A Magical Wedding & Elopement Experience Starts With You

A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO HELP YOU START PLANNING YOURS TODAY

love notes from Henry & Sergio

How To Get The Best Of Out This Planning Guide

When in Doubt, Contact Us

Elopement Planning Timeline To Keep In Mind

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Dream The Best Wedding Dream

Then Keep This Dream at the Core of Everything You Do

What would your wedding day look like if there were no boundaries?

You might have seen my blog post on 6 Things To Consider Before Eloping where my very first tip is “Don’t Think With Your Head, Think With Your Heart”.

The reason why it’s so important to dream of your wedding day with your heart is because I don’t want your logical side to worry about what’s “doable”, what’s “feasible”, or what’s “most realistic”.

I want your heart to tell you how you want your wedding day to feel like, what you want to experience, and what you want to remember the most.

You might have done that exercise once in the past, but I would love for you to do it again, and this time, expand on “think with your heart” a bit more. This part of the planning process is all about letting your imagination go wild, truly have fun, forget what you’ve read on a blog, ignore what other eloping couples had done, let go of fears, let go of what society has been telling you, let go of what all the unwanted opinions and external voices so you can actually craft a day that would allow for not only breathtaking photos but also intentional meaning.

Be in your most comfortable space so you can be in your most comfortable self

The environment you’re in when you’re dreaming about your day is important. Whether it’s cuddling in the living room or while walking your dog together, think of a space where you can be away from work and away from life’s responsibilities for a bit.

In this space, I want each of you to really take turns and talk because this is BOTH of your elopement day. BOTH of you are equally important and so are your dreams and wishes.

Close your eyes and go to that space, visualize your elopement day right now:

  • What do you see first thing in the morning when you wake up?
  • How does it feel?
  • What’s around you?
  • What does it feel like when you first see your partner? Describe the significance of their presence in your life, especially on this day

Moving away from the cabin, you are now arriving at where you are about to say your vows:

  • What do you see? Who’s standing around you? Any guests or just you two? Your dog? Your parents? Your friends?
  • What does the temperature feel like?
  • Try to visualize your vows. Don’t say it out loud, just visualize yourself saying it
  • Now visualize the part where it’s your partner’s turn to say their vows
  • You just finished your vows. You just opened your heart up in ways you didn’t know you could. What are your feelings now? 

Now that you are done with your vows, how else would you like to celebrate to remember this day:

  • Would you like a moment just for you both to sit down, to take it all in, to be in this space?
  • Are you running along the beach? Or screaming on top of the mountain because you’re so happy you can’t contain it?
  • Are there memories from when you went through a hard time and your partner was there all along to support you? What do you want to say to your partner now?
  • What about a first dance? Is anyone nearby? What is YOUR song? How is the view now with you dancing with your husband/wife for the first time?

In these exercises, you are dreaming and placing words into describing what’s most important to you. You also get to hear your partner about their wishes. There are no wrong answers. The most important thing is that you now get to understand what you value. Then, hold on to these values because you might face some uncertainties and unwelcome surprises during this planning period, but these values will be your guiding light and will help you prioritize what’s negotiable and what’s not.

One Step At A Time, But Take The Big Steps First

Many couples can feel overwhelmed after they have listed everything out for their wishlist. With many decisions to make, some can get stuck and don’t know where to start.

My advice is to focus on the big thing first. You’ve already got me as your photographer, now you just need to know where you are eloping. Some couples know the exact trail or location when they book, and some don’t. Some need to wait till they get a list of locations from me to decide. That’s all ok.

If you are waiting on me, take this time to continue dreaming about your day. Once you receive a location list from me, my number one advice is to start looking into the trails on Youtube, Tiktok, Pinterest, Instagram. Use those platforms so you can really see how the location looks, then make a decision on the location so you can move on to the next step: booking accommodations.

Once the “where” is figured out, the rest just follows. (I promise, you will feel much better after this step)

Take it one step at a time, follow the Elopement Questionnaire I sent over, and check things off as you go.

Elopement Location and What to Know

During our call, we either know exactly where you are going to elope or we might need a bit more time to do research or to examine closely what specific country, National Park, or trailhead you love the most. Either way, I want to make sure to be here for you and share some tips on how to choose locations for your experience

Prioritize your vision first / Where do you want to say your vows

  • Don’t forget the exercise you had together where you held hands and visualized the moment you are about to share your vows. Remember what you wrote down in order to place a strong focus on this part of the day. Then we will plan for other parts of the day accordingly.
  • Place focus on your ceremony and your portrait locations, when it comes to locations to accommodate your guests, we can always figure that out later.
  • Some locations do restrict a certain amount of guests who can be present to preserve nature in these public land spaces. If a location really speaks to you but due to that location’s limitations or National Park’s restrictions, you can still have that space for your private vows or portraits. We might need to look into an alternative location for the ceremony with guests. This can either be at your cabin or you might need to rent a venue.

Location and Accommodations

  • Once you’ve reviewed the location options and picked one, the most important immediate next step is to find accommodation for you.
  • Don’t forget there are other couples who are also looking to elope as well as other non-eloping people who want to reserve places for their family vacation. Therefore, once we know a place, it is important to start looking for an Airbnb/VRBO/Hotel as soon as possible.
  • During the planning process, if you need help, I can share some accommodations I’ve found or share names of towns you should look for your accommodations in. However, since each couple is so different, I am not sure what you need in terms of accommodations. So after you find 2 – 3 Airbnbs/VRBOs you love but are unsure which one, please feel free to send them my way, I can help narrow down by providing my feedback on which one might look better.
  • Pro Tips for Booking Lodging:
    • Light and Aesthetics
      • When it comes to lodging and photos, natural light can help ensure better photographs. Natural light has more blue whereas indoor light has more orange. If you want photos to reflect more true-to-life colors, look for lodging options with big windows. The aesthetics of the space can also affect the final products. Does the decor align with the vision you have for your day? Are you interested in something more woodsy and whimsical or are you interested in more modern/minimalist looks? There are no wrong options here, however, you want to pay attention to these details since these photos are for you to keep.
      • For many couples, photos at the cabin/hotel are often getting ready and intimate photos. Therefore, lodgings with multiple rooms to explore can make photos more diverse.
      • If you are interested in hosting a reception at your lodging, make sure to view listing photos for outdoor space with some privacy. Some Airbnb/VRBO might have one photo of the yard but fail to include other angles. When in doubt, reach out to the owner for more photos.
    • Drive time between lodging, ceremony location, and adventure portrait location:
      • Some lodging options might give you an exact address, some might not give you the address until booked or until 3 months before. Either way, try to use the maps included in their listing to map your route on Google Maps between all the locations you will be exploring on your day: First Look location, Ceremony location, Adventure Portrait location. 
      • As we are utilizing nature for photos, it is not uncommon for some couples to drive around 1 hour – 1.5 hours on their elopement day to get from one beautiful location to another.
      • I suggest trying to find lodging as close to your location as possible so thot you don’t have to spend too much of your day driving. Some more remote areas may require more travel, but the closer you can stay to your ceremony location, the smoother your timeline will be.
    • Get some privacy
      • If you’re having an intimate wedding with guests, think about booking your own space the night before and after your elopement so you can get plenty of rest and enjoy even more time together, just the two of you.
  • Pro tips for communicating with hosts:
    • If you are planning on hosting a reception at the Airbnb/VRBO, here are some thoughts:
      • It’s important to write down what you are planning to do as hosts might not understand elopements and might think you are trying to do a full-blown wedding at their house.
      • Share with the host that you are traveling with family who will be staying in different cabins in the area but that you plan on having dinner together for a short period of time like 1 – 2 hours. Let them know that you might have “x amount of guests” there and no one is staying over.
      • This would help ensure the host knows you plan on having some people over but no one is staying over so nothing is over the occupancy rate.

