Wedding Costs vs Elopement Costs in California in 2020

It’s no secret that eloping can save you thousands of dollars and potentially provide you with a more personalized and memorable experience – but HOW MUCH is the difference in cost? In this blog post we discuss Wedding Costs vs Elopement Costs in California! 

bride and groom walking on road in yosemite national park with half dome in the background

Let’s Talk Budget

After all, you want this day to be 100% you – so don’t make the final decision based on a financial number! Make that decision based on what feels the most YOU!

According to WeddingWire’s 2019 Newlywed Report, the average cost of getting married in the US was $38,700. Business Insider highlights the most expensive costs being the venue, food, and alcohol which often count for more than 50% of the end cost.

If we take 50% of the $38,700 budget, we end up with $19,350. Let’s see what type of Epic elopement we can plan with that budget! 

First things first, let’s pick a location. Bree and I are OBSESSED with Mammoth Lakes because of the versatility in beauty during summer, fall and winter – so we’re going to pick that place!

Convict Lake in Mammoth

Let’s Talk Accomodations

Okay cool, now let’s pick an AirBNB to stay for you, your dog, and 6 of your closest family/friends!

You can stay here for $600: 

You can stay here for $800: 

Well damn, that was easy! Let’s say you and your buddies want to stay for 4 nights in the mountains – you’ve only spent $3200 so far!

Now let’s pick a place for you to say your vows. is a useful site to help you check trail distances, maps, and photos! We’re going to pick Crystal Lake because it’s moderately close to the parking lot & GORGEOUS!

Next step is to creep that location on IG to make sure it’s beautiful for your elopement! Stephen’s profile pic for a year was this pic so we can verify that Crystal Lake is INSTAGRAMABLE AF for your elopement!

Okay Cool, Crystal Lake is pretty! Let’s do your ceremony there!

Let’s Talk Permits

Next Step is to contact national park services or forest rangers to see what permits are necessary! Rangers are super friendly and eager to help you celebrate your love in nature. Permits vary on rules and costs but the most it’ll cost is $120-$250. 

Crystal Lake In Fall

Now you have your housing for your elopement, you have your ceremony location picked out and approved by the local staff, and you’re feeling good about this! It’s time to plan all the details! If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to get straight into adventure plans like skiing or hot spring exploring!

Let’s get 2 days of ski lift tickets, ski/boot rentals, and mountain top lunch for your buddies!

2 days of lift tickets = $160
2 days of ski/boot rentals = $100
2 days of lunch on mountain top: $50

$310 x 8 people total = $2480. Just saying…

Wow we already have a place for everyone to stay, a ceremony location, food and entertainment for MULTIPLE days…and we haven’t even spent $6000 yet! well then let’s get fancy so we can spend the rest by renting a Jeep or an off-road snow vehicle!

Awesome! Well that was only $1500 for everybody to have a blast for a few hours, now what else do we need to have the California adventure elopement of your DREAMS?

Let’s find you a beautiful dress! You’re a queen so you’ll probably wear something from Rue De Seine Bridal for a fair price of $3200!

Photo courtesy of Rue De Seine:

Let’s Talk About Your Officiant!

Wow…all of this and the dress of your DREAMS for $10,500 so far! Let’s add some champagne to spend the rest. We didn’t even spend half of the average wedding budget and planned the adventure of a lifetime!

Now you’ll want to find an officiant and food for your family/friends! A local Officiant will cost you around $1000 or you can learn how to get a family member ordained in the state of CA!

Mammoth Rock Brasserie has mountain views and floor-to-ceiling windows so it’s our top recommendation for your after-ceremony dinner celebration! 

You’ll also want a videographer so you can remember the candid moments of you and your partner adventuring for the week! Taylor Hansen is an amazing videographer available in CA

And we’d love to be your photographers! Click HERE to view our portfolio or look at the screenshot of our IG below😊

bree and stephen's instagram

You did it! You just planned your elopement in Mammoth lakes for half the average price of a wedding! Now go hit the slopes and enjoy an unforgettable week with friends and family!



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