It’s time to start planning your elopement. If you’re wondering where to begin, or how to even envision the possibilities–I have ideas for you! Everything can be easily organized for your day through the elopement day timeline. Making a game plan of what your adventure will include helps determine the structure needed. You want this process to be as stress-free as possible and planning an elopement instead of a wedding helps reduce that pressure!

couple elopes on edge of cliff at Grand Canyon

What Planning an Elopement IS and ISN’T

Eloping is so much more than just an alternative to planning a traditional wedding. An elopement IS…

  • Adventuring together doing new or favorite activities.
  • Enjoying the activities you want to do at your own pace.
  • Promising forever to your best friend.
  • Getting married in stunning locations you couldn’t have ever imagined.
couple kisses in Arizona after planning an elopement

Planning an elopement shouldn’t be overwhelming or a more difficult process than large wedding planning. It shouldn’t be something you fall into or are forced to do because of rushing things or feeling pressure to make the day exciting. It can be anything you want it to be!

Read more on what an elopement means to me and how it is the heart behind my business!

couple embraces at Sedona sunrise elopement

Planning an Elopement: Where to Begin

After you choose to elope, it can feel a bit open-ended since there aren’t standard rules or traditions about what your elopement timeline should include. That leaves the doors wide open for what you two wish to make of the day. I will be your elopement planning guide as we form the day around your selected activity plans.

While it’s my job to do the timeline creation and planning, it’s still important for you to decide how you want to spend the day celebrating your marriage. Even if you start this process without any idea of what it will include, I will walk you through the steps to find the perfect plan! Through guided conversations and questionnaires, we will discover the adventure elopement that fits the two of you!

For example, you could get married somewhere new or a beloved location that ties into your story. Having endless opportunities to do what you love or try something new together is where the fun begins! In planning an elopement, we’ll choose the activities that appeal the most to you and then build a timeline around it. These are just a few out of many examples you can choose from when celebrating your marriage!

couple off-roading at Arizona elopement
  • Off-roading around the sand dunes.
  • Enjoying your first dance next to a waterfall.
  • Flying above the mountains in a helicopter.
  • Kayaking across the Colorado River.

Here are some elopement activity ideas along with their coordinating timelines to get you inspired!

What Your Elopement Day Could Include

An elopement day never requires extreme activities to make it an adventure. Eloping is an intimate wedding experience that is personal to your relationship and reflects your love together as a couple. If you’d rather spend the day taking a nap on a hammock or having a picnic on the beach as the sun sets then you absolutely can do that too! Here is the general wedding day timeline structure (with time allotments) that I build your personalizations around:

couple exchanges rings during elopement wedding ceremony
  1. Getting Ready-separately or together (1-2 hours)
  2. First Look (can be w/gift exchange) (about 1 hour)
  3. Ceremony (1 hour)
  4. Portraits: picnic, hike, campfire, stargazing, popping champagne, etc. (1-3 hours)
  5. Adventure Activity (2-4 hours)
  6. First Dance (less than an hour)
  7. Cake Cutting/eating dessert (less than an hour)
  8. Reading Letters from friends and family (can be part of first look)
  9. Catered dinner at your Airbnb or eating at a brewery or restaurant with or without guests (1-3 hours)
couple exchanges vows during elopement wedding ceremony

Remember to keep an open mind. You do not have to do things in any specific order! You can go on a sunrise hike, then get ready, or have your ceremony, and then go on an adventure!

It’s your wedding day. This day is about you, your partner, and how you feel while experiencing your best day ever. Make sure it’s your vision!

Planning an Elopement Day Timeline: How to Make it Happen

couple embraces on cliff edge at Grand Canyon elopement

Once you’ve decided what you want to do and where you want to do it, then it’s time to make your elopement day timeline. This is first determined by the length of the elopement day depending upon the chosen type of activities (elopements can range from four hours to two days).

I strongly encourage my couples to consider a sunrise to sunset experience instead of just celebrating for a few hours. An elopement is not limited to only getting married in a beautiful location, exchanging vows, and taking a few photos. If you limit how long you celebrate your marriage, you’re limiting the first memories you’ll create together as a newly-married couple.