Permits and What to Know

  • With traditional weddings, couples get their “permission” to use this space by signing a contract with the venue owner. When it comes to elopements where we are using public land, you might need to get a permit. However, not every location is the same. Permit information, when to apply, and how much it costs all depends on the location you are applying.
  • If you are eloping in a National Park within the United States, there’s a high chance you will need a permit. During the planning process, I can assist with finding info, website links and help with important information to know when applying. However, I will not be able to apply for you as National Parks require couples to apply by themselves.
  • If you are eloping in National Forests or BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) within the United States, sometimes, you might need to get a permit, sometimes only the photographer (myself) might need a permit, some other times, all of us might need permits. Don’t worry about this part, I will do my due diligence to find all the necessary information for you.
  • If you are eloping internationally, there’s a high chance you won’t need a permit as other countries are not as strict as the United States.
  • Pro Tips: You do want to submit your permit application as early as possible. Most National Parks/State Parks/National Forests/BLM Lands do accept permits within 12 months of elopement date. You want to make sure you get approved for your most ideal location as soon as possible so you don’t have to compromise for another location if someone else applies before us.

What is Leave No Trace and why is it important?

The beautiful location where you stand to share your vows have existed before our time here on Earth and how beautiful it would be for you to be able to come back one day to actually re-live the space where your marriage starts (or maybe even bring your little ones with you if you do choose to have some 😀)

This is why I strongly believe in the principles of Leave No Trace so I can capture your photos in the beautiful landscape without ruining it.

Leave No Trace is a set of ethics that everyone who recreationally uses the outdoors should strive to practice in order to do their part in protecting the environment. It is made up of 7 principles that guide decisions to leave the least amount of impact possible on outside spaces:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

To best follow Leave No Trace, you should do research beforehand so that you can make a plan to stick to trails and other durable surfaces, be ready to leave everything you find and pack out everything that you bring in, and be prepared in case you encounter any local wildlife.

Some other wedding-related topics on Leave No Trace can be:

  • Avoid confetti
  • If you want some sort of celebratory “confetti”, try using biodegradable petal toss and pick up these petals afterward; bubbles can be super cute; the use of sparklers will need to follow the park’s rules and be avoided during fire season.
  • The champagne spray needs to be pre-popped to avoid leaving corks in nature (don’t worry, I can help with this).
  • No stepping on meadows and flowers (I have some tricks with my camera that can make you look like you’re in the middle of a flower field without us stomping on everything and still allow us to stay on the trail).

Following the Leave No Trace ethics helps preserve outdoor spaces and our access to them by making sure that we use them sustainably and responsibly so that you can return to whatever location you choose to have a vow renewal or anniversary session and still have it be as pristine as the day that you got married.

Guests

Are you inviting guests to your elopement?

I use the term “elopement” and “intimate wedding” interchangeably because I do believe that having guests or not doesn’t define the meaning of those words. The most important thing here is the root of the day: a focus on THE TWO OF YOU.

An elopement could be just between the two of you or you could also invite some family members and friends.

For some couples, it is a super easy decision: “Just us two and that’s it”. For others, it could mean a bit more time to brainstorm and to face some difficult conversations.

In the past, I’ve had couples who initially booked and wanted no guests but later on would add some to their day. On the other hand, I’ve also had couples who wanted to elope with guests but then totally change their mind and just had the day for the two of them.

Whether you have guests or not, you’ll still have my support. It won’t affect the way I photograph and provide my best self to you. However, there might be some things to consider when having guests:

  • Keep your vision at the core of everything you do: Don’t forget the exercise where you sit together and dream about your elopement day. When inviting guests, you might have to sacrifice some of what you had initially wanted. However, hold on to your elopement dream. You can still plan a beautiful elopement where guests are happy and most importantly YOU are happy. 
  • Who to invite?: We all might have someone in our life that has our back and is our support system. Whether it’s your partner, your friend, or your family, if you want them to be there on your important day, you should. When inviting guests, my advice is to focus on the important ones first and never let anyone guilt you into inviting more than what you had in mind. You are choosing to have an intentional wedding, don’t let guilt and shame force you into doing something you don’t enjoy.
  • Guests and Ceremony Location: When planning for a ceremony with guests, couples often need to pay attention to WHO are going to be there and WHAT physical limitations guests have in order to decide WHERE this location is. In the past, I’ve seen the majority of couples opting for an easy access location, however, I’ve photographed elopements where guests hike to wherever the couples wanted for their ceremony. When it comes to choosing where to do this, please make sure to share with me any info about guests you might know so I can find locations that can meet your and everyone’s needs.

  • Guests and Reception: Reception for an intimate wedding or an elopement day can look different from a traditional wedding. You have the options of (1) Not doing one (2) Having a small picnic instead of a full reception (3) Hosting a reception where guests can join and cook together or (4) Planning a traditional reception where you might get caterers and planners to set everything up. Sometimes, a reception might need to happen at an unconventional time due to the priority for sunset photos. See below for more info.
  • Guests and Lodging: Depending on the number of guests you invite, sometimes, it might be hard to find a cabin/hotel that can accommodate everyone under one roof. When looking for a place to stay, focus on a place for you first. Your cabin/hotel can be the base where guests can come to hang out and they can leave to go back to their cabins when you need time for yourselves. Therefore, guests might need to look for their own accommodation as well as transportation.
  • What Guests Should Know: By this time, you have seen so many elopement blog posts and have received so much information from me that, to you, this vision is closer to reality than ever. Your guests might not know that just yet. Many guests out there are only familiar with the concept of a traditional wedding and might not have heard of an elopement and what it entails. It is important to communicate with them early on about your vision so they know that things might look different (how the flow is different, the timeline is different, the fact your wedding attire might get dirty and is ok, etc…). I’ve noticed that starting a group Google Doc or creating an elopement website is always nice since you can share:
    • Information about the elopement
    • Where to book accommodations
    • Logistics and transportation
    • Weather and what to wear
    • Packing list and education on outdoor etiquettes (Leave No Trace)

How to involve friends and family on your elopement day?

1-Day Elopement with a Traditional Timeline

  • With a more of a “traditional timeline” where the order of events are quite similar to what you might have experienced at a wedding, guests can be a part of your day almost every step of the day.
  • Guests can be present during getting ready photos, ceremony, and reception.
  • One caveat is that you might have to compromise on where to go for the ceremony and your portraits.

1-Day Elopement with a strong focus on your experience

  • With this kind of timeline, couples want to make sure they still get to enjoy the elopement experience. They might have guests present for getting ready, ceremony, guest portraits, and reception. However, since the focus is the time where the couple can be alone together, they will prioritize that and plan the rest accordingly
  • How this might look is:
    • Option 1: Split coverage to have alone moments during sunrise and then join family for the rest of the day
    • Option 2: Have ceremony and reception early in order to save all sunset hours for your alone time.

2-Day Elopement

  • When guests are present and a long day from sunrise till sunset sounds exhausting, you can opt in for a 2-day experience.
  • On Day 1: we will spend all your time with your guests.
  • On Day 2: this is when you can enjoy the true experience of an elopement day, where you spend the time with each other, go wherever you dream of, and share your vows in private. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget that although this one day is your elopement day, when guests are present, they often spend time with you a couple of days before and/or after, this is more like an elopement trip. If you would like to keep the time with guests minimal and spend more time alone with only each other, it is ok. You are not being selfish, you can still spend time with guests for the rest of the trip.

