Scrap Your Wedding and Elope // Destination Wedding Photographer

Scrap Your Wedding Plans + Elope

Mountain + Mood // Destination Wedding Photographer

You may think I'm crazy by telling you to scrap your wedding plans and elope, but hear me out.

I have photographed hundreds of weddings in my career and the weddings that I remember and stick out in my mind are the elopements and destination weddings I have had a chance to photograph. Destination weddings allow for flexibility within your day rather than following a strict timed schedule that a wedding planner put together for you a week before your wedding date. Having a destination wedding can actually save you money and create memories that a standard lodge or church wedding can't.

Two years ago, myself and my fiancé (Amanda) were in the beginning stages of planning our own wedding. We thought we wanted a large wedding where all of our family & friends can attend, watch us exchange vows, and dance the night away. What we thought we wanted, was not what we wanted. 

As we started planning, browsing Pinterest for wedding ideas, setting up caterer tastings, we realized how exhausting, stressful and expensive it really is. One night, exhausted, we decided, lets scrap it. Throw it all away. Yes, we lost some deposits we had already placed, but that didn't bother us. We wanted something special. Something we will remember for the rest of our lives. 

We sat down and added up all the expenses for our Colorado wedding, and realized, it's crazy to spend that kind of money for an 8 hour event. 

On average a wedding venue in Colorado will run anywhere from $5000-$10,000 (not including food).

A caterer can run from $20-$50 per head (sometimes more).

A DJ can run about $1000-$2500

Going to have a bar at your wedding, plan to spend at least $3000 

Wedding Cake that you plan on smashing in your new wife's face, that will gesture cost you about $400.

Add in all the Pinterest decorations that you won't know what to do with after the wedding, the linens, chairs, silver ware and plates, etc. There's another $1000

Of course you need a photographer, and a good one. $3000-$5000

Wedding bouquet, bridal bouquets and boutonniere's for the guys : $800

On the low end, expect to spend about $16,000


(My wedding video in Iceland - Courtesy of Robert J Hill )

I know, you want your Pinterest picture worthy table settings. You want to do the Cupid Shuffle and the Wobble. Most likely you won't remember your table settings or doing the Wobble on the dance floor a year from your wedding. What you will remember is standing under a waterfall, hiking a glacier, and exploring an exotic location a year from your wedding. 

Having a destination wedding doesn't mean you can't have your closest family and friends attend. Cut that guest list down, Uncle Bob will understand, I promise you. Invite your parents, family and closest friends. Not only will you have an experience of a lifetime but your friends and family will too (and your Dad's wallet will thank you). 

From experience, after scrapping our Colorado wedding and eloping in Iceland, we saved about $10,000. The experience was amazing, our first dance was something I will never forget, and the food at the local restaurant was better than any caterer food we tasted. We explored the countryside for a week, had a day after photo session and exchanged vows next to a beautiful waterfall. There was no timed schedule on when Amanda would walk down the aisle, or having to schedule shuttles to pick up guests. It's was just us, family, and our photographer. 

So go on, sit down. Look at a map. Where have you always wanted to go? Is it Iceland, New Zealand, Scotland? Or are you wanting a beach wedding? It's possible, it's cheaper and it's something you will remember for the rest of your life. 

In closing, scrap all of your wedding plans, delete your Pinterest board, explore the world and go on an adventure.