These are some examples of elopement activities and the length of time they generally require:

  • Off-Roading: 2-4 hours
  • Horseback Riding: 2 hours
  • Picnic: 1 Hour
  • Stargazing: 1-2 Hours
  • Helicopter Ride: 2-3 Hours
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride: 2-4 Hours
  • Rock Climbing: 2-6 Hours (depends on the difficulty level)
  • Kayaking: 1 Hour

When planning an elopement day activity, it’s important to add in a buffer for travel time which prevents rushing any part of your experience.

couple exchanges private vows in Arizona desert after planning an elopement

Test out your elopement day timetable and find out the estimated cost using my Elopement Cost Calculator!

Elopement Timeline Examples

3-Hour Elopement

6:00 AM – Arrive at hiking trail. Start hiking to summit.
7:00 AM – Arrive at summit. Change into wedding attire and touch up makeup.
7:30 AM – Vow and ring exchange. Sign marriage license. Portraits as the sun rises.
8:45 AM – Change back into hiking attire.
8:55 AM – Hike back down to parking lot.
9:15 AM – Arrive at parking lot. Photography coverage ends.

8-Hour Elopement with Off-Roading Adventure

12:30 PM – Photographer arrives to capture bride and groom getting ready.
1:45 PM – First look at Airbnb.
2:00 PM – Leave for off-roading adventure.
2:45 PM – Stop at first off-roading location. Hike to ceremony spot.
3:00 PM – Arrive at ceremony spot. Ceremony and portraits.
3:45 PM – Head back to off-roading vehicle. Ride to 2nd location.
4:15 PM – Arrive at 2nd location. Hike to lookout.
4:30 PM – First dance and picnic.
5:45 PM – Portraits as sun sets.
6:00 PM – Head back to vehicle and drive back to Airbnb.
7:15 PM – Arrive at Airbnb. Enjoy s’mores over a fire and stargaze.
8:30 PM – Photography coverage ends.

12-Hour Multi-Location Elopement With Guests

9:00 AM – Photographer arrives to capture bride and groom getting ready.
9:15 AM – Bride gets into wedding dress.
9:30 AM – First look with dad.
9:45 AM – First look with groom.10:00 AM – Leave for slot canyon adventure.
1:00 PM – Leave for ceremony location.
2:00 PM – Arrive at ceremony location.
2:15 PM – Ceremony with guests.
2:30 PM – Ceremony ends. Group photos with guests. Newlywed portraits.
4:00 PM – Head to Airbnb for lunch.
4:45 PM – Lunch at Airbnb with family.
5:45 PM – Leave for 2nd portrait location.
6:45 PM –  Arrive at sunset portrait location.
8:30 PM – Stargazing photos.
9:00 PM – Photography coverage ends. Couple leaves for Airbnb.

14-Hour, 2-Day Elopement

DAY 1: Adventure Session

4:00 AM – Meet before sun rises to hike out to climbing location.
4:30 AM – Climb to top of mountain peak, taking multiple breaks.
6:00 AM – Change into wedding attire.
6:30 AM – Sunrise rock climbing portraits.
7:30 AM – Rappel down.
8:15 AM – Hike back to vehicles.
8:30 AM – Photography coverage ends.

DAY 2: Ceremony With Guests

4:30 AM – Meet photographer at trailhead before sun rises.
4:45 AM – Hike to portrait location.
5:30 AM – Change into wedding attire.
5:45 AM – Stargazing photos before sun rises.
6:15 AM – Exchange private vows.
6:35 AM – Blue hour newlywed portraits.
7:15 AM – Hike back down to vehicle then drive to Airbnb.
8:30 AM – Breakfast with family.
9:00 AM – Finish getting ready.
10:00 AM – Leave for ceremony.
10:30 AM – Hike with family to ceremony location.
10:40 AM – Ceremony begins.
11:00 AM – Ceremony ends. Group photos.
11:30 AM – Leave with family to restaurant for lunch.
12:15 PM – Candid photos of celebrating with family.
1:00 PM – Photography coverage ends.

couple kiss at sunset elopement after planning an elopement

Hey, I’m Kelcee!

I would love to be your ADVENTURE elopement photographer

I’ve been capturing elopements since 2021, and it’s my passion to help adventurous couples like you create the perfect wedding day.

Your elopement is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you deserve the support to make it uniquely yours. Together, we’ll create quality memories that beautifully tell your love story, lasting a lifetime.