How to create an elopement timeline in 5 easy steps for photographers

5 Secrets on How To Create The Perfect Elopement Timeline

An elopement photographer is the best job in the world! You get to meet awesome people, see beautiful places, and shoot the shots you (and the happy couple!) love. The first thing you need to be successful is to be able to make a REALLY great elopement timeline. We aren’t talking about nitty gritty, minute by minute schedules, but how you make a BIG picture timeline that gives you the time you need and gives your couple the flexibility they need. Check out our 5 secrets below!


The common misconception about elopements is that they are mini wedding days. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Having a wedding without the grand guest list (you know the one that features the mother’s elementary school best friend and cousin Carol’s partner of two weeks), can open the door for the wedding to be exactly what THEY want. If the couple wants to incorporate something borrowed and blue? THEY DO IT! If they are suckers for florals and want that bouquet? They can rock the roses! An elopement is not anti-wedding, it’s about not being tied to every tradition that does not hold meaning for the couple. 

There is an insane amount of trust between elopement photographers and their couples, while this is likely the couple’s first elopement, this is what an elopement photographer has done a hundred times! Share with them what you’ve seen, ask them what they’ve thought about, THINK BIG, DREAM BIG!

How to create an elopement timeline in 5 easy steps for photographers

2. Embrace the Spontaneity

During an elopement, there will be pieces that are out of your control, which is why full day coverage is the only way to go. This allows time to be spontaneous which is REALLY important. I know, I know, it’s hard when you want the schedule detailed and drilled down, but that’s not what’s best for you, or your couple. Leave 15-20 minutes on either side of the items in your timeline. It seems like a lot, but when the couple wants to stop in the middle of a vacant road to give their partner a twirl, the magic will be worth every second. 

How to create an elopement timeline in 5 easy steps for photographers

3. Check Sunrise/Sunset Times

Hellooo sun, goodbye sun. Checking the lighting should be the first thing you do when you create a timeline. For example, in mountain locations that golden hour will be an hour before the sunset time because mountains are higher than horizon. Science! Google maps is a great resource. You can toggle on the sun feature, set your date, and can move the slider so you can see where the light will be. Plug these times into your schedule so you can build around them.


Elopements usually come with multiple shoot locations. We want that first look, ceremony, after party, and all the goodies in between. Best way to figure out how long it’ll be to get to the next destination? Google maps. Don’t forget Secret 2 “Embrace the Spontaneity”, make sure you add in 10 minutes every time you get into a car and every time you get out of the car. This builds in your wiggle room in your elopement timeline for loading and unloading the car, as well as anything else that might come up. (Trust us- there is always something!). If you are going a farther distance (30 minutes +), add another 10 minutes to the trip. This accounts for traffic, gas, pee breaks, all the fun real world stuff. In case you’re looking for some location trends, we gottchu!

5. Ask the couple what they want to do!

This secret is so obvious that it often gets overlooked. When working with your couple, remind them that this is not only their wedding day, but it might be their dream vacation to their bucket list location. Get them brainstorming! Ask them, “Now that you are here, what is it that you want to do?” Help them out with some examples, “do you want to go on an epic hike? Do you want to white water raft? Do you want to canoe?” In case you want some inspiration, check out the 100 things you could do on your elopement day! Remember Secret 1 “THINK BIG, DREAM BIG”, a couple may need help bringing this day from their dreams to a reality!

How to create an elopement timeline in 5 easy steps for photographers

Now that you know our 5 Secrets on How To Create The Perfect Elopement Timeline, let us know how you are going to use them! We can’t wait to see what magic you create next!

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