Eloping in Montana |
The Ultimate Montana Elopement Location Guide
Added great news: Montana is great for “just us” elopement as well as elopements fashioned more like an intimate wedding with guests.
Here’s a peek
into how Montana can inspire you.
Why you should be eloping in Montana:
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About our photography service:
Exchange your vows
in the tranquility of Glacier.
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Here’s what eloping folks are saying about hiring 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. 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.
-Margaret & Mike
Bring some guests,
but don’t forget to experience Montana solo too.
Let’s hop to our next Montana elopement location that would be a great option for eloping in Montana!
Kootenai National Forest should be high on your list of potential locations for eloping in Montana! This national forest possesses a lot of the same beauty as Glacier National Park but with more of a local touch. You won’t find many out-of-staters in this area, and it is generally treated with lots more respect.
Here are some perks of eloping in Montana at Kootenai National Forest:
- Expansive opportunities | No, we mean that literally! With over 2.2 million acres of land, this national forest gives you oodles of potential Montana elopement locations while you’re eloping in Montana! With rivers and waterfalls, ample trails, and some easy access points, this national forest could be the perfect place to be eloping in Montana.
- The Cabinet Mountains | This national forest offers one of my absolute favorite secluded elopement spots in the entire state of Montana! This trail is only 4 miles round trip and is crazy fun! You’ll hike through dense forests, have 2 moderate stream crossings, hike up beside a huge waterfall, and end the trail at a glacier-fed lake! Wildflowers can be found in abundance on the way up, and there are also two really fun scrambling opportunities! This trail is not for the faint of heart, but with some preparation it makes for one of the best places to be eloping in Montana. Contact us if you’re interested in this particular trail! As we love taking eloping couples to this hidden gem of a location.
- Decent city proximity | Kootenai National Forest should be on your list of options for eloping in Montana as it has decent proximity to some of our favorite cities in Montana! It is a quick 3 hours to Kalispell just a bit more to Missoula! So you’re well on your way to a multi-stop adventure while eloping in Montana! It’s possible to visit a lot of the major stops in Western Montana when choosing this National Forest as a base camp where you can easily pick up and spend a few days in different parts of the state.
- Unmatched solitude | Like we mentioned earlier, this is more of a local hotspot and many tourists have not quite yet discovered this hidden gem. Thus, we have taken couples into the Kootenai National Forest for a backpacking Montana elopement and had popular backcountry locations to ourselves entirely! We ran into a few hikers on the way out of the trail, but you will not find solitude like this in bigger areas like Glacier National Park. If solitude is on your must list for eloping in Montana, this national forest should be high on your list of options.
In fact check out this Montana Backpacking Wedding to see a real elopement that took place in Kootenai National Forest!
This national forest is massive, so the next area on our list of places you should be eloping in Montana is nearly as massive in itself–Southwestern Montana.
You have a lingering q:
How can this Montana experience be yours?
About our photography service:
Let’s hear it again!
Here’s what eloping folks are saying about hiring us:
-Erin & Jake
When you should be eloping in Montana:
We’ll note up front that a Montana elopement is possible at any point in the year–it just depends on the type of weather you want/are willing to experience. We’ve got all the tips and tricks on choosing the correct season for your location (or location for your season for that matter), and we’d love to share some tips to choosing the best season for your needs on eloping in Montana!
There are some pros and cons to eloping in Montana in every season! Let’s hit those!
Eloping in Montana in the Spring:
Sleepy Montana comes alive in the spring from animal life and plant life! Things start to green, snow starts to melt, and all water is flowing rapidly!! Eloping in Montana in the Spring offers less crowds, which is a big plus for most eloping couples! However, depending on your location, it can limit accessibility to potential Montana elopement locations. Generally, the further south you go, the more likely you are to have access to high elevation trails in the Spring, but you can almost be guaranteed there will be some snow fields to cross. Lower elevation trails and lake views are prime Montana elopement locations in Spring if you’re eloping in Montana. Spring also brings more showers in Montana, so if you’re concerned about rainy days, we’d recommend moving to another season. However, we’ve seen couples carry out their Spring Montana elopement beautifully! It just requires flexibility and planning! <3 All of which we’re prepared with!
