How much does it cost to elope in Jackson Hole?
Couples today elope for a multitude of reasons. Some fall in love with the idea of having more of an adventure elopement and hiking to somewhere remote and beautiful. Some couples just don’t want to deal with the stress of getting married in their hometown and having to invite 200+ people. Some couples elope because they envision a more intimate experience focused on each other vs all the bells, whistles, and guests that can come with a traditional wedding. Some couples simply don’t want to be the center of attention in front of a crowd of people all day (ceremony, toasts, dances, etc). I feel like almost all of our couples whom decide to elope are usually a combo of all of the above, but there’s also one more reason why elopements have gained more and more traction over the years. They tend to be more budget friendly! For instance, just the catering bill alone at a luxury venue can cost 2-4x as much as an entire elopement. Just do the simple math on $150 per guest and a 200 person wedding. It can add up quick. I remember reading an article a few years back on a wedding based website that talked about how more and more couples were starting to pay for their own weddings and relying less and less on their families for support. Having shot nearly 600 weddings and elopements in the last 8 years, we can tell you that more and more couples are telling us that they are paying for the wedding themselves if not most of it. Knowing that, it’s not a shock that we’ve had more and more couples decide to elope over the years! The benefits of an elopement have definitely become more widely known. With that, elopements, just like traditional style/sized weddings, are like the wild wild west when it comes to pricing. While they can definitely be much more affordable in some cases, you can also have a luxury adventure elopement where you hire a helicopter pilot and fly to a mountaintop in Alaska that spares no expense. For some, I think there is this misperception that “Oh, it’s an elopement, it’s going to be way cheaper!!” While that can be true for some, it’s not always the case. Yes I know there are elopement companies all over the nation and for a small fee you can have a space, photographer, and officiant one stop shopped for about as much as a high car payment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that option, but this blog isn’t geared towards that couple. It’s also not geared towards the luxury type adventure elopements that we mentioned above. This blog is for the majority of the couples we work with for their elopements. They usually fall somewhere in that happy middle ground where they still want to have a personalized experience, they still have some special things they definitely want to splurge on, and while they do enjoy some of the finer things in life, they are also budget conscious. If you’re thinking to yourself at this moment, ‘hey, that sounds like me!’ then you’re in the right place!
Below we are going to discuss most of the items that we see MOST couples book/purchase or want to book/purchase when traveling out to Jackson Hole for their elopement! Jackson Hole is a unique area. Most people who come across this amazing place will easily discover some of the popular things in the area like The Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and world renowned skiing/outdoor lifestyle. What you typically don’t discover until further along the line is that Jackson is also expensive. In fact, I haven’t seen the latest data this year, but Teton County in Jackson Hole has had (and may still have) the distinction of being the most expensive county in the country to live in. For a multitude of reasons that we don’t have time to get into, but just know that is also true for traveling here. Before we were able to move to this area and make that big jump, we had the pleasure of visiting the Jackson Hole area for a few years so we’re going to give you a lot of information based on our personal insight, as well as our experience as wedding industry pros, and just general information available with a little bit of research. We hope this is helpful as you plan your budget for your Jackson Hole elopement.
NOTE: This information is all just averages, based on experience, and research. There will be some lodging options like the 4 Seasons that can require upwards of $3,000 per night for accommodations, and there will definitely be more affordable options. There will be some breakfast spots where you can easily drop $50 on a couple of lattes and two breakfast plates, and there will be some like The Virginian that actually have pricing probably more familiar to what most people are used to. You can easily walk into a gift shop and buy a $25 t-shirt, and go to the store two doors down and drop $25k on a fur coat. Like we said it can seem like the wild wild west. Some brides will find a dress on Azazie that comes in well below the nationally reported average. Some will fall in love with a boutique designer dress that takes up 50% of their elopement budget. Some brides will do their own hair and make up, and some will hire a professional. There’s no right or wrong here, just what’s right for you. There will always be a more expensive option for just about anything in Jackson Hole. Figure out what your vision is and what you value the most, set a realistic budget based on that. Use the following information to get an idea on what you’re likely going to be looking at based on the goods and services you would like to purchase/hire.
