One of the biggest questions I get from couples is, “How many hours of coverage do you think we need for an elopement?” I recently took an Instagram poll to see what people thought, 60% voted for “8+ hours”, and 40% voted for “Less than 8 Hours”. These results made me realize that a lot of people automatically assume that elopements are shorter than traditional weddings. When the trend of elopements began to rise within the photography industry, it became standard for photographers to offer 2-4 hour long elopement packages because it seemed like the most logical thing to do. As a result, this had a negative effect on the way people view elopements, because elopements are not something to be rushed. Elopements are no longer shameful, secretive marriages, so there’s no reason to rush through the ceremony and photos.
You may be thinking,
“How could you fill 8 hours when there are barely any guests?”,
“I don’t want to be taking photos for 8 hours straight”.
I can ensure you, it will not be an 8 hour photoshoot!! I’m not suggesting 8 hours so that you book the biggest package – that is not the reasoning behind my suggestion. I recommend 8+ hours because I’m so passionate about telling the full story of your day and your love for each other. After photographing countless elopements, I’ve had couples who wished they had planned more during their day, or felt rushed because they only had me for a couple hours. And that’s the last thing I want for any couple!!
Wouldn’t it be amazing to plan a day full of fun activities, make memories and then have photos of each part of your amazing day together? Without rushing through the day to make sure you get all the photos you want within a limited amount of time?
Just because your wedding is small does not mean it deserves any less documentation!! Each photo from your wedding is a piece of a much larger story, the history of your relationship, how you fell in love, what you love to do together, and all the highs and lows it took to get to where you are today, committing your lives to each other. When you look at your wedding photos, you’re going to feel those emotions and remember those moments so vividly. To me it’s not just about those perfect golden-hour portraits, because there is so much more to your wedding day than that.
Imagine sitting down with your husband or wife on your one year anniversary, flipping through the pages of your wedding album, and re-living the entire day from start to finish. From getting ready, to your vows, to watching the sun set over the mountains, to huddling around a campfire at the end of the night.
One of the best things about eloping is how much freedom it gives you, you no longer have to worry about keeping your guests entertained and tailoring the whole day to them. You can do whatever you want!! At first it may be hard to envision a full day for your elopement, but once you start dreaming about all the possibilities, you’ll most likely wish you more hours in a day!! If you’re looking for some ideas to start brainstorming, click here to read my post “10 Things to do During Your Elopement Day”.
One of the biggest obstacles you’ll probably face when choosing to elope is how to tell your family. There will be some family members who are disappointed that they aren’t invited, so wouldn’t it be amazing to have a gallery of photos of your whole day to show them? They’ll be able to see how much you enjoyed your day, and see the full story of your day from start to finish, almost like they were actually there!!
If you’re still having a hard time picturing a full 8 hour day, this sample timeline will hopefully give you a better idea of how epic your day could be!!
Getting ready together or separately. Enjoying a hot cup of coffee at your cabin while the fog settles over the mountains. Slipping on your dress and lacing up your hiking boots before heading out for your first look. (1 hour)
Walking to a pretty spot outside of the cabin to see your spouse in their wedding attire for the first time. Spending a few minutes together soaking up the moment. Invite your family outside for some portraits before you head to your ceremony spot. (30 minutes – 1 hour)
Head to the next location (trial, lake, overlook, venue, private property, etc.) for your ceremony. (1 hour – Travel time will vary depending on the location you choose, but for this example I’ll use an hour as an estimate.)
Start a short 30 minute hike to the top of a mountain to say your vows. Breathing in the mountain air on your way up, and admiring the nature surrounding you.
Read the personal vows you wrote for each other in a secluded, peaceful spot. (30 mins – 1 hour)
Portraits in and around your ceremony spot. After you finish reading your vows and soak up that moment together, we’ll take portraits while you have that excited, “Wow, we’re married!!” feeling. These are some of my favorite photos from each elopement day, because you’ll be beaming with joy the entire time. (30 minutes)
Lay down a blanket and have a picnic together. (30 minutes – 1 hour)
Hike back down (30 minutes)
Head to the next location (1 hour)
Ride up in a hot air balloon with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains beneath you as the sun sets. (2 hours)
I hope this helps paint a picture for you of what an amazing full day elopement looks like!! I honestly could have kept going and added even more…stargazing, anyone? 😉 Crafting timelines for my couples is such a fun process, because each day is so unique. If you’ve decided to elope and you’re looking for a photographer who can help you plan the day of your dreams, I may just be the girl for you!! Click here to contact me. Thank you so much for reading!!
February 11, 2021