Elopement Timeline Tips and Examples | nikolevelascophoto.com

Today I am going over elopement timeline tips and examples! This blog covers what you want to consider when building your elopement timeline as well as give sample timelines with a few different scenarios. Your elopement day is YOURS and you can really customize it however you wish! I just take my own experience to give you some tips and advice when you are building your timeline.

I am an elopement photographer and guide based out of Texas so these timelines will be tailored to different Texas elopements!

Bride and groom posing at their hotel.

Eloping ain’t what it used to be!

Your Mom or Grandparents may hear the term elopement and imagine a couple in a tight situation running off to Vegas or the nearest courthouse to do the deed. While running off to Vegas does sound fun and some courthouse weddings are actually stunning that’s not your only option when you choose to elope!

I believe eloping is when a couple chooses to take their wedding day into their own hands and have a super intentional day just for them. Traditional weddings are beautiful and ideal for some while others don’t feel like it’s a true representation of their story. I get it! I want to help couples have their own intentional wedding experience! 

With all of that being said elopements are still new and unfamiliar territory. While traditional weddings have planning resources and guides busting at the seams elopement resources are far and few in between. Which is why I am creating these guides for you!

I have a plethora of planning resources for couples looking to elope.

From Best Places To Elope in Texas through planning elopements in specific locations like Big Bend to unpacking the entire planning process in my How To Elope In Texas blog. My goal is to create high quality resources that take the stress out of planning! Your experience is my first priority and I know that the planning process is a huge piece of that experience.

Bride and groom exchanging vows at sunset during their elopement.

Here’s a quick overview of my best advice when building your elopement timeline;

  • If you want to have more privacy choosing to elope on a weekday at sunrise will be your best bet. National and State Parks can be crowded on weekends and around sunset!

  • Travel time between locations can eat up a lot of time. Be mindful of travel and include it in your timeline. 

  • Give yourself about an hour and a half for hair and makeup.

  • Being flexible and having backup options is so important! Bad weather, unexpected trail closures, change in accessibility. A lot of things can have an impact on locations and timing. Having a plan b and being flexible can save you!

  • Don’t jam-pack your timeline! Leave room to be spontaneous and so you can be fully present on your elopement day.

  • The best light for photos is around sunrise or sunset.

Bride and groom hiking during their texas elopement

What This Blog Covers

  • Why weather is important when building an elopement timeline

  • What to do if you want an intimate Setting for your elopement

  • Timeline samples

  • Activities

  • The impact light can have on an elopement timeline

  • Travel time between locations

  • Make time for a meal

  • Having flexibility in your elopement timeline

  • How photos fit into elopement timelines

Bride and groom exploring big bend during their elopement

Why weather is important when building an elopement timeline

Weather may not always have a huge impact on an elopement timeline. But if you are eloping in Texas in the middle of summer it will. The majority of elopements take place outside! Being caught outside in Texas in the middle of the day in the dead of summer can make for a rough experience. Unless you are planning to swim or kayak! 

To beat the heat of summer I recommend eloping at sunrise. Then either splitting the day in half so you can take a break or go swimming or kayaking after your vows!

Couple swimming in a lake during their elopement

Timeline Tips and Examples

Below are a couple of different timeline samples to show what an elopement timeline might look like. They also include hourly coverage on the left to show what different packages will cover in terms of photos. Each sample has a description attached underneath.

Remember your elopement is YOURS. You can take things out that you don’t want and replace them with experiences of your own!

Below is a general timeline sample that would work well in warmer months. Remember the sunrise time changes throughout the seasons so this timing would vary from season to season. I also included what the photo coverage would capture with different packages like a 4, 5 and 10 hour package. Personally I recommend sunrise elopements! They offer more privacy.

Elopement Timeline Example

This sample is to show a timeline for anyone who may want to sleep in, have their ceremony in the middle of the day and take advantage of sunset! Or you could move things around and have ceremony at sunset. Keep in mind that most places are much more crowded at sunset than they are at sunrise. Especially popular parks! Remember the sunset time changes throughout the seasons so this timing would vary from season to season. I also included what the photo coverage would capture with different packages like a 4, 5 and 10 hour package.

Elopement Timeline Example

Last but not least! This is a full day elopement timeline! This timeline breaks your coverage in half so you can take advantage of both the sunrise and sunset with a little break for a nap or some food in between. This is my favorite way to capture elopements! I love being able to experience sunrise and sunset in the same amazing day.

Elopement Timeline Example

What to do if You Want an Intimate Setting for Your Elopement

If you want to have more privacy eloping on a weekday at sunrise is the way to go. I recommend arriving to your trailhead before the sunrises if you are hiking to a ceremony space! Bonus tip: An elopement photographer or planner can help find a lesser known location!

Couple having their first look in the light of their headlights during their big bend elopement


There are so many ways you can spend your elopement day. Some couples choose to hike three different trails. Maybe you’ll want to spend time reading letters from loved ones. Or have a picnic and do some 4×4 exploring! 

You can do whatever you want! Book a tour guide for unique access to certain locations. Book a helicopter ride, plan a kayaking trip, horseback riding, drive dirt bikes around, have a pizza party. Seriously, do what you want!

Couple exploring Hamilton Pool on their elopement day

The impact light can have on an elopement timeline

My favorite time of day to shoot is either sunrise or sunset, that’s where you get that beautiful golden light. 

