Hey, I'm an elopement photographer based in Alaska! I love genuine moments between people and love that I get to document them for a living <3

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There’s a common myth around elopements that they are “smaller” than weddings, in every sense of the word. Sure, elopements are often smaller celebrations in size, and usually have fewer guests attending, and elopement timelines may be shorter in physical length – simply because there are less strict times to follow throughout the day. But I often hear that since elopements are “smaller,” they take less time than weddings – and that’s simply not true! 

Want some more clarity on what exactly an “elopement” is? Head to my recent blog post, called “What is an Elopement?”!

elopement timeline

In this blog post, I’m going over everything related to elopement timelines: what the difference is between elopement & wedding timelines, why you deserve an all-day elopement, my favorite elopement idea, & sample elopement timelines.

Because your love DESERVES to be fully, wholly celebrated whether you elope, have a large wedding, or anywhere in between!

elopement timeline

Elopement vs. Wedding Timelines: What’s Different?

First off, what are some of the main differences between elopement timelines & traditional wedding timelines?

Say goodbye to traditions

Wedding timelines are typically filled up with all sorts of wedding traditions that happen throughout the day. Some examples:

  • Mom zipping up bride’s dress
  • Bride walking down the aisle with her father
  • Cocktail hour
  • First dances
  • Garter/bouquet tosses
  • Cake cutting
  • Shoe game/other reception games
  • Sendoff/exit

With elopements, the experience is more focused on the couple & what they would like to do to celebrate in a unique way, rather than following traditions. When planning your elopement timeline, you won’t feel pressured to worry about making time to cut your cake, toss your garter, or follow typical wedding day schedules!

elopement timeline

No strict time restraints

One of the big reasons many couples choose to elope is because they want to celebrate with a relaxed, easy-going day. Big weddings can tend to feel rushed because of their stricter timelines, and you have tons of guests waiting for certain elements of the day to arrive.

With elopements, you won’t need to worry about rushing or falling behind in your schedule, because the day is meant to be flexible, and you’ll be able to fully go with the flow! If you get stuck in traffic, that’s okay: you’ve got plenty of time. Because you invited only the people who care about you most, they won’t worry if you’re late. They just want to celebrate you!

elopement timeline

More personalization, less going-through-the-motions

Bigger weddings often encourage couples to kinda just. . . go through the motions. You follow the wedding checklists you find on Pinterest, take inspiration from every wedding in Brides magazine, and follow the timeline elements your married friend told you you HAVE to include.

On the other hand, elopements encourage you to fully personalize your day and only include activities/elements that are meaningful to you. No need to just follow what all your married friends said they did on their wedding day. This is YOUR elopement experience, and you get to include/exclude whatever you want to!

elopement advice

Why You Deserve (At Least!) an All-Day Elopement

I often see couples thinking that elopements are just a 2-3 hour thing. But that is SO far from the truth!

I want to talk now about how your elopement deserves all-day photography coverage, not just a couple of hours. It doesn’t have to just be a quick ceremony & some family portraits, and that’s it; you head back to your normal lives. You deserve to celebrate your elopement for just as much time as a 10-12 hour long traditional wedding, if not MORE!

Let’s get into 5 reasons you deserve at least a full-day elopement experience – and when I say at least, I mean you deserve an all-day or even a MULTI-day elopement! 

elopement advice

1. Your day shouldn’t be rushed

Allow me to say once again that you do NOT want your elopement to be rushed! 

The beauty of elopements is that they’re meant to be flexible. Go-with-the-flow. Adaptable. 

elopement ceremony

We simply can’t control every factor that could affect your elopement, as much as we wish we could. Whether it be weather, traffic, hair & makeup taking longer than planned, or changes in travel plans, most of the day is typically out of our complete control.

If the weather is bad the day of your elopement and we end up having to change locations on the spot, you want to have TIME to do that. Yes, it may be inconvenient, but we can’t control it – so we adapt!

elopement timeline

If you have a super strict timeline like many weddings do, that leaves no room to be flexible, or for you to chill & be present in the moment on your elopement day. If you just go through the motions and don’t take a minute to breathe and enjoy the experience, it’ll fly by in an instant.

For more tips on how to be present on your wedding day, check out this blog post!

elopement advice

2. You don’t need to pack everything into two hours

If you only plan your elopement to last 2-3 hours, you won’t have time for any of the activities you want to do!

Couples who choose to elope typically want their day to be meaningful and customized to them. That might include certain activities like hiking, horseback riding, cooking a meal, visiting local wineries – anything that would be special to them. But you can’t pack all that into a few hours!

elopement timeline

Multi-day elopements are incredible for couples who want to celebrate with meaningful activities, whether in private or with guests.

If you have an all-day or multi-day elopement, you’ll have plenty of time to relax in your Airbnb, slow down & be intentional, go on that hike you’ve always dreamed of, eat yummy food cooked by your private chef, see the sunrise & the sunset, and explore the location you’re at. Sounds pretty dang great to me!

elopement advice

3. You’ll want time to enjoy your company

If you choose to invite guests to your elopement, that probably means they’re special to you, and you’d like to have time to celebrate with them! 

