April 9, 2022
Not too long ago, an elopement was thought of as quick, rushed, and sometimes last minute – they usually took place at the courthouse, with a “no frills” ceremony that lasted no more than the time it took to exchange vows and sign paperwork. While that’s not what eloping means today, a lot of couples have a hard time imagining how an elopement could be more than a ceremony and a few photos. So, if that’s no longer the case, how long is an elopement?
This guide will explain why I believe your elopement should last all day – that’s right, a full day – and give you some examples of elopement timelines from real couples!
What if I told you that your elopement day matters? That you and your love matter?
People often think that deciding to elope, downsizing your ceremony, and planning your day around the two of you and what you want somehow makes your wedding day less important, less meaningful, or less special than a big wedding.
But here’s the thing – your elopement isn’t a substitute for a “real” wedding. This IS your wedding day – the day you marry your best friend! That matters, and it matters a lot. Your day isn’t any less deserving than a big, traditional wedding, and you should plan a day that’s everything you want.
So how long is an elopement? The shortest elopement photography package that I offer is 6 hours long, because I believe anything less than that is a disservice to you and to your wedding day. If you don’t dedicate enough time to your elopement day, you’ll end up feeling rushed, you’ll have no room for flexibility or spontaneity, and your day won’t have the care and attention it deserves!
How long your elopement will be depends on what you plan to do – but a full day elopement (8 – 10 hours) is the best way to ensure you have time to slow down and soak in every moment, and that you can enjoy every minute of your wedding day!
If you’re wondering how an elopement could possibly last all day, you aren’t alone! Don’t worry, we’ll talk about that soon.
So, your elopement lasts all day – but do you really need a photographer for all of it?
The ceremony is usually the main event – it’s the part where you exchange vows, put a ring on it, and get officially married! But, your elopement day is so much more than that.
There’s also the coffee you sipped together on the porch as the sun rose, the way your partner looked figuring out how to tie a tie, or the moment when you helped them zip up their wedding dress, the “damn, I love you,” looks they gave you throughout the day that you might not have noticed in the moment, the joke they told that made you laugh so hard you snorted…. Your elopement day is full of moments, little ones and big ones, and when you look at your photos, you deserve to see the entire story unfold. Having a photographer there with you for the entire elopement experience is the best way to preserve these memories – and the only way you’ll be able to see moments you might otherwise have missed or forgotten.
One of the first questions couples have about full day elopements is “what will we do?” It can be hard to imagine filling 10 hours when it’s just the two of you, or when you’re tying the knot with just a few loved ones around – but the truth is, it flies by faster than you think!
As an elopement photographer, a big part of my job is actually planning your day! But the best part is that every couple is different, and every elopement should be too – so I help you craft an elopement day that’s completely custom and personalized, to reflect the two of you and your relationship, and to align with what makes you happy. This means your elopement can include new adventures, or it can incorporate favorite hobbies – it can be a day focused on excitement, or a day that’s all about relaxing and enjoying quiet moments together. It might also be a combination of all the above! Anything you can imagine for your wedding day – anything that would make this the best day of your life – we can make it happen.
To help you get an idea of what an elopement day looks like and how long everything takes, here’s a breakdown of a typical day. Remember – each elopement is different, so you can add, subtract, and reconfigure any and every part!
Butterflies in your stomachs, excited giggles, and anticipation of what’s to come – the morning of your elopement is the time where you can take it slow, and soak in every moment with your partner. The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here, and you can take a breath and be present. This might look like eating last night’s leftovers for breakfast in bed, making waffles with your partner (my own elopement morning had waffles!!), cuddling each other and your dogs, having coffee on the porch of your Airbnb, doing some morning yoga or sleeping in late! Start your day together, and truly enjoy these moments.
Once it’s time to get ready, this could include hair and makeup, and putting on your wedding attire. Some couples choose to get ready together, others split up! If you hire a professional hair and makeup artist, consult with them about how long this will take. Two hours is pretty standard, and make sure to schedule some time to change – half an hour is good if there’s a dress involved, and about 20 minutes is usually enough for a suit.
Some couples prefer to wait to get dressed if they need to drive or hike to their ceremony spot.
If you decide to do a first look, put about half an hour on the elopement timeline for this – but talk to your photographer about whether you’ll do some couple’s photos afterwards, and how long it’ll take. Some couples opt to exchange small gifts with each other during this time.
For a ceremony where you exchange vows and rings, and kiss to seal the deal, it may not take more than 10 minutes. If you have an officiant, are eloping with family, or incorporating special ceremonies or traditions, make sure to account for that on your elopement timeline!
You’ll likely schedule some extra time in every part of the day for some photo ops, so that you have photos from each part of the day. A lot of it will be more candid, where you’ll be adventuring or exploring or doing your thing and I’ll be there to document it, but you’ll also want some time for some more formal shots – if you have guests, schedule time for photos with them, and some time for photos of just the two of you. Don’t worry, I’ll help with all of that!
The most exciting thing about creating your own personalized elopement day is deciding what you’ll do! This is entirely up to you, and it might mean a morning hike to your ceremony location, some paddle boarding after the knot is tied, dinner and champagne with your guests, setting up your campsite, or anything else you can imagine.
The most important thing about your elopement is that it’s perfect for you!
If you’re traveling between locations, don’t forget to think about that! This time goes into answering “how long is our elopement?” too – and you’ll need to schedule it on your timeline. Adding a little extra time for traffic, hopping out or stopping for photos, and things like loading the car or getting everyone out the door can help you make sure you don’t feel rushed or stressed.
To get you inspired, here are some examples of elopement timelines from real couples! I create a custom timeline for every single couple, keeping in mind what you want for your elopement day and making sure every part is true to who you are.
If you’re ready to plan your own unique, one of a kind wedding day, contact me! I’ll prioritize your experience and make sure we plan a day that’s meaningful, authentic, and one that’s truly perfect for you.