How Long Do You Need To Hire Your Elopement Photographer For?

Posted On | February 23, 2023

There is a big misconception that elopements only need a few hours of photography coverage, especially when it’s just the two of you or a handful of guests. In this post we outline how long you need to hire your elopement photographer for.

Let’s clear one thing up ASAP: your wedding day absolutely deserves more than just a few hours of coverage.

Your wedding day is SO much more than a ceremony with a quick photoshoot after!

After shooting more than 200 weddings, we can honestly say that we have never had a couple wish they had less coverage, and have found the sweet spot for most elopements to be eight to twelve hours of coverage, depending on the season and your vision for the day.

It’s important to note that a twelve-hour day does NOT mean a twelve-hour photoshoot – that would be no fun for you or for us!

Instead, a twelve-hour day looks like the two of your having the best freaking day of your life and us taking a backseat and simply documenting how it unfolds. We promise that it will go by SO much faster than you could imagine!

If you’re just starting out planning your wedding and are struggling to decide which package is right for you, there are a few things to consider.

Benefits Of More Photography Coverage

Less Stress

One of the biggest reasons we often hear from couples about why they chose to elope is wanting to have a stress-free day. The single easiest way to make sure your day goes as smoothly as possible is to give yourself enough time. By choosing to have more hours of coverage, you allow us to build in wiggle room in case something comes up, like unexpected traffic, forgetting your flowers at the Airbnb, or a random summer rainstorm that we decide to wait out (all things that we’ve seen happen a few times over the years!) More coverage also gives you more flexibility throughout the day. It provides you with the chance to slow down and be fully present in each moment without feeling like you’re rushing from one thing to the next all day.

Opportunity for Activities

One of the biggest benefits of an adventure wedding or elopement is the opportunity to create a day full of moments and activities that are meaningful to you. The more time we have together, the more activities we can include! Whether it’s making breakfast together, hiking, dogsledding, playing a round of your favorite card game, kayaking, enjoying a meal cooked by a private chef, or even stargazing, your options become much more plentiful when you give yourself more time. Here’s our favorite list of ideas for unique activities you can incorporate into each part of your day!

Tell the Full Story of Your Wedding Day

While eight hours might sound like a LONG time, the average person is awake for at least sixteen hours per day. On your wedding day, that means eight hours of coverage is only HALF of the day! While your ceremony is likely to be the main event, your wedding day is so much more than those fifteen to twenty minutes. We like to encourage couples to think about their day from start to finish and imagine how those sixteen hours will unfold.

Think about the butterflies that will be in your stomach when you wake up, knowing today is the day you finally get to marry your favorite person in the world.

The anticipation building as you sip your morning cup of coffee together and copy your vows into your vow book before heading your separate way to get dressed for the day.

The flood of emotions that comes as you zip up your dress or tie your tie, the realization of everything that’s about to happen coming into focus.

Your heart soaring during your first kiss as a married couple.

The just-married giddiness that overtakes you as you head off on an adventure in the mountains to celebrate.

Holding your lover close as you feel the warm rays of sun on your skin as it sinks behind the mountains, and then the cool breeze of night as you stargaze and watch the milky way rise around a campfire.

All of those moments are part of the story of your wedding day, and they deserve to be captured just as much as your ceremony does!

Feel More Comfortable In Front of the Camera

If you’re someone who always feels awkward in front of the camera, let us let you in on a little secret… The more time you spend in front of one, the less awkward you’ll feel!

A benefit to having more coverage is giving yourself time to get used to having a camera around before we get to the most important parts of the day, like your ceremony! When we have a longer timeline, we can ease into it as you get ready for the day, so that by the time we’re taking portraits and you’re sharing your vows, you’ll forget the camera is even there.

Plus, with more coverage, it allows us to capture more candid shots of the two of you soaking up the moment and enjoying your day together!

