According to the Association for Wedding Professionals International, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is now between $21,000 and $24,000. We were facing close to that range in credit card debt alone when we finally decided to get married years ago. At the time, we felt that the under $3,000 price tag for a Las Vegas elopement was our best choice. Like everything else in life, it had its pros and cons. If you are thinking about taking the same route, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Call Your Bank before Traveling
VISA monitors customer’s accounts on a 24-hour basis. We recommend that you call your bank before you travel out of state or out of the country to make sure your card doesn’t get flagged for fraud since it is outside of your normal spending pattern. Check out Kevin Thompson’s blog, A Financial Travel Checklist for tips on how to protect your money while on vacation.
2. Get Your Documents in Order
The beauty of getting married in Las Vegas is that you can get married as soon as you arrive. To save you time, you can process a pre-application online at the Clark County Clerk’s website before you arrive at the clerk’s office. No blood work is required but they have strict policies when it comes to proof of identity. Note that feesare subject to change. At the time of this writing, same sex marriages are not allowed in the State of Nevada. However, you can register for domestic partnership here.
3. Set a Date at Least 6-12 Months in Advance
In Las Vegas, anything is possible. We spent the bulk of our budget on a classier wedding ceremony rather than getting married by the Reverend “Elvis”. My husband was in charge of saving our pennies. The first rule of thumb is to resist the temptation of an impulse wedding. You can also save money by visiting Tuesday – Thursday, or during the less popular travel months like between Christmas and New Year’s. For more information on the best time to travel to Las Vegas, check out this article from Smarter Travel.Careful planning is the key to save you time, money and headaches. Check out these tips my fellow bloggers wrote on the topic:
- 5 Tips for Finding Great Vacation Deals by Leslie Montano
- Say “I Do” to Wedding Savings Ideas by Brenda Greene
4. Save! Save! Save!
My husband managed to save a portion of our paychecks and transferred them into our savings and CD accounts for close to two years. We faced a tough economy and the interest rate was nothing to brag about, but his patience was richly rewarded when we finally reached our goal around October of 2003.
5. Search for Sightseeing Bargains
Despite our tight budget, we managed to have an awesome time. Aside from losing money at the tables and (sadly) the penny slots, we rode on the gondola at the Venetian; became part of the Red Shirt Brigade on Star Trek: The Experience; hung out with Lucy Ricardo at the wax museum; and saw Hoover Dam (or as one of my aunts called it: The Dam Hoover). We found most of our cheap activities through word of mouth, keeping our eyes peeled and websites like this one. Eloping is not for every couple. We were fortunate and grateful we had a great support system who understood our decision. Ultimately, the choice is yours. I hope these tips help you if you choose to go this route, and please leave some other tips you have on the topic in the comments below.