Planning Your Elopement Timeline

Eloping?! Congratulations! You did it! You have chosen a rad way to have your wedding… To throw away the playbook and go for it! To make your day one filled with adventure, love, and intentionality… A day catered specifically to you and your Love. A day where you aren’t focused on pleasing anyone but your partner… No worrying about your Mom’s cousin Maude and her calamari allergy… But! Before you wonder about how in the world you even begin to plan out an elopement! Let me offer some help by way of a free guide to your adventure elopement timeline! Because, apart from who you are marrying, your elopement location, and what sort of cake you’ll eat, you have the big question… How many hours of photography coverage do you need?! Having a better understanding of how long certain shots will take will help you create a timeline for your Big Sur or PNW elopement that fits your vision perfectly!

PNW Elopement Photographer


Never Fear, Your “Elopement Concierge” is Here!

Why am I putting together this guide to your elopement timeline? Well, I tell my couples to consider me their “elopement concierge,” and while it might sound cheesy, it is because I LOVE helping my clients plan out their day from start to finish, and I know the process can feel rather daunting, so in true concierge fashion, I am here to ease that burden from the very beginning. So, here are the best tips, things I want you to consider, and a free guide to planning your Big Sur elopement!

How Much Coverage do I Really Need?

When it comes to elopement timelines, there are several ways to look at it…

First, you can book a photographer for a couple of hours and have them capture the essentials, probably in just one location…

Or, you can book for an extended amount of time, so you and your photographer have extra moments to delve in and explore a couple different locations…

Lastly, you can book a whole day to enjoy your time. To create a fuller level of storytelling through imagery. To adventure together without having to worry about time encroachments at all!

Why Having a Longer Elopement Timeline is Gonna Make Momma Happy

There is no wrong answer, whatever fit feels right to you, is the right answer. However, I encourage planning a longer timeline for your elopement for several reasons… One of the biggest being, I tend to think that with elopements, there should be more emphasis placed on the fact that if you don’t have your friends and family near you, they will want to see the whole day unfold. I also believe you will want them to feel connected and part of it, even though they weren’t physically there. Often, the focus is placed on the elopement ceremony and couple’s portraits alone… But! Let’s not forget about those beautiful ‘getting ready’ images, or capturing the ‘first look’ in your wedding attire, for instance… These are moments you will cherish for the rest of your lives.

And! I can guarantee, these are the moments your Momma is gonna want to see! Momma is gonna want as much coverage of your day as she can get! YOU will want as much coverage as you can get as well, since there is no one on the sidelines witnessing your day! Your (possible) future family is gonna want to see more of your day! I used to pour over my parent’s wedding photos as a kid! Seeing the visual representation of their wedding day was magic to five-year-old me!

Elopements are JUST as worthy of having each beautiful moment documented… And! As I argued above… Moreover, I would argue they even more important on this front!

elopement guide

What You Give Your Photographer When You Book a Longer Elopement

The other thing, longer adventure sessions also give your photographer time to focus on telling your love story in various locations and through creative exploration. As a Big Sur and PNW elopement photographer, I LOVE exploring this amazing area with my clients, and I adore using all the tools in my kit to make fine art images… When I have enough time, I pull out prisms, drop my shutter, and play with other tools to help capture how things felt in a moment, and not just how they looked… However, this is not something I have the luxury of doing when only booked for a short period of time… It also affords the time to capture the details, which tell the story of your day. It gives me the ability to have full creative agency, and as a result, allows me to capture more than the bare minimum!

Building in Time, Because Light is Always on the Move

I like to scout locations ahead of each elopement and I craft a timeline to each wedding… Also, I try to find at least one unique spot to take each couple, which is SO special, but time consuming… Keep in mind, Big Sur and the beauty of the State Parks in the PNW are VAST! So, with every location change, comes travel time and a loss of light! Your elopement day will consist of chasing light, which means, you want to build in enough time to capture it, to play with it, and to enjoy it.

The Number One Reason You Need Time on Your Side

You are choosing to elope for a reason… The reason could be one of a million, however I am sure there is no one who chooses to elope to add MORE stress to their wedding day! Apart from giving your photographer the luxury of time, you are giving yourself that same luxury. You don’t want to feel rushed or worried about losing the light. You want to be present with your Love. Present in your moment. This is what elopements are all about, letting go of all the expectations and stress, so you can only focus on each other and the grand adventure you’re about to embark on!

Elopement Photographer

Free Guide to Your Big Sur or PNW Elopement Timeline

6 Hour Timeline

2:00-2:30 – All the Detail Shots

2:30-3:00 – Partner 1 Getting Ready

3:00-3:30 – Partner 2 Getting Ready

3:30-4:00 – Open Letters + Gifts from Each Other

4:00-4:20 – Donning of the Wedding Attire

4:20-4:40 – Arrive at First Look Location

4:40-4:55 – First Look

4:55-5:20 –  Couple’s Portraits

5:20-5:30 –  Prepare for Ceremony

5:30-6:00 – Vow Exchange

6:00-6:30 – Champagne Popping (I Always Bring Champagne!) and Playful Moments Together

6:30-7:00 – Bust out those Snacks or Dinner!

7:00-7:30 – Golden Hour Portraits

7:30-8:00 – First Dance as the Sun Dips Below the Horizon

Your Elopement Timeline and Staying Fluid and Flexible

Now, this timeline is catered to an elopement that doesn’t require a lot of travel time in between. However, with this timeline, I have built in a lot of extra time on sections we won’t need a full twenty minutes, so that we do have flexibility! I must say, one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to make sure you have a lot of flexibility built into your elopement timeline. Also, be sure to stay fluid and flexible so that your day can be easily spent chasing light, laughing together, and enjoying the adventure of it all! As I said above, life is unpredictable, and there might be traffic from tourists, road closures, dense fog, and so much more… You never know what mood our beautiful coastline will be in, so come prepared to be adaptable!


I hope this guide was helpful! To learn more about why I believe elopements are a rad way to go, check out my info page on them HERE! You can also read up about Big Sur HERE! You can also always GET IN TOUCH with me if you have any questions or want to learn more about why I call myself an “elopement concierge!”


Happy Eloping!!!

best PNW elopement photographer

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