Example Timelines

We know how difficult it can be to picture what a longer wedding or elopement day might look like. Here are four example timelines to get a feel for just how incredible a full day (or two!) can be!

bird's eye view looking straight down on wedding couple paddling in packraft wound ans island in an alpine lake during packraft elopement in colorado

Two Day Elopement

Day One – Intimate Mountain Ceremony

11:00 am – Meet at your cabin for getting ready photos. Make breakfast together, copy your vows into your vow books, and hang out with family.
12:45 pm – Drive to your private ceremony location
1:30 pm – Exchange private vows, just the two of you
2:00 pm – Enjoy a champagne and charcuterie board picnic and exchange gifts
2:30 pm – Explore the area for your couples portraits, spend some time canoeing on the lake
4:00 pm – Drive to your family ceremony location
4:30 pm – Ceremony with immediate family
5:00 pm – Family portraits
5:30 pm – Sunset portraits
6:00 pm – Day one Coverage ends

Day Two – Reception in Denver

5:30 pm – Meet at a brewery downtown for a reception with friends and family
5:45 pm – Portraits with friends and extended family who weren’t there yesterday
6:15 pm – Reception officially begins, mingle with your guests while hors d’oeuvres and drinks are served
7:30 pm – Toasts by your friends and family
8:00 pm – First dance and parent dances
8:15 pm – Cut your cake
8:20 pm – The dance floor opens – party with your people!
10:30 pm – Day two coverage ends

Twelve-Hour Sunrise Elopement

3:00 am – Meet at the trailhead and gear up
3:15 am – Begin 1.5 mile hike in the dark taking star photos along the way
5:00 am – Arrive at first look location as alpenglow begins. Change into your wedding attire with getting ready photos in the wilderness
5:30 am – Frist look at sunrise followed by portraits as we explore along the trail
7:15 am – Begin hike back to trailhead taking portraits along the way
8:00 am – Arrive back at trailhead, head to Airbnb for your ceremony
8:45 am – Get married surrounded by your closest family + friends
9:15 am – Family photos, sign your marriage license
9:45 am – Brunch party with champagne & Bloody Marys
11:15 am – Drive to 4×4 trailhead 
12:00 pm – Explore 4×4 trail with family taking portraits along the way 
3:00 pm – Coverage ends – go take a nap!

Eight-Hour Winter Elopement

12:30 pm – Meet at your Airbnb for getting ready photos. Enjoy a cup of coffee on the deck while you copy your vows into your vow books and listen to your favorite record.
2:00 pm – Leave for your ceremony location
2:30 pm – Get married and sign your marriage license. Enjoy your first dance and pop some champagne.
3:15 pm – Explore the area while taking your couples portraits
4:15 pm – Head out for your private sunset dogsledding tour
6:15 pm – Warm up back at your Airbnb with dinner cooked by a private chef. Read letters from your family.
7:45 pm – Soak in the hot tub and take star photos
9:00 pm – Coverage ends 

Six-Hour Hiking Elopement

3:00 pm – Meet at your cabin for getting ready photos. Facetime your family after helping each other get dressed and exchanging letters you wrote to each other.
4:30 pm – Drive to the trailhead
5:00 pm – Hike 1.5 miles to your chosen ceremony location
5:45 pm – Get married! Have your dog sign your marriage license with their paw print.
6:15 pm – Pop champagne and enjoy a picnic. Explore the area while taking golden hour portraits.
8:15 pm – Hike back to the car as soon as the sun goes behind the mountains.
9:00 pm – Coverage ends 

We’re Here to Help!

Still trying to decide how long you need to hire your elopement photographer for? We’re always happy to chat about your vision for your elopement day and give our honest opinion of how much coverage we think you’d need in order to include everything you’ve been dreaming of while still having a relaxed, stress-free day!

As two born and raised Coloradans who have photographed over 200 couples in 100+ locations across Colorado, we specialize in creating a different kind of wedding day that is just as adventurous as you are. We use our experience and knowledge to craft a different kind of wedding day that feels completely authentic to you. Want to hike to a high alpine lake? We can give you trail options for that! Want to canoe along the banks of a mountain lake? We can tell you the best lakes to do it on! Want to watch the sunset from the top of the world? We’ll lead you to our favorite spots for sunset! Reach out to get started! In the meantime, be sure to check out our list of Best Places to Elope in Colorado, and our guide for How to Plan a Colorado Elopement!

Overwhelmed with How To Plan A Colorado Elopement?

Download Our Free Colorado Elopement Planning Guide & Checklist

40+ pages of ideas, tips, and a step-by-step checklist to make your dream elopement come to life.

wedding couple in the mountains on cover of We, The Light Photography's Colorado Elopement Planning Guide and Checklist

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

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