If you're wondering what an all day elopement or small wedding day looks like or where to start planning this page is for you! I go over the first 3 steps to take when planning your elopement and have 5 full day elopement timelines examples at the bottom of this post to give you inspiration!
As a past bride myself and an elopement and wedding photographer I see and understand the stress and uncertainty around navigating a wedding during this crazy time and I want to help!
Over the past year I have seen so many people’s original plans for their weddings have to change, a lot of brides unsure of what to do now, and couples contemplating what kind of wedding to plan for the future in case this happens again so I want to share some tips and advice on how to plan a pandemic proof wedding! I’ve even included several examples of full-day small wedding and elopement timelines for all different types of couples!
To all the brides out there that have been dreaming of your day for the past few months or years, who have spent hours planning out all the details, and so much money and energy into having the perfect day. I see you! And I know that this is the last thing that you ever wanted or imagined. And I know that your wedding day will look different that what you originally imagined, and that you might be bummed BUT…
The first thing I want to say is this:
You CAN still have the most beautiful, special, and dream wedding even during the midst of a pandemic!
Honestly I have full faith in saying that it can actually still be 1000% MORE amazing, beautiful, and special than what you had originally planned!
While you might not be able to have the large group of people that you planned for, you can still have a wedding day that includes them all in one way or another even if they aren’t there in person, and spend your day with just a handful of the people closest to you (depending on the current laws in your area)!
I know what you’re thinking, but how?
Have a small, intimate wedding or elopement! (& if you still want that big party with all of your friends and family you can always do that later! )
So now you’re probably thinking, well what exactly is a small wedding/ elopement and what does it look like for me? Don't worry! To help you out I am including 5 examples of various full day small wedding and elopement timelines for all different types of couples at the bottom of this page to give you some ideas of what is possible!
But before I go into those I just want to quickly share what my definition of an elopement is because it no longer means what it used to, or what you’re probably imagining. To start, an elopement does NOT mean two people running away to get married, two people just signing a sheet a paper, a wedding that is cheap and quick, for people that don’t love their friends and family, or a wedding that is any less special.
What an elopement IS, is a wedding day intentionally and fully focused on you, your love, and your relationship. It can happen anywhere or anyplace, include just you or a small group of people closest to you, but it is a day where the focus is solely on the two of you and the promise you’re making. Elopements allow you to experience your dream day, your way, without any distractions!
While elopements normally have 25 people or less (maybe even less during a pandemic), it’s not so much about the number of guests you have but more so that the focus and the mindset of the day is all about it being the day that YOU want, not the day that other people want you to have!
The best part about elopements is that there is no one “right” way to do it! Just like every person is different, every elopement should be too. Below I've listed the first 3 steps to do when planning your elopements! If you want to know more about the experience of eloping with me, click here!
First 3 Steps of Planning Your Elopement:
Step 1: Envision your dream day
The first question to ask yourself, and the first question I always ask the couples I work with is
“If you could relive any one day over and over again, what would it look like?”
Whatever your response to that is, is where you should start with planning your elopement!
For example, just this week I was working with a future bride and asked her and her fiancé this question. They responded by saying that their dream day would look like waking up with a view of the beach, drinking some coffee, going on a short hike/walk, then relaxing on the beach all day sipping some pina coladas and relaxing. So I worked with them to create the perfect full day wedding timeline for them. Their timeline is attached it below.
Step Two: Pick a location
Use your answer in Step 1 to help give you an idea of the type of locations to start looking at!
For example, the couple I mentioned above wants to relax on the beach, so they would start by decided whether they want to look at international beach location like somewhere in the Caribbean or whether they want to choose a US beach like Destin, 30A, or the Florida Keys.
Step Three: Pick a date
One perk of elopements / small weddings is that you are less restricted on the date that you can have it because it involves less people! While most traditional weddings take place on Saturdays to accommodate guests, its easier to have elopements any day of the week. Being able to have your wedding on any day of the week means that vendors are more likely to be available, accommodations are sometimes cheaper, and if you’re doing it at a popular location less people!
The best part is you don't have to limit your celebration to one day! Make it a two day or three day event!
Below are 5 examples of full day elopement timelines for various different locations and couples to give you an idea of what your elopement day could look like: including a city wedding, beach wedding, church wedding, and lake wedding
Florida Beach Elopement Timeline:
Location: Beachfront Airbnb in Florida
8:00 am - Wake up, grab coffee from the local coffee shop, eat breakfast, and relax on the balcony of the airbnb overlooking the ocean with friends and family.
9:00 am - Go on a walk/hike and exchange wedding day letters to each other
10:00 am - Head to the beach in front of the Airbnb to soak in the sun and sip some mimosas or pina coladas with friends and family
12:00 pm - Have local restaurant deliver food to Airbnb for lunch (maybe chick-fil-a, taco bar, burgers, etc.)
2:00 pm - Start hair & makeup at Airbnb
3:45 pm - Hair & makeup done
4:30 pm - First look at beach, then explore the beach/area together and take some pictures
6:00 pm - Ceremony on the beach
7:00 pm - Pop the champagne to celebrate and have some appetizers, play yard games (ex. corn hole) - Bride & Groom sneak away for 15 min to watch the sunset and grab some sunset photos
7:45 pm - Dinner, speeches, hanging out, and lots of laughs
8:30 pm - First dance under the stars on the beach followed by yummy dessert!
