Your Glacier National Park Elopement in 5 Simple Steps
You’ve decided to make the beautiful decision and take on a Glacier National Park elopement!! And we can’t wait to guide you through this stellar process of creating your Glacier National Park elopement experience!—aka answer all your q’s as well as give you the answers you didn’t even know you were looking for. 🙂 We’ll cover permits, location, vendors, and all the goodies that make your Glacier National Park wedding day meaningful while covering all the logistical bases too for eloping in Montana. The truth is, your Glacier National Park elopement should be filled with meaning and intention as you commit yourselves to one another for a lifetime, and we’re pumped to help you create that gorgeous wedding day in Glacier National Park!
Glacier National Park is known as the “Crown of the Continent” for manyyyyy reasons that are important to folks like you—folks looking to create a Glacier National Park wedding day that is meaningful, authentic, and creative with the perfect amount of adventure. With over one million acres of land waiting to be explored with easy “hop out of the car real quick” views or strenuous backpacking trails, the Going to the Sun Road, crazy stunning peak views, and cozy mountain towns, Glacier National Park offers everything you’ll need for your elopement experience.
I mean we’re talking alpine lakes, glacial forces, wildlife observation, bear grass (if you don’t know what that is.. don’t worry we’ll familiarize you with it), tranquil waters, and sturdy mountain faces that you just can just feel in your soul making your Glacier National Park elopement the stuff of dreams!! Eloping in Glacier National Park will give you all the adventure and aesthetic you want while bringing you the inner peace of nature.
We’re Des and Dan, Kalispell Montana photographers who are pretty biased. We are world travelers and backpacking enthusiasts who have seen countless ah-mazing locations to commit yourselves to one another. We even have a How to Elope Guide to give nitty gritty planning help (even with legalities) for every location—but when asked our favorite elopement location, it’s Glacier National Park every time. So we needed to put together a Glacier National Park elopement guide for a stunning place!
Here’s a quick overview before we dive deep:
Step 1 | Choose your elopement photographer for your Glacier National Park elopement.
They’ll be the key to offering professional insights into the next steps. We’re experienced Glacier National Park elopement photographers, so we’d be stoked to help you navigate your Glacier Park wedding!
Step 2| Choose your date, time, and location for your Glacier National Park elopement.
This will depend on your vision for the day, physical capabilities, and guest count. We’ll cover the best dates, times, and location for your Glacier National Park elopement!! Trust us, you won’t be disappointed in your possibilities.
Step 3 | Plan your travel and ceremony logistics for your Glacier National Park elopement.
You’ll want to nail down legalities and plan ahead of time for your time in Glacier Park. There are 4 towns we recommend staying/nearby, and we’ll cover those below to give you tips for your honeymoon after your Glacier National Park elopement.
Step 4 | Choose your remaining vendors for your Glacier National Park elopement.
We’ve got the hookups on experienced Glacier Park wedding vendors and would love to introduce you. We have a team of experienced Glacier National Park elopement bakers, floral designers, hair and makeup artists, and (not to forget) adventure vendors so your Glacier National Park elopement brings you adventure!
Step 5 | Show up to your Glacier National Park elopement prepared!
We’ll help you know when to arrive, what to bring, and how to have a healthy mindset on and around your Glacier National Park wedding day! This is a crucial part to living out your Glacier National Park elopement with ease and excitement!
Now–off the to nitty gritty!
Glacier National Park Elopement | Step 1: Hire your elopement photographer.
The importance of choosing the right elopement photographer for your Glacier National Park elopement cannot be overstated. Your Glacier National Park elopement photographer will be working with you from the first point of contact, through your planning experience, on your Glacier National Park wedding day, the weeks after, when your gallery is delivered (when you celebrate with a BIG bottle of wine), and (if it’s us) for years to come as we keep up with you & your marriage to cheer you on in life. We also think we have a leg up since we are based in Glacier during the summer so we can be the best resource for our Glacier National Park elopement couples!
Here are some considerations for choosing your Glacier National Park elopement photographer!
Choose a Glacier National Park elopement photographer who understands your “why.”
