Known as the Crown Jewel of the Continent, Glacier National Park in West Glacier, Montana is maybe the most stunning place in the country. If you and your bae are looking to elope immersed in nature’s beauty, Glacier National Park is one of the best options for several reasons! As you probably know, there are a ton of different things to consider when planning for an elopement. That’s why today we’re covering it all to make your Glacier National Park elopement absolutely epic!
Every state is different when it comes to marriage laws, and in some states even counties can vary for what you need to for a legal marriage. Luckily, the marriage laws in Montana are fairly straight forward, and they make things extremely easy for you to have your wedding or elopement.
In order to elope in Glacier National Park, you’ll first need to apply for a marriage license from any Montana County. It does not need to be issued from Flathead or Glacier County where the park is located. To get a license, you and your bae will just need to pay for the application fee of $53 and bring valid forms of photo identification. There is no waiting period in Montana, which means that as soon as your marriage license has been issued, you’re good to go and get legally married without having to wait any amount of time. The license will expire 180 days after it has been issued, so be sure to plan your elopement within that time frame. Montana also allows self-solemnization, but does require two witnesses to be present at the ceremony, one of which can be your photographer.
If you and your bae live in the state of Montana, opting for a common law marriage is something you can consider as well. A common law marriage is a marriage formed without a license and solemnization. All you must do is demonstrate to the district court that you and your partner are competent to marry and reside together. In addition to this, you’ll have to demonstrate some sort of evidence of your marriage like filing joint taxes or wearing wedding rings. If you opt for a common law marriage, it will then be recognized by all 50 states if you and your bae move out of Montana. This can keep things simple if you’re looking to have your elopement with just your photographer present and you don’t want to worry about any of the legalities on your elopement day!
Elopements at Glacier National Park require a Special Use Permit regardless of the size of the group. To apply, you will need to pay a $125 application fee which you can find here. It’s important to note that processing times might vary. You will want to be sure that you apply for your permits a few months in advance so that the application for your permit has time to process and you can gather all of the details about what else is required to elope in Glacier National Park.
Also, you will need to choose from one of their many designated wedding locations for your ceremony. Most national parks have designated areas where you can perform ceremonies. Glacier National park chooses these spaces because of their accessibility, the amount of space that is available for the couple, and to ensure that your ceremony does not hold up traffic for other patrons of the national park.
Your ceremony permit will be the only permit you have to apply for. You do not need to have a photo permit for your elopement which is a huge plus!
If intimacy is a priority for your elopement at Glacier National Park, be sure to avoid holidays and holiday weekends and consider planning it for a season other than the summer. Although the park is a tourist destination with high traffic, especially during the summer, eloping on a weekday will minimize the number of tourists in the park even in the summer!
It’s important to note that most of the parks businesses and services only operate during the summer months, so if you do decide to plan your elopement for the winter being able to be self-sufficient, especially in the winter, is something you’ll have to plan for.
When it comes to packing for your elopement at Glacier National park there are some must have items you’ll want for your big day. For starters, we’re going to be hiking through the park, so you’ll want to bring some good walking shoes or hiking boots. Even if we’re not doing much venturing off from one of Glacier National Park’s designated wedding locations, we’ll still need to hike to get there. If you want to wear your wedding shoes for your photos, bring them along to change into once we’re done hiking. The same goes for your wedding attire if you don’t want to be hiking in it! Be sure to pack water, sunscreen, your vows, snacks, and maybe even a meal. It’s a good idea to come prepared for rain with umbrellas and rain ponchos.
Although you’ll have to elope in the designated area of your choosing, you’ll be free to explore Glacier National Park and take photos once your ceremony concludes. When considering which hikes and trails to take for photos and adventuring, think about whether you and your bae are up for a challenge and where the hikes and trails are relative to the wedding location of your choosing. Keep in mind as well that during the summer months parts of some of these trails might get closed off due to grizzly bear activity.
This trail is an easy and short 0.9-mile loop. Although there aren’t views of the mountains and glaciers on this trail, it’s still gorgeous and perfect for couples looking to take it easy. It is a very popular area in the park, so you might want to hit this trail early in the morning if you want to avoid crowds. Beautiful red cedar trees that grow to heights of 100 feet and diameters of up 7 feet surround this trail which are breathtaking. The trail also passes Avalanche Gorge, which is a beautiful waterfall!
