ADVENTURE ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER // DESTINATION ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER // ELOPEMENT PLANNER // ELOPEMENT PLANNING
What if I told you, all the things you’ve been dreaming about your elopement are possible? You can experience a beautiful day full of all the adventure and love you can imagine—it’s just a matter of planning it! We’re going to cover an easy elopement planning step-by-step breakdown, elements you should consider, expert advice, FAQ, and free timeline examples. Together we’ll switch out the overwhelm of planning for the excitement of what’s possible! Sound like a plan?
Decisions, decisions, decisions — it really comes down to a series of them. These five choices will be the cornerstones of our planning and ultimately how your wedding day plays out
Photographers book anywhere from 6 months to a year out, making this a high priority as far as your elopement decision making goes! Look at travel or local photographers whose style, not only visually, but energetically resonates with you.
Maybe it’s somewhere that you’ve always wanted to go or a place that means the world to you or an area where you have access to a specific activity you want to do during your elopement.
Have you been dreaming about staying in a treehouse, had a boujee airbnb saved for forever, want to pamper yourself at a resort, or simply want somewhere cozy to get ready for the adventure of a lifetime?
Only book the vendors that will positively impact your elopement experience. For example, if having your hair and makeup done will make you feel fabulous on your wedding day, book those artists AND if that doesn’t really matter to you then don’t!
Hiking, relaxing, horseback riding, hot springs, kayaking, wine tasting — there are countless adrenaline pumping and low key activities for you to enjoy with your honey.
Don’t let social media fool you, you don’t have to get up before the sun if you don’t want to. An all-day elopement isn’t about planning out 24hrs of places to be, things to see, and stuff to do — it’s about planning a fulfilling day with your soon to be forever best friend. That day can start leisurely by drinking coffee while writing vows or by gearing up at a trailhead with your head lamp on. See why elopements are so fun and freeing? When you start to map out your elopement day trying envisioning what you’re doing and how you will feel doing those things.
The skies are the limit… literally, book a helicopter or hot air balloon ride if you want! There are countless ways to spend your elopement and beautiful corners of the earth to do it all. If you could be anywhere in the world, where would it be? If you could do whatever you want, what would you be doing? It’s possible to say “I do” on top of glaciers, pop champagne off of a gondola in France to celebrate, go on a post-nuptials safari tour, have dinner made especially for you by a talented private chef, and to stargaze amongst sequoias. The possibilities are endless and I hope you explore them!
Okay, think of the family vacations where you have a million things planned, then by the time you leave you’re exhausted and feel like you need a vacation from your vacation. Right? So let’s avoid that feeling when it comes to your elopement. Instead of packing a bunch of things into a single day, pick 1-2 activities and choose 1-2 sights to enjoy. Less is more for you to enjoy and more is just more!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret… when you see a couple’s elopement photos you’re only seeing the highlights. What you often aren’t seeing are the snack breaks, cups of coffee, outfit changes, and long car ride naps. At the end of the day all of that unavoidable normalcy will need to be taken into account when it comes to your timeline.
Elopements aren’t all day photo shoots, they aren’t a checklist of pretty places to see, and they aren’t supposed to feel like a quick highlight reel of cool stuff. Your elopement is a time for you to connect and celebrate with the love of your life. To wake up before sunrise and actually enjoy the sun as it slowly warms your face. To enjoy all of the beautiful things you had planned to the very fullest without feeling rushed into the next thing.
No matter what, even if you include other people during your wedding day, only do the things that will truly fill you up. Elopements are inherently non-traditional, so forget all the should’s that traditional weddings often entail and instead plan a day around new experiences, the things you love, and the person you’re choosing to spend your forever with.
Truly the number of hours depends on how you plan on spending your wedding day. 8 hours is fairly standard, but if you’re looking to enjoy sunrise and sunset then you may need 12+ hours. And sometimes a single day simply isn’t enough! Many couples opt to have two days (one fully day and one half day or two half days), that way they can stretch out the experience and plan more activities!
Not all states require an officiant. You can self-solemnize in: California, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. If you’re still wanting to have a one-on-one day then a great alternative is to get legally married at the courthouse in your home state first so your wedding license is all taken care of ahead of time. If you decide to have a ceremony your photographer will have resources to help you find an officiant — don’t fret!
Of course! Contrary to traditional weddings though, elopements don’t revolve around the people in attendance; which means you can have your cake and eat it too. Let me explain, you can get married with your besties and spend the morning alone exploring after your first look. You can do private vows and have a ceremony with your loved ones. You can have 1:1 time celebrating and have a party at the end of the night.
It can be hard to decide who to include on your wedding day even if you know that you do want to share it with people. Try to ask yourself these 3 questions…
Lastly, consider what activities you want your people to be a part of and the accessibility of those activities. For example if having your great aunt attend your elopement ceremony is important to you then having the ceremony at the end of a 3 mile trail in the mountains isn’t ideal.
What better time to check things off your bucket list or do tried and true activities you love together! Those are great places to start and if nothing comes to mind the next best thing would be to look at popular/local activities in the area you’re looking to elope.
Trying to visualize your elopement can be challenging, so I put together three separate timeline examples for you: 10 hour elopement, an elopement with guests, and a two day elopement. Think of these timelines as pages from a coloring book — the bones of the image are there, but the only way to bring it to life is with the colors you choose!
9:30 am — Photographer arrives where you’re staying capture details & finishing touches
10:45 am — First look outside
11:30 am — Head to ceremony location, stop along the way for photos
2:30 pm — Arrive at location; ceremony followed by exploring & portraits
5:00 pm — Head back to where you’re staying for a private dinner
7:30 — Catch the sunset and get comfy for final photos
2:45 pm — Meet at ceremony location & set up for first look
3:15 pm — First look followed by private vows
4:00 pm — Family arrives & set up for ceremony
4:30 pm — Ceremony begins
5:15 pm — Ceremony wraps up, pop champagne to celebrate
5:45 pm — Family photos
6:10 pm — Family photos wrap up & family heads into town
6:15 pm — Exploring & portraits with just the couple
7:45 pm — Sunset, head back to town
8:45 pm — Arrive at restaurant & meet family for dinner, toasts, and cake
10:45 pm — Photo coverage wraps up
5:30 am — Meet at location one & set up for first look
6:00 am — Sunrise first look in location one followed by portraits
7:00 am — Head to location two (15 min drive)
7:15 am — Arrive at the trailhead, gear up
7:30 am — Begin hike, taking portraits along the way (2.0 mile hike in)
9:30 am — Arrive at alpine lake for ceremony & picnic brunch
12:00 pm — Hike back to the trailhead, taking portraits along the way (2.0 mile hike out)
1:30 pm — Arrive at the trailhead, head to location three (45 min drive)
2:15 pm — Arrive at location three for exploring & kayaking
5:30 pm — Return kayaks, photo coverage wraps up
6:00 am – Meet at helicopter pad to check in
6:30 am – Helicopter take off, flight one
7:00 am – Land at location one for portraits
8:00 am – Take off, flight two
8:30 am – Land at location two for portraits
9:30 am – Take off, flight three
Your elopement is going to be the time of your life. Then once you’ve slipped out of your dress, flown back home, and settled into newly-wed life the only tangible things left of your elopement are the rings on your fingers and the photographs. As time fades your memories you’ll have images to bring it all back into focus — everything from the events of the day to the feelings that started it all. Everyone deserves that, you deserve that.
No matter how you decide to plan your elopement, I hope you find someone special to document your day and celebrate with you to the very fullest!