Here you'll find actual elopements to inspire your own and resources to help you through the planning process. 

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Actual Elopements

How to elope

About Venturing Vows

Actual Elopements

How to elope

About Venturing Vows

How to Elope

February 14, 2023

How to Schedule a Full Day Elopement – Pacific Northwest Elopement Photographer

How to fill your wedding day with adventures and memories even when it’s just the two of you.

Oregon Coast Elopement

So you decide to elope. You need to have a ceremony and you want some photos. Now what? That’s really not much of a wedding day. But what are you supposed to do with very few or no guests?

The answer is anything. That’s the beauty of elopements. It disregards what weddings are supposed to be and creates the day you want. The first step is to narrow down what you would enjoy if you could plan your perfect day. What do you love to do? Hiking, exploring downtown, kayaking, eating at your favorite restaurant, trying something new?  All of those are on the table if you chose to elope. Whatever makes you happy is an awesome option for your special day. Eloping gives you the opportunity to take on any adventure for your wedding day.

Let’s chat about potential timelines and activities for your elopement day!

Picking Activities for Your Elopement

Olympic National Park Elopement - Washington

Y’all, the options for how you fill your elopement are so cool. I see new ideas all the time that you wouldn’t even imagine as an option. When you’re considering activities, the first thing you should think about is what you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a stereotypical wedding day activity to enhance your experience. AirBNB experiences is also packed with unique activities based on the location you want to go to. Even if you don’t book through them, it can give you some out-of-the-box ideas to get you started while you’re searching. Here’s some ideas just to get you started:

  • Hiking of any length
  • Kayaking or paddle boarding
  • Snowboarding/skiing/snowmobiling/snowshoeing
  • Swimming (you can even hike to a secluded water hole or waterfall for swimming for some extra adventure)
  • Boating or jet skis (if you want an easier going recreation, rent a boat and enjoy the water; you can also break out skis, wakeboard, surf board, etc. if that’s your jam)
  • In-home style portraits before getting ready (make coffee together, eat breakfast, stick to your normal morning routine, etc.)
  • Pre-elopement hike before getting ready (spend some quiet, relaxing time together before the bustle of the day; especially good if you’re including family/friends)
  • Go to a local coffee shop 
  • Stop by a local brewery
  • Enjoy food at a favorite restaurant or local favorite
  • Return to a location that has meaning. Maybe where you met, where you proposed, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be special to you.
  • Have a picnic in a beautiful place. 
  • Write letters to each other, keep a journal of the journey leading up to the elopement day to read each other
  • Have family members/friends not present write letters or record videos to read/watch,
  • Incorporate some kind of unity ceremony.
  • Helicopter/airplane tour (you could even use this to get to a secluded ceremony spot)
  • Go fishing, bird watching, whale watching, etc.
  • White water rafting or easy-going floating
  • Four-wheeling, side-by-side, or motorcycle
  • Biking
  • Take a Jeep or backcountry driving trip
  • Get crafty (paint class, cooking class, woodworking class, pottery, glassblowing, etc.)
  • Gondola or chairlift ride
  • Rock climbing
  • See some live music at a concert, festival, or hire a musician
  • Bookstore crawl
  • Horseback riding
  • Visit a farm (great way to include kids)
  • Sailing or easy going boat tour
  • Visit a museum or art gallery

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Unique Elopement Activities

Potential Timelines

Once you sit down and start actually laying out a timeline, you’d be amazed how much time you’ll need. You’ll want to make sure you account for extra time for each item so you’re not rushing. Creating a comfortable timeline that gives you space to experience your day is essential.

Here’s some timeline examples to help you visualize how various lengths of time can lay out day of:

Example 1: Actual Oregon Coast Elopement Schedule (9 Hours, No Guests)

Oregon Coast Elopement

11:00 am – Getting Ready Photos at Vacation Rental

This couple started with getting ready photos. This is a great way to have a slow start to your day and get comfortable with your photographer hanging around. It also captures some beautiful images of the process of getting ready for your day. You’ve put a lot of thought into your outfits, incorporating meaningful detail, and getting ready for this momentous day. Getting ready tells the complete story of that process. The beautiful vacation rental featured in these photos is Crook Point!

Oregon Coast Elopement at Crook Point in Brookings, OR
Hair and makeup by the incredible Meaghan at Fleurt Beauty
Oregon Coast Elopement at Crook Point in Brookings, OR

12:30 pm – Flat Lay Photos

One of the first thing you’re going to forget is the details. The shoes you wore, the look of your flowers, and the accessories you wore. These bright and colorful images are also a great addition for album layouts.

