What Does an All-Day Elopement Look Like?

Elopements are just as special as big traditional weddings - so why not celebrate them all day long?

There’s no shame in eloping, so please don’t feel like you have to make your elopement boring, modest, or brief just to ensure that people who weren’t invited don’t feel left out. Your own experience of your wedding is so essential - more important than any other part of the celebration. Above all else, a wedding is an emotional bonding experience between two people. You deserve to have a fun, sweet, meaningful, and emotional day regardless of how many people you invite.

But without the traditional format of a big wedding to fall back on, it can be intimidating to plan a full day of celebration for your elopement. What do you even do?

The answer: Anything. You. Want.

Think of it like a long amazing date - if you had all day to have the time of your lives, what would you do? Go rock climbing with a guide? Have a private wine tasting with all of the best charcuterie? Hike out to a breathtaking spot in the wilderness for your ceremony? Charter a sailboat and watch the sun set over the Golden Gate? The world is your oyster!

But just to give your imagination a little material to work with, let’s delve into this inspirational elopement shoot. After we go through how these two sweethearts celebrated the day away, I’ll provide more ideas to spark your imagination!

- Mariah and Hero -

These two had a slow and relaxing day, with a long, drawn-out morning at an AirBnB in the Oregon forest followed by an evening ceremony on the coast. While it’s totally possible to jam-pack an elopement day with fun and exciting activities, it can also be really rewarding to just let yourself take it slow and enjoy low-key time with your sweetheart. Remember: even if you decide to include a lot of different activities in your elopement day, try give yourself a generous amount of time for each one, so you don’t feel like you have to rush through your time together.

- Breakfast in bed - 

The day began with breakfast in bed - what a luxury! While stylist Lexi of The Slow Cult finalized the floral arrangements downstairs, planner Jenn of Wild Coast brought the couple fresh coffee and vegan pastries in bed while Mariah and Hero lounged about in their pajamas and robes.

- Getting ready in the cabin -

The two took turns getting ready in the open living room of the cabin, donning their wedding clothes and accessories, making adjustments to perfect the look, and privately reading over their vow cards in the morning light as it spilled in through the surrounding trees and the glass doors of the cabin.

- First look in the forest -

Rather than wait for the ceremony to see each other in their wedding clothes, the pair treated themselves to a morning first look in the vibrant green forest outside of their cabin. As Hero waited under a large Chilean pine, Mariah approached in her elopement finery and surprised him with a tap on the shoulder. The pair delighted in each other’s wedding looks, playfully teased each other, and snuggled in together for a few posed photos.

- Ceremony on the coast -

After a midday break for some privacy and solitude, we reconvened on the coast for a seaside ceremony. As the couple had relaxed during the day, Lexi the stylist had set up an ornate ceremony space with florals, grasses, candle lanterns, a handmade arch, and strips of silk fluttering in the ocean breeze.

The couple read from handwritten vow cards, exchanged rings, and embraced under the handmade arch.

- Cake, champagne, and a special picnic -

While Lexi set up their celebratory champagne picnic, Mariah and Hero played, danced, and roughhoused on the beach, both enjoying themselves and getting lots of photos in the gorgeous Oregon Coast landscape.

Using florals from the ceremony arch, Lexi created a picnic area for the couple that felt truly worthy of celebration, where they popped champagne, toasted each other, and had delicious charcuterie and cake.

- Long walks on the beach -

Having refueled with cake and champagne, the couple walked and played on the beach until sunset, when they wrapped up in a big wool blanket and watched the sun go down.

What an amazing day!

Just going through the images makes me want to experience that wonderful day again - but you don’t have to do yours exactly the same! There are so many ways to have an amazing elopement day.

- A few ideas to inspire - 

Here are a few things you can do on your elopement day to really heighten the experience and ensure that you’ll enjoy the day to its utmost. 

Don’t try to cram them all in to one elopement experience, but rather pick and choose the activities that are most special to you - or use them as inspiration to come up with your own unique experience. 

Use your own strengths, hobbies, and abilities as a starting point, or hire a professional guide to help you celebrate with an activity you’re not fully skilled at yet yourselves.

What can you do in a full-day elopement?

  • relax and luxuriate all day long
  • hike to an amazing and remote location for your ceremony
  • split your day into both morning and evening sections (with a break in the middle) so you can experience both sunrise and sunset
  • celebrate half the day with just you and your sweetheart, and half of the day with your friends and family
  • road trip to all of your favorite spots in a region you love
  • take a hot tub break at your bed and breakfast
  • eat dinner on a private restaurant patio overlooking the ocean
  • dance under the stars
  • camp in a national park
  • bicycle along the coast
  • visit somewhere that’s always been special to you both
  • go rock climbing or canyoneering with a guide to reach an unparalleled viewpoint
  • snuggle under a blanket on the beach
  • have a private tasting at your favorite winery (or brewery)
  • charter a sailboat and watch the sun set from the water
  • kayak or canoe to a waterside ceremony spot


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About Kate:

I photograph weddings and elopements for unconventional people who prefer to build their own traditions and choose their own adventures.

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