Planning Your Elopement Timeline
A closer look at how the hours of coverage can make a huge difference for your elopement day experience.
10 HOURS. That’s right, my biggest elopement package is 10 hours. My lowest is only 4 hours and I don’t offer anything less than that. But what the heck are you supposed to do for 4-10 hours when it’s just a few people at an elopement?
Let’s turn the tables. Think about the last traditional wedding you went to. You find out the photographer has been hired for 2 hours. Your response is probably, “What the heck?!” That’s not even enough time to cover the ceremony and normal reception festivities like first dance, cake, etc. What a ridiculous time schedule!
Now how is that experience different than an elopement? It’s still a wedding day packed with important moments. In reality, a 2 hour elopement is just as much of a, “What the heck?!” as a two hour wedding. Many people think a 2 hour elopement is perfectly normal. We’re not just talking couples but photographers even! It would probably take you around 5 minutes online to find a photographer that offers 2 hour elopement packages. If you think it’s crazy for one kind of wedding day, why are we accepting it as normal for your elopement?
It’s your wedding. Why would you sell your day short?
You get one wedding day experience and it should be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. The reality is, 2 hours isn’t going to cut it.
So let’s dive into some examples. It’s easy to fit a ceremony and some time with loved ones in two hours in your head. Once you start getting into actually living those moments, it takes up more time than you’d ever expect. Then there’s all the wonderful memories you can create by adding experiences into your day. So let's look at some examples of how you can make the most of your day.
4-Hour Elopement (Traditional)
To start, I have a pretty typical wedding layout with the typical elopement traits of a small guest list and some more laid back elements. This schedule should stress you the heck out! Everything is packed in and back-to-back. Most typical weddings aren't 4 hours for this very reason. Trying to pack it all in just because it's technically an elopement doesn't fix it.
Here's some key things to notice here. First off, it's rushed. You don't want to feel rushed at any point during your day. If a single thing gets off schedule, it will fall apart. Second, there's no time for you to enjoy each other.
This isn't to say that all 4 hour elopements are a whirlwind. This is just showing that a traditional wedding simply can't be covered in 4 hours even with the elopement version.
4 Hour Elopement (Adventure)
This schedule is simplistic but not nearly as hectic. There's enough time for a short adventure, the special wedding moments, and an easy going vibe.
Some things to notice about this one, there's no time for frills or extras. It's a basic adventure with no time for personalization. A shorter hike likely means it's a more popular hike. You may run into more people during your celebration.
While this is a short and simple day, it can still be a beautiful elopement! This is perfect if you want simple adventure.
8 Hour Elopement Timeline (Traditional and Adventurous Combination)
Now we're moving onto a full-day experience! Double the time means twice the experiences. For this first one, you get an adventure experience and then a more traditional style ceremony and guest experience. This is a great schedule example for someone that wants the best of both worlds.
My favorite thing about this schedule is the designated time for just the two of you. I'm a huge advocate for making sure you have purposeful moments together. You can enjoy time with guests if you chose to invite any without rushing. In addition, there's plenty of time for each event so you can enjoy the small moments between. Rather than rushing from item to item, you can let the time flows as it fits. You have time for that one thing to go longer and that one thing to go a bit shorter.
8 Hour Elopement (Adventure Version)
This schedule is more of a "throw tradition out the window" type schedule. This schedule is perfect for the "let's goooooo" type adventurers. Whether your adventure of choice is rock climbing, kayaking, long hikes, Jeep tours, painting day, or whatever else, this schedule leaves tons of time to fit that in.
This schedule is the most laid back of all the options. There's time for you to focus on each other everywhere. For this example, I inserted a 2 hour Jeep tour. That two hour window can be replaced with all sorts of epic adventures that would make the day perfect for you.
The amount of time you dedicate to your day has a huge impact on how your elopement day will look. When you plan your day, make sure you plan it according to the experience of your dreams and not the price tag of the event.
Each of these timelines are valid and could actually work for a wedding day! Just know the vibe for each timeline is way different. Make sure you really assess and talk with your photographer about how your timeline will turn out on the actual day.
And most of all, your epic day celebrating your commitment deserves to be the day of your dreams.
If you want to dive into more eloping resources, check out the links below!