Wedding Photographer VS Elopement Photographer: What’s the Difference?

It’s likely that when you start your search for a photographer to capture your wedding day, you’ll find two seemingly similar titles: Wedding Photographer and Elopement Photographer. Aside from personality, artistic style, and personal values, what are the differences between these two types of photographers?

If you’re not quite sure, this post is for you. Because, let me tell you, the difference is world changing.

You may be asking yourself:

+ What’s the difference?
+ Is this something I should be paying attention to in my search?
+ Is there a difference in pricing? Or services?
+ How do I decide which kind of photographer is for me?

To start, if you’re not quite sure what the difference is between an elopement or a wedding, check out my post: Large Wedding vs Small Wedding vs Elopement.

Here’s what a traditional wedding day timeline usually looks like:

12:00pm – Photographer arrives for detail and getting ready photos
1:00pm – First Look
1:30pm – Portraits of the couple
2:00pm – Wedding party portraits
2:30pm – Family portraits
3:30pm – Ceremony
4:00pm – Cocktail Hour
5:00pm – Introductions and Reception begins
5:15pm – First Dance(s)
5:30pm – Speeches
5:45pm – Dinner
6:45pm – Cake cutting
7:00pm – Dance floor opens
8:00pm – Photography coverage ends

Here’s what an elopement timeline can look like:

(Elopements don’t have a “typical” timeline, as they’re all custom built for each couple. So here’s an example from an elopement I helped craft for one of my couples.)

12:00pm – Donna Marie arrives at cabin
+ getting ready
– hair, makeup, etc.
+ detail photos
– dress, suit, rings, letters, cabin, etc.
1:00pm – Hors D’oeuvres prepared by private chef
1:30pm – Get Dressed into wedding attire
2:00pm – First Look
2:30pm – Private ceremony by the river
3:00pm – Time to relax together
3:45pm – Newlywed Portraits at Marcy Field
5:00pm – Head back to cabin
5:30pm – Seal vows into bottle
6:00pm – Dinner and signature drinks, prepared by private chef
7:00pm – Enjoy a bonfire at the cabin
+ s’mores and champagne
8:00pm – Photography coverage ends

What are some things Elopement Photographers do that Wedding Photographers don’t?

+ Scout for locations for your: Ceremony, Portraits, and Lodging
+ Find amazing vendors to enhance your wedding experience
+ Build a custom timeline with you
+ Help you find activities or things to experience
+ Sign your marriage certificate (if they’re ordained, which I am!)
+ Help with securing your marriage license, and/or special use permits
+ Provide unlimited consults and guidance throughout the planning process

(Note that not all elopement photographers will offer as much in-depth, or hands on guidance during the planning process. This is a list of things I provide to all my couples. So definitely make sure to ask.)

Are elopement photographers cheaper than wedding photographers?

Short answer: No.

Some photographers will have low priced “elopement packages” that include just a couple of hours of photography coverage, and none of the planning help. But I encourage you to look beyond these options.

Your wedding day will be your wedding day whether you have 2 guests or 200, and it deserves the same amount of respect, celebration, and coverage regardless.

Many elopement photographers will be significantly more expensive than traditional wedding photographers.

When a couple books me for their elopement, the majority of the work I do for them is prior to their celebration day. From researching locations, sleuthing through vendors that fit their vibe and vision, finding things for them to experience and enjoy, securing any needed permits, crafting a timeline, having calls and meetings with my couple, etc.

There’s so much more to what I offer my couples than showing up for a wedding day and taking pretty photos. By the time your wedding day arrives, we’re basically besties. My goal is to feel like an old friend visiting you as you celebrate your love.

How do you decide whether to hire an elopement photographer or a wedding photographer?

+ You’re not interested in a lot of the things a “traditional” wedding celebration has to offer.
+ You’re looking at remote locations, or places other than standard wedding venues.
+ You want help choosing activities, locations, and vendors in places where traditional wedding planners may not be able to help you.
+ You are having few to no guests.
+ You’re looking to make your wedding day about the things you’ll experience together versus the pomp and circumstance weddings usually entail.

+ You’re looking at more traditional wedding venues (churches, event spaces, country clubs, etc.)
+ You love weddings exactly as they are.
+ Working with a wedding planner to secure your vendors and venue just makes sense.
+ You’re having more than 25 guests.

Okay. I think maybe I am looking for a wedding photographer. Can I still hire you?

Possibly. I specialize in elopements and small weddings. So for me to take on a larger, traditional wedding, we have to vibe. We have to align on values, and have a mutual understanding of one another. So get in touch, and let’s see if we’re a good fit.


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