How to involve friends and family if they are not physically present on your day

If you are choosing to have just an experience between the two of you or, if there are some unplanned obstacles where guests can’t physically be there for you, there are some other ways you can still have your loved ones involved. Here are some ideas of what I’ve seen and helped couples with:

  • Facetime/Zoom call with guests on your wedding day: You can get dressed, have your first look with each other, and right before we leave for the ceremony, you can do a family zoom call where you get to say hi to people, listen to their wishes, and show them how incredible you look in your wedding attires.
  • Invite them to write you letters: You can ask family and friends to write a letter with warm wishes. You can read them during getting ready photos or you can do so after the ceremony when you’re not as nervous anymore.
  • Record parts of your day to share with your loved ones: If you don’t have a videographer, during the adventure we have together, you can film mini clips or even set up a camera to film your ceremony. These clips can be a quick way to share with your loved ones what you’ve experienced on your day. Quick note: If you do want to have a tripod set up for your ceremony, I’ll do my absolute best to not step in front of the camera as well as trying my best to edit out the tripod. However, as I want to focus on documenting moments that matter the most to you, I often might walk into your frame or I might not be able to edit out the camera completely.
  • Have a celebration when you get back: After your elopement, you can come home and celebrate with everyone with either a backyard BBQ or by renting a space for a dinner reception. This option allows you to have your day the way you’ve always dreamed of without compromises and when you get back, everyone can still celebrate your marriage without you feeling the pressure of a typical wedding day. During this celebration, you can also share your photos from this adventure. You can make a slideshow or print an album where guests can still sign their names and wishes for you. I often deliver sneaks within a week and I promise the full gallery within 3 months so whether it’s right after your elopement trip or a couple of months later, you’ll have some photos to share for sure. 

Pro tip: To avoid planning for 2 different events at the same time (your elopement and the celebration), I’d strongly recommend having this celebration at least 1 month after your elopement. You don’t want to be somewhere new and are so excited to have your elopement and still have to deal with planning activities.

Vendors

 While it’s not required to hire any particular vendors (florist, hair & makeup artist, etc.) for your day, partnering with a few high-quality, amazing vendors who are on board with helping you create your dream elopement can absolutely elevate your experience and showcase your unique style.

Hiring vendors isn’t necessarily about turning your day into a big production, but about getting some help so you don’t have to do everything yourself. High-quality vendors means you can relax, knowing some of the big day-of “to do’s” are in the hands of a professional, and you can just sit back and enjoy the experience.

The most common vendors that couples hire for elopements & intimate weddings are florists, hair & makeup artists, officiants, elopement planners, chefs & caterers, and videographers. If you have no idea and aren’t sure who to hire to help, just ask.

When it comes to vendor recommendations, I don’t personally “recommend” anyone as each couple is different and your needs are different. I will do my absolute best to find high quality vendors whom I either have worked with or have not but have found from multiple reliable sources. I’d strongly recommend for you to go through a vetting process to make sure these vendors can meet your needs, some of which can be:

  • Read their reviews: When reading their reviews, a low rating doesn’t mean this vendor isn’t qualified. Oftentimes, they might have run into a difficult situation or a miscommunication. Rather, read the overall experiences others clients had with this vendor. See how this vendor has helped previous clients and if there is a negative review, read into the reason why it was a negative one.
  • Connect with your vendors: Just as how it was important for us to connect, it’s important for you to connect with all your vendors to understand how they work, what their values are, and whether you feel a strong connection with them. When it comes to an intimate day, vendors are often the people who can make the day better or not, so it is important for you to talk with them and to view their contracts thoroughly.

Florist

I am a huge advocate for investing in the right florist. Professionally designed florals can add so much to your elopement day. Professional florist also knows how to help you with floral arrangements that can hold up during transportation and meet the requirements for some outdoor locations that have strict restrictions on non-invasive species.

At a minimum, couples often get a bouquet and a boutonniere. Some others also get small to medium size floral arrangements for their ceremony location. 

Pro tips:

  • If your ceremony is somewhere off-site that needs a bit of work to get to, get something smaller for easy transport.
  • If your ceremony has a beautiful view, get floral arrangements that are lower on the ground can help accentuate the view instead of blocking it.

Work closely with your florist, they can help repurpose your flowers for multiple events throughout the day.

Hair and Makeup Artist (HMUA)

An elopement day is quite different from a ballroom wedding; you don’t often need to have a large amount of makeup in order for your skin to look good as we don’t have a spotlight on at all times. As we are using natural light for photos, natural make-up where you feel comfortable works perfectly.

Therefore, many couples can do their own hair and makeup if needed. If you feel comfortable doing your own hair and make-up for a date night, you sure can do your hair and make-up for your elopement day.

If you are interested in hiring a Hair and Makeup Artist, share with them your honest thoughts and feelings. If you are not comfortable with heavy makeup, share that. You want to be 100% comfortable with how you look on your wedding day.

Pro tips:

  • When reviewing your timeline, make sure you let your HMUA know that you want to have everything done at the latest 15 mins before I start photographing you for your “getting ready photos”. Your HMUA will then be able to tell you how early they want to start since each artist works differently and requires different amounts of time to do their job effectively.
  • Getting ready photos of you during this time would be better to have your hair and make-up all done instead of having only part of your face done. 
  • The 15 mins we saved above can also act as buffer time just in case your HMUA runs a bit behind.
  • For example: Bride’s getting ready photo is supposed to be at 12:30 pm, please let your HMUA know you would like to be done at the latest 12:15 pm.

Officiant

For elopements within the United States:

Marriage laws vary between each state. In some U.S. states, you can legally self-solemnize where you can marry yourselves without an officiant. In others, you will need an ordained officiant and 1-2 witnesses in order to make your marriage legal under the law.

If you do need an ordained person, you can choose to hire an officiant (which I can help provide some names) or have a family member or a friend become ordained so they can marry you. The Universal Life Church is a popular place to get ordained. Some states require an ordained person to be registered with the state system, so if you choose to have one of your guests to marry you, please email the official government office at the state you are getting married to get an official response from them whether your guest needs to do additional registrations.

Pro Tips:

  • In my experience, a good officiant sets such a good tone for the ceremony that they can make the space so safe, sacred and open for the couple to be truly themselves and to share their hearts freely. Therefore, whether you are hiring an officiant or having a loved one become your officiant, take the time to get to know them so they can also get to know you.
  • You might have heard or seen some other photographers also provide officiating services. I personally disagree with that. I don’t think a photographer should wear that many hats because a photographer’s MAIN JOB is to document ALL the moments. Doing multiple things during the most emotional part of the day might mean doing more things with less quality. Therefore, I don’t provide officiating services. However, if you need me as a witness, I’d be more than honored to sign my name to be a part of your beautiful day.

For International Elopements:

Almost all of my couples who eloped Internationally had their official paperwork done within the United States either before or after their elopement date.

You can still choose to have your legal paperwork done in a foreign country where you elope. However, for my previous clients, when it comes to legal paperwork, they chose to avoid dealing with another country’s legal system due to the fact that they might have to jump through lots of hoops to request marriage certificates later on.

Therefore, my previous couples had chosen to sign their paperwork where they’re from and then for their elopement day, although there isn’t a legal part, it is the day where they share  their vows, therefore, they consider that their wedding day and the date will be the one they’ll celebrate their anniversary later on. 

