Elopement Timelines & How Long You Should Plan for Your Elopement

May 15, 2020

One of the most common questions I get asked is: “What amount of hours should I book for elopement photography?

I just need to say this & yes, I am going to shout at you (via caps lock). I want more people to know that elopements can be MORE THAN JUST 1-2 HOURS! I mean, just a quick ceremony & a little photoshoot? What kind of a wedding day is that?!

Go out, celebrate, do something special, have fun, & have your photographer document it. Just as you would with a big wedding. It’s your freaking wedding day & you deserve to celebrate. Make it an amazing, adventurous experience.

How Long Should Your Elopement Day Be?

Most couples that work with me for their elopement days book me for a full day, usually around 8+ hours. How can an elopement last all day though? Honestly, if you plan an amazing day, it’s not hard at all to fill a whole day with a variety of activities. It is actually harder to fit a meaningful elopement into 4 hours or less! When you start to think about planning out your elopement, don’t think too hard about all the specifics at first. Think about the experience you want to have together & the details will come later.

My goal is to give you an amazing experience for your elopement day & NOT make it an all-day photoshoot!

To start planning your elopement & what you might want to do during your elopement day, stop thinking about your day in terms of a typical wedding. Together, talk about what your perfect day would look like together on any given day. When you wake up, are you camping out in the wilderness or are you in a vacation home with gorgeous views? What do you want to do during the day? Do you want to hike to an epic location or would you rather get there by Jeep? How would your ideal day end? Do you want to have some microbrews at a local bar or would you rather make your day special by hiring a private chef?

As you can see, there are so many possibilities! Your elopement day is going to be your anniversary & the day you look back on. Let’s make it something to remember & make it the perfect elopement day for YOU! But when you lay the whole day out, what does the elopement timeline actually look like?

Examples of Elopement Timelines

I wanted to list out some example timelines to give you an idea of just how quickly a day can fill up! I’ve listed out 3 different elopement timelines, each with different activities & varying amounts of hours for photography. This should give you a better idea of what your elopement day can be & will also help you decide how long you should hire an elopement photographer for. Below you will find a hiking elopement starting before sunrise, a Jeep elopement ending after sunset, & a shorter half day elopement.


12 hour hiking elopement photography timeline starting before sunrise

2:00 am: meet at the trailhead before sunrise & begin hiking up

4:15 am: stop for breaks along the way & take star photos

5:30 am: change into wedding attire & get ready for an incredible alpenglow at sunrise

6:00 am: first look at sunrise in the remote alpine environment of the mountains

6:30 am: hike around a little more & find the perfect spot for vows

6:45 am: say vows surrounded by wildflowers

7:15 am: hike around the trails & explore the waterfalls, wildflowers, & alpine lakes

8:00 am: have a breakfast picnic before heading back down

8:30 am: start the hike down & take more photos along the way

12:00 pm: end the hike down & meet up with a couple of guests & take photos

12:45 pm: have a picnic lunch with guests at the trailhead

1:30 pm: pop some champagne, celebrate, & have a little first dance together before ending the day

2:00 pm: end the day & have the rest of the day to relax


8 hour Jeep elopement photography timeline ending at sunset

12:30 pm: getting ready photos at the vacation home

1:30 pm: first look close to the vacation home

1:50 pm: head to the Jeep outfitter

2:15 pm: take Jeep up to overlooks above canyons

3:50 pm: say vows above a canyon with a top of the world view

4:15 pm: do some light hiking around & explore some other areas, take photos

5:45 pm: take Jeep back down into town & drop it off

7:30 pm: dinner & drinks at a bar with friends & get photos with everyone

8:00 pm: a few sunset portraits around town

8:30 pm: end the day after photos at sunset


4 hour elopement day with a simple hike

4:30 pm: start with a first look outside the lodge

5:00 pm: head to a nearby overlook with a simple hike

5:30 pm: hike a little ways to an area & say vows

6:00 pm: take photos after the ceremony

7:15 pm: have a simple picnic dinner together

8:15 pm: take a few last photos at sunset

8:30 pm: end the day after photos at sunset


Tips for Creating a Timeline for Your Elopement Day

Your elopement is your WEDDING DAY! Make it special! For a less stressful day, you need to build enough time into your day. Be sure to consider all the in between times. When you are getting ready or moving between cars, you may want to touch up your makeup. If you are hiking or taking a Jeep, allow a little extra time just in case there are stream crossings & other obstacles that can slow you down. Build in some space & allow extra time. You never know when you might want to be spontaneous!

Elopements are so special as they simplify things & really get back to what your wedding day should be all about. Having a photographer all day at your elopement is so special as I’ll be there to tell your love story. Just imagine being able to not only tell your family, friends, or future kids about an amazing elopement day, but also be able to show the photos that tell the story of an amazing wedding day you had!


Want to see some galleries of some elopements & adventure sessions? Be sure to check out the photo galleries!

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