Apgar Amphitheater Wedding in Glacier National Park

Elopements

Apgar Amphitheater Wedding near Kalispell, Montana

When Margaret and Mike reached out to us about living their dream of getting married in Glacier National Park, we had no idea we’d end up planning the world’s most epic and cozy Apgar Amphitheater wedding of potentially all time.  Margaret and Mike’s day was so much more than a quick wedding ceremony at the Apgar Amphitheater.  It involved a laid back morning relaxing in Kalispell, an awe-inspiring first look, a leisurely family celebration on site, a solo hike around and picnic around the lake, and finally–a spontaneous waterfall hopping elopement finale!  Keep reading to see more of what this Apgar Amphitheater wedding entailed! I.e. how they accidentally ended up being naked in the park! 😀  

Related: Eloping in Montana | The Ultimate How-to and Location Guide

Before their Apgar Amphitheater Ceremony: A First Look

Before heading out to their Apgar Amphitheater wedding, Margaret and Mike got ready separately at their vacation rentals in Kalispell.  This was easily one of their top three favorite moments of the entire day (and when you see their adventure you’ll know how big of a deal this was).  They noted they were admittedly a bit nervous and excited, but once they saw each other against the Swan Mountains all of it washed away!  They could easily focus on one another and what their day was about to become.

Apgar Amphitheater Wedding Ceremony

Next we arrived near Lake McDonald for their Apgar Amphitheater wedding.  Margaret and Mike brought their families along and wanted to commemorate their day with them!  So we took some gorgeous photos along the shores.  Whoever wasn’t needed for picture at the moment had fun skipping rocks (because can you even say you’ve been to Lake McDonald if you haven’t skipped rocks on it?).  Some kiddos were better than others, but taking photos along the lake was a great way to make family photos fun and gorgeous!

 

After we concluded their family photos the family rushed over to set up their ceremony while Mike skipped over to the Apgar campground picnic area to scout a lil “reception” area for them after the ceremony.  We helped find a little nook in the woods with ample picnic tables and room to play for the littles.  We quickly got back over to the amphitheater to begin their ceremony!  Another perk of an Apgar Amphitheater wedding–quick prep work!  Margaret and Mike’s ceremony was “set up” in less than ten minutes.  Add that to your list of why this is an AH-MAZING spot to get married in Glacier National Park!

Mike walked down the aisle to assume his spot for the ceremony while Margaret’s family adjusted her dress for the walk down.  Once everyone had their seat Margaret’s mom and step-dad walked her down the aisle and gave her away.  One of our favorite officiants, Sarah Harding, started the ceremony with Lake McDonald to her back, and everyone was able to see past the amphitheaters stage to get a gorgeous view of Lake McDonald while they watched Margaret and Mike say their vows.  Sarah shared how Margaret and Mike met, passed the “COVID-19 relationship test” by moving in together the month before lockdown, and chatted up their love for their pups and cozy life on the East Coast.  Personally, one of my favorite details is how Mike asked Margaret on their first date before technically having the tickets he already kinda claimed to have.  It’s a grey area and a bit up for debate, but it makes Dan & I giggle every time I think of Mike’s face when the story is brought up! …but… moving on!

 

Margaret and Mike added some personal touches to their ceremony that wouldn’t have been possible without bringing their family along to their Apgar Amphitheater wedding.  Margaret’s mom read a prayer written by her father who passed away when she was young, and Mike’s brother also did a reading during the ceremony.  Margaret and Mike also wanted to include some folks (and puppies) who couldn’t attend so they had fatheads made up of their grandparents and dogs that the kiddos could hold during the ceremony.  Margaret and Mike’s Apgar Amphitheater wedding was full to the brim with meaning and intention, because they stayed true to following these 7 elopement tips beautifully!

 

Sarah lead the two in a knot tying ceremony for their unity element of the ceremony.  We loved that they made this a part of their Apgar Amphitheater wedding as the knot is something Margaret and Mike can keep forever in their home as a physical reminder of the vows they committed that day. 

 

Once they were officially wed, Margaret and Mike kissed (with a romantic dip, might I add!) with canoes passing them by in Lake McDonald!  The two needed a moment just to freak out and be like, “HEY WE’RE MARRIED!” so we sent them away from the ceremony site for a few minutes to snuggle, talk, and take in the moment!  Once they were all done, we headed over to their family celebration site!