While we do get a few couples here and there that drive or make a road-trip out of their elopement in Jackson Hole, the vast majority of couples we’ve connected with fly here. With the mix of vehicles available as well as the rise of plenty of fuel efficient models, if you can get the time off, it can be a beautiful road trip and you can save some money to help open up your budget. You’ll also save on not needing to get a rental car which we’ll discuss later. Sometimes we drive, and oftentimes when we’re across the country, we’ll fly to save time. We usually fly ‘main cabin/economy’ through Delta. Just putting that out there in case you’re someone who likes to do first class, or prefer another airline, etc. For us the average plane ticket during popular times of the year usually ends up being around $1,000 per person. If you’re trying to save a little on travel, save up the flight miles, and looks at larger airports vs regional. Our local airport from our other home on the east coast is typically 300-400 higher per ticket so we drive a couple extra hours to the international airport and save a little that way.
In our time working with a ton of different officiants, all over the country, we’ve heard of officiants charging as little as $50 and we’ve heard of some that are $500+. In general most of the officiants we’ve worked with are usually in that $300-$400 range. If you decide to get married in your hometown (for whatever reason, easier, less stress, etc) then you will already be married, and thus wouldn’t necessarily need to hire an officiant. A lot of couples do this, and just opt for a vow reading.
If you’re planning on saying I do within the boundaries of the Grand Teton National Park, or the always popular Wedding Tree, you will need to apply for a wedding permit (links below). As of this writing the application fee is $200.
https://www.btfriends.org/the-wedding-tree (The Wedding Tree)
Photography rates can vary a bit more mainly due to time, but every photographer’s packages are going to vary. Some will customize, some may have just coverage packages, others may have other things included in their package like an album or engagement. Some photographers have multi hour minimums, some don’t. Some will do this full time and charge for travel, some do it part time and don’t (and everything in between). All this to say, this biggest variability in pricing you’re likely to find is in photography.
Hair and make up ($550)
If you’re looking for a professional hair and make up artist for just you the bride, during peak season, expect to pay in the range of $400-700.
If you’re looking to hire a florist to do a bridal bouquet, depending on the flowers used, the size, the season, expect to pay $150-$400.
According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding dress in 2022 was $1900. Having purchased two wedding dresses in my time (wedding day and 10 year vow renewal) based on what we’ve seen, heard, and researched this fairly accurate. Obviously there’s going to be dress options that come in well under this and plenty of options that come in over.
Suit/outfit (Rental ~ $200; Purchase ~ $500)
I won’t pretend to be a style expert when it comes to tuxes or suites. For this section we scoured all the men’s wear house type sites to get a feel for the average. For reference, when we got married 12 years ago I remember my rental being about $185 for jacket, vest, pants, and shoes.
Lodging ($400 per night)
As we alluded to above, there are some very high end rental options available in Jackson Hole. If you were wanting to go to the other end of the spectrum, you could even camp. Most of our couples usually end up staying somewhere in Jackson. Based on our experience of having traveled here before and been a tourist, and a quick trip to google, we believe you can expect to pay an average range of $300 to $800 per night for a hotel.
This can vary greatly depending on if you’re staying at a place that has a kitchen and you plan on eating in more, or if you’re planning on eating out the whole time. Having done a little bit of both and frequenting Jackson still for some of our favorite restaurants (shot out to Teton Tiger!) and factoring in you’ll likely eat breakfast, be out and about all day maybe a few snacks, and then grab dinner, expect to pay on the low end $75 per day, up to $200 if you have more expensive taste or you like to have a few drinks.
Rental Car ($130 per day)
Expect to pay on the low end $60 per day for a small car. For a large SUV like a Suburban, expect to pay $200+ per day. If you’re coming out during snowy season (most of the year) we would recommend something with AWD or 4x4.
Alrighty, for those of you keeping score at home, let’s crunch some numbers. If you fall into these average ranges, possibly higher on some, and lower on others, you've booked all of these items/services above, you’re a couple that purchased one dress and one suit, eloped in GTNP, and you’ve stayed 5 nights in town you can expect to your elopement to cost around this much in Jackson Hole: $10,925 (before taxes). Given that Zola and The Knot both say weddings in the U.S. in 2023 are averaging $29,000.00, this does potentially mean significant savings over going the traditional route. It’s like the difference between a Tacoma and Tundra for a my car people. There is definitely some money to be saved, but it’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Now you may be wondering the point in us doing this article. I promise we’re not trying to scare anybody away from coming to Jackson Hole for their wedding or elopement! Our purpose in putting this out there is to be helpful to couples currently trying to plan their destination elopement and are considering Jackson Hole as a possible destination. It’s the only place we’ve ever shot elopements where we’ve had couples cancel last minute because they just couldn’t afford to come. Not joking at all. It can catch you off guard as Jackson Hole in general is a bit more expensive than the average town when it comes to almost everything, but definitely weddings & elopements. We hope being armed with the above information will be helpful to you as you start planning your elopement!