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queenstown elopement photography packages – the insider’s guide

(written by a full-time queenstown elopement photographer and wedding blogger)

ummm… what exactly is an elopement?  (Sounds like a stupid question but it isn’t).

Lake Sylvan Elopement

Ok, that really does sound like a stupid question, but bare with me here.  What is an Elopement?

Original the word “Elope” was used to describe when two people run away together to get married.  It’s implied that they run away from not only their families but also the place where they live because their marriage might be frowned upon or even not permitted at all.

However, these days, at least with the couples who’s Queenstown Elopements I photograph, Elopements are a slightly different kettle of fish.  What most people call an Elopement these days is a small wedding of between 2 and 25 people.  So really, when people say “Elopement” they usually mean more or less “small wedding”.  However, there are one or two other differences than just the number of wedding guests.  Below are a few of the usual differences you find with Elopement Weddings;

  • Elopement couples often choose to not have a reception , opting for a more relaxed and less “wedding-y” option like a restaurant dinner without all the speeches, cutting the cake, first dance etc.  This saves a lot of money and stress over a traditional reception.
  • In my experience, Elopements are usually location weddings – ie the couple travel to a different town or country to marry.
  • Typically at an Elopement the bride and groom are less hung up on some of the wedding traditions – they may get ready together and even walk down the aisle together for example.  Hell, there might not even be an aisle!

how do most queenstown wedding vendors define an elopement? (and why does it matter?)

I think the above section sums up reasonably well how the rest of the world (ie everyone other than the wedding industry) defines an elopement these days.  But how do queenstown wedding vendors define an elopement?  And why does it matter?

I’m going to answer my own question arse-about-face.  How Queenstown Wedding Vendors define the term “elopement” matters because whether they define your wedding as an Elopement or not can make a huge difference to the price they charge you!

Most local Vendors define an Elopement as a week-day wedding with fewer than 10 – 25 guests.  So, with some vendors you might be able to have up to 25 guests and still qualify as an Elopement, with some the cut-off will be 10.

The reason Wedding Vendors have separate pricing for Elopements is because they are trying to encourage weekday weddings.  With most of us Queenstown Wedding Pros, the vast majority of our weddings are on Saturdays, often with the week relatively free of shoots.  So, from a business perspective, if you can increase your weekday weddings you can dramatically improve your annual income.

There are other reasons Vendors promote Elopements too.  I know of one local Vendor who used to shoot a lot of Weddings but when he had his first child coming he shifted his focus entirely to Elopements so he could keep more weekends free to spend with his family.  (Bloody smart move I thought – not that’s a wise man!).  The other important reason some Vendors really focus on Elopements is because they are a lot less stress and more fun than most “proper” weddings.

check how your Wedding Vendors define Elopement – it could save you a bunch of $$$

what is normally included in queenstown elopement photography packages?

Of course what is included in various photographer’s packages is going to vary from photographer to photographer. But generally speaking, the kind of bare bones Queenstown Elopement Photography Package that many local photographers offer is probably going to include something like the following;



  • X number of hours of coverage
  • Usually the Package will specify roughly how many edited images you can expect to receive based on the hours of coverage in the Package.
  • Editing of the delivered images
  • A specified amount of travel (for the photographer) to/from the Elopement Venue/Location and/or photo locations.
  • A private client gallery to view/share/download your images.



Other products and services that might be included in the Package or offered as optional extra include;



  • Prints
  • Albums
  • Digital slideshows, galleries or apps like a StickyAlbum.
  • Rush delivery (an extra charge if request a faster than normal turnaround of the delivery of the edited images).
  • Advanced photo retouching (eg removing tattoos or blemishes in certain/all photos).

but what do these inclusions really mean?

 The above may (or may not) seem clear and straightforward to you, but there are a few things to be aware of. So let’s talk through the Elopement Packages Queenstown vendors often seem to offer. What do these inclusions really mean for you? Is there anything you need to be aware of with them? What do those Elopement Photography Prices really include?