Keep scrolling for dreamy pics or Contact Us for help with planning your Apgar Amphitheater wedding!

Apgar Amphitheater Wedding Celebration with Honored Guests

Their family set up their reception foods which included some amazingly delicious mobile charcuterie by one of our favorite caterers, Gina MacNeil with Kalispell Catering, across the Apgar campground picnic tables while Margaret and Mike got ready for their entrance.  They weren’t quite sure how to make an entrance to such a relaxed family celebration so we threw out the idea of letting them run in like they were in a basketball tunnel!  It was a last minute idea with no real significance, but it made the entrance super fun and memorable!  We all snacked on yummy cheeses, meats, crackers, champagne, and apple juice for the kiddos.  A couple of words were said honoring Margaret and Mike, and the two hopped from person to person giving hugs and getting some quality time in before their adventure continued.  Another huge perk of eloping  and choosing an Apgar Amphitheater wedding that Margaret and Mike benefitted from was keeping their guest count small enough to personally talk with every person at their family celebration.  They noted this was a super relaxing way to come down from their ceremony high before the excitement ramped up again!  Before departing their Apgar Amphitheater wedding party, we loaded up some charcuterie for them to go so they could snack on the way to their personal picnic on the shores of St. Mary Lake and off we went!

Glacier’s Most Scenic Pull Out

We took the Going to the Sun Road all the way over to St. Mary Lake.  We of course had to stop over at one of the pull outs to get those dreamy Glacier National Park wedding photos you typically see!  We were thankfully the only couple at the location a couple a few hours before sunset so we were amazed!  This spot is usually so busy, so we were pumped to have it all to ourselves!  Margaret and Mike were super prepared and chose a weekday to elope so they would be more likely to have privacy and fewer crowds once they adventured past their Apgar Amphitheater wedding.

Celebrating on the shores of St. Mary Lake

On the way to St. Mary Lake we were even fortunate enough to see some wildlife (safely from the car)!  Which brings me to another hot tip if you’re choosing to adventure around your Apgar Amphitheater wedding: plan for more than enough time for the infamous Glacier National Park wildlife traffic jams!  But I digress…

 

On the trail to Margaret and Mike’s private picnic we saw not one hiker!  We did see a boat tour passing by after we made sure to document Margaret & Mike’s selfie with the fatheads of their pups.  The wind whipped us around as we set up their picnic and took in the epic sunset views.  Margaret and Mike wanted to keep a teensy bit of “wedding tradition” in their day so they brought along some cupcakes from Fleur Bake Shop in Whitefish to smash in each other’s faces.  Their picnic was 100% them as they snacked on trail mix, cherries, and pb&j’s overlooking the lake.

 

Margaret and Mike also wanted to exchange some private notes at the lake so we picked a gorgeous lil spot for them.  One of their most memorable moments was when one of the pages of the notes whipped away in the wind coming off the lake.  We were sure it was gone forever, but I was able to run it down and step on it before it flew into the vastness!  This was a big Leave No Trace win and us and our couples are always seeking to carry out every last thing we carry in. 

Related: What to do After Eloping

apgar amphitheater adventure

Their (Wet) Grand Finale 🙂

The sun was starting to get low, but we wanted to keep adventuring up the Going to the Sun Road to see what other opportunity would await Margaret and Mike!  We were looking for one final spot to explore together when we passed a waterfall.  I’ll never forget the exchange that took place in that moment.  I walkied Margaret and Mike and said, “How do you guys feel about getting a little wet?”  I heard Margaret squeal with excitement in the background as Mike (borderline begrudgingly) said, “We’ll think about it!”

 

With some slight hesitation in his voice he radioed back, “Okay let’s do it!”  As a photographer it’s so beautiful when I get to see a relationship on display in moments like those.  Clearly Margaret brings out some adventure in Mike, and he loves her so much he’ll plunge himself under a bitterly cold waterfall just so they can say they did it!

 

We had to do it quickly so it wasn’t miserable, but Margaret and Mike hopped in and out of the fall 3 times, made out a little bit, and snuggled tightly!  Passersby on the road honked in support, yelled out their windows, and wished them the best of luck on their marriage.  And I teared up every time.  It is so beautiful to see the kindness in humanity–to congratulate strangers on their nuptials in such a basic way.

