Elopement in Australia

Is 2024 Set To Become The Year Of The Elopement?

According to the 2024 Australian Wedding Industry Report, which collected data from 4200 couples, 79% reported that cost of living issues had impacted their wedding budget.  In addition, 33% reported extending their engagement in order to meet their wedding budget.

As well as finances, other common stressors were highlighted by the respondents, including the guest list, keeping up with tasks, dealing with family and finding reliable wedding suppliers.

Looking at this data, it’s easy to see how in 2024 elopements are going to appeal to many more couples than in previous years. Unfortunately, some of the survey respondents also expressed regrets that they didn’t choose to elope.  However a couple choose to get married, the very least you can wish for is to look back on the day with joy, not regret.

So if you are wondering about whether an elopement might be right for you, let’s unpack it and help you feel confident with your plans.

Author: Meggan Brummer

If we haven’t met before - I am an award-winning Marriage Celebrant in Sydney, Australia.

I’ve married hundreds of couples over the last 13 years and have over 23 years experience as a professional writer.

What Is An Elopement?

An elopement used to describe a tiny wedding, usually in secret with few or no guests in attendance. It also used to commonly involve running away to get married.

Today however an elopement really just describes any tiny wedding.  It remains popular to travel for an elopement and have a ‘destination wedding’, but equally, couples do elope in their back garden.

The degree to which couples share their intentions with friends or family beforehand is also not really a factor, it really just come down to size.  Even if you have a couple of guests in attendance, it can still be described as an elopement.

The exact tipping point when an elopement becomes a wedding is a grey area down to individual interpretation… But let’s not get hung up on names – whatever you choose to call it, you’re getting married!

How to elope in Australia

How Much Does It Cost To Elope In Australia?

Considering the minimum you need in order to elope is just a celebrant, the minimum cost could be limited to what you pay that person.

The average cost of a celebrant in NSW is $899.  The average in other states is a little lower.  Some celebrants charge as little as $300. Higher-end celebrants in Sydney charge upwards of $1500.  The celebrant may charge extra if you require them to supply witnesses.

The cost of your elopement will increase in line with what other services you decide are essential for the day e.g a photographer, a swanky restaurant or hotel, etc.  One other cost may be your choice of ceremony location, but there are some incredible locations that are completely free.

The cheapest way to elope may be to choose a weekday rather than a weekend for your ceremony.  Remember, the wedding industry is geared around huge demand at the weekend when people can party and not have to work the next day.

Some wedding businesses offer discounts for weekdays to entice couples to fill up their calendars and for most couples eloping, there’s usually no downside to choosing a weekday rather than a weekend.

How Easy Is It To Elope In Australia?

It’s really easy to elope in Australia. You just need to meet the same legal requirements as anyone else getting married in Australia:

  • You need to complete and lodge a form called the ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ or NOIM.
  • You must get the NOIM to your celebrant no later than 1 month before your wedding date.
  • You have to be over 18.
  • You can’t be married to anyone else.
  • You can’t be directly related to the person you’re about to marry.
  • For the ceremony itself, you must have two witnesses in addition to yourselves and your celebrant.  They need to be over 18 and able to understand the language the ceremony is in.

Providing all that is in order, you can literally step off the plane & get married straight away.

Being this easy, Australia is a popular elopement destination for many same-sex couples who’s home country doesn’t (yet) support marriage equality.


Should You Elope Or Have A Wedding?

This is of course a very individual choice for any couple, but here are some pros and cons that might help you decide whether or not it’s right for you.


What Are The Advantages Of An Elopement?

  1. Cost. Compared to the average cost of $34,000 for a wedding in Australia, an elopement is a huge money-saver.
  2. Honeymoon. Most couples eloping to Australia don’t just fly out as soon as they’re hitched, they stay for a honeymoon, so if you marry here you’re already at your honeymoon destination!
  3. No stress. An elopement doesn’t require months of planning and hundreds of decisions.
  4. Family dynamics. If you have difficult relationships within your family to manage, an elopement could side step them.
  5. Intimate. You only need to be present to each other, there’s not 150 guests to worry about or distract you.

What Are The Disadvantages Of An elopement?

  1. Not a shared experience. The other important people in your lives don’t get to celebrate you.
  2. Family fall out. Parents or other close family members might feel hurt that you’re choosing to elope rather than celebrate with them.
  3. Over simplifying. It’s easy to take the simplicity of an elopement too far and make choices that strip the ceremony of being special or memorable.

Final Thoughts

While your decisions might come down to budget or effort or stress, remember – your options are not as binary as elopement vs wedding.  If your budget can accommodate a small guest list of your nearest and dearest then have a ‘small’ wedding with those people rather than the 150.  If money’s not the issue but stress or effort is, maybe your best decision might be to hire a wedding planner and delegate as much as possible to them.

But whatever is ‘right’ for you, remember to keep the process fun and make the ceremony special.  If you succeed at that then you will look back at the day with joy and have no regrets.

Considering eloping in Sydney and looking for a celebrant?