In my experience, 50% of my international elopement couples do hire an officiant because they love the fact that the officiant can set such a beautiful tone for their vows and walk them through the ceremony smoothly. The other 50% chose not to have one because they didn’t care for one. Therefore, the decision to have an officiant or not for your elopement truly depends on what you envision. 

Planner

While I love helping couples find amazing outdoor locations for ceremonies and adventure portraits, I am not a full-service planner who will book and plan everything for you. If you need in-depth assistance, especially when it comes to having an intimate wedding with guests where you have to face multiple planning obstacles, I’d strongly recommend hiring a planner or at the very least a day-of coordinator who can help with set up, tear down, and navigate guests and vendors in between.

Some eloping couples might not consider a planner as their day is only between themselves with no guests. However, if you find yourselves putting things on the back burner, it might be a good indication that you find planning too much to handle. There are elopement planners out there who can help as much (or as little) as you would like. Since an elopement day might involve way less moving pieces compared to a traditional wedding day, some of these planners might and can wear multiple hats such as: designer, florist, officiant, etc…Therefore, they can be your one-stop shop for everything elopement.

Videographer

Video can be such an amazing way to get your day documented in ways that photos cannot. When looking for a videographer, it is important to find one who can not only connect with you but also who knows about how to navigate the nature of an elopement day.

For example, a traditional wedding videographer often needs 1 – 3 additional assistants or big tripods in order to get multiple angles of the day. It is important to communicate with your videographer about the nature of your day where it might not be suitable to bring that many personnel and/or gear.

On a more personal note, I’ve had good experiences and some not-so-ideal situations when it comes to working with videographers. I’ve learned that videographers who have similar approaches and values like myself can make a huge difference: value your experience vs turning your day into a production.

In terms of timeline, when it comes to having a videographer, you might need more time overall. While your videographer does their magic, I might stand aside to get candid moments. However, your videographer and myself often need to take turns to get the most ideal compositions. Therefore, please expect a slightly longer timeline.

Pre-Elopement/Wedding Day

Activities

  • What makes elopements so unique and different from traditional weddings is the fact that you can pick and choose what activities you want to experience for your day. Intentional activities allow you to spend intentional time together and therefore, create an intentional experience where you get to immerse yourselves into the day.
  • What do I mean by activities?
    • Activities can be as simple as getting ready together, hiking, or picnicking
    • Activities can also be 4×4 offroads, helicopter rides, kayaking, reading letters from family, or star gazing
  • How to pick activities that are intentional and meaningful to you?
    • I’ve written a blog post on Unique Elopement Ideas where I’ve shared some tips you can read.
    • One thing I do want to make sure you know is: You don’t have to pick activities that you think “every elopement should have”. Your activities should reflect you. If hiking isn’t you, you don’t have to hike. If you’re afraid of heights, you don’t have to do a cliffside picnic. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to elope. Elopement means freedom so don’t feel like you have to do something just because other couples have done it.
  • Plan your activities early:
  • Some activities don’t require a lot of planning. Some might need additional vendors or tour guides to be booked in advance (for example: helicopter rides, ice cave tours, etc…). Therefore, with those activities, plan them earlier so we can make sure to book these activities at the right time in order to not sacrifice any part of the day just because we run out of time.
  • If you need help, here are some example activities couples have done in the past:
    • Relaxing / Calmer Activities:
      • Getting ready together
      • Writing vows next to each other
      • Intimate photos in PJs before getting ready photos
      • Hot tub
      • Morning walk in the woods with the pup
      • Stargazing
    • Moderate Activities:
      • Hiking
      • Canoeing / Kayaking
      • Dancing
      • Picnic
      • Night hiking
    • Adrenaline Pumping Activities:
      • Helicopter ride
      • Hot air balloon
      • Rock climbing
      • Skiing
      • Horseback riding

Vow Writing Tips:

The one thing that makes each wedding and elopement unique is honestly the vows. Only you and your partner have this unique relationship. You have your unique journey. You might have challenges, but you also have your own ways of facing them and supporting each other through it all.

Your vows don’t have to follow any rules. Your vows are the words your hearts long to sing.

Please take the time you need. Some couples start writing their vows the minute they got engaged. Some don’t start till the night before the wedding day. There isn’t a right or a wrong way of writing your vows or a right time or a wrong time.

So start whenever you want to start, but if you need a little bit of help, here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. The Introduction: Why are you here in THIS LOCATION/NATIONAL PARK/DESTINATION COUNTRY? What is it about this location that made you decide you want to get married there? Example wordage: “XXX, I have often thought of what my wedding would look like. I dreamed of ______ and ______.” And off we go into why you chose this place and landscape. Try to use powerful words that tie into the visceral and raw nature of your surroundings. This part will be centered around yourself and your personal views and perceptions. 
  2. The Declaration: what is it that you love about the other? What memorable moments have you two experienced which led you to be here now, getting married? What do you like about your partners’ mannerisms, physical appearance, love language, and what observations do you have about their nature? This part should be centered around your spouse to be. 
  3. The Union: what do you love about your relationship? Specifically how the two of you are better than one, stronger, etc. This part should be centered around you as a couple. 
  4. The Dream: what do you hope for in the future? Where do you see yourselves going after this as a couple? Tell each other what your greatest vision is for how your future will go in your imagination. Tell each other your greatest hopes for the relationship as well.

Wedding Dress

What type of dress would be great for photos? There’s not really a specific dress type to choose from a photography perspective. There are just a couple things to consider. For elopements that involve a lot of hiking, I recommend feeling out the weight of the dress to see if you would be comfortable hiking in it, especially if we are hiking long. In addition, if you have to hike in your dress, avoid super tight fitting dresses like mermaid or a big ball gown princess-like dress as you might not feel comfortable in them.

Another thing I recommend but totally not necessary is a dress that is easy and comfortable to move around with. Try picking it up and twirling it around, walk/skip in it, have someone twirl you like your dancing, etc. I love to capture movement so a dress that can add to that and make you feel really good is a plus. Capes and wings are also fun layering options that can help with movement. 

Most importantly, It’s about how you feel, something that makes you feel absolutely beautiful, comfortable and happy. That is what makes all of the difference. I know it’s cliche but you will “know” when you find the dress. I know that probably doesn’t feel super helpful, but I am here if you are down to a few options and would welcome any input.

Suit and Tux

You can choose to wear a suit or tux. Even with an outdoor location, a tux can totally work. Remember, elopements mean freedom, so you can choose to wear whatever you feel most stylish in 🙂

Your suit jacket doesn’t have to always match your pants. You can choose to have fun and mix and match. You can choose a suit with patterns or with colors that aren’t quite traditional.

Pro tips:

  • You want to think about the landscape colors of where you’re eloping in order to choose complementary colors. For example, if you are eloping somewhere with lots of blue (sky, ocean, glacier), try to avoid blue or navy suits as you might blend in with the landscape.
  • If you are eloping in the heat of the summer, the sun can increase the intensity of warm colors of red/maroon suits.
  • Don’t be afraid to play with green, tan, and brown suits.

Wedding Dress and Suit Handling Tips:

Air Travel:

If you need to fly to your elopement destination, try to carry your wedding attires with you instead of checking them in. Checked-in luggages might be lost or delayed. You can either carry them separately or you can roll them into your carry-on luggages. 

Prepping Your Wedding Attires:

With travel, your wedding attire might get wrinkly. Consider bringing a portable hand-held steamer with you. There are some reliable, portable, and affordable options on Amazon and Target.

