Llano River Elopement | A Behind The Scenes Look at How I Help Couples Plan and Document Their Elopement | nikolevelascophoto.com

So you want to elope in Texas but you really don’t want to drive eight hours across the state to make it happen. I get it! This is exactly why I offer and help plan Central Texas Elopements. A Llano River Elopement may be exactly what you’re looking for!

Couple hiking around the Llano River during their Llano River Elopement

Central Texas has so much to offer and is a lot more accessible for most people than West Texas is. You don’t have to travel far and wide to find a beautiful elopement location. Central Texas is home to some awesome hidden gems and I am thrilled to be doing a series of blogs recognizing some of these epic locations! So you can see just how many options you really have for your Texas Elopement.

Central Texas is home to so many diverse landscapes. The rolling hill country, stunning clear rivers, tall cypress trees, caverns, pink granite, and all of the yuccas and cactus if you love those desert vibes. There are a lot of great cities as well if an urban elopement is more your jam. So whether you want to spend your elopement day hiking, kayaking or simply taking it easy in a beautiful space, Central Texas has a location for you! From State Parks, State Natural Areas, LCRA parks to private land, you have a lot to choose from.

As an introduction to my Central Texas Location spotlight series, I wanted to highlight one of the many hidden gems Central Texas has to offer, Llano Texas! Llano Texas is a TRUE small town about an hour and a half northwest of Austin. Sitting amongst the stunning hill country, home to abundant white-tailed deer and the beautiful Llano River, Llano is a quiet and stunning location for your elopement.

Couple walking in the Llano River during their Llano River Elopement


Activities you’ll find in Llano;

  • Kayaking the Llano River | There are a lot of rental and shuttle services along the Llano river that makes planning a kayaking trip super easy. Imagine saying your vows at sunrise then hopping in your kayak and paddling down the river moments after you say “I do!”

  • Hiking South Llano River State Park | If you want to stay on land then you can take to the State Park and enjoy the views by foot.

  • Renting an Airbnb on private land | There are a lot of great Airbnbs on private land that will give you a great experience. Imagine your own private access to the Llano River, complete with a hot tub, hammocks and space to truly relax in an intimate setting.

  • Explore the town! | The town of Llano is very small but full of charm. You can enjoy a stroll through the town square, eat some pizza and say your vows at Grenwelge park down the road. All within walking distance of Airbnbs.

  • Hike Enchanted Rock | Llano is a short 30 minute drive from the infamous Enchanted Rock! You can enjoy the first part of your day in Llano then head to Enchanted Rock for a sunset ceremony. For more info on planning an Enchanted Rock elopement you can check out  my guide on How to Get Married at Enchanted Rock.

  • Get a view of the river from the Roy Inks Bridge! | You can easily walk across and enjoy views from the historic bridge crossing the Llano river. It makes for some killer photos too.

  • Go to some of the many nearby breweries or wineries for wine tasting or even book a make-your-own wine experience!

Couple visiting the Llano Theater during their Llano River Elopement

Who is a Llano River Elopement ideal for?

A Llano River Elopement is for couples located in or around the central Texas area that don’t want to drive too far for their elopement location. Maybe you don’t have much flexibility in your schedule or driving 8 hours just isn’t your jam, I get it.

A Llano river elopement could also be for couples that want to go kayaking on their elopement day | If you love kayaking and want to try to kayak down the Llano River I highly recommend looking into the many rental and shuttle companies! I’ve done this a few times and it really is such a fun experience. The shuttle service makes all the difference.

An elopement in Llano would be perfect for couples that love the small-town charm and a slower pace of life. Llano is small, charming and there’s definitely no hustle and bustle to be found. It’s a classic old Texas town.

And finally, couples interested in eloping at an Airbnb | Renting a unique Airbnb on private land for your elopement could make for such a unique experience. You get access to this beautiful land and truly get to spend the day together just the two of you.

Couple hiking around the Llano River during their Llano River Elopement

Learn more about a Llano River Elopement and get a behind-the-scenes look at what I do for my couples!

If you want the inside scoop on what planning an elopement in Llano Texas with me looks like then keep reading! I dove DEEP in this blog to give you a peek behind the scenes at how I serve my couples.

Couple hiking around the Llano River during their Llano River Elopement

Stephanie and Daniel’s Llano River Elopement

When Stephanie and Daniel first reached out to me they knew they wanted a Central Texas Elopement. They had such fond memories of driving through the hill country back roads together and wanted their day to be as relaxed and stress-free as possible.

When we spoke on the phone they mentioned really loving driving over this specific bridge and passing through a particular small town. It was a favorite memory of theirs and they had always wanted to stop and spend some time in the town. Everything they were saying was super familiar and I came to find out they were talking about Llano!

I showed them photos of the Roy Inks Bridge and told them if they wanted to they could say their vows at the river right underneath the bridge. They did not hesitate to say yes!

