The Ultimate Elopement Planning Checklist

Couples and picture takers frequently underestimate what it takes to design an elopement or intimate wedding. I regularly get Instagram DMs from picture takers expressing how they didn’t understand the work required to photo an elopement, including that they didn’t expect to be the wedding organizer. Couples frequently get overwhelmed because, more than likely, this is their first time getting married and they have no clue about where to begin. I felt this way too when I got married!

As an experienced wedding picture taker and guide, I bring order to chaos. I’m your own wedding organizer and photographic artist! I pose the inquiries nobody else is asking, and raise things you could never at any point think to inquire. This depends on my hands-on experience planning and capturing elopements and weddings all over the globe. I’m here to rejuvenate your vision and make an encounter and wedding day reflective of your personality, rather than just a day of formalities.

Highlighted below is a general framework you can use for planning your elopement or intimate wedding!

Identify Your Vision

It’s easier to go from the larger vision to the smaller details. Think about how you want to feel and spend your time on your wedding day. What would you plan if you got to be 100% yourself and do whatever you wanted? Below are some of the questions I ask couples when identifying their vision and experience for their elopement location.

Is there a location or place with personal meaning or significance in your relationship’s history? For example, do you both love to hike? If so, maybe you want to hike on the morning of your wedding and then clean-up and exchange vows during sunset.

  1. Identify Important Elements to Incorporate

Once you have a general vision for your elopement or intimate wedding, draft a list of all the events and memories you want to incorporate. Our Wedding and Elopement Guidebook does a great job of walking you through the different portions of the day.

Here are some common events included in elopements and intimate weddings.

Adventure outings, like yoga, canyoneering, hiking, biking, kayaking, trail running and more. You name it! Anything goes!

Photos of you getting ready

Exchanging gifts and/or letters prior to seeing one another or before the ceremony

First look photos

The ceremony and vow exchange

Family portraits

Couple portraits


Dinner or dessert. This could take place at an AirBNB, restaurant, campsite or other creative reception locations.

There are many other items you can include, such as a first look with your parents or a friend. This is your wedding day, so make it special and memorable to you!

  1. Create a Timeline

Once you decide what to include in your elopement or wedding day, it’s recommended to creating a timeline factoring in your adventure outing, getting ready, transportation to the ceremony and lighting for your portraits. If you select a location with more people or crowds, one of the most important factors when planning your timeline, is to avoid them.

Below is a sample elopement and intimate wedding timeline…

10 AM – 12 PM – Adventure outing

12 PM – 1 PM – Relaxed time together or hanging out with family and friends over lunch or at a campsite.

1 PM – 2:30 PM – Detailed shots of your rings and any other accessories, along with getting ready shots

2:30 PM – 3 PM – First Look

3 PM -3:30 PM – Drive to ceremony location

4 PM – 4:30 PM – Ceremony, vows, readings, toasts

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Couple’s portraits around the ceremony location and other nearby spots

5:30 PM – 6 PM – Drive back to the AirBNB, hotel, campsite or restaurant

6 PM – Celebration (dinner, dessert, BBQ, drinks, music, speeches, stories)

This timeline is by no means exhaustive of the options or order of your day! This is simply to offer an idea of how we create a timeline and plan to give you the best wedding day experience. You can move things around, add or leave out other events according to your personal preferences. We have couples combine their adventure outing with their portraits during golden hour, hiking and going to various locations for two or three hours.

Hopefully this provides an idea of what your elopement could look like! I love planning unique elopements and intimate weddings for my couples. I believe elopements and intimate weddings allow you the opportunity to have a thoughtful and laid-back wedding day, remembering each moment!

Work with an Experienced Wedding Guide and Adventure Photographer like David Baker studio.


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