Last updated: February 2024
My most popular elopement guide during last year, by far, was my blog post on Scottish elopement costs. And honestly, this was not a huge surprise, and for good reason! Firstly, a huge part of the world is currently affected by a cost of living crisis, at varying levels depending on where you live. The majority of my couples are from overseas and it seems none have been immune to the effects of various global events. Secondly, eloping in Scotland is arguably quite niche way to get married, even for those who love in Scotland! Everyone knows roughly how much the average wedding costs in their home country (more on this later), but if I was to ask you how much you think a full day Scotland elopement would cost, I guarantee this would be a little more difficult to answer. And that’s completely understandable! That’s what I’m here for. This elopement guide will give you those answers, and I think the answers will surprise you.
So what are my credentials? Well, first and foremost, not only do I photograph elopements in every corner of the Scottish Highlands at a rate of 30-35 per year, but I also plan all-inclusive packages which include many of the key essentials for a stunning Scotland elopement, from the beautiful local florals to the humanist celebrant to conduct your ceremony. This has given me even more experience on the local suppliers and what they offer, and ultimately the key ingredients to a top-tier elopement. I also bring some real-world experience in planning an elopement, having eloped myself in Glencoe a few years ago, and I have a thorough understanding of the necessities and nice-to-haves, and the costs they involve.
The overriding purpose of this guide is to bring some value to those looking to elope to Scotland in the near future by exploring the costs involved. I’m going to do this by first breaking down the cost of a traditional wedding – a wedding in a dedicated venue with a large number of guests and that follows a traditional timeline. This will be done using the most up-to-date costs I can find. Following this, I will break down the cost of a Scotland elopement, including all the elements necessary for your perfect day. Then finally, I will give some top tips and ideas for keeping the overall elopement cost down. So, without further delay, let’s get into the numbers!
In order for this to be as accurate as possible, I must first state some assumptions. For ease of calculation, the first is that travel costs to Scotland, and a hire car(s) while in country, are already covered. This ensures that the cost breakdown below are the same no matter which country you travel from.
Second, this elopement cost breakdown assumed that your elopement is not part of a wider, more encompassing trip to Scotland – which is very common for those planning an elopement. Including an elopement during a larger trip to Scotland is actually a very cost-effective way to elope, and can be quite easily tacked onto your travels with some additional planning. But in order to keep this guide accurate for everyone, I am only looking at elopement costs in isolation from any other travel plans.
Third, this guide assumes that you are planning a legal ceremony in Scotland. This might seem like an obvious assumption to make, but in reality there are many kinds of ways to elope in Scotland, and all at varying cost. The majority of my couples choose to carry out the legally-binding ceremony here, but others choose a symbolic ceremony (but still conducted by a humanist celebrant), and others choose to simply conduct their own vow reading and complete the legalities at home. This Scottish elopement cost guide assumes that you plan to legally marry in Scotland.
And finally, the costs below are for two people to elope without guests, which is the most common way to elope. Many do choose to elope with their closest friends and family at their side, and this will clearly add some cost to accommodation and food, but these costs will remain relevant for all elopements in Scotland.
Traditional Wedding Cost Breakdown
Once again I look to Hitched for the large majority of my data when it comes to breaking down the cost of a traditional wedding. Their survey of 1,808 couples found that the average cost for a traditional wedding in 2023 was £20,700. This figure is more than a 10% increase on the cost of £18,400 from 2022. I think we can all agree this is a considerable increase year-on-year, particularly when taking into account the current cost of living crisis.
There are nine key costs that make up this figure, and they are broken down as follows:
Venue hire: £8,400 ($10,650, €9,845)
Wedding dress: £1,350 ($1,711, €1,582)
Photography: £1,300 ($1,648, €1,582)
Videography: £1,150 ($1,458, €1,347)
Wedding band/DJ: £1,050 ($1,331, €1,230)
Flowers: £1,050 ($1,331, €1,230)
Invitations and other stationary: £300 ($380, €281)
Catering: £70 per person ($88, €82)
Hair and makeup: £240 ($304, €281)
That’s a total cost of £20,700 ($26,242, €24,262). For couples planning to elope to Scotland from the US, the average traditional wedding cost in the US is around $30,000 according to The Knot, which in itself is almost a 10% increase on the previous year. In Australia, the average wedding cost is $34,715.
Scottish Elopement Cost Breakdown
Ok, so here comes the good news: eloping in Scotland continues to be incredibly cost-effective. The cost of a Scottish elopement in 2024 is somewhere in the region of £6,400 ($8,106, €7,493)! I’m going to lay out the key elements of an elopement in Scotland below, along with their average cost, to give you an idea of how this figure was acquired:
Venue hire: £0 (not required)
Wedding dress: £1,350 ($1,711, €1,582)
Photography: £2,000 ($1,710, €1,581)
Videography: £2,000 ($1,710, €1,581)
Wedding band/DJ: £0 (not required)
Flowers: £200 ($253, €234)
Invitations and other stationary: £0 (not required)
Meal: £200 ($253, €234)
Hair and makeup: £150 ($189, €175)
Accommodation: £500 for two nights ($633, €585)
That’s a total cost of around £6,400 – which is a saving of £14,300 ($18,113, €16,746)! This is quite a significant saving, and when you consider that the majority who do elope to Scotland choose to do so because they preferred the idea of an intimate, adventurous, cinematic elopement over a traditional wedding due to preference rather than budget constraints, it’s almost a no-brainer to take the elopement route.
Budget According to Your Priorities
Of course, with any event planning, costs can spiral out of control. Whether it be a wedding, elopement or even a birthday party, sometimes it’s difficult to keep a lid on the costs and remain within budget. My advice here is to decide where your priorities lay, and focus on those areas, and potentially compromise on other areas.
For example, your priority may be staying in a more exclusive, boutique hotel, or maybe it’s in capturing the experience with multi-day photography and videography. Or maybe, like many others, you wish to have an extended vacation in Scotland to see what it has to offer and enjoy a minimoon immediately after your elopement. These decisions need to be made early in the planning process for maximum cost savings, so ensure you sit down and understand where you’d like your elopement budget to be focussed as early as you can.
Further Money Saving Tips
For some couples, the priority is simply to elope. To tie the knot in spectacular and epic circumstances in the Scottish Highlands. And there are absolutely some easy ways to save even more on your Scottish elopement plans and still have the perfect day:
Do you own hair and makeup: Although my recommendation is to get professional hair and makeup on your elopement day, many choose to do it themselves, and it has the added bonus of making for some beautiful photographs on the morning of your elopement.
Choose a high street dress: High street shops such as Etsy offer a large selection of beautiful dresses from as little as £100.
Etsy is your friend: Etsy is the home of handmade products on the web, and there is a huge selection of wedding florals and at very affordable prices.
There we have it! Now we know how much it costs to elope in Scotland in 2024. My overriding advice is to create a realistic budget and decide where your priorities lay for your Scotland elopement. Although traditional wedding costs have continued to increase around the world, elopement prices in Scotland remain affordable. But let me emphasise that eloping in Scotland is not choosing a cheap way to tie the knot – it is a beautiful, intimate, romantic and cinematic day, and on top of that, an entire experience. The fact that it is cost-effective is really a huge bonus: the cost-to-experience ratio is unbelievable! Lower cost, more control, a more spectacular setting and the chance to experience some of Scotland’s finest spots? Sounds pretty good to me.