Documenting all love stories near or far

Shelby Jane

March 28, 2024

Tips for Planning a Multi Day Wedding or Elopement from an Indiana Wedding Photographer

FILED IN: Advice

A bride and groom smile at one another while having their first dance together as guests sit and watch during their indoor wedding reception

Anybody that has planned a wedding or elopement, or is currently in the process of planning one, knows how much is involved in the planning process & how overwhelming it can sometimes be. As a wedding & elopement photographer based in Indiana I know from experience that sometimes you have to make compromises in order to make your wedding day work. Or do you? What if you could do everything you wanted to on your wedding day, & the only compromise is splitting the celebration into separate parts? That idea is what we’re here to take a look at today, the ins & outs of planning a multi day wedding or elopement. 

A couple kiss one another while standing in the woods in front of a waterfall as they have their elopement portraits taken
A bride and groom hold one another and lean in for a kiss while in the woods during their elopement day

What is a Multi Day Wedding / Elopement?

If you’ve never heard of a multi day wedding or elopement that’s totally ok. The name is pretty self explanatory on its own, but basically it is splitting your wedding or elopement festivities across multiple days. This is actually something I briefly touch on in this past article of mine, but felt that it deserved a more in depth look. A multi day wedding or elopement can be done in many different ways. Maybe you have a private elopement ceremony & a reception with your friends & family on a different day, or maybe you want to do a destination wedding but also want to celebrate with those that can’t make it. Whatever the reason might be, there’s practically infinite ways to split your wedding day across multiple days.

A bride and groom pose with the guests of their indoor wedding reception for a group photo

Why Have a Multi Day Wedding?

So why have a multi day wedding in the first place? Why not just plan everything all on one day? Just like how there are infinite ways to split your wedding, there are just as many reasons why someone would want to. Maybe you need to be legally married for insurance purposes, but aren’t able to put together the celebration you envision for your wedding just yet. In that case a private elopement followed by a wedding reception later down the line can be a great option. Another reason could be the one I mentioned above where you have a destination wedding with your closest friends & family, but you still want to get together & celebrate with ALL of your people. By having a multi day wedding you can do just that. 

The great thing about weddings today is that they can be basically anything you want them to be, especially if you go the route of an elopement. Never before have couples been able to create a wedding experience truly unique to them, & a multi day celebration is just another means to achieve that unique feel.

A bride and groom stand together in a church as guests stand around them and the pastor speaks during their wedding ceremony
A bride and groom smile as they lean in for a kiss while the sun sets behind them on their wedding day
A bride and groom kiss while in a room surrounded by empty wooden shelves as they have their wedding portraits taken

What’s The Difference between a Wedding & an Elopement?

So should you have a multi day wedding, or a multi day elopement? That choice is completely up to you, & it all depends on the experience you’re looking to have. I have an entire article dedicated to helping you decide what size wedding is best for you that you should check out, but we’ll also go through a quick rundown here.

For starters, according to Simply Eloped an elopement has a max of up to 20 guests for your day, & is the most intimate option. Micro weddings are next with a guest count of 20 to 50 people, while large weddings are anything that is 50 guests & above. Besides the obvious difference in guest count, there are some other major differences between the three options.

As far as cost goes an elopement is usually the least expensive since you don’t have to worry about feeding as many guests. You can instead put that same money towards your elopement experience as well if you’d like. The other difference comes down to the experience itself. The experience of your wedding day is influenced by the amount of guests in attendance, the venue you’re able to book based on your guest count, & much more that I cover in that previous article I mentioned. As you make your decision know that there are no wrong answers, as this is YOUR day, & you should enjoy it the way you want to. That’s another reason why I love multi day weddings & elopements so much as they offer so much flexibility to the couple.

A bride and groom hold hands while their parents stand around them as they have their elopement ceremony on a lookout in the mountains of Tennessee
A bride and groom smile as they stand next to one another and cut their wedding cake after their elopement ceremony

Tips for Planning a Multi Day Wedding or Elopement

Decide on the Format of Your Multi Day Experience

First thing’s first, you need to decide exactly what your multi day wedding or elopement is going to look like. For this I suggest you first focus on the rough layout of your days before worrying about your specific vendors as most vendors will need at least some semi-concrete plan in place before you’re able to book them. Talk with your partner & get your plan laid out. When is your ceremony happening? When is your reception? Are you including other things like a first look, cocktail hour, rehearsal dinner, etc? Once you have an idea of the events you want to include, plan out which day each event is happening as well as who will be attending each event. Is your entire guest list coming to your ceremony, or is that an intimate moment for just you two & your parents?