Eloping in Montana in the Summer:
Eloping in Montana in the Summer offers access to high elevation trails, gorgeous wildflowers blooms, and the most pleasurable weather. Temperatures range from the 50’s in the mornings to a potential 90 in the afternoon. It should be noted that these temps are very dry and lack humidity, so you’ll likely not feel the extent of these temps, which our eloping couples find amazing! The wildlife is thriving, the water has slowed down, and the seasonal hikers have arrived! Added crowds are truly the only disadvantage to eloping in Montana in the summer, but we know all the tricks to working around that. Choosing a weekday at sunrise for your location in the summer will best increase your chances of privacy during your Montana elopement, and we recommend this to all couples eloping in Montana in the summer.
Eloping in Montana in the Fall:
Fall in Montana offers quiet trails, beautiful fall leaf colors, and all Mother Nature’s sass as she threatens with wildfires and snowstorms. This shouldn’t keep you from considering eloping in Montana in the fall though. The benefits truly outweigh any risk, and we recommend Fall to all couples using more populated locations such as Glacier National Park! A Fall elopement in Montana will rock your socks off as nature quiets down and settles in. The peacefulness of Fall is unmatched when considering eloping in Montana, and it is our top recommendation for couples for a pleasurable Montana elopement!
Eloping in Montana in the Winter:
Calling all snowbunnies!! Eloping in Montana in the winter is possible, and should be a real option for folks who love winter sports. If you love skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling, consider this your one stop shop for eloping in Montana. Particular ski towns or specific ski mountains like Whitefish or Blacktail Mountain would make a great option for eloping in Montana in the winter. It should be noted, too, that the Bozeman area has awesome winter activity opportunities and includes an airport, making your travel into and out of the destination a little easier. If you want to elope in Montana in the winter, we’d love to help you find the perfect spot to help your winter wonderland dreams come true!
No matter the season you choose, a lot of eloping couples love use an Airbnb for their Airbnb Elopement so they can have a cozy place to stay, a venue feel, and easy access to their place of adventure!
Now that we’ve got our locations and season covered for eloping in Montana, let’s check out all the nitty gritty of eloping in Montana legally! You’ll find the process pretty painless, and we are stoked to be in a state that makes eloping so easy!
For real this time
About our photography service:
How you should be eloping in Montana legally:
The legalities of eloping are often what make eloping couples most nervous. We’re stoked to stay it doesn’t have to freak you out or be stressful in Montana. Montana makes our list of easiest places to elope in the US and for good reason! Let’s check out a step by step guide on how to elope in Montana legally!
#1 | Apply for your marriage license. Once you’ve chosen your Montana elopement location, we can determine which county it is in. Applying for your marriage license prior to eloping in Montana online is the best way to do this. The online application is simple and can be found as an option for most counties! We’d love to help you find that info as well if you have any trouble!
#2 | Apply for rubella blood test exemption. The State of Montana does require a rubella blood test to apply for your marriage license. However, they also allow you to opt out by applying online for the exemption. The form is easy to understand and get processed. You’ll need to do this prior to picking up your license.
#3 | Pick up your marriage license. When you arrive for your Montana elopement, you’ll need to pick up your marriage license. If you’ve already completed the application and the rubella blood test exemption form, you’re all set as far as applications. You will, however, need to bring along some additional documentation and information as well as the license fee. Your documentation needed is as follows: state issued driver’s license, birth certificate or other recognized ID as proof of age per spouse and proof of divorce if either spouse was formerly married. You’ll also need to know a few things but aren’t required to show documentation: both spouses parents’ full names, places of birth, and mother’s maiden name and both partner’s social security numbers.
And it’s as easy as that to apply legally!! Now onto the officiating. Finding an officiant for eloping in Montana is quite easy for a few reasons.
Who can officiate my Montana elopement?
