Most weddings in the US tend to follow the a traditional ceremony-reception format, where there is a 20-minute or so ceremony followed by a six hour party which includes a sit down dinner, cake, and dancing. Elopements, on the other hand, are a totally different ball game. Every year (especially with the 2020 pandemic), eloping becomes a more popular option and couples are left believing that because there aren’t hundreds of guests, elopements aren’t worth as much as these traditional weddings. They believe think the only option is to have a quick ceremony followed by maybe a few photos, and that’s it. But wow, wouldn’t it be sad if this was the truth?
Before we begin, let me tell you a quick story
Around a year or so before my wedding day, my mom was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. By the grace of all that’s good, she kicked cancers ass and is still here with us today. However, at the time of my wedding, she was only in remission for a short period of time and we had no idea how long the good news was going to last.
The photos I have of her walking me down the aisle, us dancing to one of our favorite songs, of the bouquets she and I spent the morning putting together, and even the photos of the random hugs or way she looked at me throughout the day… these photos are more precious to me than any posed photo of her and I standing next to each other looking into the camera. It’s these tiny, subtle nuances throughout my wedding day that I cherish the most.
Honest, our ceremony was beautiful, but it was only 20 minutes of a 14-hour day. There were so many other special moments that happened that day, and these moments are why I hired a photographer in the first place.
I didn’t hire a photographer just for a few posed photos; I hired a photographer to preserve the moments that made the day what it was.
Reasons you need a full day elopement timeline
1. Photography isn't just a box on your planning checklist
Regardless the size of your wedding, remember why you’re hiring a photographer in the first place.
You are hiring an elopement photographer to preserve the feelings and experiences you encounter as the day unravels. Understand that the purpose of your photos is to capture the reason this day was so pivotal in your life.
If the only reason you’re hiring a photographer is because you think you have to, you are missing a huge opportunity to make the day special and fill your elopement timeline with meaningful activities.
No, a photographer is not necessarily the most important thing in the world, and certainly not everyone needs 12 or more hours coverage on their elopement day. But, if you take a step back and appreciate why photography exists or why anyone ever hires a photographer for anything, it can re-calibrate the reason you are hiring your own photographer in the first place.
2. "An hour or two" isn't going to cover it
When you’re reaching out to any photographer for just an hour or two of coverage – why just an hour or two of photography? What are you realistically going to get from this?
You see, us photographers have seen it all. We understand the importance of things like getting ready photos and hours of coverage beyond just the ceremony and portraits. We’ve seen couples at their first looks, and we’ve been witness to some of the most intimate moments between a couple on a wedding day that nobody else sees. Many of us, including myself, have been married before and can appreciate the meaning of the photographs you’ll get back from us.
3. So much happens on an elopement day besides the ceremony
Even if you’re eloping, you can still do getting ready photos and have a “reception” to celebrate your marriage.
Getting ready photos aren’t just a fad and they aren’t useless. There is a reason getting ready photos exist; they set the tone for the rest of the day. I know when I look at my getting ready photos, I can feel all the emotions I felt the morning of my wedding. I can see the joy and butterfly feeling on my face, I can remember me getting ready with my best friends, I can see the bouquets my mom and I spend the morning putting together. I had a full day coverage and my photos they let me relive all the emotions I felt from nearly the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed.
The same thing goes for after the ceremony. After your “quick and brief” ceremony and portraits; what are you going to do to celebrate your marriage? Are you just going to go home and watch TV? Probably not. You’re probably going to celebrate with a nice dinner, or a picnic, or your friends will throw you a party in their backyard. You’re going to want to remember this! Why wouldn’t your photograph go with you to capture these moments?
4. Just because you're eloping, doesn't mean you can't celebrate
Just because you are eloping doesn’t make your day any less important than anyone else’s wedding day. These photos aren’t for anyone else… they aren’t for your photographer, they aren’t for social media… the purpose of your elopement photographs in any situation is for you.
Take a step back, remember why you’re getting married. Remember why you love your partner so much and craft an elopement timeline that embodies this love and gratefulness that you have for one another. There are going to be so many little, subtle, brief moments you aren’t going to remember unless a photographer is there to capture them. And it’s going to happen all day.
Because there is so much room to create an elopement timeline that’s all about you and your relationship, the sky is the limit. And this is precisely why I opened my photography packages to full day coverage.
Just because you aren’t having a reception with 100+ guests, doesn’t mean you can’t fill the day with meaningful moments that you want captured so you can remember the day forever. If in your heart you want your wedding day to be a full day, then it should be. It’s still your one and only wedding day; yes, you can later renew your vows or plan a celebration for later down the road. But for every anniversary, this will be the day you will be celebrating and remembering.