Donna Marie




04 – Craft your timeline

Once you have some decisions made, travel and lodging booked, activities in mind, attire and gear picked out—it’s time to put everything together and plan out the timeline of your day (or multiple days). This is where your elopement or intimate wedding experience starts to feel super real as you see your vision coming together into a seamless, exciting plan. Don’t worry—it’s not about scheduling out every minute of your day, but rather making sure that you have time for everything you want to do, see, and experience together—leaving room for spontaneity and relaxation.

How Much Coverage is Enough?

When planning out the timeline for your elopement day (or days), you might be wondering, how much of it should you have documented by me?

Want my honest opinion? Well here it is:
Your day deserves just as much documentation as anyone else getting married—and maybe even more.

Why? Well, here are three reasons.

While sometimes people think an elopement is just saying your vows and spending an hour or two taking portraits—the day you get married is so much more than that. Your wedding day is going to be the day you remember every year on your anniversary for the rest of your life together—and everything that happened that day from sun up to sun down is a part of your experience. Couples having big weddings get the entire story of their day documented, so why shouldn’t you?

If you’re spending all of this time intentionally planning the absolute best, most authentic experience for you and your partner—don’t you want to be able to relive all of it and remember it precisely, in full-color detail?

If you’re not having as many people attend your event in-person, the photos of your day are truly the only way to share your experience with others—don’t you want to be able to do that?

I honestly have never photographed an elopement that I thought the couple had me there for too long—but there have been countless days that I wish I could have documented a fuller picture of how awesome their entire experience was.

So when deciding how much of your day to have me along for—remember that just because I’m there doesn’t mean that it’s going to feel like an all-day photoshoot. I’m there to melt into the background, to make sure you have the best experience possible, and to just document you two having the time of your life.

Sunrise vs. Sunset

One big decision when it comes to creating a timeline for your elopement timeline is what time of day you want to have your elopement ceremony and have your couples portraits taken. Sunrise and sunset are favorite times among photographers to take pictures because of the golden lighting and vibrant colors that are caused by the sun being low in the sky. In sunny climates, midday sunlight can create harsh under-eye shadows, which is why the middle of the day is when I usually recommend doing indoor photos, getting ready photos, traveling or hiking, doing activities, or hanging out and relaxing.


Can be more secluded

If you are concerned about how much privacy you are going to have while you are saying your vows to your partner, then a sunrise elopement or intimate wedding might be a good idea—especially if you choose a heavily-trafficked or well-known area.

Potentially better weather

This is entirely region-dependent, but some areas regularly forecast rain more frequently in the afternoon which means that a sunrise elopement increases your chances of clear skies. If you’re eloping in a hot climate or wanting to hike, going for sunrise can also mean cooler temperatures and less sweating.

“Alpenglow” on east-facing locations

If you’re eloping in a mountainous region on a clear day, if the main dramatic view faces east, sunrise is ideal because it means that the sunlight will hit that view first—causing the mountains to glow with gorgeous pink, orange, and yellow colors.

It’s a great way to start your day

Starting early and having your elopement or intimate wedding ceremony right at sunrise is an incredible way to start out your wedding day. It also gives you plenty of time to relax for the rest of your day and enjoy any other activities that you and your partner want to do.


Can be secluded

In the evening, most people, whether they are tourists or locals, tend to return home or wherever they are staying to have dinner, which means that many locations become less busy at sunset. So similar to sunrise, you can get privacy if you say your vows toward sunset. However, this doesn’t hold true for every location, as some spots are particularly known for their sunsets. =

You can sleep in

If you decide to do your elopement ceremony at sunset, then you will have more flexibility regarding what time you wake up and be able to get ready in the daylight. If you know that you are not a morning person, you’ll want to keep in mind that a sunrise elopement could potentially leave you groggy and tired on your wedding day—so you may want to seriously consider the benefits of a sunset elopement instead.

Great light for west-facing views

If you are wanting to say your vows with a beautiful west-facing view behind you, then eloping at sunset means that the sun’s final rays will be hitting the features behind you—and if the view behind you includes mountains to the west, then they will be illuminated with alpenglow towards sunset on a clear day.

You’ll be all warmed up

It can take some people a bit of time to get comfortable being photographed, and your awareness of me as your photographer will likely be greatest at the beginning of our time together. A benefit of eloping at sunset is that we will probably have already spent a good chunk of the day together, which means that you will have had time to get more comfortable with having a camera pointed at you—especially right before you say your vows to your partner, which many couples consider to be the most intimate part of an elopement day. 

You can also do both!

It’s also always an option to do a full-day elopement that spans sunrise to sunset or a multi-day elopement where you get to experience both as well!