Creating an Elopement Timeline

Often, couples planning an elopement will forget about an incredibly important part of planning their wedding: creating an elopement timeline. Having a timeline for your elopement is JUST as important as having one for a big traditional wedding. While the focus may not be on things like when to do family photos, having a timeline is crucial for making sure you do all the things you want to, without any added stress. Keep reading for my tips on creating your elopement timeline.

It starts with vendors

Most couples haven’t been married or planned a wedding before. This is why I am a strong believer that your vendors need to be advocating for you, and checking in to make sure that you have the support you need for these big details. I make it a priority to sit down with my couples and create a perfect personalized timeline for their elopement well before they say ‘I do’. Not only does it help my clients feel calmer knowing when everything is happening, but it helps me know how to best serve them on their wedding day.

Give yourself time

Just because you chose to elope doesn’t mean your day needs to be rushed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! You are going to have less people to herd, no rules or traditions to follow, and very few, if any, formal photos to stand around taking for hours. This means your day gets to be what you want! Schedule an hour and half for breakfast if you like, or pause midday for massages. You get to do it your way.

When thinking about timing things, make sure you add a buffer between each event or activity. This will give you extra time if something runs long, and allow for you and your new spouse to have special quiet moments together. Also remember that how much time you budget for things is going to depend on how many people you invite. You’ll need less time if it’s just you and an officiant, versus ten of your closest friends and family.

Think about your location

Are we hiking to your ceremony? Is there a drive that has lots of traffic at specific times? These are all questions that should be answered and accounted for when creating your elopement timeline. This will be more important to consider if you are including multiple events, or getting ready in a different location than you are having your ceremony.

Plan for photos

When you elope, your wedding photography is likely to be the largest investment into your day. I want to help you make it worth every penny. There are things you can do with your timeline that are going to tremendously help you get the most gorgeous photos. Here’s what you should think about:


With an elopement you get absolute control over everything, including when you take photos, and hold your ceremony. If you want that stunning golden hour light for portraits, or maybe even during your ceremony, you’ve got to plan for it. Know when sunrise and sunset are, and make sure you are where you want to be an hour after sunrise, or an hour before sunset to get those shots. The sun waits for no one, and I’d hate for you to miss those gentle warm tones due to a lack of planning.

Additionally, be aware that there are times of day when the lighting gets really harsh for photos, and often uncomfortable to be in. No one wants the midday sun in their eyes. If you have an event or activity happening in the middle of the day, try to plan for it to be indoor, or in a fully shaded area whenever possible.

Know what you want covered

Depending on what you plan for your elopement, you may want some, or all over it photographed. Make sure you know what is important to have covered when creating your timeline. With that information, I can help you create a timeline that includes all the things you want covered, in the time that I have with you. Will you do a first look? Are you really looking forward to getting ready photos? Is it important that dinner is photographed? Know the answers to these questions before you start building that elopement timeline.

What will a timeline look like?

It can be difficult to visualize a timeline if you’ve never created one before! Below is an example of an elopement timeline. Remember, it’s going to look different for every elopement! Don’t think that yours needs to include any of the items that this one does, aside from maybe the ceremony.

5:00-6:00 am – Hair and make up at hotel
6:00-7:00 am – Travel to ceremony location (short drive followed by hike to ceremony spot)
7:00-7:30 am – Ceremony on hiking trail
7:30-8:30 am – Portraits on hiking trail
8:30-9:00 am – Family photos
9:00-9:30 am – Travel to breakfast location
9:30-11:00 am – Relaxed breakfast with guests
11:00 am-3:00 pm – Explore San Francisco (or choose a specific activity you’d love here!)
3:00-4:00 pm – Head to the food trucks at SPARK for lunch
4:00-5:30 pm – Relaxed lunch sampling various food trucks
5:30-6:00 pm – Head to the beach for evening portraits
6:00-7:00 pm – Couples portraits followed by charcuterie and champagne on the beach

An elopement timeline can be as simple or complicated as you would like it to be. Whether it’s 12 hours long, or 2, it deserves the time and attention to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. Are you ready to talk about your wedding timeline? Click here to get in touch, and here to learn more about my elopement photography services.

Ashlynn Shelby

April 22, 2022

Hi! I'm Ashlynn. When you choose me as your photographer, I promise to extend everything I have into your experience and your photos. You deserve the best experience possible and that's what I plan on providing.
My blog is where I share love stories I've been a part of, and resources for couples planning their engagement , wedding or elopement. I hope you can find some helpful information here to help you plan your big day. 


Leave a Reply

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