There’s a lot of folks out there who haven’t gotten the memo that eloping doesn’t have to mean choosing between an Elvis impersonator, or a half hour stint at your local courthouse.
The concept of having an elopement experience, be it a full-day indulgence or a multi-day celebration, makes people nervous — they aren’t quite sure how to fill all that time.
That’s where I come in. And I’m pretty much just here to say that it’s actually really easy.
Simply plan a day doing the things you love the most together and the time will take care of itself. I promise.
Think you’re up for the challenge?
Part of my job as an adventure elopement photographer is helping folks design their own elopement. First, I get to know you and listen to you gush about all the things you’re dreaming of for your day.
Then, I set to work researching and coming up with possibilities — places to adventure, activities to enjoy, all that good stuff. We go back and forth until we create an experience that feels both exciting and genuine for you and your love.
I always help my clients put together a loose timeline, so that we generally know where we’ll be and when, but we’ll leave room for lots of buffer time so that you don’t feel rushed. It’s important not to restrict yourselves with too many to-do’s on your wedding day.
A beautiful component of elopements is that they’re able to follow a more fluid, natural progression, and you can allow yourselves to be fully immersed in the moment. Which, I’ve learned, makes for the best photos.
Everyone’s timeline looks a little different, because everyone’s version of don’t-mind-me-over-here-just-spending-the-day-marrying-my-favorite-person comes in slightly varying flavors.
Here’s an example of what a full-day private elopement might look like if you happened to book a little cabin in the woods, explore some waterfalls, and relax into your evening with some quiet, intimate activities.
Day 1 — Guests: 0 (Just you)
9:30am: I show up at your cabin and get to work photographing all the little details.
10:45am: The redwoods make a mighty fine backdrop for a first look with your love.
11:15am: We drive to the spot you’ve chosen to exchange vows, but not without stopping along the way to hike up to a couple of waterfalls, and devour a gourmet picnic lunch.
1:30pm: It’s time to get hitched! You and your love exchange vows, and an officiant (like me!) makes it official. We find a couple hikers on the trail willing to sign as witnesses for you, and voila! You’re married! We pop open a bottle of champagne, and take portraits to celebrate. You’re married, and life is good.
4:30pm: After a little more exploration, we head back to the cabin.
5pm: Upon arrival, a private chef has dinner waiting. You feast on sushi, and admire the way the candlelight glints off your new rings. After dinner, you play some of your favorite board games together as you cozy up next to the fireplace. I capture every angle of your newly wedded bliss.
7:30pm: We wrap up photo coverage and bid farewell. I’ll send you some sneak peeks within a week and a half, and you’ll get your full photo gallery within 6 – 8 weeks. (Except probably sooner, because I can’t wait to share your photos with you!)
Don’t forget that this elopement timeline for two is just an example. Swap out the aforementioned cabin in the woods with a lakefront Airbnb, waterfall exploration for rock climbing, and sushi for bowls of Frosted Flakes if those are more your vibe. My biggest advice is to plan your elopement the way you want it, whatever your style may be.
Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you need to choose between your beloved and your family, or to limit your festivities to a single event. A multi-day celebration can allow you to savor the intimacy of being alone, and still have time to cut up the dance floor with your nearest and dearest.
Here’s what a two-day elopement involving family might look like.
Day 1 — Guests: 25
2:45pm: I meet you at your ceremony location, and we set up for your first look.
3:15pm: We do your first look photos and you try not to cry, because makeup (but also fail, because you’re just so happy you can’t help it).
4pm: Your families arrive, and everyone mingles for a bit before being seated for the ceremony.
4:30pm: The ceremony begins — it’s personal, and quirky, and bursting with love.
5:15pm: You share your first kiss, and your families blow bubbles to celebrate.
5:45pm: We take family portraits, and afterwards the families head into town.
6:45pm: Meanwhile, you and your beloved stay behind to take sunset portraits.
7:45pm: We drive into town and meet your families at your favorite local restaurant.
8:30pm: Dinner, cake, and embarrassing speeches ensue. Thanks, Dad.
10:45pm: Photo coverage wraps up for the evening.
Day 2 — Guests: 0 (Just you)
3:30am: We meet at the trailhead when it’s still dark, and begin the 2.5-mile trek up to the peak of the mountain.
6am: We’ve summited! You change into your wedding finery, and we start snapping away.
6:30am: The sunrise, paired with your newlywed glow, makes waking up at silly o’clock so worthwhile.
8:30am: We start to hike back out, going slowly to take pictures of the exploration. You practice your new last names as you blissfully descend down the mountain.
11:30am: We’re back to where we started. Photo coverage ends. We wish each other happy trails, and I start feverishly editing your images, because I can’t wait to share these stunners with you and your guests.
Remember that there’s no need to have your adventure elopement all planned out. Part of the fun of eloping is that you don’t have to worry about entertaining others — instead you get to put all of your attention on celebrating by doing things that are meaningful to you, together.
The intimacy of elopements lends them beautifully to playing, lingering, and enjoying one another. If seeing where the day takes you sounds exciting, there’s no pressure to have every detail hashed out ahead of time. While it’s still important to get the key ingredients in place beforehand, you can leave lots of space for exploring. That way when the day comes and you’re adventuring together, you can follow wherever the magic may lead.
This is where investing in a professional (hello!) can make all the difference. Someone who has experience in adventure elopements can help guide you regarding what needs to be done in advance, and what details you can leave up to the moment.
Seeking out professionals who offer more than a single service can help to keep your ceremony small. For example, my photography services include permit research, location scouting, timeline development, and even serving as the officiant for your mountaintop nuptials.
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