ELOPEMENT & intimate wedding photography for the adventure seekers

What is an Elopement?


August 9, 2020


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An intimate alternative to a traditional wedding.

What is an Elopement? 

So you are engaged (Congratulations!!) and now you are starting to plan the wedding. There are so many decisions to make, like SO MANY!! Somewhere along the way you heard of eloping… and thought “What is an elopement?” Well we are here to help you learn more!

what is an elopement, iceland elopement, bride and groom with glaciers

We feel like the term “elopement” has changed over the years. Before, when I would think of people getting eloped, I pictured a little white chapel in old town Vegas with an Elvis Presley Officiant (I’d actually LOVE to shoot an elopement like that). Nowadays, when I think of elopements, I think of mountain tops and vast views with just the couple, the officiant and us. Neither of those ideas are wrong, but I don’t think they even begin to tell the whole story of what elopements are.

We’ve had the opportunity to shoot several elopements in a variety of locations.  One was a road trip around Iceland, another was at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. One was atop Taft Point in Yosemite at sunrise, another was at the bride’s mother’s home.

what is an elopement, taft point, Yosemite national park

Something that all of these elopements have in common is the intimacy of them. Every single one of them has only a handful of people, if any, in attendance. The focus became less about the party, food, guests, flowers and venue, and more about the couple. That, to me, is one of the best parts of eloping. No stress about guests and where they’re sitting, or who to invite and not invite, and trying to not leave anyone out. No deciding between hosting an open bar or not. No worrying about one of the groomsmen making a fool of himself in front of your family. It really becomes more about the couple. 

what is an elopement, home wedding, backyard wedding

Yes family and friends are very important, and the partying is always one of the best parts of the day, but hear me out. I will get to the party part later.

elopement in Iceland, intimate wedding, micro wedding

So if I were to define an elopement in a short description, I’d say, “Elopements are a private, intimate ceremony in a special location, channeling all the focus on the couple and the commitment they are making together.”

Weddings your way:

I think that when it comes to weddings, you really have to decide what is important to you. Is it having all your family and friends there and throwing a big party? Or something more intimate focused on you two and close relatives? Is it keeping a strict budget? Maybe you have a certain venue you’ve been dreaming of? Is it killer photography? Do you want to get married in a secluded location? In 10-20 years, when you think back on your wedding day, what are the things that you will be thankful you invested in? Elopements offer you the opportunity to strip everything away, and add the pieces that really matter to you, and the elements that you want to invest in. Like Marco and Marcella! (Full post HERE)

Really, when it comes to weddings these days, there are no rules! So start dreaming, and dream BIG! Chose a wedding that really tells your story, the story of your love and your journey, one that highlights your relationships and passions. Years after you’ve said “I do” you can look back on that time and be reminded of the foundation you built and the promises you made.

I mean isn’t that the true meaning of getting married. Making promises to choose each other for the rest of your lives. So don’t get overwhelmed by all the other decisions involved in wedding planning, unless that is what you want, which is totally fine! We have shot so many amazing traditional weddings! We just want you to know that you have options 🙂

Here a few examples of how you can elope. You can elope like Michael and Chantelle. They set out on a week long journey to explore Iceland. They brought along about 15 people to share the journey with them. When they got to “right” location, they planned the ceremony. Wedding attire was adorned, everyone gathered and the space was decorated by the beautiful landscape. Chantelle walked down to the aisle to meet her husband, while close friends and family spectated. Their close friend officiated, and just like that, these two tied the know in the most beautiful of places.  The week long journey continued, taking pictures along the way to capture all (well most) of Iceland’s beauty. *Coming soon, a full post on how to Elope in Iceland.*

what is an elopement

Or you can elope like Daniel and Sandy. They chose a beautiful location in Yosemite to wed. (Full post HERE) They camped for a few days just outside the valley to soak in the landscape and finalize details related to the ceremony. On the day of, everyone woke up early, like really early. The bride and groom got ready, and everyone hopped in the car and drove up to taft point. With the groom leading, friends and family trekked out to the cliffs. The bride then followed and entered the ceremony. The moments were emotional and breath taking. About a month later, they had a dinner party near home where additional family and friends could attend. And they showed the photos and videos from their ceremony to these guests so that they could feel a part of the day.

couple exchange rings at Yosemite elopement
what is an elopement

Lastly, Jessica and Sebastian’s wedding plans all change with COVID, probably like many of you. But they didn’t want to wait, they want to get married and decided that this wedding would just look different. After throwing around many location ideas, they decided on her mom’s house. This was a space that was comfortable, affordable, and predictable. The day was complete with a first look, ceremony, portraits and a delicious dinner. They hired a personal chef to come prepare dinner! How cool is that?

backyard elopement

I hope that all these perspectives inspire you to dream up your wedding day with the aspects that mean the most to you!

Elopement Sample Timeline

Okay, since you asked “What is an elopement?” let me show you what a full  elopement day can look like! See the timeline below!

What is an elopement, elopement sample timeline, all day elopement

Getting Ready Location: Air BnB near Redwoods

Ceremony Location: Somewhere in Redwoods

Additional Portrait Location: Redwoods

Meal/Celebration Location: Restaurant near Redwoods

1:00 pm – Arrive at Air Bnb where Katie & Zack are getting ready.

  • Take photos of Vows, Rings, Dress, Etc…

2:00 pm – Katie finalizes H&MU

  •  Get photographs of Katie getting dress on, mom helping her. Sisters toasting the bride. 

3:00 pm – First Look near Air Bnb

  • Get portraits of Katie & Zack, together and separate.

4:00 pm – Get in Jeep, drive to Redwoods ceremony location.

  • Stop along the way for photos at scenic spots.

5:00 pm – Arrive at Redwoods, explore around the area for ceremony location, hike up to the perfect spot.

6:00 pm – Ceremony

  • Handwritten vows, rings, champagne, etc. Have someone close officiate, family member or close friend. 

7:00 pm – Sunset photos

7:30 pm – Head back to Restaurant for celebration dinner with close family. Capture toasts and speeches. 

9:00 pm- Photos wrap up.

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We're Brett & Tori and this is the place where we write about our weddings, elopements, engagements, travels, and some behind the scenes and personal stuff. Stay a while!

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