This ones for my photographer friends.

If you’ve either just gotten started with your photography business, or are going to get started, and you know you’d like to shoot weddings AND elopements – no worries. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes, if you’re not sure which you prefer over the other, we evolve as we go. 

I started out shooting big weddings for 4 years, and just recently in 2020 switched over full-time into adventurous elopements. 

When I initially started with weddings, I was SO excited! I remember thinking I could do this forever.

But then 4 years down the road.. I realized my heart lied somewhere else. The documenter and adventurer in me decided that adventurous elopements was more my calling than weddings.

SO what happened when I switched? How did I go from booking big weddings to ONLY booking adventurous elopements?

Well. Booking a wedding is actually VERY different than booking an elopement. 

The marketing, the planning, the shooting – all of it is different.

Here’s some of the biggest things that made the difference in my marketing and planning strategy that I’ve notice when booking elopements instead of weddings.

With Weddings:

  1. Most brides that inquire already had a venue and a date. This meant that they already had most of their wedding details planned, I was just another item they needed covered on their vendor list.
  2. My Marketing for weddings included a lot of reception detail shots, venue shots, bridal party shots, etc. as well as the couples photos. It also included a lot of messaging speaking directly to brides who were planning their wedding and wanted those “candid and happy” photos, not the stand their and pose photos. Nothing changed marketing wise as well with me saying that I wanted to be their friend – that was still true. I wanted to know them, be their hype girl on the wedding day, and make the experience of getting married as best as possible.
  3. Planning wise, the only details I needed from the bride was getting to know more about them in the questionnaire upon booking, planning an engagement shoot, and then sending a final details questionnaire 40 days before their wedding. It also included communication with their coordinator and making sure the timeline had enough time for photos.
  4. The timeline on a wedding day looks very different than that of an elopement because there are usually more people, more events happening, and other vendors to be considered like caterer, venue, etc.

With Elopements

  1. Most brides that inquire don’t have a location or a date yet. Most of it is pretty flexible – that’s why in my contact form, I compensate for this in saying “What date are you looking at” and “is that date flexible” and “where are you thinking of getting married”. Most of them also don’t even have much details covered – they are looking for advice on what they need to do, and they reached out to me because they know that I am the expert.
  2. My marketing for elopements is very different than that of weddings. For one, I like to showcase the raw moments of elopements – and they happen ALL the time. I also like to showcase the location, the destination, and how beautiful and happy the couple looks in these gorgeous places around the globe. I also like to put the message out that I am the expert elopement photographer AND planner, and that I can help them cover all the bases in eloping. Most of this messaging is done on my website through blogs and my experience page, and also my social media captions. I stopped posting details of reception and focused more on the MOMENTS and raw  emotions – because that’s what applies more to my target audience.
  3. Planning wise, I do a lot for them. For one, after they book me, I send them a questionnaire getting to know them, but then at the end of that questionnaire are more questions asking about their location that they’ve envisioned getting married at. What do they imagine is in the background, what region are they thinking, forest or lake, beach or cliff, etc.. After that, I location scout virtually (or from previous knowledge of visiting there), and I put it all together in a Google Doc for them (I also include a list of vendors they could consider working with). Once they decide on a location, I help them acquire the appropriate permits, and then eventually help them build their timeline 40 days out from the elopement. 
  4. A typical timeline looks more like traveling from one destination to another. What location we will start at, then how long it will take to get to the next one, what the lighting or weather will look like at that time, and so on. There aren’t many events except the first look, the ceremony, and then possibly a dinner afterwards.

So the point of all this is that marketing and planning for weddings are actually very different than planning for elopements. 

With weddings, there are more details to consider and more events/vendors to keep in mind. With elopements, not many of those are the case, but instead, the LOCATION and the COUPLE are the main focus as the details. 

So if you’re considering diving into weddings and you are also considering elopements, my best advice to give you is this:

When you market for these, separate them. Become the expert. And in order to do that, you have to show that you are the expert in ONLY weddings or ONLY elopements – and sometimes that means breaking those into different facets of your business. Meaning, having a website ONLY for weddings, and having a website ONLY for elopements.

Honestly, it was the best advice I received when I got started, and it changed the game for me. Because as you can see, the target audience for these two are VERY different, so your marketing message has to fit that if you want to be booked at a higher price.

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