Deciding what you want to happen during the best light is a good place to start when building your timeline. I’ve seen couples choose to have their first look as the sun is rising followed by their ceremony. There have been couples who have their first look before the sun so they can say their vows at sunrise! Then I have had couples who arent morning people. So they had their first look in the middle of the day while saying their vows at sunset. There are no set rules! 

I will add that Mid day is the harshest light. While shooting in harsh light can provide some really unique results I don’t recommend having a ceremony mid day.

Bride and groom enjoying the sunset at a lake in Texas.

Travel time between locations

Driving, hiking, biking or even walking from one place to another all add travel time to your elopement day.

Travel time between each location is super important to consider when building your elopement timeline. Take Big Bend for example, it’s a HUGE park. For Big Bend chances are your Airbnb is going to be at least an hour from any trailhead. And then once you are in the park even trailheads are hours away from each other!

Couple enjoying a romantic picnic in Texas.

Make time for a meal

Don’t forget to plan for a meal! Whether it be a picnic or something more elaborate. Waking up at sunrise for a hike means you will be exerting a lot of energy. I recommend setting aside some time in the middle of your day to replenish! Take it from someone who has photographed full day elopements. That time in the middle for a break and some food is a life saver.

Bride laughing at her Inks Lake elopement.

Having Flexibility in your Elopement Timeline

Making sure you have wiggle room in your timeline is probably the most important bit of advice I can offer.

A plan b option on your elopement day is important in the case of bad weather or unexpected closures. I recommend having a plan b and plan c location as well as being flexible with your timeline. This could mean waiting for clouds to clear, rain to stop, opting for sunset or even postponing to the day after you originally planned. Being flexible is key!

Make sure you leave room in your timeline to breathe! 

Building in extra time to be spontaneous means then you can take all of those little extra adventures. Like pulling off to the side of the road to check out a beautiful overlook. Explore a different area or trail, snag souvenirs from the park headquarters and talk to the park rangers. Park rangers always have the best insight on the parks! And they get so stoked when couples come in dressed in their wedding attire.

That wiggle room will give you room to breathe, enjoy your day and be fully present together. The last thing I want is for you to feel rushed from one thing to the next. I want you to truly experience the day together!

Bride and groom scooting through a cave at Hamilton Pool.

How photos fit into elopement timelines

I always try to emphasize that elopements are not full day photo shoots. I’ll share what I do and how I approach taking photos while being mindful of the couple’s experience.

I never want a couple to feel like their elopement day is just a photoshoot. Experience comes first! And if their experience is epic then the photos will reflect that.

I try to work in a way that documents moments as they unravel rather than hyper posing the entire day. I go out the day before an elopement and scout all of the locations. So I know what to expect in each location and I have an idea of what the light is like. When I do this I also get specific spots in mind for photos!

The day of the elopement we’ll have a huddle to talk about timeline, logistics and go over the day! I always remind couples that I have spots in mind to stop for photos but for everything else I’ll be more like a fly on the wall.

Whenever we arrive to a space I’ll give couples time to take it all in and explore however they want. I’ll either walk ahead or trail behind. Sometimes I’ll go off and let them explore on their own while I scope out the light in another area. I always communicate with a couple before doing that though.

I’ll take photos as they explore and then we break into more directed posing for a short amount of time. The way I direct people for photos always depends on what they do naturally. This way the photos honestly represent the couple! Their body language and all. So it’s like candid, documentation with some small windows of direction in between. I let couples know that if they see a spot and want me to snap photos there we totally can. As long as it is safe and not harmful to the outdoor space we are in!

Why I recommend a full day elopement

If you visit my website or read my blogs it’s no secret that I recommend full day elopements. So your first thought might be “She’s just trying to get us to spend more money.” But that is not the case at all.

Your elopement is your wedding day. This is a day that is sacred, one that marks the ending of one way of life and the beginning of another. Marriage is a big commitment and not something to be taken lightly.

I truly value your elopement day and believe that you shouldn’t feel the need to cut it short.

Allowing for a ten hour timeline or even a two day experience means that you will have a full story to reminisce on. With photos capturing the entire story of your elopement. It means you will have every detail and moment to look back on.

This is incredibly important especially when you think about the fact that you don’t have a huge guest list. So these photos will be the only way for your loved ones who wont be there in person to experience the day with you.

Photos will outlive us. I am typing this as I look at a framed photo of my grandparents on their wedding day sitting on my desk. Neither of which are alive today. These photos will hold meaning for a long time. Make sure they tell the full story so they will know how it felt.

Bride and groom hugging in the Texas desert.

Do what you want!

Do what you want to do on your elopement day! It is a huge day and I know you value it. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to spend it! If you want to go skinny dipping in the lake in the middle of December do it. If you want to have a picnic in the middle of the desert go for it. Take whatever it is that makes the two of you feel most alive and connected and incorporate that into your timeline. This day is the beginning of your life together, make it epic!

Thank you for reading!

I sincerely hope that this blog gave you some insight and ideas on building your own elopement timeline. If you are interested in any more of my elopement planning resources you can find those here. I am also always sharing tips, stories and more about myself on my Instagram so follow me if you want to see some of that!

If you have questions or are ready to start planning your own elopement please contact me I would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for reading!

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