How Long Should an Elopement Be?

One of the biggest questions when beginning to planning an elopement is “How many hours of coverage should I book for my elopement?”

I just wanna remind you real quick (in case you somehow forgot)… This is your wedding day!! Sure, you could have a quick 15 minute ceremony, take a few photos after, and call it good.

OR, you could plan out a meaningful day that you’ll be excited to remember for years to come – the kind of day that actually makes you want to pull out the photo album and relive the experience every anniversary.

You deserve a day that’s full of special moments, meaningful activities, and a whole lot of fun. Just like a traditional wedding day, I recommend planning out a full day of celebration!

How Long is a Typical Elopement?

This is your day to celebrate your love, ditch outdated traditions, and do whatever feels right for you both. While there’s no set rules for any of this, I highly recommend at least 4-8 hours of coverage for your elopement. And that recommendation still applies even if you’re not planning on doing any hiking or big activities on your wedding day. In fact, if you do want to go on a moderate hike or longer adventure, I recommend planning for at least 8 hours.

What would we even do during a full day elopement?

Start off by thinking about what a perfect day would look like for the two of you. You don’t even have to think about it in terms of your wedding day quite yet, just think about a perfect day together:

  • What does your morning look like? Cooking breakfast at your luxurious AirBnB cabin or on a propane stove at your campsite?
  • Would you enjoy a long hike together or driving around to see multiple scenic overlooks?
  • What kind of activities would you enjoy doing together? Horseback riding? Exploring a botanical garden? Walking down the string-lighted streets of a small mountain town? Spending a couple hours at a local brewery? Jumping into natural hot springs?
  • Does a cute little picnic with charcuterie boards and your favorite snacks and desserts sound perfect? Or would you rather have a specially-crafted dinner made for you by a private chef right in your AirBnB?

Letting go of the traditional wedding structure leaves plenty of options for what your elopement day could look like. And it doesn’t mean you should settle for a 1-2 hour day either (in fact, I highly recommend that you don’t).

You’d be surprised how easy it is to fill a 4 hour day – getting ready photos, visiting a couple locations, the first dance, and dessert and champagne alone can easily take up the entire time. Add in one or two meaningful activities, a short hike, or a special dinner to end the day, and you’ll definitely want to budget for a few more hours.

Sample Elopement Timelines

To give you an idea of how easy it is to fill a full elopement day, here are some example timelines for two-day, 8, and 4 hour elopements.

Two-Day Elopement Timeline

Day 1: The Just-Us Adventure

2:00 pm – Getting ready photos at your AirBnB

3:00 pm – Get to the trailhead and start hiking

5:00 pm – Arrive at ceremony location, exchange vows, have a unity sand ceremony and a champagne toast

5:45 pm – Picnic dinner at a mountain overlook

6:30 pm – Find the perfect spot for your First Dance

6:40 pm – Newlywed portraits

8:00 pm – Enjoy a quiet moment together to watch the sunset

8:30 pm – Start hiking back to the trailhead and taking photos under the stars

10:30pm – Wrap up photo coverage

Day 2: Celebrating with Family and Friends

11:00 am – Start the morning with brunch at your AirBnB, catch up with guests and show them some photos from yesterday’s adventures

12:30 pm – Head to a nearby lake for some relaxing afternoon activities (grilling, tubing, hanging out by the water, etc.)

4:00 pm – Head back to the AirBnB for some games and downtime before dinner

5:30 pm – Have a private chef come to the AirBnB to prepare a special meal for you and your guests

7:00 pm – Cut your wedding cake (or dessert tower)

7:15 pm – Spend the rest of the night around a firepit, playing games, or partying it up with your loved ones

8 Hour Elopement

5:00 am – Getting ready photos at your AirBnB

6:00 am – Get to the trailhead and start hiking

7:00 am – Watch the sun rise as you exchange vows

7:30 am – Read letters from your family and friends

7:45 am – Newlywed portraits

8:45 am – Have your First Dance

9:00 am – Start hiking back to the trailhead

10:30 am – Mimosas and brunch at the AirBnB

12:00 pm – Head to a lake for kayaking and swimming

1:00 pm – Photo coverage wraps up

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4 Hour Elopement

4:00 pm – Getting ready photos at your AirBnB

5:00 pm – First look at a lake with mountain views

5:20 pm – Drive to a nearby trailhead for a short hike to your ceremony spot

5:50 pm – Exchange vows and champagne toast

6:00 pm – Newlywed portraits and First Dance

7:30 pm – Hike back to trailhead

8:00 pm – Photo coverage wraps up

Creating Your Elopement Timeline

As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot of activities or locations to fill up your elopement day. For the best wedding day experience, you’ll want enough time built into your timeline so that you aren’t rushing around from location to location or spending your entire day stressed out. The more hours of coverage you book, the more relaxed your day will be. One of the biggest perks of eloping vs. having a traditional wedding is that you get to ditch all the stress and rushed timelines, so be sure to give yourselves enough time to actually enjoy your special day!

My job is to help you build that perfect timeline so that you get to experience a meaningful day that you’ll happily remember for years to come. If you’re ready to get started on planning your dream elopement day, reach out!

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