Larger weddings often come with timeline stress due to elements of the day being planned at super specific times. This rarely leaves you with enough time to connect with your guests, and you may end up running around your reception trying to say hi & give everyone hugs.

Elopements allow you to take the whole dang day to celebrate with your loved ones, and celebrate with them & appreciate your connection with them!

elopement advice

4. It’s not just a photoshoot

Fun fact – your elopement is NOT just a photoshoot! As much as you WILL get amazing photos from your elopement to help you remember the day forever, that’s not what the day revolves around. This is not about you getting the prettiest photos to put on Pinterest – it’s about taking in the moment, being present, and allowing your photographer to do their job + putting your trust in them. Celebrating for a full day helps you enjoy the whole entire experience, and not try to cram in all your important photos in one or two hours!

elopement timeline

You want to make sure you hire the perfect elopement photographer, too – somebody who won’t turn your elopement into “just a photoshoot;” rather, will help you make it an incredible experience. For tips on how to do this, check out my blog on What to Look for When Hiring Your Elopement Photographer!

elopement advice

5. You don’t want to stress about travel time

In Alaska, commutes between locations can range from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on where you’re staying and where you’re going!

So if you want to travel between multiple locations on your elopement day, whether it be a getting ready location to your ceremony location, or you want to take portraits at two stunning locations, you’ll want to make PLENTY of time for that! You never know if you’ll hit traffic, bad weather, or closed roads. A full-day elopement lets you be flexible and allows for any + all travel time without having to stress!

elopement advice

My Favorite Elopement Idea: Make it a Multi-Day Adventure!

If you want to celebrate your elopement with a FULL, multi-day experience, there are so many ways you can do it! Celebrate one day just by yourselves, enjoying each other’s company, and one day with your loved ones – the best of both worlds. Or, invite your guests to join you both days, and simply spread out the activities you want to do over both days. Spend one day exploring one location/area, the next day driving to & exploring a different one!

elopement ceremony

In short, multi-day elopements give you so much freedom to create an incredible, unforgettable elopement experience doing everything that brings you joy. There is ZERO rush, and you’re not forced to pack everything you want to do into one singular day.

elopement advice

Elopement Timeline Examples

I offer multiple different elopement packages, but I wanted to show you a few brief examples of what different coverage could look like! I’ve included example timelines for half-day coverage, full-day coverage, and a multi-day elopement to help you get a feel for how long certain parts of the experience may take.

elopement timeline

Half-Day Elopement Timeline

Getting Ready: 1 hour || Details, photos of each partner, writing down your vows, making coffee before the day starts, etc.

  • You’ll add more time for getting ready if you’ll be at separate locations, or if you want more “before” coverage of your morning together!
  • Allot time for doing your buttons if your dress has a lot of those
  • Allot time for tying your tie or bowtie if you’re not sure how to do it

First Look: 30 minutes

Travel to Location: 30 minutes

Hike to Ceremony Spot: 1 hour

Ceremony: 30 minutes

Hike Down: 30 minutes

elopement timeline

Full-Day Elopement Timeline

Getting Ready: 1-1.5 hours || Details, photos of each partner, writing down your vows, making coffee before the day starts, etc.

First Look: 30 minutes

Travel to Location: 30 minutes

Hike to Ceremony Spot: 1 hour

Ceremony: 30 minutes

Celebration: 2 hours || Celebrate with a picnic, drinks, food, etc. & photos at your location

Hike Down: 30 minutes

Drive to Airbnb or Reception Location: 30 minutes

Evening Celebration: 1.5 hours || Campfire, romantic dinner, hanging with guests, etc.

elopement advice

Multi-Day Adventure Elopement Timeline

DAY 1 – just the two of you

Getting Ready: 1-1.5 hours || Details, photos of each partner, writing down your vows, making coffee before the day starts, etc.

  • You’ll add more time for getting ready if you’ll be at separate locations, or if you want more “before” coverage of your morning together!
  • Allot time for doing your buttons if your dress has a lot of those
  • Allot time for tying your tie or bowtie if you’re not sure how to do it
elopement advice

First Look: 30 minutes

Travel to Location: 30 minutes

Hike to Ceremony Spot: 1 hour

Ceremony: 30 minutes

Celebration: 2 hours || Celebrate just the two of you with a picnic, drinks, food, etc. & photos at your location

Hike Down: 30 minutes

Drive to Airbnb or Reception Location: 30 minutes

Evening Celebration: 1.5 hours || Campfire, romantic dinner, etc.

elopement ceremony

DAY 2 – with your loved ones

Brunch: 1 hour || Cook food, eat, & drink with your loved ones, make mimosas, etc.

Head to a Lake: 30 minutes

Lakeside Fun: 1-1.5 hours || Rent water equipment, bring a picnic, go for a swim with your friends

Head back to Airbnb: 30 minutes

Cozy Airbnb Photos: 30 minutes || Photos of the two of you relaxing, playing games, reading books, making food, celebrating your new marriage

elopement advice

Alaska Elopement Packages

Now that you’ve probably been convinced to celebrate with an all-day or multi-day elopement, take a look below at the packages I offer! 

elopement timeline


And then when you’re ready, reach out here to start planning your dream elopement 😉

elopement timeline

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Why You Deserve a Full-Day Elopement: Timeline Advice & Ideas

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