You’re eloping! That means you’re a little more adventurous than those having a traditional wedding. You have all kinds of reasons for having a Glacier National Park elopement—maybe it’s your obsession with the outdoors, your wedding day priorities, and how you’re choosing to create a Glacier National Park wedding day that brings you comfort and peace while you commit yourselves to one another for a lifetime. Choose a photographer that knows what it is to love what you love and treasure your reasoning for eloping. Connect with your Glacier National Park elopement photographer on a personal level, because they will be the person you see most on your Glacier National Park wedding day besides your spouse. (OMG YOU’RE ABOUT TO HAVE A SPOUSE FDSAJAHEIOHAIRH;A) If that might be us, here’s a bit of our “why.”
Choose a Glacier National Park elopement photographer who has real outdoor experience.
Dan and I are backpackers who have international backpacking experience. This means we’re equipped, trained, and experienced in all sorts of travel and outdoor experiences. Choosing an adventurous Glacier National Park elopement (even when your “adventure” is pulling off on the side of a gorgeous road with mountain views to say I do’s) means choosing the unknown. You need a Glacier National Park elopement photographer who is equipped to help you prepare and keep you safe while having your playful and adventurous Glacier National Park elopement day. You need an expert in elopements and survival should any craziness creep up like it often does in the great outdoors.
Choose an elopement photographer who specializes in Glacier National Park elopements.
There are many traveling elopement photographers, and we love them!! They have stunning work, are incredibly skilled, and love their clients well! But there is nothing like having a photographer with a home field advantage. Having an elopement photographer whose passion is helping couples create wedding days in Glacier National Park will guarantee you will have access to all of their knowledge on hidden gems, tips and tricks, and someone who craves to support you in the process so your Glacier National Park wedding day laves you feeling more than satisfied is a game-changer. We are obsessed with Glacier National Park’s landscapes, wildlife, secret vistas, and crazy peak bagging opportunities. We specialize in helping couples create a Glacier National Park elopement, because we really believe it is the best place in the Americas to elope when searching for dramatic landscapes, cozy trails, and the kind of adventure that makes your soul feel free from the day to day.
So if this is the kind of Glacier National Park elopement day you’re imagining, let’s talk! We’re real people behind these words who reallyyyy want to serve you and help you create a meaningful, authentic, and creative wedding day. <3 Or you can check out our all inclusive Glacier National Park elopement packages as you keep scrolling!
Glacier National Park Elopement | Step 2: Choose your date and location.
Choosing your date for your Glacier National Park Elopement
Eloping in Glacier National Park in different seasons will bring you very different experiences. So when choosing your date, consider exactly what you want your day to look like. Seasons look different in Glacier National Park and have special circumstances to consider. Trails you may be interested may not open until late summer and fall begins pretty swiftly in Glacier bringing snowfall and difficulty in planning accurately. Spring will offer residual snow and rushing streams and falls for your Glacier National Park elopement. Summer months, however, are busier for a reason! This is when beargrass is in season, and the weather is generally more temperate and predictable (haha but really it’s never predictable in the mountains so who are we kidding?!). Early fall is a great option for your Glacier National Park elopement, because trails are more likely to be open, crowds are smaller, and wildfire season has not yet begun. This would be late August or early September.
Our official recommendation to couples for choosing their date is to choose a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday from mid July through mid September for your Glacier National Park Elopement. This gives you enough variance in weather, seasonal blooms, and trail openings to create a Glacier National Park elopement that is reflective of everything you want so that it’s comfy, playful, and adventurous. We highly recommend a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday so that crowds will be significantly less at popular ceremony locations for your Glacier National Park elopement. You are also more likely to be approved for a special use permit (to be discussed in a bit :)) on these days since there are less requests. While September is a great time, we also highly recommend June because these two months are the best time to go to Glacier National Park!
Places to Get Married in Glacier National Park
An added bonus that Glacier National Park has on other national parks: Glacier National Park does not have limitations on specific ceremony sites for a Glacier National Park elopement. This means you have freedom to choose ceremony locations instead of only being given a few options. In other words, Glacier National Park knows what’s up! Our recommendation is to choose an area of the park you are most in love with or has the most amenities you will need for yourself and your guests (should you have any) for your Glacier National Park elopement. Especially in busy season, driving from location to location can make it difficult to stay on schedule.
Really, any region of the park has mountain views, lakes, amphitheaters, etc. You just need to know the activity level and ease of access you want. For example, if you’re an outdoorsy backpacking kinda couple who is eloping with just you two you might want to apply to say vows near Logan Pass and then hike Highline Trail and hit views like Haystack Butte (a personal fave of ours) to celebrate! Alternatively, if you want stunning lake and mountain views with easy access for you and your guests at your Glacier National Park elopement, you might apply to have your ceremony at Lake McDonald.
