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- 4 Tips for a Photogenic Elopement Day
As a past bride, let me tell you something that I learned veryyy early on in the planning process: there’s a WHOLE lot more that goes into planning a breathtaking, photogenic elopement than you’d think. We see these incredible weddings & elopements shared all over Instagram and Pinterest that really make it look effortless – but it quickly becomes clear just how much work it takes when it comes time to start planning our own. You feel me?
It turns out that there’s a hell of a lot of planning that goes into making sure every detail of an elopement matches the couple’s vision: Hair. Makeup. Flowers. More flowers. Rings. Jewelry. Invites. Menus. Desserts. Dresses. Suits. Veils. Accessories. The list could go on forever and ever.
And while the look, the image, the aesthetic is NOT the most important aspect of your elopement, it does play a huge role in how your day flows, how your photos turn out, and how the two of you feel. So keep in mind while you read this guide that your elopement is about so much more than your photos, but there are a ton of ways that you can make sure your photos capture your day as beautifully & authentically as possible! Now with those disclaimers out of the way, let’s get into my top 4 tips for having a photogenic elopement day.
4 Tips for a Photogenic Elopement Day
1. Invest in your vendors
First and foremost, it is absolutely crucial that you invest in your vendors – and the right vendors at that!
You’re not a wedding professional or expert in the industry (unless you are; in which case, you go!), so why should the weight of planning a “perfect” day rest on your shoulders? Like I said before, even small elopements take a whole lot more work than one might expect, so it’s really important that you have the help of trusted, talented vendors along the way.
Your elopement vendors can really make or break your day: they can be the difference between an elopement that feels chaotic, unorganized, & stressful, and an elopement that feels elevated, smooth, & beautifully executed. Not only is it key to hire vendors to help bring your dream day to life; it’s key to hire the right people that you can trust to take the work off your plate + infuse their own creativity throughout the process. If you hire a certain vendor because they’re less expensive, but their ideas and values don’t quite align with your own, or they don’t have much experience, you may end up struggling to put your full trust in them and then having more weight on your shoulders instead of less. I highly recommend taking the time to find and invest in vendors who you really connect with, even if that means re-arranging your budget a little to prioritize those vendors more than you planned!
Here are a few key vendors I recommend investing in a little more carefully & intentionally to make sure you have a smooth, photogenic elopement:
Obviously! Though I may be slightly biased 😉 Having the right photographer there to document your day in its most authentic form, with a creative, storytelling eye will ensure you have an incredible gallery to look back on forever. It goes without saying that your photographer is one of the most important investments you’ll make for your elopement – your flowers will die, and your cake will get eaten, but the photos of your flowers and cake will live on!
Hair stylist & makeup artist
A hair stylist/makeup artist (HMUA) will make damn sure that you feel like your most BEAUTIFUL self on the most important day of your life – and the weight of that simply cannot be understated! No matter what obstacles you run into on the big day, no matter what plans change, no matter what you’re wearing, you want to feel like your absolute best self the entire time. And you deserve to feel that way!! It is a pretty significant day, after all. Hiring the right HMUA will make sure you leave for your elopement feeling like absolute royalty, ready to take on whatever the day may bring because you know you’ll look bomb doing it.
It’s also super important to hire a professional because your makeup will look different in photos than in real life. A professional HMUA will make sure to use products that won’t make you sweat in warm temperatures, that will look good in front of the camera, and that will hold up throughout the day. They’ll listen to you and your ideas, and then blend those with their own expertise + professional experience to give you the most beautiful + photogenic look possible!
This is a biiiig one that a lot of couples don’t often think about until they get to planning: there’s a huge difference between buying flowers from the grocery store, hiring a florist, and then hiring a luxury florist. While you can absolutely, absolutely grab some flowers from Trader Joe’s real quick on the way to your ceremony if that fits your budget + priorities better, there is something to be said for hiring a professional who knows their shit! Luxury florists will make the difference between your flowers just looking like a prop that somebody randomly threw in, and looking like a piece of ART.
