The average cost for a wedding in 2021 was a staggering $28,000.

It takes my breath away to consider paying an entire year's salary for a one day event. And don't get me wrong - your wedding day is monumental, so if you want to go all out, there is no judgment from me. If you have the funds, go big!! It's one of the most important days in your life! However, if you're looking for an alternate route, one that costs approximately $26,500 LESS than the average wedding, keep reading. (Can you imagine the HONEYMOON you could go on for $26,500?!)

When you're planning a wedding, you can find exhaustive lists of vendors and expenses online. I'm going to break it down to the bare bones to show you how you can totally have a monumental day with your best friend while paying a fraction of the price.

#1 - Elope in the wilderness! Here's why eloping can save you loads of money. It takes away the need for a venue (costing an average of $9,000). And what venue is more beautiful than the mountains, rivers and pines? In my opinion there isn't one. (AND BONUS - MOTHER NATURE DOESN'T COST thousands of dollars). Occasionally, there's a one to two hundred dollar usage fee in a forest service area, but in general, there are tons of epic places where you can share your vows for free. What is eloping? How do you elope? I'm so glad you asked. Click here and here to read more about eloping.

#2 - Get your dress from Lulus - so many elegant dresses for under $200

#3 - Do you own hair and make up

#4 - Pick your own bouquet from the wildflowers on the ground

durango wedding photographer

So far, we are up to $200.

#5- Self solemnize (You don't need an officiant or a witness in the state of Colorado, and an officiant can cost $300-500). But of course if you have a friend or family member you love, they can marry you.

#6- Work with your photographer to do your own planning. A lot of times photographers offer free transport to hard to access backcountry areas, free champagne, free planning advice, location scouting, free props like blankets/old chairs, etc. And of course any elopement photographer worth your time will have no trouble helping you iron out of the logistics of your elopement and creating a timeline with you.

#7- Bake your own cake (check out the dope rainbow cake these girls made):

#8 - Your favorite playlist downloaded on your phone + a portable speaker can make an excellent, free DJ service.

#9 - PHOTOS. In my opinion, this is the most important part of your day. Remembering the way he looked into your eyes, feeling it all over again when you look at your images - it's priceless. Having a giant photo of you and your partner over your fireplace is one of the most treasured take aways from your wedding. And this is where I think the next $1000 should be spent. For a short elopement, you can find a photographer to shoot a whole hour of you and your partner having a first look experience, picking a bouquet together, exchanging your vows, popping champagne, feeding each other cake and frolicking around in the mountains.

And I'll leave you to figure out where you want to put that last $300. Maybe you really want eyelash extensions or heels. Or maybe your photographer has a travel fee. Just want to leave some wiggle room here.

In conclusion, eloping isn't a $30,000 party spent feeding relatives you don't really know. It is a curated experience in nature with a small group of friends and family. It's not about wowing your guests with extravagant lighting and rentals, but about making memories with your best friend. And it can be done for a fraction of the price.