Pro tips:

  • When you arrive, the night before your elopement, run hot water in your bathroom and leave your attires in the same room, the steam can help straighten out your attires a bit.
  • You don’t have to worry about making sure everything is textbook “perfect”. The nature of an elopement day is immersing yourself in nature, your outfits might get wrinkly from movements anyways.

Hiking In Your Attires vs Carrying Your Attires:

If your elopement location requires some hiking and the location is not “sketchy”, you can choose to hike in your attires or you can choose to carry your wedding attires until we get to the top. With locations that can be too close to the edge, I’d recommend hiking in hiking outfits for safety reasons. 

Overall, the decision to wear your wedding attire the whole time or not will depend on the eloping location, trail difficulty level, fitting of the attires, weather, etc…If you need to carry your wedding attires, make sure your garment bags have handles on both end so you can fold them in half and hook to your backpack using a carabiner.

Footwear

Type of shoes? Can I wear heels?

Since we may be hiking and exploring for most of our day together )walking up trails, rocks, uneven ground, etc.) I recommend avoiding open-toed shoes and instead wearing boots with actual tread since they would be most comfortable and safe. You will also be able to move around more freely as we take photos. If you would really like to wear heels for the ceremony, I’d suggest putting them on when we arrive at the ceremony location since you will most likely be standing in one area for the ceremony without moving. Then when we move again, you can switch back to your boots. Sneakers can work too but I only suggest wearing those for light hikes and easier trails.

If your location is cold, you might want to think about shoes with enough room for thicker wool socks and toe warmers.

If your location is snowy or has the potential to be icy, get a pair of traction spikes that fit over your shoes. If you have never worn these before, go to your local sporting goods store such as REI or Big 5 for assistance as the staff there are super helpful.

If your location is warm without much hiking such as a beach, you can totally wear open-toed footwear or even go barefoot for some photos.

Pro tips:

  • If you purchase brand new shoes for your wedding day (which is totally ok of course), don’t forget to break them in ahead of time to avoid blisters or finding out on the day of that they are not as comfortable as you had thought.

What to Pack

Don’t forget to layer up:

Over the years we’ve learned that whether you’re eloping in the summer or winter, weather can be quite unpredictable and can change at any given moment.

In high-elevation locations (mountain elopements), snow often won’t melt til June and even with that, some locations might still have residual snow from the winter. Therefore, having an extra layer to put on can make a huge difference.

Here are some other items that can keep you warm:

  • Extra jackets
  • Blankets
  • Long socks
  • Gloves
  • Hand-warmers
  • Beanies

Backpacks:

Whether you’re hiking for your day or you’re choosing easier access locations, you might want to consider having a bag to carry additional essentials with you (extra layers, food, water, vow books, etc…)

If you are hiking, consider a bag with sturdy hip straps to help alleviate some weight off of your shoulders.

If you are eloping somewhere with rain, snow, or mud, consider a bag you don’t mind if it gets dirty. We will need it to place all your personal items in there and will leave it on the ground wherever we go.

Garment Bags:

Are you hiking in your wedding attire or are you hiking in normal outfits and then changing up when you get to the destination?

The decision might depend on multiple factors and you might not know until later on during the planning process.

If you do decide to hike in your normal outfits and carry your wedding attires up, don’t forget to buy garment bags with handles on both ends. That way you can fold it in half and hook it to your backpack.

Headlamps:

A must-have if you’re hiking in the dark. 

They are also super fun for late-night star photos.

Food and Water:

Bring plenty of water. When in doubt, bring more water than you think you might need.

Pack with you snacks with a good amount of protein and sugar.

Alcohol (if you drink and if you feel like you need it).

Skin Protection (Sunscreen and Bug Sprays):

Sunscreen is important everywhere but especially places at high altitudes and/or with snow as the snow can reflect even more sunlight on you.

Bug sprays are important anywhere warm. If you see flowers, you will see bugs.

Wet wipes & hand sanitizer: With us being in nature, your hands might get dirty, get some wipes so you can clean up in between photos.

Touch-up Makeup: Your hair and makeup artist might provide you with touch-up kits. If you do your own hair and make-up, make sure to pack a small kit.

Camp Bathroom:

When outdoors, and especially when we need to hike into the wilderness, it’s important to be prepared if you need to relieve yourself.

Wag bags are portable toilet kits that you can bring with you in order to pack everything out easily. You can purchase these at your local sporting goods store.

SOMETHING THAT SCREAMS YOU:

Make it personal, make it intimate, bring things that represent who you are

  • Maybe it’s your fur baby
  • Maybe it’s a customized item
  • Maybe it’s a bottle of champagne
  • Maybe It’s matching underwear or socks with prints of your cat’s face. 
  • Truly, think about your relationship and what you can do to make your day unique and special to your hearts.

Here are some examples of how other couples brought something personal to their day:

Kari and Gabriel brought photos of their loved ones who passed away to honor them. She wore one in the bouquet; he wore one on his chest.

April and Roy brought an imprint of the paw of their fur baby who had passed away and we documented this keepsake with their detail photos.

Elorie and Phil chose to honor their cat that passed away by making sure to capture photos of the scar that it had left on Elorie’s arm.

Emee and Pete brought a cocktail kit from hom and made cocktails from the bar they met at and go to all the time.

Elopement/Wedding Timeline

Why a timeline is so important:

The key to an unforgettable experience is truly an optimal elopement/wedding timeline. In order to have an amazing experience you want to remember and the most beautiful images, so we really have to plan ahead to make sure we can be at each location at its best lighting situation.

An elopement timeline has some similar elements you might have found in a traditional timeline but it can also look different. 

While sometimes people think an elopement is just about saying vows and maybe needing only an hour or two, the day you get married is so much more than that. Your wedding day is the start of the next chapter of your life and it signifies the continuation of your relationship. It will be the day you will remember for the rest of your life and your photos will be the story that lives on. Whether you have guests or not, everything that happens between the minute you open your eyes in the morning till when you fall asleep in each other’s arms is a part of your experience. You deserve to have your day documented fully and truthfully.

How much coverage is enough?

An optimal timeline will be the one where you get enough time to let your story naturally unfold and for you two to immerse into the experience of getting married. It should be one where you can be who you are and live in the moment instead of feeling rushed.

In all honesty, I’ve never photographed an elopement that I thought the couple had me there for too long. If anything, there were instances where I wish I had more time so I could have documented a fuller picture of how amazing their experience was.

When deciding on how much of a day you want to experience or to have me along for, remember that just because I am there, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a “photoshoot” the whole time where you need to be “posed”. My goal is to direct when you need me most and to be a fly on the wall so I can photograph documentary moments of you two living and enjoying the day. I want to make sure you get not only stunning portraits for your wall (like the ones you see on my website) but also those in-between moments that tell a full story, the kind that will transport you right back onto this day even if you’re viewing these photos 10, 20, or 30 years from now.

What does my wedding/elopement day look like?

Your timeline might depend on where you are eloping, how many activities you want to have for the day and whether you have guests as well as what you want to do with guests.