Hours of Coverage

What does “Coverage” actually mean? When does it start, when does it stop and what’s included?

For me personally, Coverage starts when I turn up at the first location. Usually I start shooting at either the accommodation where the girls are getting ready or at the ceremony location itself.

If coverage is booked from the Ceremony onwards (ie no Getting Ready Photos) then I will start shooting at the Ceremony Venue/Location half an hour before the ceremony starts. This is so I can get photos of

  • Landscape intro shots (dramatic mountains and lake etc)
  • Wide and detail photos of the venue
  • Photos of the nervous Groom
  • Photos of guests arriving

Typical times that Coverage ends include;

  • At the end of the bridal party photos at the Ceremony Venue or Location.
  • Just after the Bride & Groom are welcomed in as man and wife by their guests
  • After the First Dance.

For me, Coverage is continuous. ie the clock starts when I turn up at the first location and ends at the final location/venue. Any travel that happens between those two times is included in the Coverage. So, if I turn up at the ceremony venue at 230pm and finish shooting at 630 at the Reception Venue that is 4 hours of coverage. That 4 hour period may include 5 minutes of travel or 55, it is still 4 hours of Coverage. However, unless it’s an out-of-town Elopement, I don’t charge for travel time to the first location or from the last location. (See the Travel section for more info on out-of-town Elopements).

But, it’s important you make sure your photographer (and their contract) is clear about what constitutes Coverage, when it starts/stops etc.


What happens if your photographer ends up shooting for longer than the Package specifies?

Your Photographer shouldn’t shoot for longer than the coverage included in the Package you booked without checking with you first. And they should clarify any Overtime costs with you when doing so. Again, it’s important you read the Overtime clause in their contract before booking so there are no unpleasant surprises.

elopement photography packages elopement photography prices

Number of images delivered

When an Elopement Photography Package specifies say “includes approximately 500 images” it usually means this is roughly the amount of photos your photographer will select, edit and deliver. That doesn’t mean he/she only shot 500 images on the day. As an example, for a 4 Hour Elopement Photography Package I would guarantee the delivery of approximately 200 edited images. (I work on the formula of 50 edited images delivered for every hour I’m shooting). But, at a 4 Hour Elopement I would normally shoot around 600 – 800 images in total. So why am I only delivering 200 images if I shot say 600? Here are the main reasons;

  • With many photos I will shoot multiple similar versions but only choose one when culling. This is especially true of Family Formals and any group photos. The more people there are in the photo the more chances that at least one of them will have their eyes closed or a less than flattering expression on their face in any given shot. This is why it’s crucial to shoot multiple versions of any group photos to make sure you get one keeper.
  • There is such a thing as “too many photos” for wedding couples. If you receive too many photos in one go from your photographer it can become a daunting task to even look through them let alone decide which to print/share.
  • Some shots will be duds – a guest stands up or raises their cell phone in front of the photographer during the ceremomy, focus is off, the shot is unflattering etc.
  • The last reason is a selfish one – time. It takes time to edit and deliver every image. With extremely large numbers of images, the editing and delivery process becomes incredibly time consuming.


‘Here are the major things you want to think about/ask questions about when it comes to editing;

  • Does the package I booked even include editing? As unbelievable as it seems to me, some photographers practise “shoot and burn” photography where they deliver unedited images pretty much straight out of the camera and into your hands.
  • How extensive/professional is the editing that is included with your Package? Does it include Black and White versions? If so, do you get the colour versions of these images too so you can choose? Does it include cropping, exposure adjustments, sharpening, colour correction etc?
  • Do you actually like the editing style as shown on your photographer’s website? If not, your best bet is to book a photographer who’s editing and images you love. If this isn’t an option, you can always ask your phototgrapher if they’re willing to adjust the “look” of your wedding photos. (But be ready for an upset photographer when you ask that question).