10:00 pm - Photography ends, but the night continues!
City Elopement Timeline:
Location: Downtown Birmingham (Or any city)
8:00 am - Wake up, grab coffee from local coffee shop, eat breakfast, and relax on the balcony of the airbnb with friends and family. Bride and groom separate to get ready.
10:00 am - Exchange wedding letters
11:00 am - Hair & Makeup Done / First look at Airbnb
12:00 pm - Grab lunch at your favorite local restaurant or brewery or have a picnic. After lunch go around to your favorite spots in Downtown to take in the view, day, and take some portraits.
4:00 pm - Have family & friends meet at the church for the ceremony
5:00 pm - Head back to Main Airbnb to have some charcuterie boards and champagne with toasts to celebrate while a chef makes your favorite foods for dinner. Dinner, drinks, and lots of laughs to follow*
7:00 pm - First dance & Dessert! Either have a dessert truck come (did someone say ice cream?) or have the chef make some yummy desserts
9:00 pm - Have some pizza delivered to the Airbnb to keep the party going**
10:00 pm - Photography ends
11:00 pm (or whenever you’re done partying) - Go to sleep knowing you had the best day ever!
*Reception could alternatively be at local restaurant, brewery, etc. **Or go to the local bar/pub
Pacific Coast Elopement Timeline:
Location: Treehouse Airbnb in California/Oregon
8:00 am - Wake up, make coffee, eat breakfast, and relax on the balcony of the airbnb with friends and family. Two separate Airbnbs, one for one partner one for the other.
10:00 am - Exchange wedding letters
10:30 am - Hair & Makeup Done / First look at Airbnb (or drive blindfolded to first look location)
11:00 pm - Head out in a luxury car rental (Aston Martin) and drive up and down the coast stopping wherever along the way to take in the view, day, and take some portraits.
1:00 pm - Run by a local restaurant and pick up food to have a picnic
3:30 pm - Have family & friends meet at a beautiful location in the redwoods for the ceremony
4:00 pm - Take some family photos
5:00 pm - Go to a local vineyard/brewery and have dinner, drinks, speeches*
7:00 pm - First dance & hangout
8:00 pm - Grab dessert at a local ice cream parlor
9:00 pm - Play night putt-putt golfing**
10:00 pm - Photography ends
11:00 pm - Head back to Airbnb & go to sleep knowing you had the best day ever!
*Reception could alternatively be at the airbnb catered by a local restaurant or hired chef **Alternative activities could take place here such as going to a local brewery, having pizza delivered and playing games at the Airbnb, etc.
Lakehouse Elopement Timeline:
Location: Lake Tahoe, Lake Martin, etc.
8:30 am - Wake up, go out for a relaxing morning boat ride with either just the two of you or with a few friends and family
10:00 am - Continue boat ride, relax by the pool, or play yard games
12:00 pm - Have a crawfish/shrimp boil by the lake
1:30 pm - Start hair & makeup
3:30 pm - Hair & makeup done
4:00 pm - First look at lakehouse & take some portraits
6:00 pm - Ceremony on the lake
7:00 pm - Appetizerssss & Toasts
7:45 pm - Dinner, dessert & lots of laughs
8:30 pm - First dance under some string lights on the dock overlooking the lake!
9:30 pm - Look at the stars during a night boat ride on the pontoon
10:30 pm - Photography ends, but the night continues!
Yosemite Elopement Timeline:
Location: Yosemite National Park (or any other national park, mountain range, etc.)
4:30 am - Wake up & start hair and makeup
6:00 am - Facetime with parents before heading out from the Airbnb to watch the sunrise in the Valley
6:30 am - First look at sunrise in Yosemite Valley then go around to Bridalveil falls & Upper and lower Yosemite falls
9:00 am - Exchange vows under Half Dome
10:00 am - Read letters or watch a video from family members and friends & then continue exploring the valley
12:00 pm - Grab lunch or pack a picnic & have wedding "cake"
1:30 pm - Head back to Airbnb to nap, chill in the hot tub, and enjoy the day
5:00 pm - Meet at Taft Point Trailhead*
5:45 pm - Exchange wedding gifts & have celebratory "We're married" toast
6:30 pm - Have your first dance looking out at El Capitan as the sun sets at Taft Point
7:15 pm - Head back to your Airbnb in awe of Yosemite and the promises you made
*if you wanted to included family/friends you could move your ceremony to sunset and have everyone meetup here with optional reception after **optional couples session at the Airbnb or in the park either the day before the wedding or the day after
These are just a few example timelines of what a full day elopement experience can look like! Your wedding day timeline should and can be customized to whatever YOUR idea of a dream day is!
"Where to even begin. One of my college friends recommend Katie when I was looking for a photographer to capture our elopement. From the very first time I messaged Katie, she was always there to help in any way possible. We decided to elope in Yosemite National Park and as soon I told Katie, she was already helping me plan. We decided to meet up and talk before the elopement and ended up having a shoot before hand. During the shoot, she took the time to really get to know us. Asked us questions about ourselves, about our relationship, and made the session so much fun. There was no pressure and she made everything feel so natural. When we got to Yosemite she helped us decide the perfect spot to say our vows. She was there through the whole process. We couldn’t be more grateful to have not only the BEST photographer, but to be able to say we have a new friendship with someone so full of love. "
-Karlee + Bailey