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How to elope on a Budget – Elopement Packages in Australia

February 9, 2020

When searching for inexpensive elopement packages Australia wide, it can be tricky to understand why eloping may be the better option when you’re not looking to save a small house deposit worth of funds.

In this article I’m going to tell you:

  • Why elopements may be better for you than a traditional wedding
  • Why elopement packages are cheaper than weddings
  • What are the biggest cost savings with elopements
  • What is the bare minimum you’d need to elope
  • What an example elopement might be like, as well as the complete cost breakdown for everything
  • How to get your elopement started and planned (this is easy!)
Cheap Elopement

Why do couples elope?

Couples who prefer to elope prefer to have a more intimate and private ceremony without a lot of family drama, and excessive people that they don’t care enough about to spend $200 per head on food and cake that quickly gets forgotten.

Elopements are best suited for couples who value experiences over things and who want a wedding that is more about them spending time together on an adventure, rather than performing in front of a load of people.

I’ve made a video on what elopements are and why they are great alternative for a couple who don’t want the stress and constriction of a traditional wedding:

Why are elopement packages cheaper than weddings?

Elopement wedding packages are must more inexpensive than regular weddings because:

  • You don’t have a venue; instead you can have your ceremony out in nature
  • You aren’t paying for hundreds of guests
  • You don’t need to decorate the venue
  • You don’t need to pay for a lot of excessive ‘perceived necessities’ for a wedding, such as the wedding cake

What major costs can be cut back with an elopement?

The biggest costs saved with eloping are:

  • No venue costs
  • Heavily reduced guest cost
  • Wedding attire can be heavily discounted

The biggest savings you’ll have with eloping instead of a traditional wedding is the venue.

Typically wedding venues cost an average of $15,258, which is an incredibly high cost for housing your ceremony and feeding and watering guests. Typically the average cost for inviting one guest can be around $150-250 per head.

Instead of this, with an elopement, you’ll be able to have nature as your backdrop, so you can have a forest elopement, or even elope to the coast. The major benefit here is that in the vast majority of circumstances, getting married on public land is free.

Wedding attire is something else that is commonly overspent on, and instead can be purchased at a fraction of the cost with wise searching, as I’ll show later on in this article.

What is the bare minimum needed for an elopement?

To start eloping in Australia, you need:

  • Two witnesses at the time of signing your papers with a celebrant, and you need to say certain words according to the Australian legal system.
  • You’ll need to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage 30 days out from your elopement date;
  • You’ll also need a place to elope. I’ve written previously about the best places to elope in Australia, which goes over my top places around Australia that provide the perfect backdrop for a wonderful elopement location.

You can also have a registry office wedding, or rather sign the paperwork separately, and then have a ceremony out in nature so that whilst legally you have already done everything, you’ll be able to have a private ceremony without the need for all of the legal technicalities.

What types of elopement packages are there?

There are two types of elopement packages:

Type 1: Pre-packaged ‘turn-key’ elopement ceremonies

This is the most common type of budget elopement package you’ll come across when searching the internet.

These are set up by a group of vendors to basically do a ‘turn and churn’ of as many couples in a day as possible. Think of your ‘just married in Vegas’ type of set up. There are even companies which do ‘drive thru’ weddings, where you don’t even have to leave your car.

For example, you could meet in a local park, with a celebrant and photographer, with someone styling the set-up.

With these, whilst you will be able to get the legalities done, this is very transactional, and with the limited investment, you’ll be getting standard ‘look at the camera and smile’ photos, with the standard location and poses as everyone else.

Type 2: Boutique and customised adventure elopements

This is where you’ll have an elopement photographer and guide create a custom elopement package for you.

