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How to Plan Your Elopement Timeline

Wondering what your elopement day schedule should look like and what to do after you elope? Look no further! Sunrise, mid-day, or sunset elopement, we've got you covered!

Prior to making your elopement day schedule, the first major choices you have are; what time of day you want your elopement and what activities you'd like to do on your wedding day. Are you a morning person or night owl, do you picture yourself celebrating in the sunshine or under the stars? Here are a few tips to help you narrow down what time of day you want to elope. If you already have your mind made up on time of day, skip to the next section/photo below.


Depending on location and time of year, you'll likely have to start getting ready around 3:30am or so for a sunrise elopement. Make sure to check with your vendors to make sure their early morning prices are the same, especially hair and makeup artists since they are first on-site. Layer your wardrobe. Be ready with warmer pieces you don't mind being photographed or filmed. There is nothing worse than a cold miserable couple on their wedding morning. The temperature may not seem too cold but you'd be surprised what the lack of sunshine in the early hours can do to your warmth. Sunrise elopements are my favorite because you have the least amount of crowds if you're going to a popular place or trail and you get to spend the whole rest of your elopement day celebrating. If you'll be hiking prior to the sun coming up, don't forget your headlamps, bear bells, and bear spray.


From a photography and videography standpoint, this is the least desirable time for an elopement as far as lighting goes. Depending on activity and location, you'll be more prone to squinty faces and hard shadows & sunlight in your photos and films. While a good photographer and videographer can work with this and still create beautiful content, your photos will never get that sunrise or sunset golden hour vibe.


Most places will be the most crowded at sunset time, but also for a reason, sunset it's gorgeous. If you don't mind a crowd or are going to a remote location sunset elopements are epic.


Rather than giving a concrete elopement day timeline that will likely not fit your exact situation, here is a template to create your perfect elopement schedule.

Ask your elopement hair and makeup artist how long it will take to get ready, then add 30 minutes to that time. Depending on your hair type/ length and what you will be getting done, the average hair and makeup prep time for an elopement is about 2-3 hours.

Getting dressed. It always takes longer than you expect, it's an emotional moment. Set aside 30 minutes for this time. If you have a gown with a button-down back vs zipper, add 10 minutes. Don't forget a crochet hook for the bridal gown buttons, gowns are almost impossible to button without one. Make sure whoever is helping you get into your wedding dress is ready 30 minutes prior to you so they are camera ready. Know your bustle and test your bustle before the day of. Get fully dressed first and then put on your elopement accessories, it makes for better photos. Wondering if you should get dressed first and hike in your elopement dress or suit or put it on on trail? Check out this blog!

Do you want a first look? If yes, add 45 minutes to your schedule. Curious how to do a first look when you are doing a hiking or adventure elopement? Check out this blog!

Don't forget the driving time if you will be going to a different location for the elopement ceremony than where you got ready. Be conservative and add a bit of extra time for travel, especially if you are in high traffic areas. Know where you are going to park ahead of time and any associated fees. Some places only accept cash or vise versa. Have a meet-up plan or caravan if you won't have service at the elopement ceremony location.

Is your elopement ceremony location drive-up, fly-in, hike-in? If you're driving up to your location, just add 30 minutes after your set arrival time. This will give you a moment to compose and collect prior to the ceremony or catch up if you're behind on the timeline. If you are hiking, estimate about 1 hour per mile so you have time to relax and take photos along the elopement hike. Your photographer or videographer should scout your elopement location prior to or have been there before. If you're flying into your elopement via a private plane or helicopter, ask your pilot.

The elopement ceremony itself will only last about 10 minutes depending on your elopement script. Do you need help with an elopement ceremony script? Check out this blog for Two Elopement Ceremony Samples. Don't forget to sign your marriage license with your officiant. This very important element is forgotten sooo many times in the newlywed excitement and celebrations. Do you want a champagne toast? Mountain streams and rivers are the perfect beverage chiller. Don't forget to LNT and grab the cork and any trash.

How long will photos take post elopement ceremony? Will any family or friends be there? If so, make a list of all group photos or single photo combinations. Add about 1 minute per photo setup to your schedule. Ask your photographer & videographer how much time is needed for beauty shots or couple only romantic photos, typically 30 minutes to 1 hour.

It's time to celebrate!! What do you want to do after you have your elopement ceremony? The possibilities are endless. Many couples grab a bite to eat, charter a boat or helicopter, hit the spa, or do their favorite hobby as a couple. Stargazing post-dinner is always a great option for sunset

elopements. Check out this blog for more elopement day activity ideas.

Elopement Food Tip! Have a meal catered at a private residence or go out to eat. If your group is larger than 5 or 6 I recommend calling the restaurant prior. Sometimes they will even let you bring a small cake or dessert they will store until you're ready for it post-meal. Some restaurants have in-house bakers and will make you purchase from them.

Have any other elopement day questions? Give us a shout, we'd love to help you out!


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