Your Burning Questions, Answered

Frequently Asked Questions

frequently asked questions about eloping in the mountains

Hey, Nobody Said You Were Supposed To Know Everything About Elopement Photography

There Are No Dumb Questions Here

Ok, ok, I know I sound like the teacher in a classroom telling her students that no question is a dumb question. But I mean it. Here’s the thing: there’s a good chance this is your first time getting married (or even having your photo taken!). You shouldn’t be expected to know every little detail on how things work. So I’m answering the top questions I receive from our couples.

Absolutely. Honestly, that’s one of my favorite things about this job. I’m always spending my free weekends getting out to hike and location scout for our couples. I keep a list of some of my favorite places I’ve been to, as well as another list of places I haven’t visited but know would be epic to elope in. Many couples come to me without having specific locations in mind, and I don’t really expect them to either!

Whether you’re looking to have a national park elopement or an intimate wedding ceremony on a remote mountain hiking trail, I’m here to help you find the perfect spot. I consider it to be one of the most important parts of what we do as adventure elopement and small wedding photographer.

Absolutely. Having eloped too, I know what a difficult discussion it can be to convince your friends and family that an adventure elopement is what you want. If I’m being honest, it can be a bit of a tough discussion and can definitely take some convincing before people come around to the idea.

But here’s the thing. There are so many reasons why families don’t always get excited about elopements, and they’re usually not the reasons you’d expect. I pride myself on guiding our couples through this process if they’re dealing with families who don’t quite understand why they want to elope. There are so many awesome reasons why couples choose to elope, and it’s a huge priority for me to help our couples convey that to the people who matter most to them. 

Before I even pick up my camera, I make sure I do the legwork to really get to know our clients before I photograph them. I always request a one-on-one client consultation before your engagement shoot, adventure elopement, or intimate/small wedding. 

I will be there to help you select the perfect outfits for your shoot. I provide all of our clients with our style guides, and I provide my phone number so you can call or text me if you’re unsure about what to wear. It’s my goal to make sure you show up to your session without a care in the world, because the location and your outfits are put together in advance of a single photo being taken.

During the shoot, elopement, or wedding itself, I always make sure to provide you with plenty of direction in front of the camera. Some couples know exactly how they want to act and pose in front of my camera, while others are completely new to it. I cater my direction to how comfortable you’re feeling, and I don’t leave you to figure it all out by yourself. During couples shoots and adventure sessions, I’ll get you playing and having fun in a way that is both entertaining for you and also looks great on camera.

That said, I don’t consider myself “documentary style.” I do provide direction, so if you’re looking for someone who is more of a fly on the wall, I’m probably not your gal. The couples I work with tend to tell me that this direction is important to them. If you’ve ever felt awkward about “what to do with your hands,” for example, that’s what I’m here to help with! I personally believe that a true documentary style leaves couples, particularly those who are more camera shy, in the dark. And I don’t believe that’s okay.

Yes! While Colorado is home to me, I am always willing to travel for adventure weddings. All I ask is that my travel costs are covered. I do have reduced travel costs for adventure elopements and intimate weddings in the following states, since I have family and friends in these places: Georgia and southern California.

Also one thing to note: travel fees do apply to Colorado locations that are more than 4 hours away from Fort Collins, CO.

I agree. There are many talented intimate wedding and elopement photographers out there, several of which are my dear friends. Picking the perfect one for you is no doubt a daunting task, especially when balancing all of the details of an adventure elopement or intimate/small wedding.

That being said, the clients who book me always seem to tell me that they chose me because of my distinct style and client experience. That they just couldn’t imagine anyone else taking their photos. They love the timeless and nostalgic feeling of my photos, because it speaks to them on a basic and emotional level.

They also really appreciate that I specialize in small weddings and adventure elopements, which means I make it my business to know all the little details of planning these specific types of weddings, from staying up to date on permit requirements to helping you decide which national parks, hiking trails, and mountain lakes make for the best place to say “I do.”

While there are many photographers out there, there are also many styles. Think of photographers as flavors of ice cream. You’re not just going to walk up to the counter of an ice cream shop and ask for a cone. You’re going to pick the flavor that makes your mouth water (personally, I’m all about anything pistachio or coffee flavored!).

If I don’t make your mouth water, I totally understand. I’d be happy to refer you to one of my photographer friends whose style and client experience may be more in line with yours. But if you find yourself really connecting with my images and the way I see the world through my lens, then I definitely want to hear from you.

What can I promise you, though? To me, small wedding and elopement photos should do more than just capture a moment; they should speak to what your relationship is truly like. I put so much time and consideration into the way I style and direct our clients and how I select shoot locations, because I know how important it is to do justice to our amazing clients.