These customised adventure elopement packages will provide you with:

  • A curated a recommended location list, meaning you can choose to elope anywhere in the world
  • A recommended vendor list for that area, so you’ll have the best vendors sorting your elopement
  • A timeline of the day created so that you’ll have the day you want, how you want
  • A personalised ‘elopement guide’, on how to get the most out of your day and adventure
  • Incredible personal photographic documentation of the day, so you’ll be able to relive the whole adventure

Why customised elopement packages will benefit you

Many companies since COVID-19 have realised that elopements are a valid way for couples to get married. As such, the standard that many people seem to believe is that these budget elopement packages’ are the best way to go.

You are treated like a number, and so is your relationship.

I believe that elopement packages that are customised to you are better because they focus on creating a unique adventure and experience to match your own special story together.

Throughout the years you’ve had laughs, shared amazing experiences together, and overcome hurdles. You’ve shed tears of joy, and sadness, and through it all you’ve come together and now want to commit to one another for the rest of your lives.

Going through those things and sharing that commitment is a big thing. People spend their whole lives just trying to find that one person who understands them and gets who they are.

So is your whole story and experience together worth just putting into a machine, to be churned and turned, only for another couple to have your exact experience once your 30-minute time slot is up?

I don’t think it is. I think it is a disservice to your love, which is why I have such a big focus on creating a personalised elopement package that focuses on yourselves first.

Budget elopement packages have a time and place, but your relationship isn’t a budget one, so why treat it like that?

I believe that this is the best way to elope because you’re going to come away from the experience feeling:

  • That you had a day just focused on yourselves
  • Less stressed and without the drama and fuss of a big production
  • Connected, and happy that you had the space to get married where and how you wanted
  • Like you’ve had a real adventure

Here’s a complete walkthrough of the experience with me, and how I can create a real adventure for you both:

An example of a custom budget elopement package

This example gives you a complete monetary breakdown of everything for a real elopement.

To provide some background on this elopement, this was at a local scenic spot in The Blue Mountains.

Blue Mountains Elopement Package Walkthrough

The Blue Mountains is one of the most popular places in Australia to elope to because of how scenic it is.

The Blue Mountains are roughly about an hour’s drive from Sydney, and provide a stunning place to elope in. You can view a real gallery of what a Blue Mountains elopements is like here.

Breaking down the costs

Please note that I’ve gone for what is the bare bones here; you may wish to invest more in a suit, dress, or more hours of photography, but this will get you the bare bones to have the most excellent time ever.

So here is the breakdown of everything. I’ll go into each of the components in detail afterwards.

Also, please note that for the same-sex wedding, replace the suit/dress with the same of the other; I only write this from the perspective of a heterosexual couple because of the ease of comparison:

  • Suit – $260
  • Dress – $240
  • Elopement Photographer and Guide – $3,000 for 2 hours, to plan, design, and capture your day, complete with full HD final images, and advice throughout the leadup to your day.
  • Celebrant – $950 for the ceremony and legal paperwork
  • Flowers – $60 for a big bouquet

Suit – $260

The perfect elopement suit should be:

  • Comfortable
  • Something that matches your style
  • Within your preferred budget

You can wear whatever you’d like at your elopement. I’ve even had grooms elope in a Hawaiian shirt before.

However, if you’re looking for a good suit that is stylish and affordable, ASOS does an impressive job at creating stylish suits for your elopement.

Here is an example suit set that they have on their website:

This outfit is a total investment of around $360 for getting yourself a nice suit.

The shirt and shoes aren’t accounted for here, as this is usually the biggest ticket item, but to be completely honest, you can get some cracking discount shoes somewhere like KMart.

Getting a suit from these places will make your cheap elopement easy to arrange without breaking the bank.

Dress – $240

The perfect elopement dress should be:

  • Comfortable
  • Something that matches your style
  • Something that fits you properly
  • Within your preferred budget

Your dress doesn’t have to cost the end of the earth. Wedding dresses typically can cost upwards to $5,000. However, in my experience of capturing dresses worth $300, and $3,000, as long as you’re comfortable and like the style, there is nothing in it.

This gorgeous dress from ASOS is perfect for a bride that is looking to have a more Bohemian feel to their wedding:

This dress is only $240 on ASOS and is a great elopement dress for women who want a bit of a flowy and easy feel to their attire.

