The term “elopement” has changed so much over the years. It used to be so negative- running away to get married without familial consent. Now its seen in a more positive light, with a day focused around the couple and the adventures they choose to fill their day with. So what exactly is an all day elopement? How do you fill an entire day with things when there’s (sometimes) only two people, no venue, wedding party, or any of the other “traditional” wedding things? Why would you even need all day for an elopement?
An elopement is still a wedding day.
It doesn’t matter whether you have 2 people or 200- a wedding day is still a big day! Its a celebration and ceremony. A smaller guest count doesn’t make a wedding day any less special or important. An elopement day is still celebrated as a wedding day, its still the day that will be the wedding anniversary date for years to come, its still the day you want to look back on and remember.
How do you fill an entire day?
If you do even a tiny bit of elopement research, you’ll start to notice a theme. Lots of places will say “fill your elopement day with whatever you want”; and that’s great, but if you’re like me, you might need a bit more direction and visuals. The reason “you can do anything” pops up so frequently, is because…well with an elopement day you can. You can hike, or ride horses, have a bonfire on the beach, make dinner together, have a first look, first dance, brewery hop, rock climb, paddle board, the list goes on. Its really about doing things that bring you and your partner joy! The things you do during your day don’t all have to be active either. You can off road. You can sit and watch a sunset. You can eat a cinnamon roll on the deck of your Airbnb.
When you first start planning your day its super helpful to think about what things you want to do and what sounds fun! If you’re overwhelmed by options (there are so many!) that’s totally understandable. I definitely recommend looking at blog posts of real couples’ days to give you some ideas and visuals! Some really good ones are this 8 hour no hiking elopement, this 8 hour hiking elopement, and this small wedding/adventure combo. Also check out this blog post here for sample elopement timelines.
Why having photography for your whole day matters
Its not uncommon for traditional wedding days to have 8 or more hours of photography coverage, so don’t sell yourself short on your elopement day. Wedding days in general are filled with so many little moments and emotion. An all day elopement is not an all day photoshoot. I can’t stress this enough: an all day elopement is not an all day photoshoot. Its a story; and more specifically its the story of the two of you. Have you ever had unposed photos of the two of you just being together experiencing ultimate happiness? Or photos in a super epic location? Don’t forget about all the other little in between moments. Getting ready photos that show the anticipation of marrying your best friend. The look in the mirror as you see yourself in your wedding attire all put together for the very first time. The way you both look at your hands now that you have rings on. Its those moments that make up your day and allow you to look back on your photos and feel all that emotion over again.
Including guests on your elopement day
Some couple’s choose to include guests in their whole day, others choose to have them in part of their day, going off on their own for the rest. Getting married out in nature does mean cutting down the guest list though. There’s no right or wrong way! Its whatever is the best fit for the two of you! If you’re planning to get married outdoors (not a venue, Airbnb or other designated ceremony site), your guest list should be 20 people or less. Anything larger is really hard on the land and we definitely want to make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles. If you want to include more than 20 people, there are some amazing affordable designated ceremony site rentals available!
You don’t have to hike
Elopements come in all shapes and sizes. There are so many amazing location that don’t require any hiking at all! Downtown or urban elopements are also a thing. Every couple has different wants, needs, and version of what their “perfect day” is. There is no one size fits all template for an elopement day! That’s one of the things that makes them so special!
Keep the traditions you love
The wonderful thing about elopements is that you incorporate any of the wedding traditions you love. You can still walk down the “aisle”, have getting ready photos, include meaningful details, share a first look, cut a cake. The amazing thing about elopement days is that they are truly about what you want. There’s no venue timeline to work around and no “right” way to do things. Its easy to still think in terms of how things are “supposed” to be or what’s “right” or traditional, but the reality is, there is no right or wrong way to have a wedding day. If something feels right or like it fits you and your partner then that’s all that matters.