Example Elopement Timelines | How to Schedule Your Totally Unique Wedding Day
Are you wondering what an elopement timeline might look like? Are you unsure how to plan your adventurous wedding day? Let me assure you, that situation is not at all unusual! Most people have never been to an elopement before and, therefore, don’t have any memories to gain inspiration from. Good news: I’m here to give you that inspiration.
How Many Hours Do You Need?
One question I get asked fairly often is, “How many hours should we book for our elopement day?” Maybe you have started out thinking about the traditional definition of an elopement, so you are imagining the quick, courthouse affair and wondering how any elopement day could look drastically different. Well, I am here to tell you: throw that stereotypical idea of just a couple of hours straight out of your mind! Most of my couples book me for 8+ hours. Some even want multiday experiences that are absolutely, definitely, drastically different from both traditional weddings and movie-type elopements.
PSA: there is no one way to have an elopement day
No more imagining runaway, hastily decided elopement days. Your elopement day is your wedding day and therefore merits being thoughtfully planned (read my How To Elope Guide). As I’ll explain in more detail later, that doesn’t mean you need to rigidly schedule every moment of your day. But it does mean you deserve to craft a day full of activities and moments that will naturally create vivid, colorful memories. A day full of serenity and wonder.
You absolutely deserve to feel as special as the day you’re creating. You should feel secure and at ease during your elopement day. Are you excited about your elopement, yet? I want you to be!
Envision Your Day
When you’re just starting to plan, sitting down with your partner and both asking yourselves some questions is a great way to start envisioning your day. Do you imagine waking up in a tent under the stars or in a luxury cabin in the woods? Maybe you picture getting ready together or having a surprise first look? Do you want to let your feet take you somewhere epic or do you want to ride in an exciting mode of transportation (4X4, boat, helicopter, etc)? What scenery do you want to see? Do you want an intimate picnic or a meal cooked by a private chef?
Think: do you want a day with just the two of you or do you want to share these special moments with your closest loved ones? How do you end your day? With a campfire on a beach or soaking in hot springs? Do you want to dance under twinkle lights at your private home rental? Or do you want to go and get tattoos together to cinch the importance? Be totally creative, the day is yours!
See how many amazing possibilities there are?! And you can see also that there so many reasons why a couple of hours just won’t cut it. Want to see how to put all those ideas together into a supremely plausible day? Keep scrolling.
Example Elopement Timelines
I’ve drawn up four possible scenarios of what an elopement day could look like. Each one takes place somewhere different and varies in length and activities, so they will hopefully give you a good idea of what you yourself could dream up for your own wedding elopement. Because I really want your personal vision to come to life. Additionally, these timeline examples should help you decide how long you might want to hire an elopement photographer. Below, you will find examples of a multi-day adventure elopement, a full-day hiking elopement, a jeep excursion elopement, and a shorter half-day elopement, all of which are just the tip of the iceberg of what your own day could look like.
2 Day Elopement Timeline: Multi-Day African Safari Adventure
- 5:00 am – meet at lodge, getting ready photos and detail shots
- 6:30 am – have first look outside as the large, orange sun peaks over the vast plain
- 7:30 am – get in jeeps and start a safari adventure where you see so many amazing animals in the wildlife park
- 9:00 am – stop at an overlook and exchange gifts and read each other’s letters with zebras roaming in the distance.
- 10:30 am – safari ends, head back to lodge
- 11:15 pm – amazing local-ingredient lunch in a treehouse restaurant
- 1:00 pm – break, nap, relax
- 5:30 pm – meet to drive to ceremony spot
- 6:15 pm – have sunset ceremony on cliff overlook
- 6:45 pm – pop bubbly and celebrate just getting married
- 9:30 pm – back at lodge, build fire and roast s’mores to end the most magical day
- 3:00 pm – meet at Victoria Falls
- 4:00 pm – explore and take in the awe of so much water
- 5:00 pm – sunset microlight flight over the huge, majestic falls! You see elephants and hippos down below!