Every elopement/wedding is different but here are some important details I want to make sure you are aware of:

  • Sunrise and/or Sunset
    • Best light for portraits is during either sunrise or sunset where the light is soft and at an angle where we can ensure both you and the landscape are evenly lit. 
    • This also means that if your location requires a bit of hiking, there will be some sort of hiking in the dark. Don’t worry, I can prepare you for this if you haven’t done it before.
    • Some locations need to be photographed either at sunrise or sunset only because of the direction of light. Some other locations can be more wide open with multiple angles so you can choose whichever time you like. During our planning process, I dig deep into Google Earth Pro to visualize the place in order to help answer any questions you may have to plan for the best light.
    • You also don’t have to pick between sunrise OR sunset, if you are interested in multiple locations for the day, we can do BOTH sunrise and sunset.
  • Reception time:
    • If you have guests and want to host a reception, one thing to keep in mind is the sunset time at the location where you are eloping.
    • For mountain locations, oftentimes, the best time to visit these places is also during the summer months where sunset can be very late into the night. For example, if sunset is 9:00 pm, don’t forget about the hiking time and driving time back, sometimes, you don’t get back to your cabin till 10:00 pm and with that, would hosting a reception at 10:00 pm be too late?
    • In those instances, this is where an elopement timeline might be totally different from a wedding day. I’d suggest looking into either hosting reception before we head out for sunset portraits. Or if you just want to hang out with guests and party for the rest of the evening, I’d suggest considering a 2-day elopement where you get more time with each other on Day 2 without worrying about guests.

I can definitely work on drafting tentative timelines so you can understand the big picture and make modifications as necessary. In the meantime, here are some timeline blocks that can help you understand how much time you need during each event of the day (remember, these are high-level blocks, your day might be longer or shorter)

  • Getting Ready & Detail Photos: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • First Look: 15 – 30 mins
  • Travel and/or Hiking Time: 30 mins – 2 hrs
  • Ceremony: 15 – 30 mins
  • Formal Portraits with Guests: 30 mins – 1 hour
  • Picnic or Reception with Guests: 1 – 2 hours
  • Adventure Portraits for you Two: 2 – 3 hours
  • Travel and/or Hiking Time Back: 30 mins – 2 hrs

Besides all the blocks above, I also include 10 – 15 mins buffer time between each event just in case. In my experience, things often run late more than they run early. Therefore, buffer time can ensure we have enough time even if we run a bit behind

When do we need to work on a timeline?

I usually work on timelines around the 3 months before the event date due to the fact that couples might change their mind about guest list, location, and activities to include on the day. Some lodgings also don’t give the exact address until 3 months before so without an exact address, it can be hard to guess the driving time.

However, if you would like for me to start working on the timeline early, please let me know anytime.

Timeline and Package Booked:

With a traditional wedding, couples often know how many hours they need a photographer for. However, with the nature of an elopement where guest list, locations, and activities can change, many don’t know the exact amount of hours they want to book a photographer for.

Therefore, when you booked, I wanted to make sure the package you book is on the smaller coverage side as I don’t want you to book my highest package without using all the hours. 

A lot of time, the original package you booked is enough.

Some other times, in order to make a timeline with QUALITY PHOTOS & YOUR EXPERIENCE being the top priority so that we can be at your top-choice locations at the best time of the day as well as making sure you don’t feel rushed, the timeline can be a bit more time than what you currently have booked with me. As a promise, if we ever need to upgrade, I will honor the original pricing I sent to you instead of my new pricing. 

However, if my draft timeline doesn’t fully align with what you’re looking for or if you are not interested in adding more hours, there’s no pressure to go with it. Please let me know what you would like for me to add/remove and I can make changes accordingly.

Pro Tips: When you booked, regardless of how many hours you needed me for, I blocked the whole day just in case. Therefore, to add more hours, you don’t have to worry about doing it early on. However, if anytime during planning you feel like having a 2-day elopement makes more sense and would give you more time to enjoy the experience, please reach out to me sooner rather than later so I can double-check my calendar and make sure I can block out the additional day for you.

Sample Timelines

1-Day Wedding/Elopement with a Traditional Timeline

1-Day Wedding/Elopement with a strong focus on your experience

1-Day Wedding/Elopement with a strong focus on your experience

1-Day Wedding/Elopement with a strong focus on your experience

2-Day Wedding/Elopement

Elopement/Wedding Day Info & Details

Getting Ready and Details:

When viewing getting ready and detail photos online, you might see lots of repetitive poses of wedding parties sipping mimosas and smoking cigars. However, for me, the getting ready portion of the day is more than just that, especially in an intimate wedding/elopement setting.

Some couples can be quite shy and introverted, therefore during this time, while I am documenting your time in this space, I am slowly easing you into photos. This part is where I can help ensure you feel a bit more comfortable with the camera so that by the time we go out for the adventure portraits, you will be able to relax a bit more so you can be your true selves when we arrive at the most beautiful location at the best time for beautiful light.

In addition, these photos will really help tell a complete story of how you packed your bags and traveled all the way here for this day. These photos have the power to bring you back to the memory of your wedding day even years from now.

I will arrive a bit earlier than the time we have contracted. It’s on me, I won’t bill you for that time. I’ll be there to learn about your cabin, cool spots for photos, and just to basically familiarize myself with the space and/or other vendors, family, and friends.

Pro Tips for Getting Ready Photos:

  • I loveeeee documenting moments that later on would remind you of your time at this location, so I look for cute moments. Don’t worry about this part. I would love to document you in the moments together like hanging out, drinking coffee, being cutesy inside the cabin + all the details. Something that folks like to do is wear something nice while they are getting ready. It doesn’t need to be crazy fancy. Think lounging around kind of clothes. This could be sweatpants or jeans with a plain T-shirt or it could be knitwear. Color can be neutral or earth tone. No graphics or texts on shirts would be great unless you have specific graphic or text that means something to you and your relationship (for example: if you have your favorite shirt of each other, or shirts from a concert to went together, those might have special meanings to you and I would love for you to be able to wear those outfits).
  • You can choose to get ready together or separately. This is the freedom in elopements that I didn’t see at big weddings when I used to photograph them.
  • During this time, please make sure the place is clean and neat. Clutters make photos a bit distracting so please have clothes, phone chargers, drinks, etc.,  in a corner somewhere
  • We’ll take advantage of big windows for the best natural light so if you have the option to, please help me make sure spaces around big windows are clear and clean for your photos.
  • Don’t forget to tell your Hair and Make Up artist that you would like to get everything done a minimum of 15 minutes before I photograph your getting ready moments so that there’s buffer time just in case things run a bit behind.

Pro Tips for Detail Photos:

  • Having your details ready for me (such as your vow books, rings, dress, suit, shoes, or anything meaningful you’d like me to capture) in a corner somewhere is so helpful. That way, you can make sure all the important details are together and I can avoid interrupting you as you’re getting your hair and make up done
  • You can have all these items in a box. You don’t have to worry about styling them or arranging them in any way. When it’s time for detail photos, I can walk around to find a nice backdrop and put everything together for a nice flatlay.
  • If you have any special requests or instructions for details photos, please let me know anytime. There’s a questionnaire that I’ll send out 1 month before your wedding date to gather all the important details and you can share there or, if you forget to include it there, you can tell me anytime during the day.

First Look:

What is a first look?

A traditional first look is when you see each other for the first time on your wedding day. At a traditional wedding, this either occurs privately prior to the ceremony or right at the ceremony location.

In elopements, you have more options. First looks don’t always have to be traditional. If you want to get ready together and preserve the first look for only when you are in your wedding attire, you can do that as well. Or, if you want to ditch the first look altogether, you can totally do that. In those cases, I’d have you help each other get dressed. Moments of each of you helping the other person tie their shoes, straighten their outfits, move a strand of hair to the side can be so, so, so cute and intimate.

If you do choose to have a first look, this can be an emotional moment. If it hasn’t felt like your wedding day is happening just yet, trust me, this is when your heart may beat faster and you can totally tell that it is happening now. This is the time where we get to release all the emotions: nervousness, excitement, happiness, etc. You get to stand in front of your life partner and really feel the stress begin to fade away because you know you are about to experience one of the most magical days of your life together.

