Elopement Timeline

All elopements are different, after all, they reflect the uniqueness of each couple.  That said, some of the most commonly asked questions is “what can we expect at our elopement?”  Well, this isn’t an exact science, but using some of our previous elopements as a guide, we can give you an idea of what to look forward to, on your big day.  For the purposes of this article, let’s assume the ceremony has been set for 3pm.  

Elopement Timeline in Summary:

  • 13:00 – Ross and Ayako meet the couple at their hotel
  • 13:10 – Ayako takes bride to the hair salon for hair and make up
  • 13:10– Ross takes the groom to the venue, where he can get changed and prepare for the big event
  • 13:45 – The Photographer arrives at the venue or at the Hair Salon
  • 14:45– The bride arrives at the venue, “first-meet” photos ensue
  • 15:00– The ceremony
  • 15:25– Photo-shoot
  • 17:00– Dinner

13:00 – Meet the couple

Perhaps the most important part of the day!  We will arrange to meet, either at your hotel or a convent pick up spot.  In some cases, we will drive the bride and groom to the venue.  In other cases, this is the last time time the couple will see each other until just before the ceremony. 

13:10 – Ayako takes the bride to the hair salon

This is where the bride and groom usually part ways for a few hours.  Ayako will accompany the bride to the hair salon for styling, make up, and getting changed into the wedding dress.  At the same time, Ross will take the groom directly to the venue.  There he can wait, get dressed and mentally prepared for a lifetime of happiness!!  While there, Ross will take the groom through the procedure for the ceremony.  Other than that, the groom can  generally just chill, before the bride arrives.  Some grooms choose to steady their nerves with a cheeky drink or two!

13:45 – The Photographer arrives at the venue or at the Hair Salon

This is where having two photographers is handy.  If the venue and preparation space are in two different locations, either Ross (usually the second photographer) or the photographer goes to the salon.  One will photograph the bride in the final stages of preparation, while the other will document the progress of the groom.  The groom and the photographer who is present, will discuss and decide on possible first-meet photo locations.  

Elopement Timeline - Hair and Makeup in preparation for the big event!

14:45– The bride arrives at the venue

Once the bride is finished at the hair salon, Ayako will call Ross or the Photographer (whichever one is with the groom) to let him know that they are on their way.  This the cue for the groom to get in position for the first reveal.  We work hard to keep the surprise and build the suspense right up to the moment of the “first-meet”.  This is always a lot of fun.  Everyone is excited to see and document the reactions, and we haven’t been disappointed yet. 

Elopement Timeline - just before the "first-meet."
The Anticipation Builds
Elopement Timeline - Just after the "first-meet."

From whooping and hollering to tears of joy, the moment is always a good one.  And with two photographers on hand, we are sure to get multiple angles!!  This whole process takes anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour.  There is never any hurry, this is the couple’s time; we just let them savor the moment, and take in every detail.

15:00– The ceremony

This is the heart of the day.  Indeed, for many of our clients, it the sole reason of the whole trip.   The ceremony takes just about 15 ~ 20 minutes.  It will be in English, though if you choose a shrine elopement, it will be in Japanese.  Read more about that here!  

Elopement Timeline - a simple ceremony in a beautiful setting.

Serendipity’s very own Ross Harrison officiates the ceremony, at no extra cost, and includes a small flavor of Japan in the proceedings.  By all means, if you have a friend who would like to officiate, just let us know.   During the ceremony, the couple will have a chance to recite their own vows, and inject their own brand of romance or even humor!

Shortly after the ceremonial proceedings that couple will be presented with a certificate to mark the occasion, accompanied by a tasty mug of Japanese matcha – green tea, or sake!!  

Elopement Timeline - first matcha!

15:25– Photo-shoot

Now the photographers can have their fun, and explore every nook and cranny of the venue, in order to show the couple and the location in the best light.  Depending on the venue, for example in Kyoto, we may be able to go out and include some of the location in your shots.  There is never really a fixed time limit here.  

Elopement Timeline - Photoshoot

We like to let the photographers and couples’ imaginations run wild!  If you have any ideas about how you want the pictures to turn out, just let us know – all ideas welcome!

17:00– Dinner (optional)

Some couples, especially those who choose to marry in Kyoto, like to round off the day with a romantic dinner for two at a beautiful, romantic restaurant.  

Elopement Timeline - a romantic diner for two!

This is where serendipity will part ways with the couple, but not before arranging to drop off any bags and belongings at their hotel.  Obviously, if you choose our Kyo-Machiya plan, you can stay at the venue over night, in which case such arrangements won’t be necessary.

Some of our favorite restaurants to recommend are:

To find out more, or to start planning your own special elopement, contact us today!