5 Reasons You Should Have a Full-Day Elopement + Timeline Tips

October 22, 2021

Elopements are often thought of as shorter, smaller versions of traditional weddings. I want to encourage you to open your mind up to other possibilities when you hear the word “elopement.” Because, elopements deserve just as much celebration and time as large weddings! So let’s get into the 5 reasons you should have an all day elopement, timeline tips, & more elopement ideas.

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What even is an “all-day elopement?”

You may not even know what I mean when I say all-day elopement. But, it’s just how it sounds: an elopement that lasts all day.

Larger, traditional weddings typically last all day, from the start of the getting ready process all the way to an exit at the end of the night. So why are elopements automatically thought of to be shorter, “partial” celebrations comparatively?

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The beauty of elopements that I will preach until the day I die is that you can create them to be fully, 100% your own.

No pressure to follow any traditions you don’t care about. No pressure to invite people you don’t want there, no pressure to do what society tells you to do. And I might argue that those reasons make elopements even more special & intentional than traditional weddings.

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So hey – you should celebrate elopements just as much (or more!) than you would a normal wedding! Your love and marriage deserve an all-day celebration, whether you elope in the mountains, hold an intimate backyard wedding, or get married at a large venue. No wedding is less important, no type of celebration is less meaningful.

An all-day elopement is simply a full day of celebrating your love. Instead of only hiring a photographer & your vendors for 4 hours, because you think elopements are “smaller,” hire them for the whole day like you would a traditional wedding! 

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Think outside of the box when it comes to elopements: there are so many possibilities and things you can include & incorporate into your day. Elopements give you the chance to curate the day to be fully your own, and say goodbye to the just-going-through-the-motions wedding day.

So let’s get into the top 5 reasons you should have an all-day elopement!

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5 reasons you should have an all-day elopement

1. A less stressful, more flexible timeline

Traditional weddings often come with strict timelines, barely any room for changing plans, and a hard schedule for everybody to stick to. These timelines often cause more stress and harm than they help. They tend to stress the couple (and the wedding party/family members/etc.) out, rather than help guide them through the day for them to fully enjoy.

Elopements give you the ability to be more flexible, and to adapt. There’s no need to create a super solid timeline – just lay out the basics you’ll need to know, and go from there.

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  • Time to be intentional

Because of the laid-back nature of elopements, you’re allowed the time you need to be intentionally present on the day-of. You won’t need to worry about getting to the next part of the day. Or having to skip a few minutes of alone time with your partner because your “guests are waiting on you.”

Flexible elopement timelines allow you to be human, and to take the time to be present with your partner. Because isn’t that what the day should be all about?

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  • No “running late”

“Late” doesn’t (shouldn’t) exist with all-day elopements. Yes, maybe you have a set time for your ceremony so your guests know when to arrive. But pretty much everything else can be changed or adapted as needed.

If you take an extra 30 minutes to get ready, that’s okay! You’ve intentionally invited only the people you care about and who will allow you to fully celebrate, and you know they won’t be upset if you’re running behind schedule.

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Need a few minutes of alone time to relax before your ceremony? Take that time for yourself! Your guests can wait.

End up in traffic on the way to your dinner spot? No problem – you’ve planned out the day so you can be flexible, and you’ve already allowed for plenty of extra time in between activities.

No matter what happens, you’ve got the whole day to celebrate!

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  • Ability to go with the flow

Once again, I want to reiterate how important it is to go with the flow on your elopement day.

Wedding days don’t really allow for that – you have strict times for your ceremony, bouquet toss, cake cutting, first dances, etc. So if something changes, or you want to adjust the schedule, it’ll affect everything else. Since you have your photographer there with you all day, you won’t need to worry about them missing important moments because your schedule changed.

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With all-day elopements, you’ve got plenty of time to let every part of the day run its course. If you end up getting ready quickly and decide you want more time to spend with your family before the ceremony, do it. Go with the flow of the day, and adapt as needed.

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  • Time to intentionally Leave No Trace + avoid rushing

As you probably know already, I’m a huge advocate of Leaving No Trace everywhere I visit with my couples. That means we go in with the intention of leaving the outdoors just as we found it, and minimizing our impact.

