Table of Contents:
- FAQ’s About Elopement Budgeting + Costs
- How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Washington?
- Sample Washington Elopement Vendor Costs
- Washington Elopement Permit Costs
- Travel + Accommodations
- Miscellaneous Costs
- Washington Elopement Budget Checklist
- 3 Helpful Elopement Budgeting Tips
- 5 Ways to Cut Down on Washington Elopement Costs
- More Washington Elopement + Wedding Resources
Let’s talk moneyyyy baby!! This blog post is all about elopement costs + budgeting tips, because money plays a HUGE role in the elopement you plan. So if you’ve recently found yourself typing into Google, “How much does it cost to elope in Washington?” then you’ve come to the right place!
Although I can’t really give you exact numbers on how much it’ll cost you to elope in Washington because every elopement is sooo different, and so is every couple, I’m going to do my best to give you all the info you need in order to make decisions about your elopement budget!
The first section of this blog post has some FAQ’s I’ve heard couples ask about elopement costs, and then I go into all the potential costs you need to consider for your Washington elopement. In that section I go through vendors, travel, accommodations, and miscellaneous costs, aaand give you a checklist of potential elopement costs to keep in mind! Finally, I’ll give you my top elopement budget tips + some ways to cut down costs on the parts of your elopement that aren’t as important to you two.
Ready to read about all things elopements + dolla dolla bills??
Quick disclaimer: elopement budgets + costs are completely subjective! Every elopement is completely unique and therefore the costs are unique, too. Take everything I say with a grain of salt and remember that this is YOUR elopement day, and YOUR money that you’re spending. None of this is meant to be a rule, and nothing is “right” or “wrong!”
FAQ’s About Elopement Budgeting + Costs
First let’s start with some basic FAQ’s that I’ve heard couples ask – because I’m sure you’ve wondered some of them too!
Is it cheaper to elope and have a reception?
It can be! If you want to elope with a private ceremony with just the two of you, or you and a few guests, THEN have a separate reception, you can definitely save some money on the ceremony portion. Since you wouldn’t be having a ton of guests, you won’t need to set up a bunch of chairs or invest in a large ceremony setup. Then you can put more money into your reception!
You can especially save money (or at least spread out your spending over a longer period of time) if you have your legal, official elopement – then have a separate reception LATER on, in a month/few months/year. A lot of couples ended up doing this when the pandemic interrupted their original plans, and honestly I think more couples should consider it!! Having a reception or party later on allows you to focus your money on your elopement first, then have another few months to save + put money toward a reception.
Is it cheaper to elope or have a wedding?
A lot of people think that it’s ALWAYS cheaper to elope than to have a wedding, but that’s not necessarily true! If you have a super small elopement with just a few guests (or no guests) and you don’t have a venue or reception, then yes – eloping will probably be “cheaper” because you’re not spending money on food, guests, rentals, a venue, etc. But you may also decide to put the money you would spend on all that, toward your elopement instead – and could end up spending the same amount of money, just prioritizing it differently. It all depends!
How much should you spend on an elopement dress?
Depending on how much of a priority your dress is to you, you could spend anywhere from $50-$10,000+.
If your dress isn’t a huge priority to you + you’re looking for a cheaper dress, you can look on Facebook Marketplace or even at thrift stores!
If you’re looking for a dress that’s made from reclaimed + vintage materials, check out Reclamation.
Maybe you want to go alllll out on the most elegant, high-end dress out there – hop on over to Google and find your local bridal shops + book times to try some on!
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Washington?
That’s a great question but unfortunately not an easy one to answer, since every couple’s dream elopement is sooo different! Because it’s hard to give you exact numbers due to all the variables in play, I’m going to break down the main costs you’ll want to be aware of + plan for in your elopement budget. This way, you won’t forget about anything, and you’ll feel confident knowing you’re aware of most of the major expenses you’ll run into when budgeting for your elopement!
Sample Washington Elopement Vendor Costs
We’ll start off with a list of some awesome elopement vendors in Washington state, and their starting prices/price ranges – just to give you an idea of what vendor costs could look like. Please keep in mind that every vendor is SO different and offers completely different experiences/services, so just because the videographer I listed below starts at $3,000 doesn’t mean that every videographer does!! These are simply meant to be examples for you to look at.
Most vendors will list at least starting prices on their website, if not their full packages – but if they don’t, you’ll probably have to contact them directly for more info.