Salitha & Namon’s Intimate Styled Wedding at JM Cellars is a fantastic example of just how much a luxury florist can really add to the day; Sam designed a phenomenal ceremony arch composed of the most gorgeous blooms, along with a variety of matching arrangements to decorate the dinner table. Each piece looked like it belonged in its very own exhibit of an art museum!
Other vendors: chefs, rentals, & planners
Chefs, rental providers (or decorators/stylists), and planners are three other vendors that can really make a huge impact on the feel + flow of your elopement. Not every couple has the budget to hire a private chef or a full-fledged planner, and if that’s you, that’s completely fine – your day can still be amazing without them! However, if you do have the budget and these vendors align with your priorities, then they can really elevate your whole experience. Not only will everything be naturally photogenic and beautiful with the help of professional chefs, rentals/decorators/stylists, and planners; more importantly, it takes all of that stress off of your plate so that you can just enjoy it all & look completely relaxed in your photos, rather than worrying about making sure everything is right!
2. Choose your attire carefully
Second, your attire plays a huuuge role in your elopement experience + how your photos turn out. The most important thing is that you wear something that fits you well and makes you feel confident AF! Overall, there are two main things to consider when you’re choosing your elopement attire: comfort, and aesthetic.
A general rule of thumb to pay attention to when it comes to how you look in your elopement attire: if you’re uncomfortable, it’s going to show! That’s why it’s really important to take your time finding + picking out what you’re going to wear; it’s so easy to be taken out of the moment if you’re feeling uncomfy, nervous about how you look, or if you’re constantly adjusting your outfit, and we want to make sure you can be completely and totally present throughout the day.
This leads me to my next recommendation, which is that you pick an outfit that YOU truly love, and that feels authentic to you – not an outfit that you think others will like, or that you thought you wanted when you were little & dreamt of your future wedding, but doesn’t really feel right anymore. The best way to feel like your most beautiful self is to pick pieces that highlight and enhance what you love most about yourself, and that reflect your unique personality. Allow yourself and YOUR best qualities to shine through your outfit, and you can never go wrong!
A few tips for making sure you pick out attire that you’ll be totally comfortable in:
- Do a trial run beforehand: This will help you see exactly what undergarments you’ll need, and how you want to wear any additional accessories. There’s nothing worse than trying a piece on, realizing your black bra is showing, and that you wanted to wear shorts underneath but they’re causing lines! Definitely look at yourself from all angles and perspectives to make sure you’re happy, and that you’ve got it all down beforehand so that nothing surprises you come your elopement day.
- Don’t skip over footwear: If you’re eloping outdoors and are going to be doing any sort of hiking, scrambling, or walking on uneven terrain, opt for sturdy boots over whatever flimsy, fancy shoe you want to wear. You can totally bring your fancy shoes with you to change into at your ceremony or wear during other parts of the day; they might be fine on a flat, even trail or on the beach, or if you’re having a ceremony at an Airbnb. But make sure you also bring practical shoes! Safety and practicality outweigh fashion for this one.
Along with feeling comfortable, you obviously want to make sure you love the way your outfit looks and that the style fits you vision! If you’re wearing a dress, whatever dress you choose will really set the tone for your look + your photos. Are you picking a flowy dress that can blow in the wind at your mountaintop ceremony? Or would you rather pick a tighter dress that hugs your body and won’t fly up if it’s windy? Are you wearing a full skirt? A long train? What elements of your gown can we really play with in your photos?
Dresses are best when they enhance your elopement day, rather than just being something you wear. Think about how we can incorporate movement with your outfit, and how we can create some variety (e.g. with detachable sleeves, a cape, a long veil, a train, an oversized bow, etc.).
Now if you’re wearing a suit, choosing a well-fitting suit is muy importante. You want to look sharp, confident, and striking in an outfit that fits your body well, rather than one that’s a little too loose in some areas and a little too tight in others. Make sure you pick a color that complements your skin, pairs well with your partner’s outfit, and stands out in the landscape of your elopement!