Oregon Coast Elopement

1:00 pm – Leave for Redwood National Park hike

Most couples opt for multiple locations during their day. This gives you lots of variety for images and allows you to customize each location to the event you’re going to have there. More private locations for your vow exchange and maybe a more popular (but very beautiful spot) for your portraits since it’s not as intimate of a moment. Because of this, up to 1 hour of driving is included with my packages without counting towards the photo time.

1:30 pm – Redwood Ceremony

The location of their ceremony was very important to this couple. They wanted to get married among the ancient redwood trees, some of which are 2,000 years old. Because of this, they opted for their first look and ceremony to take place here. (P.S. Redwood NP requires a permit for any kind of wedding ceremony, even a simple vow exchange with no guests. You can get more info on their wedding permits here!)

Redwood National Park Elopement
Redwood National Park Elopement
Redwood National Park Elopement - Officiating by Venturing Vows
Officiating by Venturing Vows Officiant
California Elopement - Redwood National Park

2:30 pm – Hiking the Redwoods

After their ceremony, we spent some quiet time hiking around the redwood grove. Hiking is an incredible way to add space and peace into your elopement schedule. It gives you time to soak in that you just got married, breaks from taking photos, and lots of opportunities for me to get sweet candids of you two.

Redwood National Park Elopement

4:00 pm – Beach Location for Pizza Picnic

A picnic in a beautiful place is basically an elopement requirement. Every food item tastes better on the beach, it’s a scientific fact (okay, not actually but close enough). This is another great opportunity to give you time to just enjoy each other’s company. You picked to elope to have a low stress day, let’s keep it as low key as possible.

Oregon Coast Elopement - Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor
Oregon Coast Elopement

5:00 pm – Exploring the Beach and Portraits

Your day is so much more than just a photo session…but I always recommend at least parts of the day be dedicated to portraits (don’t worry, we make them super fun).

Oregon Coast Elopement - Brookings, OR
Oregon Coast Elopement - Southern Oregon Coast

7:00 pm – Watch the Sunset and First Dance

Taking the time to soak in the last moments of the day by watching sunset is one of the best activities. You’ve had a big day and now you get to reflect on how amazing it has been.

Oregon Coast Elopement
Oregon Coast Elopement
Oregon Coast Elopement

Example 2: Leavenworth, WA Elopement (8 Hours, With Guests)

1:00 pm – Getting Ready Photos

These two put a lot of thought into the guests they brought along for their special day. They took every opportunity to include them in the festivities. One of the sweetest ways was including them in getting ready moments.

Leavenworth, WA Elopement
Leavenworth, WA Elopement

2:00 pm – Flat Lay Photos

The details they included for their flat lay were so very meaningful. From the ring box used for their proposal to a fabric flower made from one of the bride’s grandmother’s wedding dress.

Washington Elopement
Pacific Northwest Elopement

2:30 pm – First Look at Vacation Rental

A vacation rental with a nature backdrop is one of the best options for a first look. It’s logistically very easy and allows you to have that special moment in complete privacy. Then we can go about the rest of the day without worrying about if you see each other.

Washington Elopement

3:00 pm – Snacks and Time with Family

Candid moments with your family can make for the most meaningful images while you simply enjoy time with your loved ones. This will also help you avoid feeling rushed and give you time to have special moments with each of your guests.

Washington Elopement
Pacific Northwest Elopement
Washington State Elopement

5:00 pm – Riverside Ceremony

The previous couple opted for a professional officiant while these two wanted a family member to officiate. Both of these options are awesome in different ways depending on your preferences. Getting ordained is actually a very simple (and free) process through the Universal Life Church. They offer sample scripts to help even someone who has never officiated before (I’m also happy to help them with paperwork since I’m also ordained).

Leavenworth, WA Elopement
Leavenworth, WA Elopement

6:00 pm – Lakeside Hike

If you opt to bring guests along for your elopement, it’s essential that you schedule in time for just you two. This day is about you two after all. This gives you a calm space in the day to soak in your new marriage and just focus on each other.

Leavenworth, WA Elopement
Leavenworth, WA Elopement

8:00 pm – Dinner with Family

They wrapped up the day with a good old fashioned family dinner. We snapped some family photos, brought out the cake, had toasts, and just enjoyed quality time together.

Leavenworth, WA Elopement
Pacific Northwest Elopement
Pacific Northwest Elopement

As you can see with these timelines and activities, there’s so many options for crafting your day. You can land anywhere on the spectrum from basically a smaller scale traditional wedding to a day that’s entirely unique to you. Elopements really can be anything you want. The whole point is to refocus on the people and things that truly matter to you. 

Your elopement holds just as much value as any traditional wedding. It can be so much more than just a quick ceremony and photos. Make sure you’re not selling your day short and you’re creating an experience you will cherish the rest of your life. I hope this gets your ideas going on what your perfect day looks like for you. There’s freedom in eloping and you owe it to yourself to create the perfect day for you.