A bride and groom smile as they exit their wedding reception as sparks fly behind them and guests cheer around them
A bride and groom smile as they lean in for a kiss while the sun sets behind them on their wedding day

Book Your Vendors

Now that you have a plan in place for your multi day event it’s time to get your vendors booked for your festivities. The first is going to be the venue(s) that you need for your multi day wedding or elopement. This is crucial as it locks the schedule into place, & most other vendors won’t let you book them until you have these dates in place. From there you can begin to reach out to book your other vendors, prioritize those that are most important for your day. As a pro tip I recommend only reaching out to a max of 5 vendors at a time. This is purely for your sanity as otherwise it can get a little chaotic keeping track of all the different vendors in your email inbox.

A bride and groom sit together in the back of a carriage with their wedding party members as they head to their reception
A bride and groom sit together in the back of a carriage with their wedding party members as they head to their reception

Iron Out the Legalities

Next on our list is to get the legalities of your marriage in order. This isn’t usually the most fun part of planning your wedding or elopement, but it is one of the most important. Keep in mind that marriage laws vary from state to state, so be sure to plan accordingly. For anyone looking to elope or have their wedding in the Midwest I wrote a guide on the marriage laws of each state you can use as reference. 

Once you know all the requirements for completing your marriage license in your state it’s time to decide on when you’ll take care of it all. Do you plan to have a courthouse elopement & a wedding ceremony at a later date? Do you want to take care of the paperwork early & have your ceremony & elopement further down the line? Whatever you plan to do make sure that it falls in line with your multi day wedding or elopement & fits within the timeframe that your marriage license needs to be completed in for your respective state.

A wedding ceremony takes place in a backyard on a cloudy day

You Don’t Have to Make Things Happen by a Certain Date

A common misconception I see about multi day weddings & elopements is that even though you’re splitting up the festivities, you still need to have things done quickly. While you can of course go this route, there is no rule saying you have to. One of my couples actually had their private elopement 2 years prior to when they had their ceremony & reception with their families. It’s what worked for them, & both they & their loved ones all had a blast. There’s no rule on how much time you have to have between the different parts of your wedding, it can be days, months, or even years.

A wedding reception takes place inside of a brick building with string lights hanging from the ceiling

Focus on Your Priorities

The biggest draw of having a multi day wedding or elopement is the flexibility it gives you. With a more flexible schedule you’re really able to create an experience that includes everything that you’ve envisioned for your day. While planning your multi day celebration keep those priorities at the front of your mind. If spending more time with your family is a main reason for having a multi day celebration then make sure you make that a priority when scheduling your days. 

A bride and groom kiss one another while on a wooden bridge in the woods
A bride and groom kiss one another  while outside a flower shop as they show off their wedding rings to the camera

A Look at My Wedding & Elopement Packages

Now that we’ve covered the ins & outs of planning a multi day wedding or elopement, let’s quickly go over my different packages as a wedding photographer in Indiana. I understand that every wedding & elopement is different, it’s one of my favorite things about them, which is why my packages are unique for each couple. I love documenting both local & out of state marriages, & have different starting prices for each, and I also offer different coverage amounts to best fit your vision for your wedding & elopement. Lastly I help with all of the details including timeline planning, location scouting, permit assistance if necessary, & more. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I love helping my couples create a day that they’ll love to look back on for the rest of their lives. For a deeper look into my packages & pricing be sure to check out my investment page.

A bride and groom smile at one another while holding hands as they dance with their guests during their wedding reception

I am absolutely in love with multi day weddings & elopements, & I’m so happy that they are becoming more & more popular in the industry. Now that you have a bit more insight on how they work I bet you’re liking the idea of them too. If that’s the case & you need a photographer to document your day be sure to head over to my contact page & send me an inquiry.