- 6:00 pm – end of the two magical elopement days. Time to start the adventure of the rest of your lives!
12 Hour Elopement Timeline: PNW Hiking and Seaside Experience
- 3:00 am – meet at mountain trailhead
- 3:20 am – start hike with your headlamps on, stopping occasionally for starry photos
- 5:45 am – arrive at peak and get ready separately
- 6:15 am – first look as the sun starts to rise
- 6:30 am – read vows with amazing alpenglow behind you
- 7:20 am – enjoy a breakfast picnic as you watch video letters from family and friends
- 8:00 am – hike and explore some more, have first dance surrounded by wildflowers
- 9:00 am – start hike back down, stopping along the way for any photos
- 11:30 am – drive to seashore
- 1:00 pm – arrive at beach
- 2:00 pm – run around and explore, have a late lunch set-up under a pier
- 4:00 pm – end of our full day together, go back to your cozy rented cabin
8 Hour Elopement Timeline: Colorado Mountain Jeep Adventure
- 2:00 pm – meet at Airbnb for getting ready photos of you two together helping one another prepare for your adventure
- 3:00 pm – your guests start arriving and hanging out, resulting in so many fun candid moments to capture
- 4:00 pm – everyone gets into the handful of off-road vehicles
- 5:30 pm –after exploring and having the best time driving around, we pull up to where you’ll have your ceremony (a stunning alpine lake)
- 6:00 pm – you say your vows with your favorite people surrounding you
- 6:30 pm – we take a few group photos and explore the alpine tundra
- 8:00 pm – everyone drives into town to meet at a local brewery for a mini-reception
- 8:30 pm – we sneak away for a few sunset portraits around town
- 10:00 pm – after dinner and drinks and toasts and dancing, you and your partner head back to your lodging, hearts full from such a wonderful elopement day
4 Hour Elopement Timeline: Sailing Ceremony Experience
- 4:00 pm – meet at marina already dressed and ready
- 4:20 pm – start sailing
- 5:00 pm – pull into a calm cove and drop anchor. Have ceremony and say vows on the bow of the boat
- 5:45 pm – cut cake and pop bubbly, toasting to being here
- 6:30 pm – jump into the warm waters in your wedding attire. You just got married!
- 7:00 pm – head back to marina, photo coverage ends
Final Takeaways and Tips:
Give Yourself Extra Time
Your elopement day should be more than just a ceremony, more than just “Wham-bam you’re married!” It should be planned and designed with the fact that more time equals less stress in mind. You definitely do want to make your day last and have it be full of excitement, but you surely don’t want to be constantly checking the time because you’re feeling rushed on this, your once-in-a-lifetime wedding day. Instead, allow yourself to make a loose schedule that will give yourself plenty of room for spontaneity between the bigger moments. If you’re moving between locations, for example, factor in possible delays. Driving a 4X4 up mountain roads might take longer than anticipated if we run into river crossings or encounter fallen rock on the road.
Also, keep in mind the value of having photos throughout your day. Your elopement day is a chance to document your love story. It’s an opportunity to have images to look back on during every anniversary day and it’s also a way for you to visually show people how amazing your wedding day was.
Make It Your Choice
Your love and your relationship are worth celebrating, and no one else has the right to tell you what you have to do on YOUR wedding day. Make those choices yourself. And even though I will happily be here to help and guide you in any way you need*, your day is not about me or even about the photos (it is definitely not an all-day photo shoot). It’s a remarkably special day celebrating you, your partner, and the love you share. I am just here to give you the support you need to create that wondrous day.
So, can you imagine your day yet? I know deciding how exactly you want your day to end up can feel intimidating, but I am here to help. And once your elopement day finally comes, I promise it will be beautiful. If you put care and attention into planning something truly special and personal, it’ll show. You will feel it and have a truly remarkable, unforgettable day!
*I provide two detailed questionnaires to all my couples that really get to know them and ask them what they want out of their day. These help me to make an actual elopement timeline that is totally unique to their day.