I get it. Picking the perfect adventure elopement or intimate/small wedding photographer can be difficult. It’s an investment in yourself, your love, and the memories you plan on reliving as the years go on. I definitely don’t take this job lightly. So if you’re on the fence, definitely schedule a consultation with me. I’ll talk you through the details of what I do and how I can achieve your vision. The best part? It’s complimentary, no strings attached. I’m a firm believer in test driving my vibe before you drive it off the lot.

If after speaking with me, you’re still not feeling it, I’ll happily point you in the direction of another intimate/small wedding or elopement photographer who may be better able to achieve what you’re looking for. Seriously, no hard feelings. 

Still on the fence about whether we’re perfect for each other? Take a look at some of our client testimonials to get a feel for what it’s like to work with me.

The first step is filling out my contact form so I can hear all about you and your vision for your adventure elopement or intimate/small wedding. From there, I’ll schedule a time to chat in more detail about your goals and dreams for your day, answer any questions you may have, and review the different packages that might work for your specific elopement or intimate wedding.

In order to officially book me, I require a signed contract (which I send to you digitally so you can sign from wherever you might be…yay for the Internet!) and a 50% payment of your package price (this 50% covers a $1500 non-refundable retainer that allows me to reserve your date on the calendar, and the remaining amount of the 50% package price is a non-refundable service fee that covers access to my elopement dashboard resource and allows me to help you craft your day-of timeline and family photo list [if family will be present]). Once the 50% of the package price is paid and contract is signed, you are officially on my calendar!

After that, we can get to the fun stuff, like helping you find the perfect outfit for your engagement session or locating the best spots for your elopement ceremony. And the final 50% payment will be due 30 days prior to your elopement or intimate wedding date. Boom. Done. Easy peasy.

Real Talk: How This Works

It's Super Important To Me To Make Sure You Feel Like We're a Good Fit. I'm Not Here To Be That Pushy, Awkward Salesperson.

I Like To Be Very Clear On What I Do, And What I Don't Do

So You Never Feel Confused About What You're Signing Up For

While I specialize in elopements and micro-weddings, I’m also aware that that doesn’t mean I’m the elopement photographer for everyone. Honestly, I’d be a little concerned if I was, because I think it’s so important that couples find a photographer that fits what it is they are looking for, and no photographer can be all things to all people. I’m a big believer in transparency, and I want to make sure what you want and what I deliver are aligned.

What I'm Not:

Someone Who Shows Up For 2 Hours On Your Elopement Day And Then Calls It A Day

I believe elopements are just as important as big, traditional weddings. And they deserve to be treated as such. This is why I don’t provide packages for very small amounts of coverage, because your elopement day is exactly that: a DAY. Not a couple of hours. As someone who also eloped, it breaks my heart to see couples being fed this narrative that their elopement day is less valuable and less worthy of being documented well.

What I Am:

Someone Who Believes Your Elopement Day Deserves More Coverage Than The Amount Of Time An Engagement Shoot Lasts

I want to make sure your elopement is documented well, which is why my packages start at a minimum of 4 hours of coverage and go all the way up to 10. Your day is important to me, and that’s exactly why my packages reflect that. I don’t ever want anyone to look back on their elopement photos and feel like only an hour or two of their story was documented. 

What I'm Not:

Someone Who Encourages You To "Wing It" On Your Elopement Day, With No Timeline And No Assistance

While elopements are certainly more flexible than traditional weddings (and not focused almost exclusively on the guest experience), they are still events at their core. 

Which is why I believe in the importance of ensuring you have an elopement timeline, and a general structure, so you don’t feel like you’re flying blind. That doesn’t mean you can’t adventure on your day, though. It just means we’re adventuring with a plan!

What I Am:

Someone Who Believes That Your Elopement Deserves A Timeline And A General Structure To Guide You (And Make Sure You're Getting What You Want Out Of Your Coverage)

Honesty hour. I’m a believer that not having some sort of elopement timeline during your day is a risky endeavor. Why? Because you’re not factoring in how long certain activities (like a hike, ceremony, or champagne toast) can take. And if we don’t think about how much time that stuff takes, there’s a good chance you’ll run out of coverage time before the stuff that matters to you is photographed.

I personally don’t know any elopement photographers who don’t use timelines for elopement days, and I’d be concerned if I met one that didn’t. This is especially pertinent if you have more than one vendor working on your elopement day, because those vendors are going to need some guidance on where they need to be, and when.

What I'm Not:

Someone Who Will Avoid Speaking Up When I See Issues

This is not my first rodeo. As someone who specializes in elopements, I know the ins and outs of how this process works. If you inquire about wanting a high alpine elopement in April in Colorado, I’m not just going to let you book me and call it good, because so many high alpine roads are closed that time of year and can’t be accessed at all. To me, there’s nothing shadier than booking someone without letting them know the facts.

