Shortly after Joyce and Robert Barry launched the The Farmer’s House Bed and Breakfast at their Cutchogue home three years ago, the couple began receiving inquiries from guests about a service they hadn’t explored before: elopement packages.
“I can’t tell you how many couples are frazzled because their parents insist on these huge weddings their kids never wanted,” Ms. Barry said. “People have said to me, ‘Oh, I wish I could have had my wedding here, at the bed and breakfast.’ ”
Stirred by her guests’ wistful laments, Ms. Barry obtained a certificate allowing her to perform wedding ceremonies. She also set to work creating an elopement package that begins at $1,800 and includes a ceremony, a bridal bouquet and a two-night stay in one of the house’s luxury suites. Additional items, like a gift certificate for dinner at a local restaurant, are available at an extra cost.
“They’re very intimate and quiet,” said Ms. Barry, who hosts three or four weddings a year and generally limits them to a maximum of 20 guests. “It’s really about the bride and the groom. There’s so much stress involved when there shouldn’t be. It should be about the commitment a bride and groom have to each other and to have your most intimate friends and family witness that, without all the hoopla.”
The Farmhouse isn’t the first North Fork bed and breakfast to offer elopement packages. Sylvia Daley, who has run Quintessentials Bed and Breakfast and Spa in East Marion for the past two decades, began offering small wedding services to guests eight years ago.
“People started phoning me about it,” Ms. Daley said of her decision to begin hosting elopements. “Or, when guests came here and got engaged, they would say, ‘Do you do weddings?’ That’s when I started learning more about it.”
Budget-friendly elopement packages are not just a local trend but a service offered at small inns across the country. At Historic Heights B&B in Minneapolis, couples can get married for $1,000 or less with a package that includes 20 guests, an officiant, champagne, appetizers, cake and a room and gourmet breakfast for bride and groom. Travel to the Bluff Mountain Inn in Sevierville, Tenn., for the Elope to the Mountains package and the owners there will provide all the requisite wedding accoutrements, plus a wedding planner, for just under a grand.
At East Marion’s Quintessentials, elopement packages range from $1,200 to $1,800 and include a ceremony that takes place in a fully dressed gazebo at the property’s “secret garden,” a wedding cake, champagne and a bridal bouquet. Spa services, videography and photography can be added on for an additional fee.
Ms. Daley, who is an ordained minister, thinks it’s “wonderful” that couples are opting for small, intimate weddings. She said she performs six to 10 ceremonies a year.
“With the economy, a lot of people realize that it might not be a bad idea to have a simple wedding ceremony with two or four of their best friends and then go out to dinner afterward,” she said. “They can save the money they would have spent on a big wedding for a house or go on a honeymoon at a later date.”