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Comparing the Costs of a Traditional Wedding vs. Elopement

When planning a wedding, one of the first and most significant decisions a couple faces is choosing between a traditional wedding and an elopement. Traditionally, weddings are grand events that include many guests, elaborate venues, and significant planning. However, elopements offer a more intimate experience focused on the couple, often leading to substantial savings without sacrificing the romance and personalization of the day. In this blog post, we will delve into the costs associated with traditional weddings compared to elopements, using Simple Marriages’ services as a point of reference. We’ll present detailed comparisons through tables that provide an at-a-glance view of potential expenses, helping you make an informed decision that aligns with your personal preferences and financial considerations. Whether you dream of a large celebration or a private exchange of vows, understanding the financial implications is key to planning your perfect wedding day.

The Cost of a Traditional Wedding in New Jersey

New Jersey, known for its high-cost weddings, represents one of the most expensive locales to tie the knot in the United States. A traditional wedding in New Jersey involves numerous expenses that can quickly add up:

  • Venue: As the most significant expense, venue costs in New Jersey average around $51,000. This high cost reflects the demand for exclusive locations and services that the state offers.
  • Catering: Catering costs can vary widely, but in New Jersey, couples can expect to spend about $70 to $150 per person. For a wedding with 100 guests, this means catering expenses could be anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000.
  • Attire: Wedding dresses and suits also contribute substantially to the budget, with dresses often starting from $1,000 upwards, not including alterations and accessories.
  • Entertainment and Decorations: Hiring a band, DJ, and decorating the venue can cost between $5,000 and $7,000, depending on the choices made.
  • Photography and Videography: For capturing those precious moments, couples usually spend between $3,000 and $5,000 on professional photography and videography services.

The Cost of an Elopement in New Jersey

Contrasting with traditional weddings, elopements in New Jersey offer a more budget-friendly approach while still allowing couples to enjoy a meaningful and intimate ceremony:

  • License and Officiant: The costs for obtaining a marriage license and officiant fees in New Jersey can range from $50 to $500, depending on the specific requirements and services chosen.
  • Attire: Elopement attire tends to be more modest, with options ranging from $100 to $1,000, allowing for both casual and formal choices without the expense of traditional wedding attire.
  • Photography: While still an essential part of capturing the day, photography costs for elopements are generally lower, ranging from $500 to $2,000, as the sessions are shorter and less complex.
  • Travel and Accommodation: For those choosing scenic or special locations within or near New Jersey, travel and accommodation costs will vary but are generally lower than the costs associated with hosting a large wedding event.

Elopements not only provide a cost-effective alternative but also allow couples to focus on the personal and unique aspects of their union without the stress and extensive planning associated with larger weddings. For many, this makes elopement an attractive choice, blending the beauty of New Jersey’s landscapes with the intimacy and simplicity of a smaller ceremony.

Given that New Jersey is known for being one of the most expensive states for weddings, let’s revise the comparative cost table to reflect the costs for a traditional wedding and an elopement in New Jersey:

Cost ItemTraditional Wedding Average (NJ)Elopement Average (NJ)
Venue$51,000 (highest state average)Not applicable
Catering$70 – $150 per personNot applicable
Attire$1,000+$100 – $1,000
Entertainment & Decor$5,000 – $7,000Not applicable
Photography & Videography$3,000 – $5,000$500 – $2,000
License & OfficiantVaries$50 – $500
Total Cost$60,000 – $70,000+$650 – $3,500

This table uses the specific average costs for traditional weddings in New Jersey and provides a general range for elopements, highlighting the stark contrast in expenses. Elopements can dramatically reduce the financial burden, especially in a high-cost state like New Jersey, allowing couples to focus on personalization and intimacy without the extensive costs associated with traditional weddings. For those considering an elopement, Simple Marriages offers affordable packages that include essentials such as the officiant and optional photography services, making it an attractive option for many couples.


Choosing between a traditional wedding and an elopement is a significant decision that impacts not only the ambiance of your special day but also your financial future. As demonstrated, the traditional wedding in a high-cost state like New Jersey can easily escalate to an expenditure of $60,000 to $70,000 or more, incorporating extensive planning, large guest lists, and elaborate venues and services. On the other hand, elopements, especially those arranged through services like Simple Marriages, offer a dramatically more cost-effective option, with expenses potentially as low as $650 to $3,500 while still retaining the essence and intimacy of the occasion.

Elopements not only alleviate the financial strain but also allow couples to focus on each other, creating a memorable and personal experience. For those who value simplicity, intimacy, and the beauty of shared moments without the daunting expense, elopements prove to be a compelling alternative. Simple Marriages caters to this need with various packages that simplify the process and enhance the experience, making the journey to marriage both beautiful and affordable.

As you plan your wedding, consider what aspects of the day are most important to you and how best you can achieve those within your budget. Whether you choose a traditional wedding or an elopement, the day should reflect your personal values and love for each other. For more information on planning your perfect wedding day, visit Simple Marriages for detailed guides and expert advice tailored to making your day truly special.