Depending on your preference, you can have your ceremony in a guest-friendly area or in a more back country setting. Both have their advantages, and we’d love to help you find the PERFECT spot at Glacier National Park for your Glacier National Park elopement. So many travel and guest logistics go into your location, and we’re well equipped to answer (or find the answer) to answer all the Glacier National Park elopement questions.
Choose your Glacier National Park Elopement time
Lucky for you, you’re outdoorsy! And you probably don’t mind early mornings or late evenings on the trail. This is great, because the best time to say your Glacier National Park elopement vows (for photos and intimacy sake) is at sunrise or sunset.
Depending on the season you choose, these times may vary greatly. We help couples craft their Glacier National Park elopement day timelines including their ceremony, time with guests if you bring ‘em, epic photo time, and that much needed time to relax on your day with one another. We see that couples are most satisfied in their Glacier National Park wedding day and brought the most mental peace from their adventurous vows when we hike to their ceremony location early (we’re talking way pre-sunrise), say their vows at sunrise, and explore and bask in the landscape for the next few hours (getting those rad photos all the while of course) before heading down to their vehicle around early afternoon for a cozy celebratory lunch together at a small-town restaurant or a private chef at their Airbnb.
Alternatively, a timeline revolving around a sunset ceremony would mean exploring the trails together a few hours before sunset and concluding your day with your ceremony! Then hiking back down in the dark and soaking in every little noise from the trail so you can remember this day to the fullest! We get giddy just thinking about it! <3 You also have the option of adding some more meaningful activities to your Glacier National Park elopement that you really enjoy to do together as a couple like maybe kayaking! Doing something you’re both passionate about that brings you peace adds. so. much. to your Glacier National Park elopement day and makes it 100% unique to you. No one else will have a wedding day like you, which we’re all about!
Related: Elopement in the Mountains Guide for more specifics on seasons and optimal times for eloping in the mountains
Glacier National Park Elopement | Step 3: Plan your travel and ceremony logistics.
If you’re not local to Glacier National Park, you’ll likely be flying in or bringing your camper van (an ah-mazing option for traveling in and around Glacier National Park). Flying into Kalispell is highly recommended as the airport in Kalispell is only a little over an hour depending on season and wildlife traffic. 🙂 If you’re opting to stay in a rental, there are stunning Airbnb’s near Glacier National Park to match any vibe you have for your Glacier National Park elopement and/or honeymoon. However, choosing to rent a camper van (or bring your own because #vanlife, amirite?) and road tripping in from another destination is always a great way to see the state of Montana and get more bang for your buck in travel money. The popular road trip beginning with Beartooth Highway in Yellowstone National Park and ending in Glacier National Park is phenomenal experience and a great option if you have a few days extra time.
Travel logistics within the park can be unpredictable depending on season and time of day during your Glacier National Park elopement, so plan to explore specific regions of Glacier Park on different days. Public transit is not available right now per COVID-19 as well as the entire east side of the park, so plan to use your personal vehicle to roam different sections of the park. Parking within the park is limited, but a lot of couples have great luck finding parking before sunrise or after 5 pm.
As far as Glacier National Park elopement ceremony logistics, the most important aspect is your special use permit you will need for your Glacier National Park elopement ceremony. You can download that form and find specific instructions here. This page from the National Park Service has imperative information to consider when choosing locations, so please read their information fully as it is the most up-to-date on form instructions and location information. The National Park Service also posts daily trail status updates that are especially helpful when your Glacier National Park elopement is in late spring or late fall as weather predictability decreases.
When planning travel logistics especially, you’re in luck for your Glacier National Park elopement! If you choose to stay outside the park the west entrance to the park, there are 4 usual towns that are withing a decent driving distance that most visitors choose to stay in. We’ll cover those 4 towns and what they offer your Glacier National Park elopement experience!
What towns to lodge in and explore for your Glacier National Park elopement:
- Columbia Falls // Columbia Falls is the closest town to Glacier National Park (if you don’t count the tiny tot town of West Glacier or Hungry Horse) and is our personal favorite to check out! This town has more of a local feel for your Glacier National Park elopement and is tucked away into some of the same mountain ranges that work their way through Glacier Park. Every restaurant is privately owned and delicious! We honestly haven’t found a restaurant in Columbia Falls that we don’t love. If you come back from the trail and need a snazzy breakfast and stellar coffee, check this coffee shop in Columbia Falls after your Glacier National Park elopement!