Elopement Packages Queenstown


Image c/o Adobe


Your photographer’s Elopement Photography Packages will likely mention the kilometres and/or hours of travel included. This is pretty self explanatory – it is the distance or time the photographer is prepared to travel for your chosen Package. Apart from fuel costs, it all comes down to time for your photographer. If you book a 2 hour Elopement Package but expect your photographer to drive 500 kilometres each way to get to your dream Elopement Location, it is in reality a 14 hour shoot for your photographer. Now, if your Photographer is super keen to shoot at that particular location (or just get your booking full stop) then they might waive or discount their travel costs. But, if you are planning on doing your shoot more than 25 kilometres from your photographer’s base then you should check with them if there will be any additional travel charges.

Client galleries

If your photographer is a real pro, they will likely deliver your edited images electronically using a client gallery. A good client gallery makes it easy to view, print and also share your images. Keep in mind that these client galleries are usually a paid subscription service and organising and uploading images to the client galleries takes time. So even though this one is pretty much a given for any pro photographer it’s still a nice and important touch. A couple of things to keep in mind/questions to ask with Client Galleries are;

  • How long is the Client Gallery link active? Ie when do you need to download/share them by before you can no longer access the Client Gallery?
  • Does the Client Gallery allow easy sharing of both individual images as well as the entire gallery via social/email/SMS?
  • How secure is the Client Gallery? Can anyone browsing the web access it? Can anyone with the link access it? Is it password protected?
  • Can you download images direct from the Client Gallery?
  • What sizes/resolutions can you download the images in?

Things not included in most elopement photography packages

The following items are things that aren’t normally mentioned in most Photographer’s Elopement Packages but are questions worth asking in my opinion.






Don’t misunderstand me – of course most Queenstown Elopement Packages include a contract. (The Elopement Photographer you’re considering doesn’t use a contract? My advice – run away now!). However, most couples only consider the contract when they are actually part way through booking the Package. And who knows, some couples no doubt pay the deposit before they’ve read the contract. Make sure you read the contract thoroughly – even though it’s booooooooooring as all hell it is important. Don’t be afraid to question your photographer if anything doesn’t make sense to you. And make sure that the contract details the Elopement Photography Prices for the package you have selected.



queenstown wedding packages



image backups



Most people are not good with backups – and that is also true of most Elopement Couples. And if you don’t backup your data properly you risk losing it. A popular mantra with Data Backups is the 3-2-1 rule. Ie 3 copies of all important data stored on 2 different mediums with 1 copy of the data stored offsite. As an example of following the 3-2-1 rule, here is my backup setup;



  • My offsite backup is handled by Backblaze. All my images are backed up to the cloud using this service and can be accessed, downloaded or restored from any location or device as long as I have internet.
  • The 2 mediums I use to back up my image library is the afore-mentioned Backblaze cloud backup and two massive hard drive arrays in my office.
  • The 3 copies of all my images are stored on (a) a Drobo 5d hard drive array with 10 Terabytes of capacity, (b) A Time Machine backup of the Drobo 5d to a Thunderbay hard drive array with 10 Terabytes of capacity and (c) my Backblaze cloud backup service, also with 10 Terabytes of capacity.



I strongly recommend you make at least 2 copies of both your high res and low res images in 2 different locations. Ie not on the same hard drive/laptop/computer. On top of this, ask your photographer how many backups of your images they have at any one time and whether they can be made available to you later if necessary. If so, is there a cost to redeliver the images to you if you somehow lose or destroy your copies?



The ultimate image library storage solution - the Drobo 5d fallon photography queenstown wedding packages

what should you look for in your elopement packages?


Unless you have a lot of experience as a wedding planner or photographer, you may not have an accurate idea of how long the various bits of an elopement take or what happens when.  Not to mention how far away the various locations are from each other.  And that beautiful Californian Elopement Timeline Template pdf you downloaded from the web?  Not that much help… So, do yourself a favour and ask the Photographer or Planner at the top of your list of potential Vendors to whip up a Wedding Day Timeline for you based on their recommendations.  (And if they can’t be bothered doing that, maybe move them down a peg or two on your list of preferred vendors).

