FIRE, Uncategorized

Affordable Beach Elopement: How We Spent Less than $1,400 on Our Dream Wedding

📸 Photo by Brett Ashley Photography

We recently tied the knot!!! It was not what we had initially had in mind when we first got engaged, but it was the perfect day! We always wanted a small, intimate ceremony but with the uncertainty of Covid-19 we decided to just elope this summer! Just the 2 of us, a couple of good friends, a photographer (who is also a good friend!), and an officiant. Our wedding was very affordable and if you’re looking to save money on your upcoming nuptials here is a breakdown of what we spent.

Once we got back from our honeymoon, being that we’re money nerds, one of the first things we did was add up all our wedding expenses. I think this might have been just as exciting as our wedding day! 😛 Since we track our expenses it was pretty easy to quickly add up all our expenses related to our wedding day. (If you’ve read any of our other blog posts about finances you’ve probably heard about our love of YNAB)

Even before we got engaged we had discussed wedding plans over the past few years. We always wanted something small and intimate, but we never had planned on eloping. We had initially envisioned a low-key, BBQ-style wedding. But being that Adam and I are from two different provinces and both military members and posted away from our families, it would be difficult to include our families without at least some of our guests incurring costs to travel. Plus even without thinking of the added expenses to our families, researching small weddings, and talking to friends who were married, it still seemed like it could cost up to $10,000, an expense we really didn’t want.

Wedding GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Some people might think that $10,000 is a reasonable amount to spend on a wedding day, and that is totally fine if it’s something you gain value from, and if you’re able to pay for the wedding outright. But for us, spending that amount of money didn’t align with our values. Our priority is to save money for the future to eventually set sail, so we did not want to spend $10,000 on a day.

So when we got engaged last Decemeber we didn’t really have a plan on what we wanted to do for our wedding. We had several conversations about it but hadn’t really made any plans. Then Covid hit. I was deployed to work in long-term care homes in Quebec and I realized that I just wanted to be married. So what better excuse is a worldwide pandemic to elope!? So that’s what we did, and honestly, it was the perfect day.

It would have been nice to have had our family and friends join us but it was also kind of special for the day to really be about the two of us and not just socializing with our guests. Plus we have tentative plans to have a celebration/small reception in both our home towns at some point once (if ever??) things go back to normal.

$1,370.01 is what we spent on our elopement, which may seem like a lot for our elopement, and it honestly is a bit more than what we had originally intended to spend. But we didn’t cut corners on anything for the day and we got everything that we wanted. Here is a breakdown of our expenses.

Legal Stuff: Marriage License & Wedding Officiant

If you’re getting married in Ontario, these are costs you can’t get away from. Maybe in the states and perhaps in other provinces, you can have a friend or family member get ordained and be the officiant of your wedding. However, this option is not available in Ontario. You have to get married from an official officiant, such as a Justice of the Peace or clergy member.

Marriage License$100.00
Wedding Officiant$319.50
Total “Legal Stuff” Costs$410.50

The Look: Clothing, Accessories, and Hair-Do

I bought a beautiful dress online from a boutique in Montreal, Quebec (Boutique 1861). I had purchased a bridesmaid dress from this site before and I loved their styles, service, and cost. (No affiliation but I love their dresses!) I bought the dress on sale so it was less than $100. Being that I’m short I had to have it hemmed which was an additional cost.

One thing Adam had always said for years was that he wouldn’t wear a suit at our wedding. Totally fine with me and he found an awesome linen outfit from Amazon which looked amazing and totally suited our style.

I also bought a pair of beautiful earrings from Etsy, which I probably will never wear again, but, they are beautiful. Adam also had a bit of bling and wore a lei that he got when he stayed in Hawaii (for free). I also decided last minute to buy flowers. I went to a local flower shop and they had a beautiful bouquet on display for less than $25.

Another thing I splurged on was my hair. I opted to do my own make-up to save a bit of money (plus I don’t wear much make-up anyways), but wanted to have my hair curled for the occasion. My stylist did an amazing job and I absolutely loved my hair so in my opinion, it was money well spent.

If you’re looking to elope there’s definitely corners to be cut in this avenue. If you or a friend can do your own hair, or you can pick wildflowers or go without. And you don’t need a fancy dress or outfit. But for us, I’m happy with the overall cost in this category.

Wedding Dress$88.14
Dress Alterations$50.85
Suit a.k.a. Linen Beach Outfit$72.16
Accessories (earrings)$42.53
Total “The Look” Costs$354.70

Wedding Photography

My amazing friend and super talented photographer, Brett!
📸 Photo by Melissa, my witness (who is also a photographer!)

Photography was one expense I knew from the beginning I was totally fine with spending money on. Having memories of the day was important to me. I also wanted our friends and family who weren’t able to be there to see photos from the day. It also helps that one of my closest friends in Petawawa is a professional photographer so it lucked out that I had her be part of our day! She normally charges a lot more for weddings but since we didn’t have a traditional wedding she charged us for two engagement shoots instead.

Having a professional photographer is a personal choice for your wedding. If you don’t want to spend money on a professional you can always get a friend or family member to take photos with a SmartPhone, which these days take pretty good pictures. I however would recommend spending a little extra money to have beautiful photo memories.


The Reception: Food & Booze

Vince Vaughn Party Time GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

After our short and sweet reception, we took our dinghy to our boat which was on a mooring ball nearby. We had ordered a party platter of sushi delivered from Valley Eats (the local version of Skipthedishes or UberEats) and had bought some wine and beer in advance. We had also been gifted some champagne for our engagement so we brought that along. We didn’t even end up eating all the sushi and drinking all the alcohol so we ended up having leftovers of both!

Food (sushi platter and delivery)$175.06
Total Food Costs$225.81

Location, location, location

Our boat is docked at a local marina on the Ottawa River. Near the marina there a couple of small beaches so we decided we would just use one of those for our ceremony. Looking back I don’t know if we should have contacted the marina prior? But it all worked out because Adam ran into the woman who runs the marina the morning of our big day, let her know our plans, and she even let us use the patio for free (which is normally rented for a cost).

Traditional wedding venues can cost an arm and a leg but there are definitely ways to avoid this cost. If you don’t want to just sneak onto a beach and get married there, most towns/cities have parks and public areas you can get married at for free or by donation. There’s also your own backyard or living room.


Total Wedding Cost = $1,370.01

Overall, I’m pretty happy with our wedding expenses. There are definitely a few corners that we could have cut as mentioned above but for an elopement, we spared no expense and it was the perfect day.

Our total wedding costs are listed below:

Legal Costs$410.40
The Look (Outfits and accessories)$354.70
Total Wedding Costs$1,370.01

Are you looking to have a frugal wedding? Or if you’re married, what are ways in which you kept costs low on your big day?