Where do you want to have your first look?

Option 1: At your cabin

Some couples choose to have their first look at their cabin for the ease of logistics. This can be done in the front lawn, the backyard, or in a cute corner of the home. Therefore, when looking for lodging, make sure you pay attention to listing photos to see whether this house has an ideal place for you to have your first look. As always, if you are unsure, you can always send me these listings and I can help sort through them and provide feedback.

Option 2: At an off-site location or at your ceremony location

It is totally ok to not have your first look at the cabin. With any other locations, we just have to think about the logistics of how to get there without you seeing each other in the process.

One good option is to drive in separate vehicles. This works particularly well if you have guests with multiple vehicles. If you would like for me to drive one of you, it’s 100% ok. I do want to share that because of liability reasons, anytime I drive anyone, they agree to waive liability claims if accidents happen.

On the other hand, if you want to drive together, we can either cover one of you in a blanket/blindfold or have you change into your attires once we get to the destination instead of wearing it the whole car ride.

What kind of first look can you have?

You can have fun and be creative with your first look. In some instances, one person often walked up and the other person would turn around. In some other instances where the couple want to see each other for the first time, I can help have you both turn your back against each other so when you both turn around, it’s a true first look.

Some first looks can also include first “hear” and first “touch”. Instead of just seeing each other, some couples can choose to read a letter or sing a song for the other person while not seeing each other just yet. Some choose to stand on each side of the room and just hold on to each other’s hands. 

Last but not least, a first look can be between you two or it can be between you and your parents, your children, or your pets. 

First looks can be out of the box and can be customized to what represents you the most.

Ceremony:

The beautiful thing about an intimate wedding and elopement ceremony is that you can choose to keep all the traditions that you feel connected to and let go of ones that you don’t feel like you care for.

For example, traditionally, grooms often stand on the left side of the officiant and brides often stand on the right side. But you don’t have to. It’s your wedding day, so you can choose to stand whichever way you want or choose to stand in a way that your favorite side would be shown in photos more.

Where should your ceremony take place?

  • The location of your ceremony depends on what viewpoint you feel connected to as well as who’s attending your ceremony.
  • If a ceremony location requires a bit of hiking to get to and you want your guests to attend, I’d advise you to prepare your guests in advance. Share with them trail information (such as an Alltrails link) so everyone can be on the same page and know what to expect.
  • If the eloping location requires a bit of hiking to get to AND you want to save that space for just the two of two, I’d recommend having your ceremony at an easy access location. When it comes to these easy access places, I often look for places that older adults and little ones can get to without putting in too much work as I want to be mindful of everyone’s physical ability. Please note that if it’s an easy access location, it often means other people can access this place too and we might run into some other visitors.

You can have a ceremony with your guests and also a private vow exchange with just the two of you:

  • When choosing to elope, some couples envision the vow moment with just the two of them at the most beautiful location that can inspire their love. However, many often opt for an easy to access location whenever there are guests involved. 
  • In those instances, couples can still have that dream vow exchange moment. You can have the ceremony with family where you can either choose to repeat after the officiant or choose to say some short vows. Then during the sunset adventure where it’s just between you two and myself, you can still stand in front of the beautiful view, at the most magical light, and share your private vows that only you two can hear. You can still save that moment for just the two of you.

Pro Tips for a pleasant experience & beautiful photos during ceremony

Cell Phones:

As a photographer, I photograph what matters to you most. If you don’t care if guests use their phone during your ceremony, it’s totally ok with me. However, if you don’t want to have any images of guests using their phones during the ceremony, I have some tips I can share.

  • You can share with guests in advance about your wishes of not having cell phones out during the ceremony. Inform guests they can take photos during any part of the day such as getting ready, moments before ceremony and post ceremony. Share with them it’s important for you to have them immerse in the experience and be with you fully at the most important moments of your lives. Share with them that I will be there and I will make sure to capture not only candid moments but also formal portraits during this part of the day.
  • If you have an intimate wedding with set-ups, signs of “Unplugged Wedding” can also be useful. For inspirations, search for “unplugged wedding” on Pinterest.
  • You can also communicate your wishes with your officiant in advance. Before your ceremony, your officiant can gently remind guests again before the actual ceremony.

Vows, Ring Exchange, and First Kiss Photos:

  • Oftentimes, I’d recommend having your officiant step to the side during vows, ring exchange, and first kiss photos so that the frame looks minimalist with less distracting factors in order to highlight and keep the focus on you a bit more.
  • Whether it’s a family member who’s officiating or a vendor you hired, please share your wishes with them in advance so they can practice and remember. I can also help remind them on the day of.
  • However, you don’t have to follow everything I had shared above. If you feel like mixing things up, I am 100% on board as I want you to enjoy the experience and photos because after all, it’s your wedding and you deserve to have it your way.

Ceremony Activities and Time:

  • If there are special traditions, cultural activities, speeches, and events you want to have during your ceremony, please share them with me so I can be aware of them and build a timeline that would allow us to have everything you love.
  • Some example activities are: tea ceremony, tying the knot, handfasting, speech, poem reading, stepping on glass, jumping over a broomstick etc…
  • If not, a typical ceremony is about 15 mins. In the past, I’ve done ceremonies anywhere between 15 mins – 45 mins. The length truly depends on what you would like to have for your day.

Formal Portraits with Guests and Family:

Throughout the whole day, I’ll make sure to get as many candid moments as possible between you and your guests. I love those moments when your loved ones hug you, laugh with you, cry with you, and take selfies with you. I love being a fly on the wall to let those moments unfold themselves so everyone can truly feel like they can be themselves because those photos become so organic they are captivating.

On the other hand, I also think Formal Portraits are quite important. Years from now, you probably want to look back at all the faces that show up to your wedding day and formal portraits. Although they seem repetitive with people smiling straight at the cameras, these photos can be so powerful.

If you don’t have a list of different groupings, I have a default mode I often go for and capture you both with different people from your day.

However, as I am not familiar with your relationship with your guests, you might have different priorities when it comes to photos with guests. Therefore, if you would like to spend a bit of time writing down a “shot list” of what you like, that would help greatly.

Some examples of this shot list can be:

  • Wedding Couple + Everyone
  • Wedding Couple + Immediate Family Members
  • Wedding Couple + Partner 1’s family
  • Wedding Couple + Partner 2’s family
  • Wedding Couple + Partner 1’s Parents
  • Wedding Couple + Partner 2’s Parents
  • Wedding Couple + Dogs
  • Wedding Couple + Wedding Parties
  • Etc…

You can split your groupings into however many different formations you feel like

Pro tips:

  • If it’s a small group, I can take your list and “scream out loud” names of guests to get everyone ready for photos. You’ll see another side of me here where this is the only time I talk really loudly and occasionally yell out so I can get people’s attention. I swear this is the only time I get loud 🙂 
  • If it’s a larger group, I’d recommend having a point of contact person (best man, maid of honor, or a friend), one who’s a bit more extroverted or knows most guests, he/she/they can be in charge of gathering everyone for these formal portraits
  • If you have a rehearsal dinner or a Google doc for guests, make sure to go over the timeline with your guests so they know that they will need to be ready for formal portraits as many guests often wander around and forget.
  • For beautiful photos, have your guests remove sunglasses, purses, and anything they are holding on their hands and leave these items far away from where we are taking photos. Don’t worry, I can remind your guests on the day of as well.
  • Although it’s called “formal portraits”, photos don’t feel like you have to be super “formal”. Get one or two where you look straight at the camera but feel free to let loose and hug, laugh, be who you are and give me all your America’s Next Top Model kind of poses.