Montana recognizes online religious ordinations, meaning a friend or family member coming along for your Montana elopement can officiate for you if you’d like! You’d just need to find two witnesses (aka me & Dan if you’d like) to sign your license as well. Then it can be dropped off by the same courthouse you picked it up at! Dan & I are also legally ordained to perform ceremonies in Montana so eloping in Montana can become a “just-you-two” experience if you’d like as well. We can grab some hikers passing by as witnesses, and you’ll be legally married once the license is returned!
Eloping in Montana is painless! It’s one of the reasons we truly believe it’s the best place to elope! However, if you find yourself with more questions of the legalities, we’ve written a full guide on how to get married in Montana that gives these answers in much more depth!
We promised we’d add a bonus and cover the cost of eloping in Montana as well, so let’s hop to it!
For real this time
About our photography service:
The cost of eloping in Montana:
Eloping in Montana has many perks, not the least of which being its affordability compared to other prime Montana elopement locations in the states. The cost of eloping is farrrrrrr less than the cost of a traditional wedding, so you’re already at an advantage! Did you know the average Montana elopement costs only ¼ of a “big wedding?” That means you can save that extra cash and put it towards something important to your new fam! But enough about the savings, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the cost of eloping in Montana!
Our Most Popular Montana Elopement Package:
This is our most booked elopement package to date. Eloping couples love it because it offers an amazing amount of coverage, unlimited planning assistance, and two professional photographers!
Adventurous Montana Elopement
unlimited planning consultations (in person for local clients or online for travel clients)
10 hours of wedding day coverage
unlimited images & online, high resolution gallery
personalized vendor referral list to help you find and hire any remaining vendors you may want
can cover getting ready, ceremony, reception, photos with potential guests
includes wedding day adventure session post-ceremony & reception
Here’s what most couples spend while eloping in Montana:
- Wedding attire | $1200 (for both his and hers)
- Marriage license | $53
- Special use permit (if marrying in GNP) | $100
- Photographer/Officiant combo (hey, that’s us!) | $8000
- Bridal florals and boutonniere | $300
- Celebratory dinner | $150
- A week’s lodging | $1600
- Misc. food and gas for the week | $400
That brings the total to $11,803 for your Montana elopement plus a week adventuring all Montana has to offer! A traditional wedding clocks in at $33,000 on average so that’s a savings of $22,000! Of course you can beef up your eloping in Montana experience or trim it down according to need, but it is always going to be more affordable than having that big wedding others might be pushing you towards.
We love to help couples fit their Montana elopement into their budget, so feel free to check out this guide on How Much Does it Cost to Elope for the nitty gritty of the cost of eloping anywhere-not just Montana-in case you’re considering other options as well!
Now–onto some of our favorite activities and restaurants to recommend to couples for their Montana elopement!
Things to do while eloping in Montana:
As far as outdoor activities for your Montana elopement, you can choose any plethora to engage in while in Montana. But we have a few that our couples eloping in Montana always seem to love!
Montana Elopement Adventures:
If you’re into water sports, kayaking around Lake McDonald is always a great idea during your Montana elopement! In the Bozeman area, we love to recommend couples towards paddle boarding at the Hyalite Reservoir! If you’ve got time during your stay, a hike up to Hyalite Peak is always a good view too (with an added amazing workout)!
The Missoula area in particular offers great rafting and fishing opportunities for a more relaxed approach to your day if your legs need a bit of rest during your Montana elopement. The Glacier Park area has floating as well as lazy rafting too!
If you’re looking for mountaineering and/or climbing for your Montana elopement, Northwestern Montana brings some of the best opportunities for that, particularly near Eureka Montana! For couples eloping in Montana in the winter, we love to recommend ice climbing! Even if you’ve never attempted it, it’s a great way to try something new together while you’re beginning this adventure of marriage.
Montana Elopement Foods:
Now onto the eats (aka my favorite part)! If you’re near Glacier Park, we recommend Whitefish for fine dining for the family if you’re bringing guests along and Columbia Falls for smaller, more convenient meals. Don’t let Columbia Falls’ small town feel trick you though. Some of our favorite restaurants in the entire state reside here! You MUST head to Glacier Grill & Pizza for a convenient and yummy meal one night. Montana Coffee Traders in Columbia Falls is also a hoppin’ brunch spot that has reliable wifi in case you’re needing to carb load after your sunrise hike and wanna post some pics to the ‘gram too!