Couple relaxing during their Llano River Elopement
Couple crossing the roy inks bridge during their Llano River Elopement

Planning their Llano River Elopement

The first thing I do when a couple books me is help land on their elopement day locations. For Stephanie and Daniel, they were pretty set on Llano but I sent them my location and getting to know you questionnaire anyways. This is an in-depth questionnaire I use to get to know a couple’s story more and understand their landscape and general activity preferences for their elopement.

From the questionnaire, I send over a customized location suggestion guide with photos, descriptions and details for different location options. Stephaine and Daniel’s location suggestion guide included a couple of other small Texas towns, and a few different locations within Llano to choose from. Their hearts were set on getting married under the bridge in Llano!

Once we knew where they would elope I wanted to confirm whether or not the park under the bridge, Grenwelge Park, required any special permits or fees to hold an elopement ceremony or to have professional photography. I got in touch with the city officials and they gave me the green light for their elopement without any permits required!

Grenwelge Park is also home to the Llano Earth Art Fest and Halloween Pumpkin Float so I confirmed with city officials that Stephanie and Daniel’s elopement date did not fall during these events.


Couple getting ready in their Airbnb before their Llano River Elopement

Booking Lodging

Now that we knew where they would have their ceremony it was time for Stephanie and Daniel to book their Airbnb. I sent over a list of different options and Stephanie did some research of her own. They ended up booking Stay Luce, the cutest cottage-style Airbnb in a neighborhood within walking distance to the downtown Llano area as well as the park where they would say their vows. This Airbnb offered stunning light and vintage style decor that had such a great impact on their photos. It was a guest house in the backyard of the owner’s main house. For Stephanie and Daniel, this did not matter but if you wanted something a little more private then I wouldn’t recommend this Airbnb.

Bride's hair and makeup for her Llano River elopement

Sending Vendor Recommendations

The only vendor aside from myself and their Airbnb that Stephanie and Daniel booked was a hair and makeup artist! They went with Noemi Alvarado who was able to travel to their Airbnb and do Stephanie’s hair and makeup from there. Here is her website.

Choosing Activities and Building their Elopement Timeline

After landing on a location and getting lodging squared away I sent a second questionnaire a couple of months before their elopement date. By this time couples usually have a better idea of timing and other details narrowed down.

The activities Stephanie and Daniel wanted to make sure took place were morning coffee, a first look, vow reading, relaxing and champagne! And they wanted to plan their ceremony around sunset so they could sleep in and get a slow start to their day.

So we planned out a timeline that allowed for all of the above!


Here’s what their timeline ended up looking like with my Mini Central Texas Elopement Package and adding one A La Carte hour of coverage to it;

Detail Photos + Stephanie and Daniel Getting Ready Separately  1:00 – 2:00

First Look + coffee and snacks at Airbnb 2:00 – 3:00

Exploring Llano, getting lunch, ice cream and having a couple of beers 3:00 – 5:00

Explore River and Grenwelge Park 5:00 – 6:00

Make our way to the ceremony location 6:00

Ceremony (handwritten vows and exchanging rings) and enjoying the sunset 6:15 – 6:40 

Champagne to celebrate! 6:40 – 7:00

For more timeline examples and tips and tricks for building elopement timelines you can check out my “Elopement Timeline Tips and Examples” blog.

The final weeks before Stephanie and Daniel’s Llano River Elopement!

Once their timeline was complete we were all set for their elopement day! I still check in every few weeks just to make sure all is well, answer any questions they might have and remind them of anything they may want to pack or purchase for their elopement day. Then a week before the elopement I send some encouragement and reminders.

Here are a couple of friendly reminders I tell couples before their elopement;

– Get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your elopement day.

– Eat lots of snacks, drink plenty of water, and really take care of yourself.

– Don’t worry about time. Really! I’ll keep us on schedule as much as possible, but your job is just to enjoy your day. Part of what makes your untraditional day so wonderful is having no outside pressure and leaving plenty of room for spontaneity!

– Lastly, I want to encourage you two to slow down and take many deep breaths. Truly soak in and enjoy the adventure, every last bit.


I also include a custom packing list in this email. The list varies depending on activities, locations and weather for each elopement, but here’s what Stephanie and Daniel’s list said;

– Marriage license

– Vows & rings

– Wedding attire & details/decorations (flowers if you have them)

– Good footwear with tread, maybe a change of shoes and socks because our feet will definitely get wet when we explore the river!

– Warm layers, outer layers that you’re stoked to be photographed in if it gets cold.

– Sun & bug protection: sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray

– Rain & wind protection: windbreaker/raincoat, umbrella

– Water, food and champagne!

I did reach out through email one last time two days before their elopement just to confirm when I would be meeting up with them and send another link to the timeline in case it got buried. My communication from there transfers to texting on the day of the elopement to make sure we can stay in close contact!


Stephanie and Daniel’s Elopement Day!