I have also written a full blog post which you can find here on how to find the perfect elopement dress.

Elopement Photographer and Guide – $3,000

I appreciate that when it comes to looking for a budget elopement package, you’re wanting to make sure that you aren’t spending needless money.

As I talked about above, I truly do believe that having a custom elopement package is worth it for so many couples out there who want all the advantages of eloping, and to have a real adventure to lead them into marriage.

I also know how stressful planning a wedding can be, regardless of whether you are eloping or going down the traditional path.

For years before doing elopements, I’d speak to couples and ask them how they found wedding planning.

“I wish we would have just eloped, the planning was ridiculous”

“It was like having a second job, and there was just so much pressure”

“We can’t wait for the day to be over now and be done with it”

These were genuine responses from couples about how stressful wedding planning can be.

However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

This is where I come in.

This is why I am an elopement photographer and guide. Not only will I be getting the most awesome images of you on the day, in a documentary style, but I’ll also be guiding you through the whole elopement process and designing your perfect elopement for you.

I want you both to be so excited that you can’t wait for your elopement and marriage to start.

This is why I provide the personalised service that I do, to help couples like yourselves focus on having fun, rather than feeling stressed and overwhelmed with even where to start.

Not only that, but you’re going to end up with a set of images from the day which really tell the story and encapsulate your story in timeless art that you can appreciate for the rest of your lives.

Every time you look back at the images from the day, you’ll relive how it felt to be there and to commit yourselves to each other.

What’s more, you’re not going to be exposed to hours of cheesy posing; I truly believe that images of yourselves should be authentic. There is no authenticity in being forced to smile, or being told that you have to kiss because ‘that is romantic’. I want you to be yourselves, warts and all.

Time and time again, couples who did not invest in a wedding photographer to capture their day list it as one of their top regrets.

Once the dust has settled, and the memories start to fade from your mind, images and moments of the day will reignite and transport you back to those visceral emotions and feelings.

Whilst Wedding photographers may be one thing, Elopement Photographers and Guides go above and beyond though to make your elopement easy to organise, and stress-free.

Here’s just a little snippet of some reviews from real couples of how the experience went with myself (you can find others on my Facebook, and my Google Business):

Why having an elopement photographer and guide will make your elopement stress-free

When it comes to eloping, you want to look specifically for an elopement photographer and guide.

Many of the other options on this list you can substitute for a cheaper alternative (bar the celebrant). Photography, however, is one where, if you get it done for cheap, or free, you’re going to have a photographer that most likely isn’t a professional and one which won’t capture your day exactly how you’ll remember it.

When looking for the right photographer, you also want to make sure you find one that resonates with you.

Do you prefer someone who is candid and who will capture the moments as they happen, or would you prefer someone to direct you?

My style, for example, is the former, and I love the couples to have a relaxed time and let the emotions flow as they do, rather than trying to force what isn’t there.

So why hire an elopement photographer and guide?

Elopement photographers and guides will help:

  • Provide a curated location list for you, according to your desires and tastes in landscapes and areas
  • Create a personal timeline for your elopement day(s) so that you don’t have to worry about the best times to have the ceremony, or what to do in the day
  • Assist with legal recommendations of the process of eloping
  • Capture the experience of your day, and create a set of images that will allow you, and your friends and family to relive your day over and over again

My base elopement wedding packages is for 2 hours.

This typically covers the ceremony and couples portraits afterwards.

For the investment of $3,000, you’d get:

  • All the above assistance in planning your elopement
  • 2 hours photography which is perfect for covering the trek up to the ceremony location, capturing the main ceremony, and then some candid couples photos afterwards and the walk down.
  • Oh, and all travel is included in my wedding elopement packages, so there are no hidden fees.

However, if you love the idea of being captured getting ready to get a bit more of a complete feel of the day, you can always invest a bit more to get an entire story of the whole day.

