Let’s kick this blog off with a quick myth-busting session, shall we?
There are so many misconceptions floating around regarding elopements. I could write a whole blog about them (In fact… I sort of have. You can check it out here!). One misconception I hear quite often is that elopements are quick.
In fact, elopements tend to be the exact opposite of quick – and that is NOT a bad thing.
When you choose to elope, you choose to prioritize yourself and your relationship. This looks a bit different for everyone, but for many, it means adventure, taking plenty of time to pause and soak up the romance, and allowing yourself to relax on your big day. Elopements can, of course, be quick. But honestly? My recommendation is to stretch it out as long as possible.
“How long,” you ask? Oh, my dear, as long as your lovely little elopey heart desires – that’s how long. You make the rules here, and that’s the beauty of it all. Feel like getting married in 15 minutes, going home, and eating a sizeable heart-shaped pizza to celebrate? Do it. Want to stretch your elopement out into a week-long-adventure-party-camping-trip-hullabaloo? Heck yeah, go crazy!
However, if you do want to meet somewhere in the middle of those two options (as most couples do), then my suggestion is this: hire your elopement photographer for a whole day.
Yes, this will cost more than hiring a photographer for an hour or two, and although I may seem partial because I am a wedding photographer, allow me to offer you some info to prove that this is objectively the best option.
Ahem, *puts on sophisticated case-arguing monocle and straightens out a very large stack of papers* let us begin.
WHY SHOULD I HIRE MY PHOTOGRAPHER FOR A FULL DAY?
Re-invest in your priorities
Choosing to elope will save you thousands and thousands of dollars. You’re reading an article about eloping, so you likely already know this, but a reminder can’t hurt! Couples who choose to elope are prioritizing their experience, their romance, and the unparalleled importance of this day in their lives. If this resonates with you, then you’ll probably understand the importance of having a photographer and/or videographer present as well. You know this day is magical. By deciding to elope, you’re already standing out from the crowd as one of the few who are willing to set everything else aside for your love. Why not reinvest a PORTION of the money you saved into ensuring your day is something you’ll remember flawlessly for the rest of your lives?
Anything can happen, and you won’t want to miss a minute of it.
For most of us, elopements and adventures go hand-in-hand. Perhaps your day will include a sunrise hike at Yosemite, or maybe a ‘lil romantic kayak ride on a lake. Perhaps you’re planning on having a nighttime bonfire with friends and family or taking a dip under a waterfall. Whatever your plans may be, they’re worth remembering. Who knows? Maybe something unexpected will happen! A dolphin sighting? A sicknasty rainbow? The opportunities are endless, honestly.
Less stress (and we all love less stress)
Timelines aren’t necessary for an elopement. You have nowhere to be, no cake-cutting deadline, no closing time to fret about. It’s just you, your lovebug, and all the wacky things you feel like doing to celebrate your big day. If you put a time constraint on how long your photographer will be present, you’re placing a restriction on the amount of time you have to squeeze in whatever stuff you’d like documented. Don’t stress yourself out. Don’t force yourself to get “this” done before “that,” or get all your mushy cuteness out before 3 pm. Blah. Nobody needs that stress on their wedding day!
I’m sure you’re reading this now and thinking, “Yeah, yeah. Okay, Dana. But HOW MANY HOURS SHOULD I HIRE MY ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR? HUH?”
Touché, mon frère. Let’s talk numbers…
If I’ve done my job, and I’ve convinced you to hire your photographer for a full day, then you’re probably wondering what the flip a “whole day” really is. It’s eight hours, give or take. Typically, photographers for a traditional wedding are booked for anywhere between 6 and 12 hours – why should your elopement day deserve any less attention? If you hire your photographer for eight hours on your elopement day, I promise you you will not regret it. The investment is worth it. The comfort is worth it. You deserve a stress-free day, and you won’t want to miss a second of it. It’s a day you’ll celebrate and reminisce on every day for the rest of your life.
