How to Plan an Elopement Wedding - Karen Agurto Photography

How to Plan an Elopement Wedding

First thing first to remember when asking how to plan an elopement wedding: It doesn’t need to be complicated and it should be stress-free + easygoing. After all, it’s a day to reflect your union and you get to do anything! But with that said, many couples still need help putting a day together and figuring out the best times for photos and one of the first questions is:

How long should it be?

A common misconception is that elopements are quick, and back in the day when elopements were only Vegas overnight chapel trips, maybe. But, that has long changed. If a traditional wedding day is an all day event, why can’t yours be? Your wedding day is your love story. You’re planning an experience and you deserve to celebrate your marriage. An elopement doesn’t make it any less meaningful than a traditional wedding.

So, how could an elopement last all day?

There are no rules when it comes to planning an elopement wedding (except like permits and stuff) and the only thing that truly matters is what is important to you

Think of the most dreamy and perfect day you could spend together. No limits

What do you two enjoy doing together and where are your best memories together? What have you always dreamed of doing? Would you like to have your hair and makeup done for you or would you prefer to do it yourself? Would you like to make a meal together, go out to a restaurant, or how about an outdoor picnic? And do you want some family and friends or will it just be you two in private? These are things to consider. So now, how can you incorporate these meaningful moments into your wedding day? 

Here are wedding elements you may want to include:


Every wedding day starts with getting ready! This can be having breakfast, packing up your things before hitting the trail, putting on your wedding attire, hair and makeup, etc. This is when you can hardly contain the butterflies and when you’ll look back at your photos remembering the anticipation before the best day ever. You’ll get to see what your partner was doing at this time, the excitement on their face, finishing their vows, preparing a gift, and completely in all smiles.


I highly recommend doing a “first look” if you aren’t getting ready together. This is the part where you see each other dressed in your wedding attire for the first time and a first look can happen anywhere! You two can get ready on opposite sides of the car, backs turned, in separate rooms. Then I’ll have one of you with your back turned so the other can walk up behind to tap them on the shoulder and turn around. A first look offers a very private and intimate moment for you two just before your ceremony, if you’re planning to have one. This is where the “holy crap we’re getting married” feeling soaks in!


The main activity everyone thinks of when it comes to weddings. The ceremony can be from 10-30 minutes long and it can be as simple as just the I Do’s, or vow reading and exchange of rings, to incorporating any cultural or religious traditions. Your ceremony can be just the two of you or have your guests there.


If having guests on your wedding day is important to you, you’ll likely want to take some photos with them. How long this takes depends on the amount of guests attending so I recommend about 30 minutes for this part.


We’ll be taking photos throughout the day for you to remember all the moments of your elopement day, but reserving a time for you to take photos right after your ceremony will give you a chance to pause and relish in the emotions. We will take a few formal portraits, but I will guide you through natural movements and we’ll portray the two of you as you are. I recommend scheduling time throughout your day to pause for couple’s photos.


The vow exchange can totally be separate from your ceremony. If you have guests, you may read your vows in private while reserving the I Do’s for the ceremony. A vow exchange can be trading love notes, gifts, or traditional hand-written letters. This is the moment we all cry. This is where you pour your love into spoken words and you share just how much they mean to you. How much all the time you have spent together is valuable. How they have shaped your life for the better. And you share your promises to be there for one another.


The activities you choose are what make your wedding day unique and true to you. You have complete freedom to choose what you’d love to do together or with guests. Here are some ideas:

make a meal together
private letter readings
yoga session
go swimming
smudge ceremony
culture or religious traditions
horseback riding
exchange gifts

So there you have it and these are just your starting points. Because this is your day to be entirely about you and I’m here to document it. I’m not here to make the entire day a photoshoot and make you pose. I’ll be tagging along and capturing your love story. Contact me today so we can get started on creating your dream elopement timeline.

Now let’s discuss logistics when putting together a timeline for your wedding. Check out some helpful tips I’ve gathered for you here.


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