How To Create The Perfect Elopement Timeline

So you decided to elope… but how the heck do you plan an elopement? How long do you wait for an elopement? How long is an elopement? Let us tell you it’s not just a 1 hour photo shoot, this is still your wedding day!

Common Planning Timeframe For Eloping Couples:


Get Engaged.

First step is to make the commitment!


Make The Bad Ass Decision to Elope

Making the decision to elope is not an easy one. Congrats on such an empowering experience you are about to embark on!


Create the Perfect Elopement Day

Eloping is definitely less stressful, but still requires a little planning. The best part is being able to do what you want.


Decide how or if you will celebrate with your loved ones.

Do you still want to celebrate with your loved ones? Include them in a post elopement reception!

When Should You Start Planning Your Elopement?

This is all personal preference. An elopement day can be planned in less than a month up to as long as a year! It all depends on what you are looking to do for your special day. There is no special timeframe of when or how to do things with an elopement, and that is the beauty of it.

However, we have found that in order to have the least stressful elopement experience you should plan to give yourself a minimum of 3 months to get everything ready for an epic day! If you are planning an elopement in Colorado, make sure you check out our Colorado Elopement Planning Guide to help you get started with the process!

Want to plan an Adventure Elopement? Download Our Free Adventure Elopement Planning Guide + Checklist To Help You Get Started!

Elopement Planning Basics

When planning an elopement, there are a few basics that you need to know before getting into the all the fun details. These are the first things you should think about before planning any type of elopement timeline since everything will be dependent on what you are doing.

1. Choose/Imagine a season.

2. Choose/Imagine a location.

3. Pick your dream vendors.

4. Research marriage laws in your location.

5. Create the perfect timeline to match the perfect day.

Putting Together A Seamless Elopement Day.

Creating a seamless elopement day is going to take a little bit of thinking. What do you envision feeling and doing that day?

Elopement Activities

Here are a few common elopement activities and estimate time frames to think about when creating your timeline. Notice that just because you are eloping, it doesn’t mean you can’t have things you thought you would have on your wedding day.

Getting Ready.

[Approximately 1 hour.] More than likely you will not be getting ready near your partner. You can’t miss documenting these moments! Even if you are getting ready together, this is an important part of your day.

First Look.

[Approximately 30 minutes] Since you are probably eloping just the two of you, you don’t really get that walking down the isle moment. Worry not! First looks are way better anyway. Schedule a first look to soak in the moment even more right before you do this thing.


[Approximately 10-30 minutes] Ceremonies can be as easy as a vow reading or elaborate with traditions or other things that are important to you. Maybe you want to have a unity ceremony, meaning you ceremony may be a little longer than a vow reading.

Post Ceremony Celebration.

[Approximately 30 minutes] What will you celebrate with after the ceremony? Champagne popping, cake, shotgunning a beer? or all of the above? Incorporate something that you love.

First Dance.

[Approximately 5 minutes] Dance to your favorite song for the first time as a married couple!

Portraits With Guests (if any).

[Approximately 30-45 minutes] Round up your guests to get some quick shots!

Dope Elopement Photos.

[Approximately 2 hours] Make sure you have enough time to get those epic shots!


[Approximately 1.5 hour] Just because you are eloping, it doesn’t mean you can’t get some good food. Hire a private chef to cook for you!


[Approximately 2-4 hours] What type of activities do you want to have as part of your day? Hiking, Kayaking, Climbing, Tubing, Skiing, walking, sightseeing, Star viewing, the possibilities are endless.

Elopement Ceremony Timeline

Self-Solemnizing Ceremony. [ up to 25 min]

  • Find the perfect spot at your location. [5 minutes]
  • Vow reading, both partners [10 minutes]
  • Unity ritual, this can be planting a tree together etc. [5 minutes]
  • Sign marriage license [5 min]

Ceremony with an officiant.[ up to 45 min]

  • Find the perfect spot at your location. [5 minutes]
  • Precessional. [20 min]
  • Vow reading, both partners [10 minutes]
  • Unity ritual, this can be planting a tree together etc. [5 minutes]
  • Sign marriage license [5 min]

Elopement Reception

Do you want to celebrate with your loved ones after having your intimate wedding experience? Plan a post elopement reception at a later date or book a small venue/restaurant to have dinner with them that day!

Elopement Day Timeline Samples

Sunset Elopement Timeline

  • 1:00 pm- getting ready in cabin airbnb
  • 2:00 pm- meet in secluded location outside cabin for first look!
  • 2:30 pm-Drive to ceremony location
  • 3:30 pm- Meet at alpine lake trail head + Start hiking to ceremony spot
  • 4:00 pm – Begin ceremony near beautiful alpine lake 
  • 4:30 pm – Congratulation hugs + toast with celebratory drink
  • 5:00 pm- Family and friends portraits 
  • 5:30 pm- Hike to secluded spot to read vows
  • 6:00 pm epic portraits at sunset
  • 7:30 pm Drive back to Cabin 
  • 8:30-10:00pm- Enjoy private candle lit dinner near bonfire + s’mores !!

Sunrise Elopement Timeline

  • 2:45 am-Drive to ceremony location
  • 3:30 am-Meet at trail head + Start hiking to ceremony spot
  • 4:30 am- Begin getting ready at pine tree grove location.
  • 5:00 am – First look at first light
  • 5:30 am – Begin searching for the perfect ceremony spot at your location.
  • 6:00 am- Begin Self Solemnizing Ceremony during sunrise.
  • 6:30 am- Celebratory drinks + Cake!
  • 7:00 am- Epic portraits+ adventure with the beautiful light
  • 9:00 am End Portrait Session and begin hiking down.
  • 10:00 am – Drive Back to Tree House Airbnb where you’ll be met with a private chef cooking up some delicious brunch!
  • 11:45 am- Eat some brunch
  • 1:00 pm- end coverage and enjoy a lazy day in your tree house airbnb with snack and your favorite movies etc!

How Long Should Your Elopement Day Be?

As long as it needs to be to make the day special for you. If you reference the timelines above, you’ll notice that these elopement days are more than 8 hours long. That is the key to having a relaxed and special elopement day. Don’t rush your day or try to fit it in to a couple of hours.

Your elopement day will only be special if you make it special.

Looking for awesome photographers that can help you create the perfect elopement timeline?

Let us help you take some stress off your shoulders. When you hire us we help you create rough day of timelines to ensure the best possible lighting etc. on your day! Contact us to get started!


  1. Love the way this is laid out. Super easy to follow, practical and full of great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow! What helpful information for anyone planning an elopement! I love that you included some extra time for driving! I always feel like we forget to include that buffer time πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *