Planning an All-Day Elopement

What does it mean to elope? How can you plan an all-day elopement

There are a ton of misconceptions around what it means to elope and why people do it. Does this sound familiar?

  • Elopements just mean you’re running off to Vegas
  • An elopement is super fast and over quickly
  • You’re eloping because you’re ashamed of the marriage
  • Since your family doesn’t approve of the relationship, you should elope
  • Eloping is selfish
  • Elopements are only nice because they’re cheap
  • If you’re eloping, you must not want to include me in something special
  • Elopements are only for two people

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s all just cockamamie.

Grand Lake Colorado mountain elopement

So What IS an Elopement?

An elopement is an intimate wedding experience intentionally focused on the couple, their wants, and celebrating their love in a way that’s true to themselves as a pair. Elopements allow the couple to bring the focus back on themselves and their commitment to each other, instead of just trying to satisfy the expectations that family, friends, and society have laid out for them. It’s giving the couple the power to choose for themselves how they will express their love. 

In a world where big weddings tend to be these grand debt-incurring events where the couple is focused on making guests happy, elopements can be a breath of fresh air for two people that want to share a more intimate experience.

For some people, eloping is a grand sunrise hike through the woods and reciting their vows in privacy. Some people opt to take an adventure in a helicopter or balloon to a remote location to have their ceremony. For some, it’s being together with close friends in the backyard or a weekend camping trip on the sand dunes. Or maybe it’s an intimate ceremony on the rooftop of a city skyscraper at sunset.

The point is: elopements are intimate, and you can make it whatever the heck you want it to be.

Sedona Arizona sunset elopement
sunset elopement Sedona Arizona

Who Can Be a Part of My Elopement?

An elopement does not need to be strictly just you and your partner! Elopements can include close friends or loved ones. Usually, the upper limit for guests is about 20 people, but the intent is really around you and your partner being able to express and commit yourselves to each other in a way that makes the most sense to you. 

There’s also the option to split the day up, where part of the day is spent alone with your partner (and photographer), and friends or family join you a little later. Some folks even opt to have a two-day elopement where Day 1 is an adventure with just you and your soon-to-be spouse, and Day 2 is spent celebrating with everyone else. 

Fort Collins Colorado lesbian couple married

How Long Do Elopements Last?

Another big misconception is that elopements are super quick events to just get something over with.

Woah what! Wait up!

This is your WEDDING DAY. Even if your ceremony only lasts 5 minutes, this whole day is going to be one you’ll want to remember forever. So why rush it? Take your time and savor every moment of this day (or couple of days). Make this day truly about you and fill it with the things and activities that make you happy.

And when you think about photography coverage for your day, consider hiring someone to capture that full day. As a photographer, it’s my job to tell your story in these photos. Don’t miss out on telling the story of the whole day! Your elopement deserves the same amount of documentation as a traditional wedding, if not more so as this is an experience that is wholly unique to you. 

Colorado Covid wedding backyard minimony

What Does an All Day Elopement Even Look Like?

As I mentioned before, your elopement day can be literally anything you want it to be! When you begin planning your elopement, consider the activities that you love doing together. If you have to have a perfect, dream day, what would that look like? Make a list of the things that make up your perfect day, and begin filling in times.

Here are a few example timelines.

Example 1

  • 6:00 am – Wake-up and have a nice breakfast
  • 7:00 am – Get dressed and ready separately including hair and make-up
  • 9:00 am – Scenic drive up to the mountains 
  • 10:00 am – First Look at a beautiful but secluded trailhead
  • 10:15 am – Short walk to the ceremony site in a beautiful pine grove
  • 10:30 am – Say your vows, enjoy the moment, sign your marriage certificate, and take some beautiful portraits
  • 12:00 pm – Picnic lunch on the mountain
  • 1:00 pm – Drive back down to town
  • 2:00 pm – Meet family and friends back at the AirBNB for group photos and toasts
  • 3:00 pm – Dancing, delicious food cooked by a private chef, and general merriment
  • 6:00 pm – Sitting around the campfire until the stars come out
  • 8:00 pm – More intimate couples photos beneath the stars 
Rocky Mountain Colorado engagement photo
Engagement photos Estes Park Colorado

Example 2

  • 3:00 am – Meet at the trailhead and begin our hike up to a mountain lake
  • 6:00 am – Arrive at the lake and get ready together
  • 6:30 am – The sun rises and casts a beautiful alpen glow on the peaks of the mountains as you two stand on a rock on the lake shore saying your vows
  • 7:00 am – We capture some stunning newlywed portraits in the golden hour light
  • 8:00 am – We hike a little further to a nice meadow where you two throwdown a blanket to have a picnic breakfast and mimosas
  • 9:00 am – You two play games together in the meadow including frisbee, your favorite card game, some Mad Libs, and just generally enjoy being outdoors
  • 12:00 pm – You have another quick snack before we head back down the mountain
  • 3:00 pm – We make it back to the trailhead and head back into town where you’ve got a sweet AirBNB with a hot tub and great views waiting for you
Oahu beach elopement

Example 3

9:00 am – Start getting ready
10:30 am – Drive down to a cool location, like the Royale Gorge
11:00 pm – Go Ziplining together over the gorge
12:00 pm – Quick bite to eat as we head to our next event
12:30 pm – Begin a half-day white water rafting adventure
4:30 pm – Return to the launch point and drive to a scenic overlook
5:00 pm – Freshen up and get dressed separately
5:30 pm – First Look
5:45 pm – Exchange vows and celebrate your commitment to each other!
6:00 pm – Sunset newlywed portraits before heading back to relax

As you can see, an elopement doesn’t need to be a quickie thing shroud in shame. An elopement is a beautiful, intentionally intimate wedding experience that focuses on your love for each other. And you have all the options in the world to make the day uniquely yours!

Interested in learning more about eloping and what kind of options there are for planning? Drop me a message and let’s chat!

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