Weddings can be exciting and fun, but they can also be stressful money pits that push couples to their limits. The average wedding costs a whopping $33,391, which can make creating your “dream day” on a budget an unrealistic endeavor, says Deborah DeFrancesco, a wedding planner and founder of Bitchless Bride, a wedding-planning advice blog.
“It’s not realistic to think that you can have the wedding that you want and get everything that you want unless you have an unlimited budget,” she says.
If you want to skip the pressure—and the bills—from planning a wedding, consider eloping.
“Eloping is a fantastic idea, especially if you’re feeling the budget pressure,” DeFrancesco says. “You’ll save money, [and avoid] family dynamics that get in the way.”
The decision to skip the fanfare and plan something much more low-key has to suit you and your partner, DeFrancesco says. She and her husband decided to elope after three months of wedding planning. Arguments about the budget and complicated family dramas made them reconsider what was really the best option for them.
“I went to Vegas—truly it was a very personal decision,” she says. “I know it’s not for everybody, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I made.”
DeFrancesco said the decision to elope helped them afford their life down the line.
“I didn’t take a financial hit early on so I could have what I have right now,” she says. “I look at everything I’ve gone through with my husband and I don’t regret eloping, I don’t regret not spending money, because I was able to put it somewhere else in my life that I appreciate every day.”
If you do want to elope, DeFrancesco recommends inviting parents and close friends, or just mention you’re planning something small and hope people can make it.
The bottom line: the wedding is just one day of your lives together.
“This is just the first day of everything else,” she says.