Bonus: guest attire
And one more quick tip along the lines of outfits: if you’re having guests, you can totally give them direction on what to wear. It could be general guidance, such as asking them to wear dresses & suits, or it could be a more specific request like only wearing jewel tones. It’s not too much to ask, I promise! Just make sure they bring practical shoes if needed, too 🙂
3. Pay attention to the details
So far we’ve been talking about bigger things like hiring the right florist and picking the right attire, but the small details matter just as much when it comes to having a photogenic elopement! Ask yourselves: what physical tokens can be a part of your day that would add meaning? What little pieces do you want memorialized in your photos? Think about colors, textures, and shapes that could help bring out your aesthetic
There are sooo many small detail that have a big impact on the look and feel of your day that you might not even consider, so I wanted to give you a list of common details that I see couples incorporating into their elopement, either while they’re getting ready, during their ceremony, at dinner, or even just in their detail photos.
First up are some popular details and accessories that are typically more femme, that are great to include in your detail photos:
- Jewelry: necklace, bracelet, earrings, engagement ring + wedding band, etc.
And here are some details that are typically more masc:
- Tie bar
- Bowtie or tie
If your details don’t fit into either of those categories/labels, that is COMPLETELY fine – I just sorted them that way for the sake of example!
Here are some other details + extras that make for great, meaningful additions to your detail photos:
- Ring box
- Vow books
- Heirlooms, like a handkerchief or jewelry dish
- Extra/loose flowers
- A nice hanger if you want photos of your attire hanging up – find a nice wood or velvet one, or order a nice personalized hanger! Definitely skip the cheap plastic ones.
One of my couples, Brandi & Jordan, had a super cute idea and included Polaroids taken throughout the day in their detail photos, and also created a great little wedding week schedule to hand out to their guests! Plus their pink and purple color palette was to DIE for admist all the lush PNW greenery. Take a peek at some of the photos here 🙂
4. Get your mindset right
Last but certainly not least, it’s so important to get your mindset right before your elopement! If you want to look like you’re having fun in your pictures, easy! Just have fun. Don’t worry about the angles or doing thing “right;” let your photographer take care of that, and trust that they’ll pay attention to every little detail, every shadow, every angle, every smile. There’s simply no way you can mess your photos up if you’re having the time of your life, celebrating this exciting next step in your relationship; there’s nothing you can do wrong. It’s your day, so just enjoy it, and your photos are bound to turn out beautifully!
Think about it for a sec: if you’re “posing” or trying to act a certain way in front of the camera, the emotions and memories won’t be there when you look back on those photos. Sure, you may look great, but if all you remember when you see it is that you were putting in a lot of effort to look that way, the photos won’t really mean as much. The most special photos are the ones that show your genuine emotions; that capture you enjoying every moment of the day.
My next tip? Read that all again. Seriously. The way to look happy in photos is to be happy. Feel free to practice your “soft smile” in the mirror all you want, but don’t hold back your real smile during the day. Laugh. Cry. Whatever. Experience your full range of emotions and just be present!
And if you’re reallllly nervous and want some practical advice for what to do, just ask me! I’ll be there every step of the way to guide you and help you feel + look your best, and if you need a little encouragement, then I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.
I hope that these 4 tips for a photogenic elopement day helped you feel SO excited to plan a day that not only looks beautiful, but feels right to you! Remember: the most important thing is that your day looks how YOU want it to, whether that means hiring a luxury florist or DIY’ing your florals, whether your guests are all wearing color-coordinated outfits or they show up in every color of the rainbow. Don’t stress about how your photos will look on Instagram or Pinterest – but if you use these tips, they’ll def look killer without you even worrying about it 😉
For more resources to help you plan your dream elopement that feels authentic to you, check out my blog or browse through a few of my recent ones below!