When in Missoula, there is a hotspot the locals love that makes breakfast burritos roughly the size of your head, and I’ve never been able to finish one. The restaurant is named The Breakfast Club and has breakfast burritos that (somehow) correlate perfectly with the characters from the movie. It’s so delicious and satisfying after a sunrise hike at the nearby Bitterroots.
Where should I stay while eloping in Montana?
When eloping in Montana and choosing your lodging, you’ll need to consider a few questions to best pick from local cabins, Airbnb’s, and lodges!
These questions will get you started on the right path:
- Do I need lodging for just the two of us or lodging for guests as well?
- What do I value being in close proximity to?
- Will I need to do any portion of my Montana elopement at my lodging?
There are so many options for lodging while eloping in Montana, you’ll have an abundance to choose from no matter your preferences!
When staying near Glacier National Park, there are numerous stellar lodging options for just you two! If you’re up for the challenge, hiking up to one of the park’s chalets would be a great adventure! If you’re wanting something more relaxed and resort-like, Whitefish and Kalispell have more upscale lodging. Although, in order to book at one of these locations you’ll need to attempt to book at a minimum of two seasons ahead of time.
Montana Elopement Rentals:
If you’re planning your Montana elopement in less time (perhaps in 3 months or less), we’d recommend trying to find an individually owned rental through Airbnb or VRBO.
Some gorgeous Airbnb’s reside all over the state! Here are some of our favorites we recomming to our couples eloping in Montana!
// Troy, Montana | An earthy getaway | This gorgeous earthy toned Montana house resides near the Kootenai National Forest, which is a great Montana elopement location in and of itself when eloping in Montana! You can have as many as 6 guests so you can have friends along for your Montana elopement, but it would also serve you beautifully as a honeymoon retreat.
// Columbia Falls, Montana | Glacier Park tree house | This treehouse located 20 minutes from the entrance of Glacier National park is truly the treehouse of all your pinterest dreams! A lot of couples eloping in Montana use this as their aesthetically pleasing home base, and the owner actually permits Montana elopement ceremonies in case you want something more private than the park with the added option of adventuring there later.
// Big Fork, Montana | Montana mountain farmhouse | This Scandanavian inspired Montana farmhouse beauty in also in close proximity to Glacier Park! It can house up to 6 guests and also allows small events with 25 participants or less–aka another Montana elopement ceremony option for eloping in Montana!
Here are some of our other honorable mentions located all over the state of Montana:
// Livingston, Montana | Rustic mountain cabin
// Belgrade, Montana | Ross Creek cabin
// Manhattan, Montana | Modern cabin with private hot
// Hungry Horse, Montana | Grand rustic cabin
// Whitefish, Montana | Modern A-frame cabin
One mo time!
Here’s what eloping folks are saying about hiring us:
-Rose & Ryan
What experience you deserve when eloping in Montana:
Here’s a question I’ve got: why are you eloping?
There are pros and cons of eloping, sure, but if you’ve made it this far you likely know exactly why you’re considering eloping in Montana. Maybe you love the great outdoors so much you can’t imagine getting married anywhere else. Maybe it’s the only place you feel like home. Maybe the idea of planning a wedding with all the wedding planning stress sounds absolutely miserable. No matter your situation or reasoning, there are a few things eloping in Montana can offer you that having a big wedding can’t.
When eloping in Montana you’ll exchange:
stress for peace
doubt for confidence
exhaustion for rest
complications for simplicity
pressures for freedom
and get to do it the most beautiful state in the US.
Here’s what Sam & Kyle said about eloping in Montana:
We were SO blessed to have Des. She is so much more than a photographer. She has become our biggest hype girl and such a close friend, since working working with her. She will take such excellent care of you and make sure that you have a day that is an honest reflection of your relationship.