SOME TIDBITS OF WISDOM FOR YOUR ELOPEMENT DAY
Take your time, and budget for extra
You’re choosing to elope, which more than likely means the relentless bustle and stress of a traditional wedding isn’t exactly appealing to you. Embrace that, and allow yourself to feel proud for defying the norm. It ain’t easy!
You’ll want to soak up every little detail – even the silly things. You’ll want to relish in the still moments with your partner and memorize the look on their face when you say, “I do.” You’ll want to bask in the beauty of your venue, remember the feeling of the weather, and treasure each embrace and word of congratulations from your loved ones.
Allow yourself time for the things that, right now, may not seem all that important. Because if I have any piece of advice I want you to take away from this blog, it’s that there won’t be a split second of your elopement day you’ll want to forget. Don’t rush it.
No one knows how to do your wedding day better than you
It’s impossible not to take what others say to heart, and I find this is especially difficult for couples planning their elopement. Once you announce to friends and family that you’re opting for an elopement, most people will likely have an idea for what you should do. Some will tell you an elopement is selfish, some will say to you you need to elope in Hawaii, and others will have ideas for every detail in-between.
This advice can be helpful, if not essential at times. But – and I cannot stress this enough – when it comes down to it, no one can tell you how your day should look. Commit to your story, and trust your heart. This is your day for a reason. Please don’t feel obligated to do one thing or another just for the sake of people-pleasing. It’ll almost certainly cause negative feelings and regret, and there’s no place for that in your elopement (trust me, I checked your schedule, and “regret” is nowhere on it).
Pay attention to the little things
Funny enough, years from now, the things that stick with you will be the things you aren’t expecting. Spoiler: it won’t be centerpieces or party favors. It’ll be that funny piece of marriage advice one of your relatives whispered to you on your wedding day or the wildlife that scurried by while you were exchanging vows. It’ll be the wrong turn you took on your sunrise elopement hike, seeing your officiant slip in the mud, or the fantastic post-elopement takeout you ordered. It’ll be the hugs, the tears, and the quirks that made your day relentlessly you – with time, some of the details may fade away. The big moments will likely be impossible to forget, so do yourself a favor you’ll be endlessly grateful for and cherish the in-between moments as well.
Find a photographer who respects nature as much as you!
The majority of couples who choose to elope end up doing so outdoors. In addition to lifting the stress from your day, your photographer should know how to respect and maintain the environment you’re in. As a Leave No Trace (LNT) aware photographer, I provide each of my clients with the education and guidance to experience a place like Yosemite without impeding its natural growth and beauty. Practicing LNT principles is an essential part of my process because I want to continue enjoying these stunning places FOREVER! It’s the least we could do for Mama Nature.
The logistics, timing, and potential opportunities for red tape are stressors that still arise even in an elopement. Why bother with them? If you have a photographer who knows what they’re doing, there shouldn’t be any opportunities for potential hiccups in your day (weather permitting, of course, because no one stops Mama Nature). I’ve heard far too many tragic stories about forgotten permits, unbooked locations, and getting lost, not to know how important it is to be experienced and well-prepared. I’ll just say it one more time for the people in the back: YOUR ELOPEMENT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE STRESSFUL. MAKE IT EASY FOR YOURSELVES, LOVEBIRDS. HIRE AN EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONAL.
WHAT DOES A FULL DAY OF ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY LOOK LIKE?
If you’re wondering what the logistics of an elopement day looks like, I have plenty of info for you here! A full day of elopement photography can look like, well … just about anything. I could tell you loads of stories from my past experiences, but why do that when a picture speaks a thousand words?
ONE LAST THING…
I hope this blog was helpful in answering your questions regarding how long you should hire your photographer! If you still feel like you could use some more information, I have plenty of resources for you that I think will help. Click here to learn a bit more about how you can determine whether or not an elopement is right for you. And if you still need some more information about what an elopement really looks like, check out this blog for everything you’ll need to know.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to submit a contact form so we can chat! If you’re still looking for a photographer for your big day, feel free to view my elopement packages by following this link. Happy elopement planning!