When it comes to eloping in Australia, an elopement photographer will put the hard yards in, so you don’t have to worry.

Example Elopement Galleries:
Katie and Trevor’s Blue Mountain’s Elopement
Grace and Anthony’s Tasmanian Elopement

If you’d like to have a chat about me helping you design and capture your elopement, simply complete the form at the bottom of this page!

Celebrant – $950

A celebrant is an essential part of any elopement, as they are the one who has the honour of representing you as a couple. They handle the legal paperwork and conduct the ceremony to get you both hitched. 

They need to be included with any inexpensive elopement packages Australia wide.

They are the person who will welcome you into your marriage. It is so important to have someone that you not only connect with and can relate to, but who will write a ceremony that reflects who you are. As opposed to someone who talks about love and marriage in a general capacity, you want someone who has taken the time to get to know you and will speak about those things as they relate to your relationship with anecdotes, in-jokes, and references to your life throughout.

With your ceremony, 125 legal words have to be said, but a great celebrant will brainstorm ideas with you to include anything and everything you want. They will help you to have the ceremony you want, and not the ceremony you think you’re ‘supposed’ to have.

While you would be able to do the paperwork at a registry office for around $500, the difference you’d be getting is a personalised ceremony. Your celebrant will sort all paperwork, and you’ll be getting the celebrant’s ability to hold space and evoke reflection and emotion.

I recommend talking to someone like Aisle Meets Annie who creates an authentic ceremony for you, which delves into what you are both about.

Venue – Free

One of the biggest money savers with eloping in nature is the fact that you’re out in nature instead of at a place which is charging you a bucketload. This will save a huge chunk of money for your cheap elopement.

Choosing your elopement location is something that your photographer will be able to help you with if you are stuck, but in Australia, you’re ready to elope wherever you would like more or less!

However, I always recommend to contact the rangers and parks services of the land to make sure that you are allowed to be where you’d like to be, and also to make sure that they approve it. Eloping in Australia can be exciting and amazing but it’s important to keep in touch with the rangers.

An essential element of eloping in nature as well is to make sure that you do an Acknowledgement of Country.

Australia has no treaty with its Aboriginal Peoples recognising their history and prior occupation of Australia. There are some land rites given back, but there is no treaty.

Please take the time to do this during your ceremony. It may only take a few minutes to say but goes a long way in doing ‘the right thing’.

Where can you elope in Australia?

I’ve written about the best places to elope in Australia here that will inspire you:

Best places to elope in NSW / NSW Elopement Packages

Flowers – $60

You don’t have to invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars to get some incredible bouquets for your wedding. You also don’t need to resort to having cheap or tacky flowers for your elopement.

Local florists will be very adept at creating a stunning look for you within your budget. Even with a cheap elopement you’ll be able to get an incredible set of flowers to your taste.

For example, in Canberra, I highly recommend Moxom and Whitney. If you go onto their website, you’ll see that they allow you to order flowers based upon custom requests, and by your budget. So if you want to invest only $60 for flowers, they will create something stunning for you.

Logistics – How to get the ball rolling with your elopement

So you love the idea of eloping on the cheap and don’t know where to start now.

If you’re looking to plan your elopement and don’t know where to start, I always recommend talking to someone who will be experienced at planning and doing elopements.

Elopement photographers (like me!) plan and do elopements day in and day out so will know how to get you started. Your celebrant will also be the perfect place to look, as they will know about the paperwork and legal proceedings.

I can help design elopement wedding packages to suit your taste and needs.

Summary

Having your dream elopement doesn’t have to cost the world or a small house.

You can have a cheap elopement and still have the most amazing and exotic experience! When it comes to finding elopement packages Australia wide, the above will paint the best picture of how you can have your dream day.

The above shows how you can put together your dream elopement and make it happen, without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a venue and feeding two hundred guests, many of whom you don’t see that often.

Eloping is about having the freedom to be yourselves when you get married and have a personal, authentic and exciting adventure.

Let’s chat about designing your dream elopement!

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