She was able to guide us into choosing the most epic location for eloping in Montana, connect us with incredible vendors, and put us at complete ease. We’re super laid back and she made everything so easy and chill.
We were taken care of through the entire experience. We we’re nervous about exploring somewhere new while eloping in Montana, but Des knows her stuff and was able to navigate us through the location scouting process seamlessly.
The day of felt nothing like a photo session and more like hanging out with a really cool friend that gave you as much space as you needed to be vulnerable with your partner, while also keeping the hype up. She had such an incredible pulse on our needs.
We were nervous about looking awkward or feeling camera-shy, but she knew exactly what to say to help up feel comfortable. There was no awkward posing or forced emotion, just really subtle prompting that helped you ease into each moment.
The entire day was amazing and none of it would have happened without her skill and guidance. We felt like we could trust her to keep us present in the most important moments.
We cried when we got our images, they were absolutely breathtaking and 1000% us. We loved being able to share this day through these images with all of our friends and family that weren’t there. They were able to laugh and cry with us. Getting your gallery from Des is like getting to relive your favorite day all over again.
She is an absolute gem that impacted our lives in such a positive way. We had no idea how gorgeous Montana was until Des blew our minds with all of the incredible knowledge that she has.
If you’re curious about how amazing eloping in Montana can be, she’s the girl to talk to. We would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Eloping in Montana offers you so much, and we can’t wait to guide you in the process! You deserve to have personalized, encouraging, and expert help as you plan to begin the rest of your lives together, and we’d love to offer that. Contact us by inquiring or keep reading these additional resources that’ll help you brainstorm about what will be the best elopement possible when eloping in Montana!
Montana Elopement FAQ Quick Answers:
Can you elope in Montana?
Yes! Eloping in Montana is incredibly easy as the marriage license process can be taken care of same day.
Can you get married same day in Montana?
Yes! You can choose to apply for your marriage license ahead of time or you can show up to the county courthouse and apply for your license the same day as your ceremony.
Do you need a witness to elope in Montana?
While some sources still say yes, local clerks will remind you that you do not need any witnesses to sign your marriage license.
How do you elope in Montana?
First, choose your photographer to help you narrow down the location and season. Then continue to craft your vision to fill in details such as details, attire, vendors, etc. Lastly, enjoy the heckin’ amazing day you create!
Where are the best places to elope in Montana?
The best places to elope in Montana are: Glacier National Park, Kootenai National Forest, Custer Gallatin National Forest, & Flathead National Forest. If you are open to even more rugged areas, we’ve got location scouting we’d love to for ya to ensure you find the best place to elope in Montana for you–not the best spot for the masses.
When should you elope in Montana?
Most couple elope in Montana from June-September. This is when the weather is most favorable, and you’ll have access to the most high elevation areas to get the best views Montana can offer.
How do I obtain our Montana elopement ceremony permit?
Your Montana elopement ceremony permit will process will vary depending on your location. For Glacier National Park click here. For other national forests, they will need to be contacted directly. And for state parks across the state, click here.
How much does eloping in Montana cost?
Eloping in Montana can cost up to $50k if you are bringing along guests, reserving a private venue, and paying for guest lodging. If you forego guest expenses, eloping in Montana can cost around $20k for a 2 day elopement experience plus your trip expenses.
Where should you fly into for your Montana elopement?
Are dogs allowed in your Montana elopement?
Dogs are allowed in developed areas in national parks, but national forests and state parks have specific regulations on furry friends for varying trails and areas. Our favorite dog friendly Montana elopement location is Flathead National Forest!
What are the best activities to do during your Montana elopement?
The best activities to do during your Montana elopement are as follows:
- sunset catered picnic
- hot air balloon tour
- helicopter tour
- horseback riding
- sunset yacht cruise
Additional Resources for Eloping Couples:
How to Elope | With in depth steps on determining the best elopement locations, hiring the perfect wedding vendors, and so much more!
Glacier National Park Elopement Guide | For your 5 Steps to Eloping in Glacier National Park with Ease!
Lastly, our Elopement Packages | So you can see our packages including photography, elopement planning assistance, and officiating with add-on options like florals!