach weddings can be done for a small fee. There are also a number of cottages, charming inns, and vacation rentals available on the island for hosting your elopement.
9. The Grand Canyon
If you’ve ever visited or seen pictures, you know how breathtaking The Grand Canyon is. It makes a stunning location for your event. Whether it’s just you and your partner or the two of you plus a handful of guests, your day will be memorable, and the photos will be fantastic for sure.
10. Big Sur, California
Redwood forests and cliffs on the shores of the Pacific Ocean make Big Sur a perfect location for an elopement. Garrapata State Park and Andrew Molera State Park are known for their gorgeous beaches. The Henry Miller Library has a private redwoods canyon for elopement.
If you’re getting married on public land, keep in mind these locations are usually busy on the weekends. If you can hold your nuptials during the week, you have a better chance at privacy and the exact spot you want.
11. Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre park within walking distance of downtown sunny San Diego. The park offers more than enough potential spots to fit any elopement.
There are numerous trails, 16 museums, and 19 gardens. The San Diego Zoo is there, offering charming ceremonies among lush foliage and exotic wildlife.
12. Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia
Blackwater Falls state park is one of the more unique and beautiful locations to have an outdoor ceremony.
Located in the Allegheny Mountains, Blackwater Falls State Park is home to a 57-foot cascade. The falls are tainted black by tannic acid from spruce needles and hemlock. It’s a scenic location for saying your I dos and taking great photographs.
You can honeymoon in the lodge right on the rim of the canyon. Try The Smokehouse for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Sunday buffet breakfast is legendary.
13. Miami Beach
Your Miami Beach elopement and honeymoon can be whatever you want. That’s because Miami Beach offers excitement and glitz, but there are tranquil and laid-back spots. It can be surprisingly affordable if you plan your elopement day on a weekday outside of the busy tourist season.
Most people opt for a wedding on the white sand beaches, but there are many options available to you besides a resort or beach wedding. You can choose from the lovely parks, lush botanical gardens, and pavilions in the area.
14. Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas might be the first place you think of eloping, or it could be the last. You don’t have to have your wedding ceremony on the Vegas strip officiated by an Elvis impersonator or get hitched at a kitschy drive-thru wedding chapel.
If you’re looking for somewhere fun that can accommodate all different types of weddings, there are numerous unique hotels and special places outside the city to have your elopement ceremony.
Paris Las Vegas boasts its own Eiffel Tower, while the Venetian is home to romantic gondolas. Some beautiful desertscapes await if you take a day trip outside the city. You’ll find red rock formations, mountains, and hot springs that make for unbelievable photos.
15. Puerto Rico
There is nothing more romantic than hopping on a plane and eloping to an exotic location. Consider Puerto Rico if you’re looking at Caribbean wedding destinations. Puerto Rico is a volcanic island and a U.S. territory about a two-and-a-half-hour flight away from Miami.
They have slightly more complicated wedding laws than most U.S. states, but the stunning island locations are worth it. Get married at the St Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Hacienda Siesta Alegre, or Old San Juan Hotel & Casino, and combine your wedding with your honeymoon.
The Cheapest Places to Elope on a Budget
There are endless elopement destinations in all corners of the United States to elope. Eloping is not for everyone, but there are several advantages over full-blown weddings, starting with your elopement cost. Even the more expensive elopements with an air and land package, including a bridal suite, pale in comparison to the price of a traditional wedding.
Eloping offers an alternative choice while still providing an unforgettable experience and a romantic wedding. Choose a romantic location with a special meaning to you as a couple. You can skip all the biggest costs of conventional weddings without losing out on the romance.
Don’t forget to send out those elopement announcements when you get back.
Image Credits: Unsplash
Sara Graham is a frugal living and household budgeting expert. Her writing has appeared on MSN Money, The Good Men Project, Fairygodboss, and several other online publications. She is the co-founder of KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog.