How Many Hours Should You Hire An Elopement Photographer For?
The majority of the elopements I shoot, hire me for 8+ hours (i.e. all day).
Yep, I said it—an all-day elopement :)
They’re real. They’re epic. And you know what? They happen so much more often than people might think!
You might be wondering, “how can an elopement possibly last all day long?”
Trust me, if you’re planning a surreal, adventurous elopement in your dream location that’s totally in line with everything you want, it’s not difficult for the elopement to fill a whole day—or two, even!
It might seem like a weird concept, but when you think about it, it’s not that crazy.
Traditional weddings typically take up a whole day, right? You’ve got the getting ready, the first looks, the portraits, the ceremony, the after-party, and more. It’s an entire story.
ELOPEMENTS ARE YOUR LOVE STORY BEING TOLD—THERE’S NO NEED TO RUSH THAT.
It’s a day to savor and embrace. Elopements are exactly the adventure you’ve always dreamed of for your wedding day. Which, is why when you look at my elopement packages, you won’t see a 2 or 3 hour option. To me, your entire story deserves to be told, not packed into a short little window!
WHY HIRE AN ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER ALL DAY—HOW DO ELOPEMENTS LAST THAT LONG?
When I explain all-day elopements to couples and why I offer them (as opposed to 2 or 3 hour sessions), I like to ask them questions like this:
Think about the best day you two could have together—don’t spare details. Think about what you’d want to do from the moment you woke up to the moment you went to bed. What would you eat? Where would you be? What scenery is surrounding you? What adventure would you take together?
THAT ANSWER THAT COUPLES TYPICALLY CREATE IS OFTEN THE ADVENTURE THEY WANT FOR THEIR ELOPEMENT DAY—AND THEY COULD EASILY FIT IN SO MANY ACTIVITIES, ADVENTURES, AND SCENIC VIEWS.
More often than not, the adventures couples really want to build for themselves can’t fit into a 3-hour photo session.
It’s your anniversary date that you’ll re-live every year—shouldn’t you have a day that you want to constantly remember because every single moment was perfect? And more than that, shouldn’t you have a way to relive every single moment?
That’s the thing—sometimes people think that elopement photography is all about a few portraits, saying vows, and scheduling out an hour or two of photos.
But that doesn’t have to be it. Think about a big, traditional wedding—those things last hours, and more often than not, a photographer is there to document the entire story of your wedding day (6, 8, 10, sometimes 12 hours!)
WHO SAYS YOUR ELOPEMENT DAY DOESN’T DESERVE THAT SAME DOCUMENTATION? WHO’S TO SAY THAT YOUR ENTIRE ELOPEMENT DAY DOESN’T DESERVE TO BE WHOLLY, MEANINGFULLY PRESERVED IN BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS?
Elopements can last the entire day—sometimes two or three days, even—because you’re creating your wildly different wedding day that you truly want. Maybe that looks like hiking to the top of a mountain, maybe that looks like sliding down sand dunes all day, maybe that means rock climbing and popping champagne and having a family ceremony.
Here’s another thing—an all-day elopement doesn’t mean you’re going on an all-day photoshoot.
I am there to melt into the background to document your love—not to pose you uncomfortably for hours on end.
At the end of the day, none of this is about me. This is entirely about you—I am just there to guide you, support you, and provide you with the best damn photos of your epic adventure that I possibly can.
WHY HIRE AN ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER ALL DAY?—A LOOK AT WHAT GOES DOWN DURING AN ALL-DAY ELOPEMENT TIMELINE
Even with all that info I just threw at you, I still understand how it can be tough to mentally plot out how an all-day elopement would go down or why couples hire me for 8+ hours.
Check out these real timelines. Each of these amazing couples had the day of their dreams—a day they designed. I was just there to help make sure that they had something meaningful and intimate to look back on forever.
McKenna and Jack – ALL-DAY ELOPEMENT IN YOSEMITE
This sweet couple stayed in Autocamp outside Yosemite National Park, the night before their elopement where they planned their sunrise hike. Here’s a little insight on how the day went down:
1:50 am— I arrived at the trailhead and snaged some photos of McKenna and Jack at their campsite and leaving.
2:00 am it’s time to hike! McKenna, Jack, some family members, some super cute pups, and Amber head up the trail to their perfect elopement spot, enjoying every second of the headlamp hike together.
5:30 am—They arrive at their perfect elopement spot. They wanted to get ready separately because…
5:55 am—it’s first look time! That’s right, you can have a first look at your elopement. Mckenna and Jack planned theirs for some epic alpen glow!
6:00-8:00 am—McKenna and Jack started their private ceremony when it felt right for them. They did exactly what they wanted—said their vows in the exact place they wanted, took some intimate portraits, and enjoyed their elopement ceremony.
8:00 am—the hike down begins—dog photos included, of course.
10:00 am—Back at the trailhead, it was time for some family photos with their special group
10:30 am—A champagne toast and a marriage license signing (with pup prints as witness signatures) caps off their hiking ceremony.
11:00 am-4 pm—an epic elopement reception kicks off at the Ouray Brewery—a celebration worthy of Brecka and Nicks amazing elopement experience!
MAGGIE AND CHRIS—ALL-DAY ELOPEMENT IN PALM SPRINGS
11:45 am—the getting ready begins—hair, makeup, the whole nine.
1:00 pm—this awesome couple wanted a first look, so they got ready separately. I take some sweet Airbnb shots and Maggie and Chris take some time to handwrite their vows
1:45 pm—Maggie puts on her dress, they have an amazing first look at their cute Airbnb, they head to the Lodge, and I sign as the officiant on their marriage certificate during their legal ceremony (which, they also did at the lodge where they asked helicopter pilots to be their witnesses).
4:00 pm—then, they climb into a truck and take off to see the windmills.
4:15 pm—we arrive and see one of the most amazing views, I have ever seen. We literally explore all over, each as beautiful as the next. Maggie and Chris say their vows, they explore together, and take all the time to marvel at the amazing place they chose for their elopement day.
8:30 pm—we drive back to the Lodge where they’ve stayed only to feed Maggie and Chris an insanely delicious meal. They eat, we head back to the Airbnb, and we build a campfire.
10:30 pm—in the blue hour, Maggie and Chris have their first dance by the fire—these two can seriously bust a move.
VALUE YOUR ELOPEMENT DAY
Care so much about your elopement day that it makes your heart want to explode! Value the day you’re planning with the love of your life to the point that you recognize it deserves everything you both want. The entire thing goes by so quickly and it can be tough to remember every intimate moment—but you will want to. And you can, because someone was there to document it.
CONSIDER THE TRANSITION TIMES
Like I mentioned earlier, things take more time than you might initially think. When you’re booking your all-day elopement with a photographer, think about transition times, think about your adventures, think about avoiding the whole rush-to-get-the-photo aspect.
Create an all-day elopement timeline that lets you breathe, lets you adventure, and lets you enjoy just being in love.
BUILD SOME SPACE INTO YOUR SCHEDULE
Sure, it’s super important to try to build out a schedule if you have a lot of adventurous things you want to do on your day—and, if you want me to be there to document all of those things—it can be really helpful to leave some space in your schedule.
Because you deserve spontaneity and fun on your elopement day. You shouldn’t be looking at your watch, timing your day out, making sure you have enough minutes left for your photographer to hang with you. Your day deserves all the time you need and want—even if that means leaving an hour or two of extra space because you want the freedom to hop out of the car wherever and whenever you want, run barefoot through a field, and explore with the love of your life.
I am there to help you document your life story—so live that story the way you want to. Don’t let a timer dictate how you experience your wildly different wedding day.
DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU WHAT YOUR DAY SHOULD LOOK LIKE
Never let someone convince you that all you need is a few portraits or an hour of shots—do what you want. If you want me there to tell your entire love story as naturally and beautifully as it happens in real-time, do that. This is your wedding day—give it the attention and value that it deserves no matter what anyone else tells you.
Memories will fail. They fade. They disappear into all the complex corners of our brain.
And on a day that’s so wildly important in your life, you deserve to know what every second looked like—what it felt like. Every moment of your elopement deserves to captured forever—stuck in infinite memory books that you can open, thumb through, and smile at every single anniversary.
To hell with what the world tells you, have the day (or days) that you want—no matter how long that lasts.
No matter what your elopement looks like—one day or five, you do you—make sure that above all, it’s entirely about the two of you. You’re getting married because you love each other, because you’re choosing each other—because you know that life is the biggest adventure of all, and there’s no one else you’d rather have by your side.
Shouldn’t your day be about that—and shouldn’t you have something to hold onto to remind you of that forever?