Considered a moderately challenging route, this 5.9-mile out-and-back trail is worth taking on for the stunning views of the mountains and Lake McDonald. This trail is highly trafficked as well, so hit this trail early if you’re concerned about crowds. The stunning views are VERY much worth the hike though and make for the perfect backdrop for your wedding portraits!
If you’re looking for some tranquility on the day of your elopement, you’ll want to check out this trail. It’s a 3.6-mile out-and-back trail on easy terrain known for its beautiful sights and sounds of waterfalls. This serene and relaxing hike is the perfect way to take in the beauty of Glacier National Park and reflect on your elopement day so far.
Don’t take this trail unless you and your bae are up for a real challenge. This 11.4-mile out-and-back trail is known for showcasing all that Glacier National Park has to offer. Its incredible views, wooded areas, gorgeous meadows, and wildlife make it worth the challenge though if you’re up for it!
The views you’ll get from this Vrbo are to die for. It is located in the park on Lake McDonald and features a large private balcony with patio furniture. It has all the amenities you’ll need and is on the more affordable side for vacation homes located inside Glacier National Park. This Vrbo is the perfect romantic place for you and bae to stay to get the full Glacier National Park experience for your elopement celebrations!
This newly renovated vacation home is less than a minute walk from Lake McDonald. It can comfortably sleep up to ten guests and is located near shops, dining, and trails. This is the perfect stay if you’re looking to have some of your closest friends or family to be there and experience your elopement in Glacier National Park.
Located within walking distance of Lake McDonald, this cute cabin has a lot to offer. If you are one for adventure, this Vrbo includes 3 kayaks and 2 paddle boards which are available for guests to use free of charge as well as a couple E-bikes and mountain bikes. With 3 beds the Vrbo can sleep up to 6 so you can have a few guests come with you for your adventures or have the place entirely to yourselves!
If you’re looking to pull out all the stops to make your stay unforgettable, check this Vrbo out. This stylish luxury vacation home located within walking distance of Lake McDonald has everything you’ll need to enjoy your stay and more. It comfortably sleeps 15 guests and includes a stocked bar, hot tub, and pool table. This is a one of a kind experience for you and your closest friend and family to have celebrating your elopement in Glacier National Park.
As your photographer, I’ll do everything I can to make your elopement at Glacier National Park as special as possible. I’ll work with you and your bae to decide on your location as well as which trail(s) we’ll explore after your ceremony. Prior to going out, I’ll do some location scouting, physically and digitally using sites like AllTrails, to find spots that fit your vision for your elopement portraits as well as which location we’ll choose for the ceremony itself. As your photographer you’ll be able to rely on my experience as a professional to not only provide you with breathtaking photos from your day, but also to guide you and provide an experience of a lifetime!
Every elopement is different, just like every couple is different! That’s why when booking an elopement with me either at Glacier National Park or another location I take time to work with my clients to create an experience and package that is perfect for them. Here is a look at what my Glacier National Park elopement packages include.
No two couples are the same and neither are their elopements! That’s why I make sure to include consultation calls in your package so we can finalize all of the details of your Glacier National Park elopement together.
Prior to each elopement I photograph, I make sure to do location scouting digitally as well as in person. I almost always arrive at my elopements a day or two before the actual elopement so that I can plan out hiking routes, scout out dream locations and make sure everything is good to go for your day.
Making sure permits are in order for the hikes themselves, photo permits, and ceremony permits is one of my highest priorities when working with my couples for their wedding day. These are SO important because, without the proper permits and legalities, your Glacier National Park elopement cannot happen.
As a destination elopement photographer, I take the time to visit various areas throughout the US each year and do extensive research on the area before suggesting it to my couples. I’ve location scouted in Glacier National Park for my elopement couples and have done extensive research on the permits and locations throughout the area which let me put this guide together for you! When choosing an elopement photographer their familiarity with the area and how eloping in a national park is extremely important which is why I’ve spent time in this park and many other national parks location scouting and researching what you need to elope there.
Now that you’re in the know on everything that goes into planning an elopement at Glacier National Park it’s time for the first step, booking your photographer! Head over to my contact page to send me an inquiry so we can begin planning your day together.