What is an Elopement Timeline?
I think it’s partly true to say that the magic of an elopement day unravels on its own. There’s something about those sweeping views, picking a place that’s special to you and your partner, and honestly, just doing things the way you always wanted to that makes things so incredibly meaningful.
But you know what most people don’t realize? The other half of that magic lies in a little bit of planning–and more specifically, in creating an incredible elopement timeline.
A lot of people hear the word “timeline” and waver a bit. To some, it sounds really rigid, like a strict to-do list you have to keep time with, or else the whole day is ruined. It may sound void of spontaneity, too structured, and like something that zaps the joy and wonder out of a day that’s supposed to be filled with, you know, joy and wonder.
But that’s 100% not what an elopement timeline is. In fact, an elopement timeline is the #1 tool on my list to help couples make sure they do everything, see everything, and experience everything they want on their day without feeling rushed, stressed, or anxious.
You can see how it sounds magical, right?
But what exactly is an elopement timeline in the first place, and how can something as simple as a blueprint for the day be such an epic resource? This blog dives into all the details (and more) to help you better understand elopement timelines.
Here’s a really important diction about timelines that I think every couple should know–when I say “elopement timeline,” I don’t mean a minute-by-minute agenda of what your wedding day is going to look like.
Rather, an elopement timeline is a blueprint, a guideline, a shining light that points you in the right direction toward having the wedding day of your dreams.
An elopement timeline is a loose guideline that walks you and your partner through your entire elopement day with gentle suggestions for timing–that way you can ensure you’re fitting everything in, spending intentional time enjoying every moment, and float through your day stress-free.
And here’s the thing, an elopement timeline doesn’t generate on its own or appear out of thin air. You and your partner call the shots and create the day of your dreams–I’m just there to help you piece it all together in the best way possible.
What’s Included in an Elopement Timeline?
The short answer to this question? Really whatever you want. There are tons of timelines that include elements like getting ready, a first look, a morning hike, a ceremony, a reception, portraits at sunset, etc.–but ultimately, every timeline will look different for every couple.
Here’s a very basic example of what an elopement timeline might look like for a couple who’s planning a sunrise hiking elopement in Colorado.
- 2:30 am: wake up call
- 3:00-3:45 am: drive to the trailhead
- 3:45-4:30 am: getting ready & first looks
- 4:30-5:30 am: hike up for sunrise
- 6:00-8:00 am: coffee, breakfast, exploring the mountaintop at sunrise, & portraits
- 8:30-9:30 am: vows & private ceremony
- 10:00 am-12 pm: mountain top lunch, snacks, and exploring
- 12:30-2:30 pm: slow hike back down the mountain
- 3:30-4:30: reception in a mountain town with family and friends
But that’s just one example. Let’s say a couple wants a short and sweet sunset ceremony without a ton of hiking and an easy-going drive up to the summit.
- 3 pm: Meet at Airbnb
- 3:15-4:15 pm: slow and intentional drive (with plenty of scenic stops) to the ceremony spot
- 4:15-5:00 pm: exploration and enjoyment of ceremony spot
- 5:15 – 6:15 pm: vows and ceremony
- 6:30-7:30 pm: sunset exploration and couples portraits
- 8:00-8:40 pm: drive back down to town
- 9:00 – 10 pm: reception with friends and family
And remember, it’s your timeline–if you want to change things up on the day of, do it. If you want to explore one location the entire time and forget about a second location because you’re having so much fun, we can make that happen. An elopement timeline is a guideline–a blueprint for how the day could go if you wanted to fit it all in.
What are the Benefits of an Elopement Timeline?
Some people think that setting time limits on activities or creating a schedule limits their spontaneity or puts a muzzle on their ability to just exist on their wedding day–but that’s not so! Elopement timelines are meant to help you enjoy and experience your day to the fullest, so that means they’ll guide you without ever making you stress about time.
More than that, elopement timelines help you to spend more mindful, intentional time enjoying the present moment. With a guideline, you don’t need to worry or stress about what’s next, about “staying on schedule,” or rushing through anything. You simply get to be, to exist, and to soak in each second as it’s happening.
What Goes Into Creating an Elopement Timeline
The beautiful thing about elopement timelines is that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all agenda. Every couple, every elopement, and every dream day looks different–which is why your elopement timeline is going to look different than someone else’s.
- Feasible time for Every Activity: It’s easy to get caught up in everything (and you should!), but if you want to make sure you’re leaving room for every element of your elopement day, this is the way to do it.
- Lighting, Lighting, Lighting: You should get married and enjoy whatever part of the day is most exciting to you both, but I won’t lie–sunrise and sunset lighting are the best for those glowy, beautiful portraits of the two of you. Your elopement timeline should keep lighting in mind!
- Buffer Time: Things actually take longer than we think–even when we plan! Your elopement timeline should offer you and your partner plenty of buffer time to enjoy every moment without rushing around trying to fit it all in. Your elopement timeline should let you run a half-hour over the plan in one spot and leave you with enough time to still experience the next important thing.
- Spare Room for Spontaneity: Elopement timelines should leave you plenty of room for spontaneity. Want to hike a little further? Jump in that lake? Make another cup of coffee on the mountaintop? Stop and breathe it all in? Do it! Your elopement timeline should leave you room for all the options!
- To-and-From Time: Most people don’t plan for the time it takes to get from Point A to Point B and back, but your elopement timeline will! It’s easy to forget about how much time it actually takes to get to the spots you want to explore, so having your elopement timeline leaving proper space in your day for this will ensure everything goes smoothly.
- Accessibility & Timeliness: Your elopement timeline will take into consideration accessibility, the time it might take to hike or traverse something, and ensure you’re working with realistic timing expectations.
Let’s Plan Your Elopement Timeline Together
At the end of the day, your elopement–how it looks, how it feels, and how you experience it–is entirely up to you. I’m just here to help you make it happen.
As your elopement photographer, I’m there to capture every moment of your day in the most authentic way possible, but I’m also there before the day ever starts to help you plan and create a wedding day that matters to you.
Are you ready to kick off your elopement planning journey? I’m here to help you. Reach out to me anytime to start talking about eloping, the magic behind it, and how to make your dream elopement day happen.