July 16, 2020
The most difficult part about planning an elopement is that you have infinite possibilities! Even though a traditional wedding is typically a whole lot bigger in scale, it can be a lot easier to plan a time line because well, everything is done in a specific order “traditionally”! So all you have to do is follow tradition and tweak things here and there.
When it comes to an elopement though, the doors are wide open. You’ve already chosen to do things your own way, but too many options can be just as bad as not enough options! If you scroll below, I’m going to tell you all my tips and tricks regarding how to plan your elopement timeline! Planning an elopement still requires some logistical factors, especially if you’re going all-out with the decorations and day-of events.
Time: A Limited Resource
If you think an elopement is just a quick hour on the beach and that’s that (in and out mentality), then you’ve been led astray. This is the 21st century and an elopement means so much more than that!
When you think about your elopement photo album what do you see? 10/15 photos of the two of you saying your vows, having a quick smooch, and then BOOM close the book?
Maybe it’s just me, but I visualize a day full of fun, adventure, and intimacy in even the smallest moments, and I will want all of those moments captured! I want my album to have photos of me and my fiance having our coffee together on the porch of our Airbnb the morning before we say “I do”. I want photos of my fiance helping me zip up my dress and I want photos of the look on his face when he spins me around and sees me all dolled up in white for our big day. I want photos after our ceremony of how we ran to the beach and jumped in the water! Or photos of how after we said our vows we took a sunset sailboat cruise around an island and drank wine from the bottle! Whatever my elopement day looks like, I know that I want every moment of it captured (not just one hour of my cheesy wedding ceremony).
If you’re wondering if you should add on that extra hour or two of photo coverage – do it. Do more than just that, make sure your whole day is covered by a photographer because I guarantee your most precious moments from your elopement day won’t happen during your quick 20 minute ceremony.
Here is my favorite shot list for an intimate elopement:
More than “Just” the Photographer
Finding a photographer that will do more than just take photos, is a great way to help with your timeline planning! For instance, when you book me for a full 8+ hour day for your elopement, of course I will be taking as many photographs as humanly possible, but I am also much more versatile than that! I have often been the sole vendor with my couples during their elopement, which causes me to wear a few more hats than just the photographer.
Helping plan, coordinating, organizing and making sure the entire day is filled to the brim with adventure, happiness, and joy for the couple, etc. Above all, I make sure every minute of this love story is documented on your special day.
All that to be said, I 100% help my couples with how to plan their elopement timeline. I know better than anyone when the best light is, how much time is needed for each section of their day, etc. Finding a photographer that is willing to go above and beyond for you is definitely a key factor in planning your elopement timeline.
Take Time to Reflect
To put you in the mindset, start by thinking of the best day of your life with your soon-to-be significant other. Ask yourselves these questions:
What does our day look like?
Where do we want to say “I do”?
What kind of adventures do we want to do that day?
Do we want to watch the sunrise or sunset or do we want to be in epic locations for both? Where will we eat?
How do we want to celebrate after?
I challenge you to sit with your babe and talk about exactly what you want your “I do” day to look like. Maybe you should even make a list! After doing this, it is much easier to bring your vision to life without even having to involve a planner for your day.
Our Sample Outline
Here’s an example Elopement Itinerary of what your day might look like:
12:30 PM – Cailynn arrives at Jamie and Taylor’s airbnb cabin in Jacksonhole, Wyoming. They’ve been up all morning and waiting anxiously to start getting ready for their big day. They meet, talk, get totally amped up and fine tune any extra details. They start getting ready and are anxious to get started on their big adventure.
1:00 PM – All three hop into their car rental and start up the mountain roads, stopping to take photos along the way and stopping to take in the views as we get closer to the top.
2:30 PM – They reach the trailhead and all hop out of the car to prep their legs for the hike in hopes of setting up before guests start showing up. It’s a short hike but beautiful the whole way up. Each has a small backpack of essential items, just in case, but we start walking and take photos all the way up. We’re in no rush!
3:00 PM – We come through the thick treeline and it opens to this gorgeous field overlooking a deep valley with a running right right through the center like a dark blue snake from a distance. This is the spot. We set down our backpacks, lay out a few decor items – a small stool, a bottle of win, and a beautiful rug and then explore the area waiting for the few guests to arrive and make the short hike.
3:15 PM – Within a few minutes, guests start to make their way up the trail to our intimate spot on the hillside. They all stand, waiting, and Taylor and Jamie come down from the hill together, hand-in-hand to stand on the rug to say their vows in front of their guests. They read beautiful, poetic vows to one another and tears are likely shed. After vows are said, the whole group sticks around and we get some gorgeous photos with the couple and the guests.
4:00 PM – The group starts the hike back down to the car with all supplies and pockets full of dirty kleenexes.
4:30 PM – We arrive back to the trailhead and pile into the car and start back down the mountain heading for town. Guests in pursuit.
5:00 PM – Couple and guests arrive back to their Airbnb cabin and all come inside to start preparing a meal with everyone. Champagne and wine is poured, beer is cracked open, and snacks are snacked on while a meal cooks.
5:45 PM – The meal is ready. The couple give a speech, open the floor if anyone wants to speak in the large, vaulted ceiling dining room in their cabin Airbnb and family members share a few funny and heartfelt stories about the couple. Without further ado, the whole group begins a meal together to celebrate the pairing of two people.
7:00 PM – The meal has been eaten, cheeks are rosied, and the couple slip outside for a few sunset photos from their Airbnb and a few quiet intimate moments together to talk, share, and just soak in their beautiful day.
7:30 PM – Couple comes back inside and finds a beautifully made cake! More wine, beer, champagne, and cake galore. This concludes Jamie and Taylor’s lovely Jackson Hole, WY elopement.
Whether this plan looks a lot like your perfect day or couldn’t be further from your ideal elopement ceremony, this example showcases how important a full day of attention is for an elopement-no matter where it is. Allowing lots of in between time will help the day run stress free. An elopement can change instantly when cars break down, weather interferes, locations are unexpectedly not accessible, etc. so having lots of buffer time will allow for an incredible day, no matter what surprises pop up along the way!
These are just a few tips and a rough outline of what your day might consist of. Keep in mind that having a photographer that can help you plan around your specific day will make a huge difference! Your day will fly by, so be sure to build into your timeline enough time for you to experience those intimate moments that you want captured. This day is invaluable and it deserves to be documented and remembered for all that it is, which is more than just an hour of your ceremony!
If you’re in the planning phase, looking for a photographer (and so much more), or in the very beginning stages wondering if an elopement is right for you, get in touch and let’s talk! I hope this post helped you learn all about how to plan your elopement timeline!