- Kalispell // Kalispell is our second favorite city to recommend to couples. It’s a bit more of a drive, but the modern amenities and “big city” feel often make it worth it. Here you’ll find health food stores, a Target, and so many other useful spots for shopping if you’re planning on being in the area a while after your Glacier National Park elopement. Downtown Kalispell is also a hopping spot for the younger crowd and is really starting to cater to more modern interests! You’ll find plenty to in Kalispell during your Glacier National Park elopement if you need to rest your mountain legs for a minute.
- Whitefish // Whitefish is a classic tourist mountain town complete with grand cabins, fine dining, and typical mountain vacation activities like golfing or skiiing. If you’re planning a winter Glacier National Park elopement, Whitefish is a stellar place to be your home base it is equipped with ample winter activities for you both as well as any guests. This is often the town we recommend for eloping couples who want to bring guests along and lodge nearby as you can easily find comfortable lodging for everyone, but there is also enough space between Whitefish and Glacier Park so you two can sneak away and adventure on your own in private to keep your Glacier National Park elopement intimate even with guests.
- Bigfork // Bigfork is the farthest from Glacier National Park that we recommend staying for your Glacier National Park elopement. The town of Bigfork could be an elopement destination all on its own! With the beauty of Flathead Lake being so close and various trails and overlooks, you’d have a lot to explore in Bigfork as well. It is a little sleepier with not as many options for eating as the former towns mentioned, but you won’t mind the drive to cool restaurants as driving any direction is beautiful!!
We kinda geek out over planning stuff like this since a love of planning vacations was kinda how I found my interest in beginning a photography career! So we love to help couples think through travel logistics so that their Glacier National Park elopement and overall trip to Glacier National Park is seamless and joyful.
Glacier National Park Elopement | Step 4: Choose your remaining vendors to create the most epic and meaningful Glacier wedding!
When choosing a Glacier National Park elopement, your vendor list may look wildly different than a traditional wedding. Those weddings take much more to happen logistically and, depending on the simplicity of your Glacier National Park elopement, your vendor list may be much shorter. The absolute minimum vendor list would include elopement photographers. That’s right! You technically only need one vendor (or one vendor team)! Montana does not even require an officiant because (AMAZINGLY) any average Joe can officiate in the state of Montana, which we love. This means we can officiate for you or any other meaningful person you bring along like a parent or friend for your Glacier National Park elopement!
What vendors do couples typically choose to involve in their Glacier National Park elopement? It is true that is entirely up to the individual couple so you may choose exactly what you need, but we see most couples using photographers, a baker, a floral designer, and a hair and makeup artist. This is just simple enough to cover all the bases to make your day carefree but also supplied well enough so your Glacier National Park elopement day feels full of details that you truly care about.
We have a vendor team that we truly cherish from officiants to florists to private chefs all the way to ice-climbing guides. Whatever adventurous day you put together, we will come prepared to guide you in making the right vendor choices for your wedding day! Here are some foundational vendor recommendations to start! And we’ll work alongside you to find the perfect ones should you be looking for something different or more all-inclusive for your Glacier National Park elopement.
Fleur Bake Shop
103 Central Avenue Whitefish, Montana
520 2nd St. E Whitefish, Montana
Glacier National Park Elopement | Step 5: Show up to your elopement prepared for your big day!
We can prepare, prepare, prepare as little or as much as you want, but when it comes time to hop off your plane and head to your elopement spot at Glacier Park, there are a few things you’ll need to be positive you’ve either done or checked on after you arrive in Montana and before you say your vows at your Glacier National Park elopement.
To begin, you’ll definitely need that marriage license for your Glacier National Park elopement!
To obtain your Montana marriage license, you’ll just need to show up a few days early to go to the downtown courthouse or apply online ahead of time. You can find that online application here. The fee is $53 due at application time either online or in person. You will also need a valid proof of age (i.e. a driver’s license or birth certificate) upon picking your license up. The courthouse is open Monday through Friday and processes marriage licenses 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM.
Next, you’ll need to arrive in enough time to get an accurate understanding of impending weather conditions.
