Whatever your reason for eloping—be it to get married on a tropical island or to have a smaller, more intimate ceremony surrounded by only those closest to you—you'll still want to do some preparation to make sure the experience is everything you hoped. Whether you choose to wear a traditional wedding dress and tux and exchange classic vows is totally up to you and your soon-to-be spouse, but one definite "do" that wedding professionals recommend is hiring a photographer, elopement or not.
"No matter how big or small a wedding is, it should still be celebrated and captured, not only so that the couple can look back on their beautiful day fondly, but so they can share the moment with friends and family who could not be there," says Myriam Michel, owner and creative director of M&M Elite Events. "What's more: Couples can see this as an opportunity to have a really creative portrait session where they can score some amazing images in the world's most beautiful locations."
Heather Weiss-Alexander of Bell'INVITO Stationers, agrees, adding that couples often forget that their big-day photography is the longest-lasting aspect of your wedding. "A great photographer artfully capturing moments of real intimacy—in a dance, a smile, a look, or a touch—is giving you a piece of time you can frame and put on your nightstand or post on an entire wall as a work of art," she says. "You're already thinking outside the box with your elopement—continue the theme with your ways of savoring the memories."
Even if you're having a few photos snapped, it's still worth it to hire a professional, someone who knows what they're doing and how to capture your best angles and the most ideal moments. If you do decide to hire a friend, Weiss-Alexander recommends making sure that they have some experience with angles, lighting, and shutter speed. "You only get one shot at capturing the happiness exudes from spontaneous moments," she says. "Besides, your old friends will want to share the moments they missed and new friends will enjoy seeing you years later at that fresh start point in your life."
Because you're probably hiring a photographer for just a few hours—mainly to capture your ceremony and maybe a few photos of the two of you in your beautiful elopement destination—you may be able to score a deal when it comes to price. The professional photographers specializing in weddings might be open to adjusting the price for elopement, which is most of the time less than a regular weddings packages, notes Maryanne Parker, founder of Manor of Manners. "They might, however, be extremely busy during the weekends, usually booked for regular weddings, which might limit their availability," she says. Do keep in mind, though, that elopement ceremonies are usually very short 15-20 mins tops, so be sure to carve out a photo schedule with your photographer so you can use your time wisely.