Adventure Portraits:

This is it. This is the main part of the day, the part where you already shared your vows, get all the feeling of nervousness out, and get ready for an exciting adventure where you two get to spend all the intentional time together and get your portraits taken along the way.

It’s super common for many couples to feel awkward or to feel like they don’t know what to do. It’s ok. This is why I am saving this part towards the end of the day, where you already spend the whole day with me, getting used to my presence and my cameras, so that hopefully, by this adventure sunset time, you are feeling way more comfortable with me and with getting your photos taken.

You don’t have to worry about posing and looking like models. This part won’t feel like a “photoshoot” either.

When working on your timeline, I place your experience at the top of the list. This designated portrait time is a great chance for you two to be with each other, take it slow, but take it all in. Truly, the secret to beautiful photos is when couples feel like themselves. Therefore, I’ll be there to guide you when you need me most and provide you directions for beautiful poses that highlight your beauty but will also stay back when you need a moment to unwind so I can get those in-between moments.

Pro Tips:

  • Food: Don’t forget that this is towards the end of your day and you probably have been doing quite a lot already. Pack up food to refuel for the adventure part.
  • Picnic: Besides the portraits, if you would like to have a sit down picnic, you can certainly have one right before we take portraits. I’ll capture your candid moments as you have your picnic and you can refuel before the sunset portrait portion.
  • Touch Up: Don’t forget wet wipes and touch up kits for your make up
  • Forget Pinterest & Instagram: Don’t you worry about poses. Don’t let Pinterest or Instagram photos steer you into poses you might not feel comfortable with. My job as a professional photographer is to watch your body language, learn about what makes you shine and what makes you feel beautiful. I’ll lean into those factors to help you achieve the best photos for your day.

Reception:

When it comes to an intimate wedding with guests, couples can choose to host a reception or choose to not have one.

For intimate weddings without a formal reception, some couples choose to have a light picnic with their guests, some others choose to let their guests do their own things and then reconvene after the adventure portraits with late night s’mores by campfires.

For couples that want to have a reception, they can choose to have a very informal experience where everyone cooks together and prepares dinner together or they can choose to go a more luxurious route by hiring caterers or private chefs to help prepare food for them.

For something in between the options above, some couples also choose to get to-go food such as pizza or poke or stop by a local restaurant. 

Pro Tips:

  • This day is for you to experience the magic of eloping so do what you feel most comfortable. If having a reception seems like it can make the day too long or if it just doesn’t speak to you, it’s ok. Don’t forget your guests are probably already there spending a couple of days before and after with you. This is not just a wedding day but it’s a wedding trip. You still have opportunities to hang out with them if you don’t have enough time on your wedding day.
  • If you choose to have a reception at home after your elopement day where you can celebrate with everyone who couldn’t come and to showcase some images from your adventure elopement, I’d strongly recommend looking into hosting it at a minimum 1 month after elopement day. From experience, having a reception too close to your elopement might mean you have to deal with planning and communicating with vendors back at home while you are away. This might interfere with your elopement experience.

In terms of photos, if you do have a formal reception, it would be great if I could eat right when you sit down and eat because I want to make sure I can come back before special speeches start. Sometimes, private chefs and coordinators often feed vendors last and I just don’t want to miss out on your important photos.

Send-Off / Celebratory Images:

Yay, that’s it. We had an amazing day and now it’s time to end the day with a bang 🙂 

Whether you have guests or not, you can still have some celebratory images to celebrate your magical day.

Champagne Spray:

  • Champagne spray photos are super fun and can be done anywhere with or without guests.
  • With champagne spray photos, remember you are going to probably lose about 50% of the champagne for photos versus what you can actually drink. Therefore, if you want to have a nice bottle to drink and another inexpensive one for spraying, that can ensure the best of both worlds.
  • In order to follow Leave No Trace, bottles need to be pre-popped so we don’t trash the corks into the wilderness. Don’t worry, I can help with this and show you how to achieve the best champagne photo images
  • Have fun with this moment. Scream out loud. Trust me, it feels quite nice to fully immerse. If you have some guests for champagne photos, you can also have an option for photos of everyone spraying. If you are interested in photos like that, please prepare a couple extra bottles. Pro tips: You don’t have to get expensive bottles for everyone for photos. For some reasons, inexpensive champagnes make better bubbles for photos too.

Confetti/Petal Toss:

  • If your event occurs at a private property, please follow the property’s rules on what we are allowed to toss.
  • If your event occurs in nature, please follow Leave No Trace principles and pack out what we bring in. Therefore, please avoid confetti made out of polyvinyl chloride and plastics. Instead, opt in for biodegradable materials such as flower petals, leaves, and paper. With that being said, I’d strongly encourage materials that we can pick up right after so we can leave the place just as how we found it.
  • Some alternative options would be cell phone light, light sticks, bubbles, etc.

Sparklers:

  • For the use of sparklers, please pay attention to the environment we are in. Some places are at higher risk for wildfires than others so if your elopement happens in a dryer area with burn ban in effect, please avoid the use of sparklers.
  • For sparklers, please make sure you get the longest ones you can find. The longer the better since we will be able to capture multiple images of you both running, dancing, kissing underneath the light. The longest ones in the market currently are about 36 inches.

Immerse Into the Experience of Being Together

LIVE IT. FEEL IT!

Post Elopement/Wedding Day

How To Keep Your Photos Safe and Secured:

CONGRATULATIONS! We did it! You both did it!

You’ve had an incredible wedding day and I’ve taken lotsssssss of photos so you can remember everything. You don’t have anything else to worry about so please take your time to relax, take it all in, and don’t forget to drink lots of water to recover 🙂

On my end, I’ll spend a bit of time to back up your images to make sure they are securely protected. I will then start editing sneak peeks so you can get some images to share on social media, print them out, or even use for your reception back at home while waiting for the full album.

Just so you know what to expect, I’ll get some sneaks over within about 1 week and for the full album, it will take around 12 weeks to go over each photo individually in order to give myself 100% into editing your images. These photos should last a lifetime and more so they should be taken care of seriously.

All your images will be delivered as high-resolution jpegs via an online gallery. Within this online gallery link, you’ll be able to not only view, but also download and print using professional printing labs. Feel free to share the gallery link with family, friends, and your vendors. Please remember that anyone with a link can download the images so please share with only those you want to have access to your images

Although your online gallery should last for years, the gallery link is guaranteed for 1 year so make sure you download to your computer and/or phone as soon as you can. You should also back up your images in multiple places. I recommend using both external hard drives and online cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Prints and Albums:

Photos come to life when you print them and hold them instead of just looking at them on the computer screen. There’s something magical about being able to physically touch your images. I personally believe that your photos deserve a special place in your home where you can see them often.

You can print a fine-art album so the full story of your wedding day can be told through the whole book. You can print your photos into larger pieces so they can become your home decoration instead of the typical wall-art that everyone has. You can also print your photos into calendars, thank-you cards, or a mini frame to keep with you in your car or office space. 

There are lots of ways to customize your images and lots of places to do so.

If you are looking to print at professional printing labs that can offer the highest quality, I have made it easy for you to view and purchase prints right from the gallery. All prints will be made and delivered by professional printing labs that I love and have had experience with. Lay flat and fine art albums are the best way to showcase your beautiful photos with your guests. You can do all of this inside this gallery.

YOU DID IT

THANK YOU