Once you have a reasonably accurate idea of the likely Timeline for your Elopement it makes it much easier to figure out how much coverage you actually need.  And if you can’t find a Vendor willing to do this for you, get in touch below and I’ll do it for you.  I’m happy to help.

Get your free personalised Elopement Timeline here

number of images delivered

This is something many couples ask about and every photographer will have their default answer.  But the reality is that the number of photos generated from any shoot will vary hugely depending upon the circumstances.  Eg if the lighting is really tricky and your photographer had to light a lot of the shots, that will greatly reduce the number of photos that were captured per hour and also the number of photos that the photographer considers deliverables.


One question that a lot of photographers encounter is about the couple’s preferred editing style.  Often couples have seen some photos online that they love and they will ask the photographer they’re considering if they can edit their photos to look like this.
If it was my Elopement, personally I wouldn’t ask any photographer to shoot or edit in any other way than the way they normally do it.  Why?  Because, I think that even if they agree to do it, it is very hard for shooters to shoot or edit in a way that just isn’t them – and if they try it will often make the results worse rather than better.
So, my two cent’s worth is this; look at the shooters work and decide whether or not you love it.  If you don’t love every aspect of it including the shooting style, edit ect, then do yourselves (and them) a favour and book somebody who’s work you DO love 100%

Do you have to have a “Package”? why do wedding photographers have packages?

Another stupid-sounding question, but one worth asking I reckon.  The reasons most photographers present their various services as Packages include the following;

So, do you have to have a Package when you book a Queenstown Elopement Photographer?  Well, with 99.9% of Queenstown Photographers….yes you do.  Like I said, as of this year I ditched my Packages and am going 100% bespoke.  But I’m not too sure if any other local photographers have taken this approach.
However, the other approach you could take if your preferred photographer has set Packages would be to ask them if they’d be willing to tailor some custom packages for you to choose from.

custom packages

Now, while most Queenstown Elopements have got a few things in common, every Elopement and every Elopement couple is quite unique. So it makes sense that in order to get not only the best value for money and a wedding day that is more “you”, you will need your Elopement Photographer to tailor some Custom Elopement Photography Packages for you. But the vast majority of Queenstown Elopement Photographers only offer generic Elopemnt Photography Packages. This is simply a time-saving effort on their part. While they no doubt work hard to fine tune their standard packages to be the best fit (and an easy sell) for most couples, you will often end up settling for a Package that is “close enough” to your needs rather than an exact fit.

My advice? When hunting for your Dream Elopement Photographer ask them if they are willing to customise their Photography Packages for you if necessary. Who knows, this might even save you some money!

queenstown elopement photography packages pricing

Note: The pricing info listed below is several years old now so you will likely want  to increase them by at least 25%.

In my experience, most Queenstown Elopement Photographers offer Elopement Packages. starting from around $1,500 for 2 hours.  So, you are paying roughly $750 per hour as of a few years ago for Queenstown Elopement Photography.  (Makes me think I should reassess my new $300 per hour pricing!!  But nah, I’m happy).

Typically this is for week-day Elopements with fewer than 10 – 25 guests and will include just your photography coverage and the delivery of the final images as high res and low res digital files with no watermarks and also no prints.  The Packages may also include a client gallery for easy sharing and viewing of your photos as well.

When I get a chance I will endeavour to update this info.

long story short…



Right, I think that about covers it for Queenstown Elopement Packages for now. I will update this Post from time to time so stay tuned! And if you have any questions or feedback feel free to comment below or email me at






Here are some other blog posts and Elopement Photo Galleries you might find helpful;












About the Author

Patrick Fallon is a full time wedding photographer based in beautiful Queenstown New Zealand.
While wedding photography these days makes up 70% of his work he also loves shooting action sports (especially mountain biking and skiing) and commercial photography.
He lives in Queenstown with his partner Jada, their wee daughter Juniper and their dog Arrow.

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