Depending upon the season in which you choose for your Glacier National Park elopement, you will need different outdoor gear if your day involves any adventure. This could range from something as simple as an umbrella to knowing you’ll need water-proof covers for your hiking packs for a shower that is coming in to preparing for potential heavy snow fall and dipping temperatures. Mountain weather is unpredictable, especially considering which side of the range you choose. So plan to travel into Glacier Park in enough time to acclimate to any elevation difference and check upcoming weather conditions for your allotted Glacier National Park elopement date.
I recommend all of our couples arrive two days prior to their Glacier National Park elopement to settle in and handle preparations for their Glacier National Park Elopement! I also recommend planning to stay for a few days after because you’re in Glacier Park and need to enjoy it (duh lol) but also because it gives you extra time should your ceremony time include a vicious snowstorm.
We are all about outdoor preparedness (proncounced pre-pare-ed-ness for funsies), so we also include personalized gear recommendations for our clients depending on their skill level and current outdoor gear collection. We love matching couples up with exactly what they need to be prepared for their wedding day and the great outdoors.
Once you’ve sealed the deal, you’ll want to celebrate!! And rightly so! If your Glacier National Park elopement is at sunrise, a breakfast picnic is always a great idea to help slow the day down and get some much needed calories! Another option is to plan for a romantic dinner in a nearby town!
If you’re looking for a casual affair, try checking out this list of breweries in Kalispell! However, our favorite spot to find locally brewed dark beers is a brewery in Bigfork, MT nearby. It’s a local favorite for a reason, and you’ll have no issue finding friendly faces who want to celebrate your Glacier National Park elopement too!
Let us guide you in crafting a Glacier National Park wedding day that gives you that wild sense of adventure while you commit to one another for a lifetime. It’s cheesy I know, but marriage is an adventure—so why wouldn’t you start your marriage in an adventurous way?
Glacier National Park All Inclusive Elopement Packages
As Kalispell Montana Photographers who offer planning assistance, we have the simplest, yet most personalized approach to crafting your Glacier National Park elopement package. Our packages start at 6 hours and increase all the way up to 3 days for an ultimate backcountry Glacier National Park elopement adventure. Here are some of our most popular Glacier National Park elopement packages:
Epic Glacier National Park Elopement
includes all Glacier National Park elopement locations
6 hours of photography coverage
2 professional photographers
unlimited planning consultations
travel planning assistance
full local vendor referall list
elopement timeline assistance
elopement location scouting and personalized location guide
all photographer travel and permit fees included
This package is best for couples hoping for a gorgeous one-day Glacier National Park elopement who want to experience the landscape without other wedding usuals like florals, cake, and a stellar celebration dinner on a limited amount of time. You’ll have time for your ceremony, adventurous portraits, and some chill time to take in the sights of Glacier Park.
The following Glacier National Park elopement package expands on the former with added time and adds some really awesome wedding features making for an all inclusive Glacier National Park Elopement Package!
Adventurous Glacier National Park Elopement
includes all Glacier National Park elopement locations
10 hours of photography coverage
2 professional photographers
bridal bouquet from one our trusted floral partners
wedding cake or desert from one of our local favorite spots
on-site charcuterie picnic
on-site celebratory beverage of your choice
unlimited planning consultations
travel planning assistance
elopement timeline assistance
personalized packing list
elopement location scouting and personalized location guide
all photographer travel and permit fees included
This package is best for couples who want some of the more traditional features of a wedding and ample time to adventure in Glacier Park without time constraints. You’ll have time for your Glacier National Park elopement ceremony, adventurous portraits, a moderate hike or time spent with any guests should you decide to bring some along with this all inclusive Glacier National Park elopement package! 🙂
These are two of our most booked Glacier National Park elopement packages, but we also do customized packages so your Glacier Park wedding is fully reflective of you & how you imagine your day!
Additional Resources for Eloping Couples:
Hey. We’re real folks. Who really love to serve our clients (and even not our clients) really well by providing free planning help! So if you missed any links above, we’re including them here so you can keep reading, keep dreaming, and keep creating your dream elopement! <3 And as always, feel free to reach out about any questions you have. We’d love to hear from you!
Eloping in Montana | The Ultimate How To and Location Guide in case you’re open to other locations options in Montana
How to Elope | So you can have a checklist to reference when planning your elopement
How to Get Married in Montana | So we’re sure we have all the legal and logistical bases covered!
Airbnb Elopement | In case you want a venue feel while you escape to Glacier National Park!
Hope these help! Let us know which ones are most helpful by leaving a comment or two on your favorites, and we’ll chat with you soon!