When timelines get changed or photos get rushed, that’s when the principles of Leaving No Trace can easily be forgotten or ignored by couples. You want that wildflower shot really badly, and you ran out of time to hike to a better trail, so you impulsively step off the trail to get the shot.

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Having plenty of time during the day to plan ahead & prepare for this will allow us to minimize our impact, and not let time affect our ability to do so. 

For more information on LNT, check out my article on How to Leave No Trace with your Mountain Wedding at Mt. Rainier!

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2. More time to explore

One of the biggest benefits of all-day elopements: you have plenty of time to explore!

Instead of limiting your elopement to one location because you’re only celebrating for 3-4 hours, why not visit multiple spots? Whether that’s hiking to different spots or driving to separate locations, all-day elopements give you plenty of time to explore as much as your heart desires.

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For example, if you’re eloping at Mount Rainier, it’s super fun to visit multiple sides of the park, or walk along multiple trails.

In my article on the Best Places to Elope at Mount Rainier National Park, I go through examples of location sets that work well together & are easy to travel between!

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3. Quality time with your guests

All-day elopements mean no rushing through anything, and that includes time with your guests. Whether you have 2 guests or 10, having all day to celebrate gives you plenty of time to connect with each of your guests and include them in the elopement experience.

You won’t have to worry about rushing to say hello to 300 people like you would at a large wedding; instead, make your elopement a meaningful experience for everyone by allowing a good chunk of time to mingle, hang out, and have a good time with your loved ones.

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This could look like extending the length of your ceremony and inviting your guests to participate in it. Or bringing them along on a hike, going horseback riding with everyone, or inviting them back to your Airbnb for drinks at the end of the night.

If you’re eloping, I’m guessing it’s because you value quality time with each other, and with your favorite people. So, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do that.

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4. Opportunities for activities

If your elopement only lasts a few hours, that means you won’t have much time for activities outside of getting ready, saying your vows, and maybe some couples portraits.

Opting for an all-day elopement means you have plenty of time to incorporate different activities into your elopement experience.

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Here are a few fun elopement ideas to give you a look at what I mean:

  • Hiking/backpacking
  • Kayaking/paddleboarding/water activities if by the water
  • Camping under the stars
  • Visiting local spots (restaurants, breweries, etc.)
  • Having a picnic
  • Going for a swim
  • Relaxing at your Airbnb in the morning, making coffee & cooking breakfast

For more elopement ideas & activities you can include in your elopement day, check out this article!

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5. A chance for sunset portraits

And finally, all-day elopements give you the chance to take beautiful sunset portraits of the two of you! 

If you’re hiking to an epic viewpoint or chose an incredible location to get married at, you probably want to experience the beauty of that spot as much as possible. Sunset is the perfect time to take it all in, enjoy the incredible nature around you, and capture photos to remember it all.

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Elopement timeline tips

Now, let’s get into my top 3 elopement timeline tips to ensure a smooth elopement day!

Consider doing a first look

If you don’t know what a first look is, it’s when you see your partner before you walk the aisle. Doing a first look can save you time after your ceremony to get to celebrating! It can give you a beautiful moment to take everything in & be intentionally in the moment with your partner.

If you do a first look, you can do your family & guest photos before the ceremony efficiently. That way, once the ceremony is over, you can move on to activities, dinner, drinks, etc.

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Do your research ahead of time

It’s super important to do all your research & planning ahead of time. You want to prepare for any and every situation when it comes to weather, roads, trails, etc. The last thing we want is for us to get to the trailhead on the way to your ceremony location, only to realize the trail has been closed due to weather, and now we need to drive around to a different trailhead.

Use resources like the National Park Service’s website to monitor road + trail conditions. Also, the Weather Underground app to monitor weather!

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Plan for flex time

Finally, plan ahead for flex time and include it in whatever timeline you create. Add in plenty of extra time around every part of the day to be a cushion for any plan changes. This way, you don’t need to worry about running late if anything happens!

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My Washington elopement photography packages

If you’re getting excited about your all-day elopement and are searching for the perfect elopement photographer, take a look at my packages below. And reach out here for more details – let’s start planning your elopement experience!

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More elopement resources to check out

Looking for more helpful elopement resources? Be sure to take a look at some of my all-time favorite blog posts below!

How to Elope in Washington State: 10 Steps to Follow

10 Elopement Ideas for an All-Day Elopement

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Washington State?

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