Washington Elopement Photographer: Yours truly 😉 (BreeAnna Lasher)
- WA elopement packages start at: $3,500
Washington Elopement Videographer: Kassidy Sherburne
- WA elopement packages start at: $3,000
Washington Elopement Planner: Tapestry Event Co.
- WA elopement packages start at: $3,300-$5,000
Washington Elopement Florist: Golden Rod Floral Design
- WA elopement packages start at: $550
Washington Elopement Officiant: Another One Ties the Knot
- WA elopement packages start at: $675
Washington Elopement Hair + Makeup: Elizabeth White Artistry
- WA elopement packages start at: $340
Washington Elopement Cake: Layered Cake Artistry
- WA elopement packages start at: $65
Washington Elopement Legal Costs
Okay now we can’t forget about the not so fun stuff: the legal + logistical costs of getting married. Here are the costs you won’t want to forget about if you’re getting married on state or national land, as well as how much your Washington marriage license will cost ya.
Washington National Park Entrance Fee
To enter two of Washington’s three national parks (Mount Rainier & Olympic), you’ll need to purchase an entrance pass either at a ranger station when you arrive, or online beforehand at Recreation.gov. You can choose between a $30 pass that gives 1 vehicle park access for 7 days, or opt for a $55 annual pass to save some money if you plan to visit the park more than once that year!!
Here are links to follow to get passes for each NP:
Luckily there is NO fee to enter North Cascades National Park!!
Washington National Park Elopement Permit
Once you’ve gotten access to park entry, you’ll need to get a Special Use Permit (SUP) in order to legally get married in any + all of Washington’s national parks (and all NP’s across the country, too). Your exact permit fees will vary based on the details of your elopement + the specific location you choose, but below are the non-refundable permit application fees for each park:
- Mount Rainier National Park SUP Application Cost: $60
- Olympic National Park SUP Application Cost: $50-$100
- North Cascades National Park SUP Application Cost: $50
I even created a whole-ass Washington National Park Elopement Guide, where you can find all the specific deets on getting your permits!!
Washington State Park Entrance Fee
To enter a Washington State Park you’ll need a Discover Pass! You can get a one-day Discover Pass for $10, or an annual Discover Pass for $30 from an in-person office or ranger station.
If you buy your Discover Pass online, the one-day pass will cost $11.50, and the annual pass $35.
Washington State Park Elopement Permit
You’ll also have to get a Special Activity Permit, which has a $45 application fee and may have additional fees depending on the details of your elopement.
Washington Marriage License
I promise this is the last non-fun part of this blog post!! Getting your marriage license can be tedious and a little confusing at first, which is why I wrote a whole separate blog post with A Simple Guide to Getting Your Washington State Marriage License to make it easier for ya. Check it out so you can familiarize yourself with Washington’s marriage laws + the licensing process!
The cost to get married in Washington varies by county, but the license application fee typically ranges between $40-$80.
Examples: the application fee in King County is $69, Snohomish County is $70, and San Juan County is $62.
Washington Elopement Travel + Accommodations
Don’t forget to book your travel and accommodations!! You don’t want to get to the month of your elopement and realize you forgot to book a place to stay, and then see that prices are suuuper high since it’s so last-minute. I recommend doing research + booking what you can as early in advance as possible so you get the best prices, and can take those costs into consideration when planning your elopement budget!
Potential Travel Costs
Here are some travel costs you may need to incorporate into your elopement budget:
- Airfare (roundtrip, one-way, or multi-city)
- Rental car (rental costs, gas, insurance)
- Public transportation (bus passes, train tickets, metro/subway passes)
- Water travel (ferry tickets, small boats, seaplanes)
- Guest transportation (limos, buses, vans)
- Parking (metered parking, parking passes)
You also want to find a place to stay that fits your budget + will allow you a comfortable relaxing place to stay after your elopement.
In most areas, your options are:
- Airbnb’s/VRBO’s/other home rental companies
Camping will usually be the cheapest way to go, and the rest totally depends on what kind of place you’re looking at – for how many guests, how luxurious, how central the location is, how close it is to a national/state park, etc. You can find a cheap Airbnb that’s simply a room in a home for you & your partner, if you really want to cut costs, or opt for a cozy cabin in the woods with luxurious amenities for you to enjoy together. Or go all out and rent out a huge house for you & all your guests to stay in – that’ll obviously cost you more than staying alone just the two of you!!
Make sure you also watch for additional accommodation costs such as:
- Pet fees (per pet, per day, etc.)
