Elopement vs. Wedding

Which experience is right for you? 

Eloping isn’t just running away to Vegas to tie the knot because you guys are now expecting or whatever the cliche term may be from years ago. Over the recent years, eloping has become much more than that and has become even more popular than before. 

You’re probably wondering, what exactly is an elopement and how is eloping different from having a traditional wedding? As a wedding and elopement photographer, I’ve seen couples get married in so many ways that are different but uniquely them. 

I’m here to share with you the differences between these events which will hopefully help you decide on which experience is right for you.


What is an elopement?

Many people still consider elopements to be that “runaway bride” or “shotgun wedding” because they don’t want to spend time or money on an actual wedding event – so they just head to courthouse and tie the knot or fly to Vegas and call it a day. As an elopement photographer, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t always the case and definitely not what elopements are about. 

So if an elopement isn’t a five-minute ceremony at a courthouse or being married by Elvis… then what is it?

Honestly, an elopement is full of endless possibilities it can be any and everything that you want it to be! And I literally mean anything you want! Eloping is all about being intentional in planning on how you want to marry your best friend without following those wedding traditions but doing it your way!

Just because you chose to elope doesn’t mean you can’t include some traditions into your day. It just gives you the creative freedom to include or not include any traditions into your day. Having this creative freedom also allows you to create your own spin on traditions, such as having your first dance in the mountains under the stars, or singing your vows to each other, or even skipping the traditional wedding attire and wearing something that is uniquely you. This is also a chance for you guys to create new traditions or just doing an adventure elopement that is all about you. 

What is an intimate wedding?

Intimate weddings can have slightly different definitions depending on who you ask but the easiest way to define an intimate wedding is basically a wedding with a small guest count. Intimate weddings typically have range between 20-50 guests.

While intimate weddings can often look similar to traditional (big) weddings, but they also incorporate some of the best elements of elopements. Having a limited number of guests at an intimate wedding will allow you to be more intentional about your day and keep focus on you and your partner while being surrounded by your loved ones. This is a more simpler approach to having that traditional wedding but still incorporates all the best aspects of an elopement as well. 

What is a wedding? 

While the traditional wedding doesn’t need much an explanation but having a traditional celebration allows you to focus on a couple’s heritage and culture. Wedding celebrations will usually take place in a traditional venue that can hold a variety number of guests ranging from 50 guests to more than a couple hundred guests. Weddings often follow strict timelines  that focus on the events of the day other than the couple. 


So why elope?

Not everyone’s love story is the same nor should it be and your wedding day should definitely reflect your uniqueness while still being personable. Overall there’s so many reasons to why couples choose to elope or have an intimate wedding, but here’s a few common reasons why couples choose to elope: 

To simply just be themselves with no added pressure

To avoid pressure from family 

To plan a day full of activities and adventures

To save money 


Elope or Intimate Wedding? Why not do both?! 

So making the decision on whether or not you should elope or plan an intimate wedding can be a bit overwhelming so why not do both?! Many couples decide to do a mix of a “just us” experience then doing a big celebration with friends and family the following day or even a few months down the road.

Events that combine elopements & traditional weddings

So you’re thinking about planning an elopement & intimate wedding combination? Here are a few wedding traditions that some of my past couples have included on their wedding day:  

Elopement wedding dress/attire


Wedding cake

Intimate dinner or reception

“Walk down the aisle” in nature


What an intimate wedding or elopement experience could look like

Whether you decide to elope or have an intimate wedding or a little bit of both, your day can look however you want it to look. It can be an all-day adventure exploring the Grand Canyon or a multi-day experience exploring multiple locations or doing an adventure couples session, ceremony and ending the day celebrating with your loved ones at a reception dinner. If you know that part of you wants to include guests into your day then do it! This is your day and should be celebrated in the best way that suits you!


Want to see a game plan on how your day could look like?! 



Day 1 – With Guests

2:30 – Getting ready photos & details 

3:15 – Set up for first look

3:30 – First look & family arrives

4:00 – Prepare for ceremony

4:30 – Ceremony begins

5:00 – Ceremony exit

5:30 – Family Photos

6:30 – Family photos end & family begins to head to reception location

6:45 – Couples portraits

7:30 – Head to reception location

8:30 pm – arrive at reception location & meet family for dinner, toasts, and cake

10:30 pm – photo coverage wraps up


Day 2 – Just The Two of You

4:30 am – meet at trailhead, begin hiking up trail in the dark (1-2 mile hike in)

6:00 am – arrive at summit, change into wedding attire

6:30 am – sunrise portraits & exploring

8:30 am – begin hike back down, portraits along the way (1-2 mile hike out)

11:30 am – arrive back at the trailhead, photo coverage ends



Sunrise/Morning Ceremony

4:00 am – meet at the trailhead, gear up

4:15 am – begin hike in the dark (1-1.5 miles)

5:45 am – arrive at first look location, alpenglow begins, change into wedding attire

6:30 am – sunrise first look followed by portraits & exploring

9:00 am – begin hike back to trailhead, portraits along the way (1-1.5 miles)

10:30 am – arrive back at trailhead, head to airbnb (30 min drive)

11:00 am – arrive at airbnb for ceremony

11:30 am – ceremony

12:00 pm – family photos

12:30 pm – brunch party with champagne popping & mimosas 

5:00 pm – photo coverage ends


Sunset/Evening Ceremony

9:00 am – meet at airbnb for breakfast mimosas

10:00 am – begin getting ready + detail shots

11:oo am – first look at airbnb

11:30 am – head out to ceremony location (1 hour)

12:45 pm – walk out to accessible ceremony location

1:00 pm – ceremony

1:30 pm – family portraits

1:45 pm – family heads back to airbnb or their stays for a break / couples portraits begin

3:00 pm – couples portraits end / head back to airbnb (1 hour)

4:00 pm – arrive at airbnb + take a few to chill 

4:30 pm – family arrives + reception begins

8:00 pm – photo coverage end



Sunset/Evening Ceremony

2:00 pm – details + end of getting ready

2:45 pm – first look

3:00 pm – head to trail head

4:00 pm – meet everyone at trail to hike out (1 mile)

5:00 pm – ceremony

5:15 pm – hugs/family/ guest photos

5:30 pm – family heads to airbnb

5:45 pm – sunset couples portraits

7:00 pm – hike back to car + head to airbnb

9:00 pm – toast, dancing ect.

10:00 pm – photo coverage ends



6:00 am – details + end of getting ready

7:00 am – first look

7:15 am – head to ceremony location

7:00 am – couple portraits

9:15 am – hugs/family/guest photos

9:45 am – head back to airbnb

10:15 am – mimosas + toast w/ guest

11:00 am – photo coverage ends

    • Larissa says:

      Pricing will vary depending on location, which experience you are interested in as well. If you are curious about my pricing for anything, please feel free to check out our investment page or feel free to contact us by filling out the contact form.

you said:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


let's make magic


book now

book now