Eloping Along: Taking a More Personal Step into Destination Wedding Photography

December 18, 2015

By RF Staff

There was a time when elopements were viewed as a taboo type of “downgrade” to a traditional wedding, but not anymore. Couples are now inviting their photographers along to witness and document their secret union together. The wedding is about them and no one else, and as a photographer, you get to focus on the couple and their relationship, without any of the distracting elements that a conventional wedding could provide. Here’s a breakdown of why we (Hugh Whitaker and I) love shooting elopements.

Few Limitations: Locations, time of day, order of events, and so many other elements come into play when shooting a conventional wedding—but not as frequently with elopements. We had no schedule to abide by traveling around Marrakesh, Morocco, for Kymberlie and Geoff’s elopement. After hours of touring and taking photos, we spotted a hill that overlooked the highest peaks and asked our driver to pull over. The couple made their way to the top, read their vows and exchanged rings. Something so perfect could have never been planned.

More Whimsy: Almost nothing can go wrong, as the only people the bride and groom have to impress are themselves. In Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, Alessandra and Andrew (above) started the day with breakfast and coffee together. They met with the officiant at Cape Spear and slowly walked to a side of the cliff overlooking the ocean for their ceremony. Afterward, with hours of free time, they shared a picnic and did some sightseeing, ending at a brewery kitchen party with hundreds of locals, some of whom secretly arranged for the band to bring up the couple for their “first dance.” They rolled with the punches and made memories—and as a photographer, it was an absolute dream.

No Distractions: The private and personal connections we witness while shooting elopements are enough to win us over completely. The couples become this unit, totally into each other without any distractions from vendors, wedding guests, or any other elements.


1. Try not to over-complicate your gear. I shoot almost exclusively with a 35mm for elopements.

2. Make sure you have backup equipment. You don’t want to get stuck in a foreign country without your gear.

3. Explain the importance of light to your clients. With no time constraints, you can maximize the best light.

4. Give yourself some extra time to explore your location. A 2-minute walk down the road could end up providing the most incredible backdrop.

5. Understand how the light works in your location. Sunsets, for example, vary in different parts of the world.

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