How to Schedule a Full Day Elopement
How to fill your wedding day with adventures and memories even when it's just the two of you.
So you decide to elope. You need to have a ceremony and you want some photos. Now what? That's really not much of a wedding day. But what are you supposed to do with very few or no guests?
The answer is anything. That's the beauty of elopements. It disregards what weddings are supposed to be and creates the day you want. The first step is to narrow down what you would enjoy if you could plan your perfect day. What do you love to do? Hiking, exploring downtown, kayaking, eating at your favorite restaurant, trying something new? All of those are on the table if you chose to elope. Whatever makes you happy is an awesome option for your special day. Eloping gives you the opportunity to take on any adventure for your wedding day.
Let's chat about potential timelines and activities for your elopement day!
Picking Activities for your Elopement
Y'all, the options for how you fill your elopement are so cool. I see new ideas all the time that you wouldn't even imagine as an option. When you're considering activities, the first thing you should think about is what you enjoy. It doesn't have to be a stereotypical wedding day activity to enhance your experience. AirBNB experiences is also packed with unique activities based on the location you want to go to. Even if you don't book through them, it can give you some out-of-the-box ideas to get you started while you're searching. Here's some ideas just to get you started:
Hiking of any length
Kayaking or paddle boarding
Swimming (you can even hike to a secluded water hole or waterfall for swimming for some extra adventure)
Boating or jet skis (if you want an easier going recreation, rent a boat and enjoy the water; you can also break out skis, wakeboard, surf board, etc. if that's your jam)
In-home style portraits before getting ready (make coffee together, eat breakfast, stick to your normal morning routine, etc.)
Pre-elopement hike before getting ready (spend some quiet, relaxing time together before the bustle of the day; especially good if you're including family/friends)
Go to a local coffee shop
Stop by a local brewery
Enjoy food at a favorite restaurant or local favorite
Return to a location that has meaning. Maybe where you met, where you proposed, etc. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be special to you.
Have a picnic in a beautiful place.
Write letters to each other, keep a journal of the journey leading up to the elopement day to read each other
Have family members/friends not present write letters or record videos to read/watch,
Incorporate some kind of unity ceremony.
Helicopter/airplane tour (you could even use this to get to a secluded ceremony spot)
Go fishing, bird watching, whale watching, etc.
White water rafting or easy-going floating
Four-wheeling, side-by-side, or motorcycle
Take a Jeep or backcountry driving trip
Get crafty (paint class, cooking class, woodworking class, pottery, glassblowing, etc.)
Gondola or chairlift ride
See some live music at a concert, festival, or hire a musician
Visit a farm (great way to include kids)
Sailing or easy going boat tour
Visit a museum or art gallery
Save this list on Pinterest for later!
Once you sit down and start actually laying out a timeline, you'd be amazed how much time you'll need. You'll want to make sure you account for extra time for each item so you're not rushing. Creating a comfortable timeline that gives you space to experience your day is essential. I talk about this a lot more in my blog post about the importance of your day's timeline. You can check that out here!
Here's some timeline examples to help you visualize how various lengths of time can lay out day of:
Example 1: Actual Brookings, OR Elopement Schedule (9 Hours)
10:00 am - Morning hike in the Redwoods
This couple chose to bring family and friends for their elopement. They also chose their first look in wedding clothes to be down the aisle. This made a Redwood hike with just the two of them the perfect way to start their day. They exchanged gifts and letters and enjoyed a quiet stroll through the forest.
12:00 pm - Arrive at the vacation rental for getting ready
2:00 pm - Arrive at venue for ceremony
3:00 pm - Arrive at local beach for snacks with the family
4:00 pm - First dance and couple photos
5:30 pm - Arrive at vacation rental for dinner and games
7:00 pm - Photographer leaves
This couple's timeline is a great example of a timeline that prioritizes quality time with family, friends, and guests. It's a great way to structure your elopement if you have a special group you're celebrating with that you want to integrate into the day. If you want to see more from this elopement, check out the rest of the gallery in this blog post.
Example 2: Bend, Oregon, Packed with Adventure Timeline (10 hours)
10:00 am - Getting Ready Photos
AirBNB: There's a ton of gorgeous AirBNB's with a view of the ocean. It's a stunning view to have while getting ready.
1:00 pm - First look at the base of Mt. Bachelor
Snowshoe through the area after the first look and spend some time together
3:00 pm - Ceremony at the base of a waterfall
5:00 pm - Picnic on the shore on the lake shore
6:00 pm - Watch the sunset over Smith Rock
Toasts, first dance, explore the area
8:00 pm - Couple photos as the sunsets, watch the sunset
This is a great timeline that can be filled in with any new traditions you want to create or sweet, intentional moments together. This can also be filled in with time with family. This is a timeline that definitely emphasizes exploring and adventuring. These two didn't use this exact timeline due to winter limitations but you can check out the rest of their photos here.
As you can see with these timelines and activities, there's so many options for crafting your day. You can land anywhere on the spectrum from basically a smaller scale traditional wedding to a day that's entirely unique to you. Elopements really can be anything you want. The whole point is to refocus on the people and things that truly matter to you.
Your elopement holds just as much value as any traditional wedding. It can be so much more than just a quick ceremony and photos. Make sure you're not selling your day short and you're creating an experience you will cherish the rest of your life. I hope this gets your brain going on what your perfect day looks like for you. There's freedom in eloping and you owe it to yourself to create the perfect day for you.