What I Am:

A Photographer Who Believes Speaking Up When My Expertise Is Valuable To The Situation

If you want a certain vibe for your elopement, but the season you’re looking at won’t provide that, I’m going to speak up. If you want a certain number of activities covered in your timeline, but there’s no way to fit it all in into the time you have booked, I’m going to speak up. If you want me to heavily Photoshop your body in your elopement photos, I will kindly tell you that I don’t believe in body manipulation in photos and let you know that I’m probably not the photographer for you. This transparency is so so so important to me.

What I'm Not:

Someone Who Delivers A Very Large Number of Images Without Culling

Just like an art gallery doesn’t contain all the artwork in the world, a photographer shouldn’t deliver every image they take. Not culling your images is dangerous territory, and makes for an unrefined gallery. In the days of film, photographers made sure a composition was worth taking the shot before they acted, and I believe in the same philosophy here. 

What I Am:

Someone Who Believes That Quality Is Better Than Quantity, Especially When It Comes To Photos

I prioritize quality over quantity in the galleries I send. Picture count is not my priority: capturing your moments is. And I want to do justice to that, always. Your images should be a reflection of your day, which is why I don’t spend that time trying to meet image count quotas. Instead, I make sure I’m taking the best photos I can, and then being selective on which ones get delivered. It’s quality control in my book.

What I'm Not:

Someone Who Accepts A Shot List Of Couples Photos And Poses That You Want Included In Your Gallery

While I love seeing your Pinterest board when it comes to hair inspo or dresses you’re loving, I don’t accept lists of posed shots you and your partner want together. The only shot list I use on your elopement day is a family formals list. 

Why? Because each couple’s wedding photos are a representation of them…not a representation of what they saw on Pinterest. I would be doing you a disservice if I just read off a list of couples poses and called it a day.

What I Am:

Someone Who Adapts Your Elopement Photos To How You Both Interact With Each Other. I'm Not Checking Ideas Off A List, Because You Deserve Better Than That.

The way you and your partner hug and kiss and run and play is different than every other couple out there. Your interactions are unique. And while I work based on prompts and I do have some classic poses that I like to capture, my primary goal is capturing your unique relationship. 

Pinterest is great for decor and location inspiration, but where it falls short is when it encourages couples to all have the same wedding photos. Now that said, if there are one or two shots that you really want, let me know. That’s doable. I’ll just want to make sure I make time for them in your timeline. But it would be extremely inauthentic to you and your relationship if I spent your day checking off poses on a pre-formulated shot list. Like I mentioned earlier, the only time I’m checking off a list is during family formals.

A Few Things I Believe In

What It's Like To Work With Me

I Believe Your Day Is About More Than Just Pretty Photos

I always make a point to deliver so much more than just awesome elopement and small wedding photos. So when I photograph your intimate wedding or adventure elopement, I’m not only promising you beautiful images that will allow you to relive your wedding day. But I’m also giving you a distinct experience. One that includes a warm hug the moment I see you on your small wedding or elopement morning. One that involves me checking in to make sure you’re not too hungry or thirsty before you hike up a trail to say your “I do’s.” One that is centered on making the small wedding and adventure elopement process easy and fun, because I want to be there with you from start to finish.

I Want To Make Sure You Have An Elopement Day That Is Customized To You

My guess is that you’ve probably been doing your research on what small wedding and adventure elopement photographers are out there. And I’d be willing to bet that 99% of them have probably given you some speech about wanting to capture your “special moments” and the “celebration of your love.” And while that’s great and all, it seems like every adventure wedding photographer is saying the same thing, and there’s nothing that makes me more frustrated. Why? Because every couple is different. Every love story is different. And cute little catch phrases and sayings frankly don’t cut it when it comes to documenting your adventure elopement or wedding.

And last, but certainly not least...

Your Love Is Welcome Here, No Matter What It Looks Like

No one should ever feel like their love is less-than. Love, in and of itself, is such an incredible gift, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than documenting it. My own marriage is a mixture of colors and cultures, and I think it’s one of the most incredible things about it. My husband and I challenge each other all the time, and since we both grew up in very different cultures, we use it as a chance to not just better understand each other but also to better understand the world around us. 

It’s a bummer that we live in a world where this even has to be said, but I want to make sure it’s clear: all love is welcome here, but hate is not

Let's Bring Your Elopement Dreams To Life

You Can (And Should) Have a Day That Feels Like a Dream

I’ll never be the stranger in the corner, quietly lurking around with my camera while you’re putting on your makeup, adjusting your earrings, lacing up your hiking boots, or tying on your tie. I don’t just silently hang out on your adventure elopement or small wedding day; I get in the thick of it. 

To say I truly feel every small wedding or adventure elopement I photograph would be an understatement. You can usually find me grinning ear to ear during your first dance or shedding a tear as you read your vows to each other by a remote little alpine lake in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I do this job because I genuinely can’t get enough of our couples. Watching them bring their dream adventure elopements to life is what fuels me.

Sheena Shahangian Photography LLC

Empowering You To Have Your Adventure Elopement, Your Way

Colorado Elopement Photographers + Adventure Wedding Photographers

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