 

We finished up quickly, and Margaret and Mike quickly undressed (hence the naked part mentioned earlier) and threw on their hiking clothes!  They put their sopping wedding clothes in the car and tried to warm each other with big hugs.  As the sun finally dipped behind the mountains, we hugged each other, got in the car, and let Margaret and Mike soak in their new marriage on their drive back down the Going to the Sun Road.

 

Not to be sappy, but ya know… Dan and I teared up a little bit leaving Margaret and Mike,  It was our absolute pleasure to serve them and help plan their Apgar Amphitheater wedding.  Couples like them are in short supply, and we are so blessed to have worked with them!

 

Here’s some more of what they had to say about working with us:

We cannot say enough good things about Des and Dan. To put it as simply as we can – if we were to do our elopement all over again, they would be the absolute first call we made. If you read nothing else, I cannot think of a better endorsement than that.

Now, if you want details…

Where do we start? When you hire Des, you get so much more than a photographer. For us, Des was a photographer, planner, coordinator, steady hand, mama bear, and friend. Getting to know her and Dan throughout the process was such a treat.

She was incredibly thoughtful in how she approached our elopement and made it the perfect expression of us and our relationship. Within the first couple conversations, she was able to get a solid grasp on who we are as a couple and as people and what was important to us. From there, she laid out our options to help us select the best sites for our ceremony and photos (along with all of the permitting that goes with it), and then was able to work with us to create OUR perfect day. Des laid out the initial timeline for us, and then worked with us over the course of several months to make tweaks to it, making sure it was exactly what we wanted.

As we got closer to our day, she provided incredible resources that helped to take so much of the stress off of us. The vendor list was crucial in helping us find caterers, flowers, officiant, etc. 

Most of all, we can’t imagine having anybody else with us on our wedding day. One of the biggest reasons that we decided to select Des as our photographer is because her emphasis was so much more than making things look pretty (don’t worry, she did an amazing job there too – more on that later). At the beginning of our day, she sat us down for “the talk,” during which she emphasized the significance of the experience we were about to have and how important for us it would be to stop, take everything in, and appreciate what we had in that moment. She would even periodically stop and remind us to take time to breathe in the moment and step away to give us some time just to ourselves to be in the moment. We cannot put into words how much we appreciated this emphasis, and it’s something we have now caught ourselves doing even long after our elopement day has come and gone.

Then, there is our gallery. Wow. While their emphasis may not have been on making things look pretty, Des and Dan captured some STUNNING images from our day. Every time we showed our friends and families some new photos, they couldn’t believe the pictures were real. Even more than pretty pictures, the images they captured do an incredible job to tell the story of us, our day, and our relationship. Her photos captured the absolute essence of who we are and what we hoped our day would be, and we could not be more grateful or impressed.

Suffice to say, we can’t imagine having any other photographers doing our elopement. Des and Dan took the time to make our day just that – ours. They were such an important piece in creating something really special for us, and we are forever grateful to have worked with them. We cannot recommend Des enough – you will be just as thrilled with your decision to work with them as we are.

 

This Apgar Amphitheater wedding would not have been possible without the help of some other amazing vendors:

Hair and Makeup: Bridal Bliss

Floral Design: Rose Mountain Floral

Dress: Vivid Bridal Boutique

Tux: Men’s Wearhouse

Catering: Catering Kalispell

Officiant: Sarah Harding

Lodging: Evolve Vacation Rentals

Hiking wedding photographers

Yo.  You need a hiking wedding guide and photographer.

Imma be so honest.  We love hiking weddings, and we love helping couples plan their elopement days to be full of meaning and intention.  Kick that tradition crap outta here, and let’s plan something magical together!

You deserve for your wedding day to bring you peace in the great outdoors, and this is only a taste of how we help our couples.

All of our elopement packages come with professional elopement photography, two photographers, and unlimited planning assistance.  We think this is the best way to serve eloping couples, and we can’t wait to chat!

Contact us about photographing your elopement!

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Hey, it’s us!

We’re Des & Dan! Husband & wife elopement photographers, planners, and officiants! We help couples like you create elopement days full of meaningful details, authentic moments, and creative experiences because we believe you deserve a wedding day where you are truly heard—a wedding day you can truly remember.

We’d love to help in any way you can, so check out our other free planning resources or send us an email by hitting contact! We’d love to hop on the phone and see what you’re envisioning for your elopement day.

You deserve this.

Des & Dan

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