I arrived to their Airbnb around 12:30pm and greeted them both with hugs and excitement! They were jamming heavy metal music and relaxing in their Airbnb together. I asked who chose the music and they said they both did! Which I think is so funny because they were such a quiet couple. But they were listening to intense metal music. I loved it.

We spent some time sitting, connecting and talking before I took my camera out. We talked about their travels so far and what our plans were for the day. Then I told them they could keep relaxing on the couch while I took detail photos of the space. I like to start by talking to couples and taking detail photos. I feel like it takes a lot of pressure off of couples to act a certain way when I arrive.

Having someone you’ve never met greet you and immediately stick a camera in your face IS weird. Starting with details also gives me a chance to see how couples naturally interact together. This way when I do start directing them I can play off of how they are organically. Instead of forcing them to do things they wouldn’t normally do. The way I photograph is a balance between documentary and direction. I never want my direction to interfere with a meaningful moment or make anyone feel uncomfortable.


Getting Ready & First Look

After getting some detail shots I asked if they were ready to get dressed for their first look! We had Daniel go in the restroom and get 95% dressed. While I helped Stephanie get into her dress in the living room. We decided to do the first look on the enclosed patio with the most stunning light! So Stephanie walked outside and waited for Daniel to come out.

One of my favorite photos from the day is a photo I snuck of Stephanie through the door. She was shaking her arms out. As if the anticipation of the first look was too much and she couldn’t wait to see and hug Daniel! It was sweet and I think really documented her emotions and personality.

Daniel came out and they got to see each other in their wedding attire for the first time. It was a quiet and peaceful first look as they showed off their outfits to one another. After their first look, we took advantage of their beautiful Airbnb and took some portraits inside.

Lunch Time!

Now it was time to head out and explore the town of Llano! Everything was in walking distance and the weather was a perfect temperature. So it was fun to explore everything on foot. Our first order of business was FOOD! They had seen Tommy’s Mesquite-Flamed Pizza when they got into town and wanted to try it for lunch. Mesquite-Flamed pizza sounded DOPE to me and I was very excited about this choice.

We walked across the iconic bridge they mentioned during our first conversation together. We got to check out the turtles and views of the river for the first time!

When we arrived to Tommy’s the owner greeted us with so much stoke. He was so happy they chose his restaurant for their wedding day lunch and said “It’s all on the house!” Stephanie and I ordered a pizza and Daniel got some nachos.

The owner of Tommy’s (his name was not Tommy) recommended checking out the community garden while we waited for the pizza. So we trusted his advice and did just that. There were even a couple of train cars to explore which made for some cool photos.

The pizza and nachos did NOT disappoint, 10/10 would recommend eating here if you visit Llano.

Exploring the rest of Llano

We spent the next couple of hours walking around the downtown Llano area. When we saw one store called Enchanted Rocks and Minerals. Stephanie is a fan of geology and rocks so she was pretty excited to go inside. The owners were working and excited to see Stephanie and Daniel visiting in their wedding attire! They swapped wedding stories and told us all about the different rocks and minerals within her store.

Beers and a funny Buffalo

The final stop before making our way to the ceremony location was a hole-in-the-wall kind of brewery. They had visited the day before and kept telling me about this funny buffalo painting inside. They had been laughing about it all day leading up to visiting the brewery. The buffalo did not disappoint but seeing them laugh and enjoy it so much made it even better. We sat down at a cozy booth while they ordered a couple of drinks. It was slow-paced, quiet, and relaxing!

Ceremony & Grenwelge Park

After a couple of drinks at the brewery, we made our way to the park for their ceremony!

When it came time for vows they spoke so quietly that I had no idea when they were finished. So I stood back taking photos until they turned to me to let me know they were done.

We spent some time taking photos at their ceremony space and made our way to the water. They kicked off their shoes and got into the river together as a way to celebrate getting married!

We spent the evening hiking around the park. Climbing over rocks, checking out the birds and sitting to watch the sunset. They even got to play some music from their phone and have their first dance!

The final hoorah was celebrating with some champagne & sparkling cider in the glow of their headlights for dramatic effect.

Stephanie and Daniel got to include all of the activities they wanted to include on their elopement day. Not once did they have to stress, feel pressured, or rush through the experience.

When I asked what their favorite part of the day was they said THE WHOLE DAY! They said they loved how relaxed and calm they felt through the day and how beautiful the park by the river was.


This is just one example of how an elopement can be whatever you want it to be! It doesn’t have to involve hiking miles through the mountains or driving eight hours across the state. It can be as simple as spending quality time together in a new place with the person you love! Central Texas is covered in hidden gems just like Llano that offer you a super laid-back experience like Stephanie and Daniel’s. 

If you want to learn more about Central Texas Elopements or are ready to start planning your very own then contact me to get started!

And if you want more info just like this blog has then follow me on Instagram where I am always sharing Texas elopement planning tips and stories.


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