- Event fees (if you’re having your wedding at an Airbnb that allows events/parties)
You’ll inevitably run into a bunch of other small costs that you might not think about because they’re not obvious at the time you start planning, or they’re just unexpected. That’s why it’s good to have an extra portion in your budget for miscellaneous costs to put toward whatever may come up!
Some miscellaneous costs you’ll want to consider:
- Meals + snacks
- Vendor tips
- Last-minute travel items/items you forgot to pack
- Gifts/favors for guests
Washington Elopement Budget Checklist
Now that we’ve gone through the majority of the costs you need to plan for, here’s an overall list of allll the main costs I could think of!! You won’t need to plan for ALL of these costs if your elopement won’t involve them, but they’re all potential costs you could run into depending on the details of your day.
- Hair + Makeup
- Caterer/food truck/private chef
- Outfit, accessories, + jewelry
- The legal shiz:
- WA National Park entrance pass
- WA National Park Special Use Permit
- WA State Park Discover Pass
- WA State Park Special Activity Permit
- Additional WA National/State Park permit fees
- WA marriage license application fee
- Additional WA marriage license costs
- Rental car
- Public transportation
- Water travel
- Guest transportation
- Pet fees
- Event fees
- Miscellaneous costs:
- Meals + snacks
- Vendor tips
- Last-minute/forgotten items
- Gifts/favors for guests
3 Helpful Elopement Budgeting Tips
As an elopement photographer I’ve connected with countless couples and seen ALL types of elopements + weddings – and I’ve learned a thing or two from my couples about how to budget for an elopement. Here are 3 of my top tips for you to help plan out your elopement budget!
1. Prioritize what’s important to you
I recommend looking at a list (like the above checklist) of ALL the possible costs + vendors that could be associated with your elopement, and writing down your top 3-5 priorities. Let those priorities be the things you spend the most money on, that you’re okay with investing a lot in and will be super meaningful + important to your day. Then you’ll be okay to spend less on the remaining vendors, DIY the rest of the decor, or get help from your loved ones to contribute to your elopement because you know you’re putting the majority of your $$ toward what’s most important!
2. Start setting money aside ASAP
This is a big one: start setting money aside for your elopement as soon as you can! If you and your partner know you’ll be getting engaged sometime soon, create a savings fund together (or have separate funds) that you put chunks of money into each month as you’re able to. This will be helpful when it comes time to start putting down deposits + signing contracts because you’ll already have some money set aside for that exact purpose!
3. Don’t spend just to spend
Finally, don’t spend money on something just because you think you’re supposed to/you should/your family is pressuring you to. This is your elopement and YOUR money, so it’s fully up to you what you do with it – if there are certain traditions you don’t really care about, don’t put your hard-earned money toward them!!
5 Ways to Cut Down on Washington Elopement Costs
Aaaand to wrap this whole thing up, let’s go through a few ways you can cut down on costs for your elopement – again, this depends on what your priorities are so feel free to ignore these tips completely if they don’t fit your vision/priorities!
Keep your guest list concise
This one’s simple: only invite the people who are most important to you. Don’t spend money on creating an experience for 50 guests you barely even know or don’t truly care too much about – put your money toward an amazing time for you two + only your closest loved ones!! This way you won’t be spending a ton of money on food, chairs, tables, etc. for a bunch of guests.
Hire a food truck, or cook your own meal
Caterers can get expensiveee. If you’re not having a huge wedding, you don’t really need to hire a full-on catering service to serve 200 guest – instead, you could go with a cheaper food option for your smaller group of guests, such as:
- Food trucks
- A potluck with your guests
- Cooking your own meal
- Charcuterie boards
Thrift your decor
Instead of buying brand new decor that you’ll only use once, pick up pieces of decor from thrift stores + get glassware/tableware/etc. from antique shops!! This is a great way to be sustainable, too, because you’re using supplies that have already been used + are second hand instead of buying new + throwing them away right after your elopement.
Elope on a weekday and/or in the winter
Some vendors will offer discounts on packages if you’re eloping on a weekday or in the offseason (winter), so it’s worth asking! Travel + accommodations may also be cheaper in the offseason when tourists aren’t traveling as much.
Have guests contribute to your honeymoon instead of a registry
Finally, ask your guests to contribute to your honeymoon instead of a registry with items. This is a meaningful way for them to give you the gift of an experience for the two of you rather than things you may or may not use, and will save you money on your honeymoon!!
Lookin’ for more helpful resources like this one?! I’ve got tons on my website for ya!! Below are a few of my recent faves that’ll be helpful in planning your Washington elopement.